By Eric Chetkauskas / January 18th, 2014
As we get closer to its March release, a recent post on WaterMelon’s Magical Game Factory blog has hinted that development on Pier Solar HD may be nearing an end.
The post was made by “Savior,” the person behind the development of the Pier Solar strategy guide, who said the guide is now 80% complete. He also said he got to play the game’s beta and described it as “nothing less than FANTASTIC.” The post also indicated that there will be an update video posted regarding the final steps of the game’s development soon. Whether this will be a backer-only update is yet to be seen.
However, the blog post did reveal some new screenshots for the game:
So, what exactly is Pier Solar HD? For those of you not familiar with it, here’s the story.
Back in 2010, a fan-made RPG called Pier Solar and the Great Architects was released for the Sega Mega Drive & Sega Genesis consoles. While homebrew games for retro consoles was nothing new, there was something special about this one. First off, it was completely new. It wasn’t just a rom hack, nor did it use any pre-existing artwork. Everything about this game was built from scratch. All character sprites and background designs were created specifically for this game. Even the soundtrack featured all original compositions. Not only was Pier Solar the newest game for the Genesis, it was released on a custom 64MEG cart, which means it was also one of the largest games on the system.
The game’s popularity spread worldwide. Aside from English, the game also had releases in Spanish, French, Portuguese and German. In fact, the game was so popular among fans that it was re-released more than once. Anticipation was so high that the first print had sold out during the pre-order period. Original carts of the game have become quite the collector’s item and are going for over $100 on eBay.
The favorable response was not unfounded. Pier Solar follows the story of a botanist named Hoston, who is on a journey with his friends, Alina and Edessot, to find a special herb to cure for his father’s mysterious illness. Like most good old-school RPGs, this seemingly mundane quest becomes something much more grand as the story unfolds. Boasting over 50 hours of gameplay, and hundreds of locations, treasures and NPCs, the game received critical praise from both fans and critics.
In November of 2012, the game’s developer, WaterMelon Co., launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an HD remake of Pier Solar. To say that the campaign was a success would be an understatement. They earned almost $100,000 more than the $139,000 goal from over 3,500 backers, reaching each and every one of their stretch goals.
The remake will feature HD graphics that are carefully integrated with the existing 16-bit design. Cutscenes are fully HD, yet the gameplay features 16-bit sprites on an HD background. Based some some early images, the two styles blend really well.
It will be released on a myriad of systems, allowing RPG fans of all sorts to experience the game. Those who own a Wii U can have something to get excited over. Xbox LIVE users and PC (or Mac or Linux if you prefer) gamers will have a chance to play. Mobile gamers can download the game for their Android device, and, if you bought an OUYA, you can play it on that too. The Sega Dreamcast, which has a small but devoted fanbase, will also be getting Pier Solar (albeit in standard definition).
I was a Nintendo kid growing up, so I have never taken much of an interest in retro Sega consoles. Yet, being a big fan of 16-bit RPGs such as Chrono Trigger and the Lufia games, Pier Solar couldn’t help but intrigue me. Here was a retro RPG made by retro RPG fans like myself. When I heard about the HD remake, I realized I’d finally have a chance to play this obscure title.
It may be too late to back the project, but you can still pre-order the game at the Magical Game Factory shop. PC/Mac/Linux and Dreamcast versions are available, as well as the strategy guide and a reprint of the original Genesis/Mega Drive cart, though it looks like the soundtrack has sold out.
pier solarPier Solar and the Great ArchitectsPier Solar HDWaterMelon