Hamster has released downloadable titles for 131 consecutive weeks, including the start of the Arcade Archives Neo Geo series when the Nintendo Switch released on 03/03/2017. As a result, they’ve applied for a Guinness World Record. Having released a total of 167 titles on the Nintendo Switch, this is an unprecedented number of releases. Series producer and president Satoshi Hamada gives us the whole story.
A Record Only Possible Due to Cooperation From Other Companies
What made you decide to develop for the Nintendo Switch, which is serving as the starting point for this record?
(Hamada) We decided on it as soon as we heard about the Nintendo Switch. We’d already started releasing the Arcade Archives series on the PlayStation 4, but we were thinking of bringing it to the Switch as well.
Did development go smoothly?
(Hamada) I wouldn’t say it was easy, but since we’d been developing on the PlayStation 4 for over 2 years, our programming skills had progressed. So I think it went relatively smoothly.
You started with the Arcade Archives Neo Geo series, right?
(Hamada) SNK’s Neo Geo hardware is very reliable, so I think that’s why we aimed to get around 140 of those titles that all run on the same boards, by releasing them week after week.
Did you plan to release them every single week from the start?
(Hamada) Yes. We were consulting with SNK on development, and Makoto Itou (from the SNK marketing department) said “Let’s release one of these every week!”. And of course we wanted to try to honor that request.
About 6 months after the Switch was released, the Nintendo Arcade Archives series began with Mario Bros. I was really amazed when that happened.
(Hamada) Releasing Nintendo arcade games has been a dream of ours. We wanted to start releasing them more quickly, but unlike the Neo Geo, the arcade boards all have their own particular configurations, so it took more time. It was six months from the launch initially, but now we’re able to keep releasing them much more smoothly.
You were able to keep releasing these week after week because you had cooperation from various other companies, right?
(Hamada) Of course we weren’t able to release 131 weeks in a row just on our own. We have supervision from developers at Nintendo for their titles, and we’re really just helped out by a lot of different people in general. We talked with Nintendo about giving users visiting the eShop something new to see there each week, so we may have pushed ourselves a bit in order to make that happen. Also, we wouldn’t be releasing anything if not for all of these previously released arcade games. We’ve been supplied with games from 17 different companies, including SNK, and that’s how we’ve been able to achieve this record.
I suspect that you’re working on the development of several titles at once, in order to be able to release something new every week. And that sounds like a tough situation to manage quality in.
(Hamada) We call the processes of debugging and verification that our reproduction is completely faithful to the original “inspections”. We have various people that perform these tasks, and we’re very confident that the products we release are of the highest quality. Actually when we started this series on the Switch, we were asked by Nintendo to promise that in addition to releasing a game every week that they would be well-made. And since there would be no meaning in releasing sub-par products in order to achieve this record, we’ve really taken that promise to heart.
Continuing on with the series would be difficult if you betrayed the trust of the users.
(Hamada) Exactly. Even if we want to continue on with the series forever, we obviously can’t if no one is buying them. I mentioned earlier that we were supported by rights-holding game companies like Nintendo, but that goes even more so for all of the users that buy our products. We fully intend to continue producing high qualities products that won’t disappoint them.
A Record Achieved From 2 1/2 Years of Straight Releases
Around when did you realize you had achieved this record?
(Hamada) When was that? We definitely didn’t have the time to think about it after our first year (Laughs) The second year was hard as well, but we were completely into it by that point. And we were at around straight 100 weeks in…
We had an article about your 100 consecutive weeks of releases in a previous issue of Famitsu.
(Hamada) I believe we had the notion that we were achieving a record when we realized we had worked hard enough to get up to 100 consecutive weeks.
What difficulties have you had throughout these 131 weeks?
(Hamada) The biggest were Obon and New Year. Because you’re the famous Weekly Famitsu magazine, you’re able to do a combination issue and take a week off (Laughs)
Sorry about that (Laughs bitterly) Our printing and circulation departments have time off, so we can’t really do anything without them.
(Hamada) How cunning! (Laughs) Going with that example, people at Nintendo are the equivalents of printing and circulation for us. We can’t get by on just our efforts alone if there’s no one to upload these to the Nintendo eShop. It would be difficult to reach someone at Nintendo if we had any issues during Obon and New Year, so our staff took time off for the holidays in shifts, and could be reached in case of emergencies. I guess what I’m saying is the biggest challenge to weekly releases is long periods of time off. Coming into our third year, we’ll be able to gradually advance our schedule. Right now development ends on upcoming titles, and then we just have to wait for them to be released. That takes off a lot of the mental pressure.
I suspect your record will just continue to grow, but how big of one are you ultimately aiming for?
(Hamada) We’d love to continue on with the Arcade Archives series forever. We’ll keep on going with it until there are no more classic arcade games left to release.
New arcade games are still coming out now, so will you ever actually be able to release them all?
(Hamada) Ah, that’s true. People working in the arcade game industry will certainly continue producing great games, and it would be great to be able to release those games as a part of the Arcade Archives series once they’re able to be called classics. If the next generation is able to take over the series and keep it going even after I retire, the number we’re aiming for could be infinite (Laughs)