We look at it every weekend here at Nintendo Life regional box type variants for retro video games and do the best poll. It’s a fun, carefree exercise; really just an excuse to look amazing (and some not that fantastic) Old-school cover art that is taking a back seat Menu icons in the digital age.
It is not as easy to find candidates that contrast well between regions as you might think. Most often, two regions use almost identical art (typically North America and Europe), and over the past 10 to 15 years, companies have tended to use the same art in different regions. Still, it is strange to come across a candidate whose version not only offers a completely different cover, but also a completely different license.
The games shown above were developed by Kemco, a developer and publisher who is probably best known to Nintendo fans when he releases this Top gear Series. Kemco has a history that dates back to the Famicom era, and as we’ll see, the company is in shape when it comes to switching sprites, redesigning games between regions, and even lending out a idea or two.
The story of how a game ended with three different, popular licenses around the world began in 1989 when the Crazy Castle series debuted on the NES The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle. This game spawned a significant number of side-scrolling platform players that the player negotiates with simple maze-like levels, Grab and avoid items on the way, roaming villains. The original game didn’t have a jump button, and its roaming enemies and collectibles could be compared to a side-on-platform version of Pac-Man. The progress is “saved” via a password system, which takes you back to the last played level.
The Crazy Castle series is a solid, harmless (if inconspicuous) series of games with generic levels that can easily be spiced up with one or two sexy sprites, and Kemco (then known as the Kotobuki system at the time) quickly recognized this. The company has realigned these games with different licenses in different regions, depending on the rights they had in each area. Bugs Bunny was already a replacement for another animated rabbit that was originally in the frame in Japan …
From rabbit to Wabbit
The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle for NES was itself a straight sprite swap of the Famicom Disk System Original Roger rabbit. Kemco had acquired Japanese rights to play Robert Zemeckis’ 1988 film Who framed Roger Rabbit?produced by Disney’s own Touchstone Pictures. In the West, however, the publishing house LJN had acquired these rights and Another game – an action platform based more closely on the film – was developed by Rare in the UK (not the best work of the venerable developer, you have to say). To release his Crazy Castle title abroad, Kemco decided to acquire the rights to Looney Tunes characters from Warner Bros. and to convert his headliner from a rabbit to one Wabbit.
So far, so confused, but that wasn’t the last change for the first Crazy Castle game. Kemco went into a rabbit hole with another licensee a game boy port that became the Disney license Mickey Mouse in Japan. In the West, the Game Boy version kept bugs branding because Capcom owns international Disney property rights (which makes classics shit DuckTales and Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers). Jeremy Parish is excellent Game Boy World Video (above) focuses on The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle’s Game Boy iteration – apparently the first licensed game ever to be released on the handheld – but also compares the other versions. So give a watch if you’re curious.
From the beginning, the Crazy Castle series was a huddle that got hold of some of the most animated popular characters ever created, and there was a lot more confusion.
Hugo is going to call?
Kemco’s approach to getting maximum mileage from his rather simple game design continued unabated with the 1991 sequel known in North America as Game Boy The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2. Mickey Mouse took over the reins again in the Japanese version (named, quite logically, Mickey Mouse II). Unfortunately, it would get complicated in Europe, where two versions of the game were released: one with Mickey Mouse (although the first game with Disney’s mascot was only seen in Japan, this sequel was simply called Europe Mickey Mouse).
You would be forgiven for thinking that other The European version of this game would play bugs again. You would be wrong, of course. Instead, Laguna Video Games tossed the Scandinavian troll and child ownership from ITE Hugo at Crazy Castle 2, titled it Hugoand another license was stirred into the Crazy Castle mix.
Apparently Hugo has a Danish character and multimedia franchise an impressive catalog of games, although we confess that we have never heard of him.
Enter Kid Klown
The next entry in the Crazy Castle series threw away the established gameplay in favor of a more conventional 2D platformer, which included the radical addition of a jump. In 1992 Mickey Mouse III: dream balloon released for Famicom in Japan, although the game was for the North American NES market changed to play Kemco’s own character Kid Klown and released the following year Kid Klown in the night mayor world. This game never saw the light of day in Europe, presumably because they were still confused by the whole situation between Mickey and Hugo.
Kid Klown would return to the series in the future and also play in other spin-offs, including an isometric platform called for SNES Kid Klown in Crazy Chase. However, the clown put off the next few Crazy Castle games and Kemco won new licenses for the fourth game in the series.
Mickey is not afraid of … lasagna
Kemco obviously felt that its licensee portfolio needed to be diversified and did not add one, but rather two For the next entry, completely new famous faces are added to the mix, along with the ongoing agreement with the House of Mouse in Japan.
Preserved Japanese Game Boy owners Mickey Mouse IV: Mahō no labyrinth (about). In the United States, however, Kemco had gotten the rights to The Real Ghostbusters (apparently from working with Activision) and decided to exchange Mickey Mouse for Peter Venkman.
Ghostbusters’ IP rights were a mess before Kemco joined the party, and this resulted in two NES versions of Ghostbusters II: The HAL laboratory has developed a good one with ‘New’ added to the title that has never been released in the US and the terrible Activision inflicted on Stateside fans. However, US players have received the decent Game Boy version of HAL’s title, which I hope will make up for Kemco’s lack of effort.
In Europe, it was decided that the Monday-hating, lasagna-loving Garfield was the cat that hosted the fourth Crazy Castle title, and the game received another sprite swap in the title Garfield’s Maze. Make no mistake, despite the occurrence, it is the same painful average game.
Film and animation fans will undoubtedly enjoy the randomness of his unusual “crossover”. The actor Lorenzo Music delivered the dulcet tones of Garfield and Peter Venkman in animated form, while Bill Murray played both characters on the screen.
If this situation wasn’t murky enough, the confusion of this confluence of characters is compounded by different elements and level designs in this Mickey / Ghostbusters / Garfield game, which were lifted out of a completely independent title – the 1991s P.P. Hammer and his air force for Amiga and Commodore 64. If you look at the opening section of the videos above, you’ll see that the broom-like object that Mickey and Garfield pick up is actually a jackhammer, similar to PP (Venkman doesn’t need one because he uses his proton pack to blast holes in the ground) .
That was certainly fair another Acquisition Kemco used in a typically economical way, right? Unfortunately not, says the developer of P.P. Hammer, Gunnar songs. In a tweet on this topic a few years ago, he confirmed that there is no cooperation with Kemco:
A cloud of distrust now surrounds this impenetrable tangle of world famous characters trapped in Kemco’s Crazy Castle. While it looks like none of the other games “borrowed” items from anywhere else, the series was certainly not done with license hopping.
More Mickey Mousecapades
Kemco kept things relatively easy for the follow-up, and after acquiring the rights to publish a Mickey Mouse game in the U.S. Mickey Mouse: wands! was a simple localization of the 1993s Mickey Mouse V: Mahou no stick, although one that was released five years after the Japanese version with Super Game Boy support.
The game has also been released across Europe, although strangely the Roman “V” is still attached. European players should probably infer the “V”, which refers to a series of wands, and not the fifth entry in a series that they had only seen once with Mickey Mouse at the top.
The return of Bugs Bunny and a final license …
Kemco released Kid Klown again for the Japanese Game Boy title Soreike !! Child: go! Go! child in 1997, though this game received a Game Boy color makeover two years later and returned with Bugs’ Looney Tunes crew as Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle 3 in all areas, followed by Bugs Bunny in Crazy Castle 4 for GBC a year later.
For the last console game in the series on Game Boy Advance, Kemco turned to another license after acquiring the rights to the properties of Universal Studios (they also released the rather terrible one Universal Studios theme park adventure on GameCube).
Bugs got the boot and Woody Woodpecker joined Tantalus Interactive Woodpecker in Crazy Castle 5, the last console entry in this most confusing series.
Except for a mobile game in 2004, we haven’t heard of the Crazy Castle series since Woody Woodpecker’s stewardship. Looking back at the games, it’s sure to be a strange and tangled web, and it’s probably not worth playing through unless you are a die-hard Crazy Castle fan.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to name another series with such a complex history that certainly does not involve lights from the world of animation – the Wonder boy /. Adventure island melange famous licenses like this don’t get mixed up. The games themselves may not be classics, but you can’t help but wonder about Kemco’s license dispute over the basic premise of Crazy Castle.
Let us know below if you have any of the above games in your collection.