See the scans: SegaMasterForce-Magazine-Issue5?gallerypage=10

The guys and gals at Sony Imagesoft have been spending a lot of time at the cinema lately, watching Last Action Hero and Cliffhanger over and over again so they know what's what when they show off their latest Master System releases. NICK ROBERTS ran up the company phone bill by chatting to the producers of the games at their offices in Southern California.

Last Action Hero

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Please tell us your name, age and full job description.

Nathan: Nathan Rose, 22 years old, Producer. My job consists of co-ordinating the concept of a game design and following the game through the development, then at the end of the project, making sure that the game was designed to the original specifications.

Throughout the development cycle, milestones and checkpoints are submitted to me by the developer, and my assistant and I view this to check the progression and make changes, if necessary.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Tell us a little bit about Sony Imagesoft in the USA – what's it like working over there?

Nathan: I thoroughly enjoy my job here at Sony Imagesoft. The working atmosphere is a comfortable one and with powerful resources behind us like Sony Pictures and Sony Music, how can we go wrong?

SEGA MASTER FORCE: You and your programming team have been working on Last Action Hero for the Master System. Give the readers a run-down on the game.

Nathan: This particular game takes the player through nine different levels and mixes a little movie and reality worlds together. What I mean by that is, the movie takes place both inside the movie screen and in the everyday world.

In particular, there are two driving levels. The movie world driving level has ramps and land mines and other obstacles that if encountered in real life, would destroy the car and driver. In the movie world, though, only a certain amount of damage will be taken.

One of the major enemies, Benedict, is being pursued by Jack Slater (Arnold) and he manages to get a hold of the magic ticket that transports him over to the real world. Now, can you imagine having King Kong running rampant in downtown Los Angeles? Not a pretty picture, is it?

SEGA MASTER FORCE: How has the development of the game been going? Is it going to be a platform, shoot-'em-up or beat-'em-up game? Does it include any elements from the film like samples or digitised pictures of Arnie doing his stuff?

Nathan: The development of Last Action Hero went very smoothly. The game has action/beat-'em-up levels and two driving levels. We were unable to include digitisation or samples.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: How many times did the programming team have to watch Last Action Hero before they started programming the game?

Nathan: Actually, the programming team started making the game based on a script, without seeing the movie. Eventually they were able to see the movie, but that's the problem with developing a game on a movie that's not yet finished filming. So we received some rough cuts as sections were completed.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: What do you think of the film? In the UK, the cinema releases of both Last Action Hero and '@Cliffhanger'' were overshadowed by Jurassic Park. Do you think this will affect the success of the game?

Nathan: I really don't think the overshadowing of the movies will effect the success of the games. The scripts provided us with some ideas for great games.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Did you meet Arnold Schwartzenegger while creating the game? Does he like to be involved in the video games side of his films?

Nathan: Yes, Arnold was met by Imagesoft people to discuss the game and the concepts.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Have you been to any of Arnie and Stallone's Planet Hollywood restaurants, like the one that opened recently in London?

Nathan: Yes, I've been to Planet Hollywood here in Southern California, but what does this have to do with the game?!

SEGA MASTER FORCE: How much does a licence like Last Action Hero cost? How many noughts are we talking?

Nathan: I really do not know what was paid for the licence.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: What games have you been responsible for before Last Action Hero and what are your favourite Master System games?

Nathan: I've been responsible for Gear Works on the Game Gear, before this one. My favourite Master System game has to be Last Action Hero, but before this came along I guess I would have to say Rastan, which is a good couple of years old.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Well, you would say Last Action Hero, wouldn't you?!

The Master System doesn't seem to have caught on in the USA. Why do you think this is? After all, the Nintendo 8-bit is still going strong over there.

Nathan: I think that there are too many game systems out in the market for the Master System to be noticed. When it was released here in the US, it was practically when the Nintendo 8-bit was and there was extreme competition.

There are two reasons why I feel the Master System didn't do well: 1. The lack of strong games: 2. The games that were out in the marketplace looked great but did not play well.

Consumers started to get wise to these good-looking games and they started to look deeper than the graphics. If you cannot control a game, then why play it!

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Okay, so what other projects have you got lined up after this movie-themed game?

Nathan: My next project is the sequel to the Touchstone Pictures movie, 3 Ninjas.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Perhaps we'll see a 3 Ninjas

game on the Master System soon.

What do you think of all the new technology that's emerging in the console world? Do you think the future is CD-ROM or cartridge-based games?

Nathan: I feel that the future is a mixture of both the cartridge and CD-ROM based games. If Nintendo weren't so strongly supporting the cartridge, then it would most definitely die.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Do you think the Sega Master System still has a place among all these new consoles?

Nathan: I really don't see a place in a market for 8-bit consoles when there are consoled like 3DO and the Sega/Nintendo 32-bits coming out.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: That's a real shame; we all believe the Master System has plenty of life left in it and the games seem to get better and better. What do you think the future holds for Master System owners? Is there anything that hasn't been done with the MS yet?

Nathan: I really don't know what the future holds for the MS.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Thank you for your time, Nathan, Last Action Hero is looking great!

Cliffhanger

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Can you please tell us your name, age and job description.

Mary: Mary Ann Norris, age 28, Producer. I produce video games based on film and television properties for Sony Imagesoft.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: What do you think about working for Sony Imagesoft in the USA?

Mary: It's a very dynamic and exciting time to be in the video game business. Sony Imagesoft has the advantage of being able to synergise with sister Sony divisions, such as Sony Music and Sony Pictures.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: You've been responsible for Cliffhanger on the Master System. Can you please give the readers a brief run-down of the game and tell the story, in case they haven't seen the film.

Mary: The Master System version of Cliffhanger follows the movie very closely. For the unfortunate few out there who haven't seen Cliffhanger, here's a brief run-down:

Evil terrorists have hijacked a US Treasury jet carrying $100 million in cash. unfortunately for them, their plane crashes in the Rocky Mountains, scattering the money. They call the rescue station ans say they're stranded hikers, to lure the rescue climbers to find the bags for them.

Gabe (Sylvester Stallone) and Hal, his buddy, respond to the call and are soon captured by the terrorists. Gabe escapes from the terrorists and searches for the money to ransom his buddy, Hal.

If you're wondering what the storyline of the video game is, I've pretty much just described it. The game follow the movie's story very closely. One of the aspects which make it so great for a video game are the clear-cut characters. The good guys are 100% good, the bad guys are 200% bad.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: How has the development of Cliffhanger been going? How many levels has it got? Are they platform/shoot-'em-up/beat-'em-up levels? Do they include any elements from the film -- samples, digitised pictures etc?

Mary: Cliffhanger's a six-level platform beat-'em-up/shoot-'em-up. It incorporates several weapons and pick-ups that were used in the film. There are also lots of cinema displays to help tell the story and a great digitised shot of Stallone.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: How many times did the programming team have to watch Cliffhanger before they started programming the game?

Mary: The programming team started working on the game before they even saw the movie. They started working from a script and later got to see the movie. I think you'll agree, though, that they managed to capture the feel of the movie.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Were you sent video tapes of the film, even though it had only just come out in the cinema?

Mary: We received some footage, which helped us capture the look and feel of the movie.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: What do you think of the film? As with Last Action Hero, its cinematic release was slightly overshadowed by Jurassic Park. Do you think this will effect its success?

Mary: I think Cliffhanger is a great, action-packed thriller. The movie has done very well in the theatre and I think the game will do well in the video game market, because it's a great, action-packed game.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Did you get to meet Sylvester Stallone while working on this project?

Mary: Yes, I did meet with Stallone at the beginning of the project. We discussed the direction Imagesoft were taking with the game.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: So come on, then, spill the beans: how much does a licence like Cliffhanger cost?

Mary: This information is not for public knowledge.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: What Sega games have you been responsible for before this one?

Mary: Last Action hero on the Sega CD, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy for the Sega CD.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: What other projects have you got lined up after Cliffhanger?

Mary: I'm working on an exciting product line-up for 1994 but am not able to disclose any information regarding these projects.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: The Sega Master System hasn't done very well over in the USA. Why do you think this is?

Mary: The Master System is a great system; I've always liked it. Unfortunately, it just didn't get the software support it needed in the USA.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: What do you think of all the new technology that's emerging? Do you think the future is CD-ROM or cartridge games?

Mary: The game market will be driven by machines, whether CD or cartridge-based, that are able to deliver fast-paced, interactive, cinematic games.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Do you think the Master System still has a place among all these new consoles?

Mary: It's hard for 8-bit systems to compete against the more advanced machines that are on the market. However, this doesn't mean that the Master System doesn't have a place. It's still as great as it ever was.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: It's good to hear someone praising the Master System. What do you think the future holds for all the 8-bit owners? Is there anything that hasn't been done with the MS?

Mary: There's a compelling library of Master System games. Time will tell what's in store for Master System owners.

SEGA MASTER FORCE: Thanks very much, Mary.

Developer Interview



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