FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2020
MIRACLE WORLD - Not-for-sale Traffic Safety Sega Master System game from 1987 resurfaces!
Game de Check! Koutsuu Anzen for the Sega Master System / Mark III
Original: ゲームでチェック！交通安全 [gēmu de chekku! kōtsū anzen]
Literally: “Let’s check with a game! Traffic Safety”
The SMS Power! community is happy to celebrate its 23rd anniversary today by unearthing and preserving yet another extremely rare game title for the Sega Master System! We are also releasing a complete Japanese to English translation patch for the game.
Active since 1997, people behind SMS Power! have been meticulously documenting and preserving Sega 8-bit history. About one thousand titles, including many obscure ones, are catalogued and have been digitally preserved. Hardware has been researched, documented, hacked, augmented. Games have been reverse engineered, secrets found, soundtracks extracted, long lost staff credits made public, countless prototypes have been found. Every year the site hosts a competition for people making games, demos or music on Sega 8-bit systems.
This release has been made possible with help from NPO Game Preservation Society (NPO法人ゲーム保存協会) in Japan.
What is it?
Game de Check! Koutsuu Anzen is an educational Sega Master System/Sega Mark III cartridge commissioned by The Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Ltd and developed by Sega in 1987.
A lengthy research article by SukaSega
(in Japanese) has a list of known appearances of this long lost game over the years, mostly from non-game publications. In January 1988, both the Hoken Mainichi Shimbun and Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspapers wrote about it.
(images from SukaSega
Below machine-translated extracts from for the Hoken Mainichi Shimbun article:
Production of video games for traffic safety education Co-development with SEGA Co., Ltd. for lending to residents’ associations, kindergartens, etc.
Tokio Marine has been planning and producing a video game software for traffic safety education through joint development with SEGA Enterprises (President Hayao Nakayama) to promote traffic safety education and traffic safety education. The video game software "Check by Game! Traffic Safety" is designed so that children and adults can enjoy the game naturally, deepen their understanding of traffic safety, and learn basic traffic safety rules. The three games are packaged together in one software cassette. [...]
The project has received a prize from the Japan Traffic Safety Education Promotion Association (Chairman Hideki Okazaki).
Tokio Marine is a company aiming to become a comprehensive security service industry, while providing peace of mind to the general public through the spread of property and casualty insurance, while preventing accidents themselves is an important social mission, and various services related to safety and disaster prevention.
As part of this service for customers, the company hopes to prevent traffic accidents, which have become a major social issue today [...] the company hopes that as many people as possible will enjoy the video game, which will help raise public awareness of traffic safety.
This project was created mainly for the purpose of being widely used in traffic safety campaigns at kindergartens and nurseries, as well as for community-wide traffic safety campaigns such as residents' associations, neighborhood associations, and children's associations. Will be rented out for free with a game console (SEGA Master System).
Contact the nearest Tokio Marine Co., Ltd. or its agent. Software cassettes are not for sale. [...] Tokio Marine has prepared 200 sets of the video game software for traffic safety education, and installed them at its branches nationwide along with game consoles (a total of 1100 units). They will also consider increasing the amount of software and hardware lent to the public depending on future reactions. [...]
On January 21, 1988, a similar article in “Insurance” states:
For video game software, 200 games are prepared, and for game machines (SEGA / master system), 100 machines are prepared and prepared for application. (Software cassette not for sale)
The contents of the game are packaged in a single software cassette with three games that match each age.
On August 30, 1988, another article in Zaigai (~Business World) gives a higher production number::
Tokio Marine has prepared 300 traffic safety education televised games and installed them at branch offices nationwide together with 200 game consoles. It can be borrowed free of charge for groups wishing to use it.
The game briefly appeared in a Japanese TV show in 1988:
All those findings are courtesy of research done by SukaSega
It’s not clear today what happened to those 200 or 300 cartridges. Were they actively rented by many schools and associations? We have no evidence of Sega fans saying that they were exposed to this game in 1988. The game seemingly wasn’t promoted to gamers, and the Master System was not particularly popular in Japan either. Likely many of those cartridges were unused, lost or destroyed.
On December 29, 2009, a loose cartridge surfaced and was auctioned on Yahoo Auctions, with an initial price of 3 million yens (about US$33,000 at the time). No bids were placed on the auction, but it appears that the cartridge was eventually sold outside of the auction, to a private collector, for an unspecified amount of money. We were aware of the auction at the time but unable to reasonably bid such an amount, we opted out of it. The collector who purchased the cartridge at the start of 2010 did not intend to share its contents, but posted one screenshot of the title screen on their website
In October 2019, another copy of the game resurfaced on Yahoo Auctions. This time, the game came with extra previously unseen contents: a briefcase, a Master System console and two large manuals. Initial price was 3.5 million yens. No bids were placed over a two month period and eventually the seller decided in mid December to turn it into a regular open auction, starting at 1 yen. We decided to bid, gathered funds and we won the auction for 521,000 yens (see purchase thanks/credits below). The NPO Game Preservation Society (NPO法人ゲーム保存協会) in Tokyo helped us with handling of the auction and transporting the briefcase to France. We also decided to have them dump the cartridge and fully scan manuals while in Japan, in order to avoid any risk that the game may be lost or damaged while transporting.
We got it !!!
We at SMS Power! have preserved and shared almost a thousand games over the years and we are happy to share this one as well.
See the Game de check! Koutsuu Anzen
page for details.
More screenshots at https://www.smspower.org/Screenshots/GameDeCheckKoutsuuAnzen-SMS
All scans at https://www.smspower.org/Scans/GameDeCheckKoutsuuAnzen-SMS
The game supports both PSG and FM audio (the FM chip was only available in Japan).
It is as yet unknown who composed this soundtrack.
Maxim extracted both PSG and FM and created standalone VGM packages with them. See the Game de check! Koutsuu Anzen
page for VGM packages details.
Youtube playlist (PSG version):
Unofficial English Translation
Because of the significance and rarity of this game, we decided that we’d try creating a translation patch for non-Japanese reading audiences so they could enjoy it. Maxim (SMS Power!) reverse engineered the game code, extracted the script and created custom tooling to reinject code along with translated text, new fonts and translated graphics into the game. Damian Rogers (Sudden-Desu.net and member of NPO Game Preservation Society) helped translate the game script to English.
A full english version of the game is available today:
Full source code and tooling for the translation will be made available on GitHub shortly after.
The game was purchased thanks to generous donations from:
- RetroRumper (http://gamingalexandria.com http://preservegames.org)
Which accounted for about 30% of the total auction price.
The rest was paid by Omar C (Bock) / SMS Power!
NPO Game Preservation Society (NPO法人ゲーム保存協会)
Auction handling, dumping, scanning & cleaning, transport, translation
Maxim (SMS Power!)
English translation patch, reverse engineering, hacking, soundtrack extraction
Damian Rogers / RyogaMasaki (NPO Game Preservation Society)
Japanese>English text translation
Translation logo graphics
Calindro, Paul Jansen
Additional hacking and translation help
Omar C / Bock (SMS Power!)
Purchase, coordination, additional hacking, screenshots