Sometimes you stumble upon a game and you just have the urge to buy it. That’s what happened to me with Kiddy Sun. When I first discovered Kiddy Sun in Fantasia, it had been offered up for sale for a high price. I wasn’t keen on the price, but the game looked rather interesting, and even better, it was obscure. So I struck when the iron was hot, and a few weeks later the game ended up sitting in a drawer, where I stash my rare Famicom carts. The reality was that Kiddy Sun wasn’t nearly as magnificent as I had originally suspected – at best, it was a hack of my least favorite game in the Adventure Island series, namely part one. Sadly, as far as game play is concerned, Kiddy Sun doesn’t offer much, but we will discuss that in a bit. Let’s first look at the history of the game, which is quite interesting in and of itself.
When Kiddy Sun first started circulating around the internet, it was initially thought to be an unauthorized hack of Hudson’s Adventure Island game. The game itself only turned up for sale in Taiwan and China, and as mentioned earlier, the game itself was just a modest hack of sorts. The hack itself is credited to Era Tech in 1987, but in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t mean much. I also own game hacks that are credited to NTDEC. So overall, although the build quality seemed a bit higher than the run-of-the-mill pirate cart, the lack of general information about the game and the program itself just had the makings of a bootlegger’s dream. Except of course, that wasn’t the case at all.
Kiddy Sun is rare, but even more so, it is obscure. Few know of this game’s existence, but in reality, the game is a licensed product. The answer to the Kiddy Sun legitimacy can be found in a scrap of information posted by taizou of the Pirated Games Central Forum, in a thread about a nongoodnes rom set: “One random thing I just realized- ‘Kiddy Sun in Fantasia’ is in there, which I’ve seen before and I assumed was a pirate hack of Adventure Island, but it’s copyrighted to Eratech and Hudson had a HK and Taiwan joint venture caled HuERA, so maybe its actually a licensed hack?” In reality, that is the entire truth. But I will outline how I arrived at that conclusion below, so that everyone can see the truth about Kiddy Sun (and update their Famicom lists).
As mentioned earlier, the Kiddy Sun game is attributed to a Taiwanese company known as Era Tech. Era Tech is a part of Era Communications, a large multimedia company that has been involved with Internet, multimedia distribution, satellite TV broadcasting, etc. So a quick trademark search for “Era Tech” yields us the trademark for Era Tech, which matches the image on the game cartridge. Let’s see.
The company that applied for this trademark is as follows: “年代科技股份有限公司”. Yup, that is Era Tech’s Chinese name.
Although I had a hunch that taizou had discovered something of interest in his post regarding HuEra, the page that he had linked to was of little interest. The logo for HuEra was quite different from the Era Tech logo, and aside from pure speculation, there was no concrete evidence to link the two companies.
Today I happened to run into one of my buddies, and he gently pushed a stack of old gaming magazines into my hand. I thanked him and threw these ancient volumes into my bag, which would result in a backache. Try towing about twenty different magazines on your back for ten hours! When I got home though, I decided to thumb through the various issues that I had received, and on the back cover, I stumbled upon the following advertisement: “Enjoy Hudson”. At the bottom the advert was credited to “Hudson Era Soft Co.”, and the logo looked very familiar 😉
Just to confirm things, I decided to do a quick search to see who exactly owns (ed) the HuEra trademark, and oops, it happens to be these fine folks, namely 年代科技股份有限公司 (Era Tech). So that settles it, although Kiddy Sun in Fantasia is a hack of Adventure Island, it was created and distributed by Hudson’s Taiwanese division. To sum it up, the game itself is a licensed hack, and as such, is one of the rarer licensed Famicom games out there. So for those of us that are collecting Famicom full sets, let’s update our lists from 1051 games to 1052. Kiddy Sun will be happy to join its brothers and sisters. 🙂
Why was the game produced? I would love to know the answer to that one, but thus far I have been unable to find a true answer. If I were to guess, I would posit that the game was released in a similar manner to All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros., namely a special promo for some sort of raffle or prize with the Era Tech broadcasting company.
In terms of the game itself, Kiddy Sun is a hack of Adventure Island. The game starts on Area 1, Round 2, as opposed to the first stage in the game. In addition, many sprites have been changed. Master Higgins is missing in action, and instead of collecting fruit, the player collects other delicacies. The enemies and bosses have also been reworked, and the level order has been tweaked. Last but not least, new music has been added to the game.
Perhaps my favorite part about this game is what it is, rather than the game play itself. Although Taiwan had received an official Famicom launch and a handful of Taiwanese-version games, everyone (rightfully) associates the country with the rampant piracy, which would eat away at Nintendo’s marketing efforts there. As my one buddy told me, all of the shopkeepers preferred to sell the counterfeit games, since the stores could obtain them for a cheaper price, and thus the profit margin was higher. But despite all odds, a unique (licensed) game came out in Taiwan. All signs point towards Hudson being behind the Kiddy Sun game release, and it no doubt was slated for a Taiwanese release only. So Famicom collectors end up with an official, weird, promo-ish cartridge to track down and collect, which happened to be distributed in Taiwan. Very cool.