Hiryuu no Ken Game Bundle

For the past several months, collectors and gamers alike have been going crazy about Nintendo’s recent release of the NES Classic and Famicom Mini, cutesy plug ‘n play machines shaped as smaller versions of the gaming consoles we hold dear to our hearts. Back when the releases were announced, I had heard that these were being done to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of the NES, but the dates don’t totally match up, so who knows, maybe I am just having a dumb moment. Either way, I discovered a neat little bundle a few weeks ago, and I wanted to share it with everyone. Since I don’t read much Japanese, maybe my search queries are just atrocious, though I prefer to think that the item I am about to unveil is just really obscure.

The Hiryuu no Ken (Fist of the Flying Dragon) game series first appeared on the scene in 1985, lining arcades in Japan and North America. The franchise would continue to find success on a number of different gaming platforms, finishing up with a Japanese-exclusive release on Game Boy Color, Hiryuu no Ken Retsuden GB. This chapter of the series would appear right before Christmas of 2000.

Recently I had been surfing the net and I stumbled upon the following:

Hiryuu no Ken Retsuden Box Set?

Hiryuu no Ken Retsuden Box Set?

Note the words “20th Anniversary” in the corner of the box. At first blush, it seemed as though this was a special commemorative package that would pair the Hiryuu no Ken Retsuden game with part three of the Famicom series, 5 Nin no Ryuu Senshi. What 20th anniversary would have been celebrated though? That of the game franchise, or perhaps the original release of Hiryuu no Ken III? Also, could such an awesome feat as Culture Brain making their Famicom game available for purchase so late after its release be real? The more I thought about the package, the more questions I had, and finally curiosity got the best of me. By then, it was just a matter of waiting for the package to arrive, so that I could examine things for myself.

When things finally did arrive, I decided to take a peak at the rear of the box before cracking it open.

Do Other Bundles Also Exist?

Do Other Bundles Also Exist?

The back of the box shows some pictures from the Hiryuu no Ken Retsuden game, as well as what appears to be some advertisements for some other games. I also found a copyright date of 2000 on the box, but it seems that this is just linked to the GBC game, rather than the release date of the bundle.

Like Two Peas In A Pod...

Like Two Peas In A Pod…

Peering in from the top, we can see boxed copies of both Hiryuu no Ken Retsuden and Hiryuu no Ken III: 5 Nin no Ryuu Senshi, two peas in a pod, sitting happily together. And time for a shot of the two games outside of the bundle packaging:

Famicom And Game Boy Pieces

Famicom And Game Boy Pieces

Sadly, it seems that both games are just normal retail versions – there doesn’t seem to be anything marking them as belonging to this 20th Anniversary package. I’ve seen cases of Hiryuu no Ken III floating around for sale before, so my best guess is that Culture Brain still has (had?) a nice amount of unsold stock, and decided to bundle it with unsold product from their GBC release, as a way of moving some old inventory. With a significant anniversary coming up by 2005, it seems like this would have been the perfect way of clearing out the extras. This is all speculation though, so if anyone has some concrete information about this release, please get in touch with me!

Obscure HandheldGaming: Taiwan’s Official Game Boy Release

Several years ago, I had stumbled across an interesting Game Boy Tetris cart, ID number DMG-TR-ROC. The cartridge sported an official Nintendo seal, seemed like a Taiwanese version of the game. A few months later, I snagged another one of these carts: DMG-ML-ROC. Super Mario Land. A Taiwanese release. But that was it. Three more years of searching, and nothing else ever turned up, aside from a few more (loose) Tetrises.

Game Boy collecting for such regions as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and general Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, etc) is incredibly niche. At one point I dreamed of getting a nice collection of these official Chinese games, though it just didn’t seem feasible, at least not in the way that I had envisioned. My short collecting spree did place me in contact with a tight circle of other collectors with a similar collection range, however, and as a result, I began discussing the mysterious ROC carts with one such person, as I was selfishly trying to peddle my goods. This would be my first time to actually take a stab at creating a theory to explain the existence of these carts and their conditions, and it seems that I was not so far off from the truth.

DMG-ML-ROC Mario Land

DMG-ML-ROC Mario Land

Up until now, I have never seen either of the Taiwanese games being sold as boxed specimens. In every case, the cartridges were in a loose, naked state, devoid of both box and manual. Then there was the fact that the only two games I had ever seen turn up were Mario and Tetris. It seemed as though these two games might have been pack-ins for an official Taiwanese Game Boy machine. The only problem though, was that I had never found one of those Taiwanese handhelds. So I had to start my quest again.

Browsing through internet auctions, talking with friends, and digging up other relevant contacts turned up nothing. I managed to confirm the existence of official Taiwanese Game Boy Color and Advance machines, official Asian region GBA machines, as well as the fact that the original monochrome Game Boy was distributed in Malaysia, in its own special packaging. As I began gathering more information about the distribution of Game Boy machines around Asia, the plausibility of the two ROC games being pack-ins increased drastically. Then last week I had a breakthrough.

An Official Taiwanese Game Boy

An Official Taiwanese Game Boy

I found a dude that was selling a broken Game Boy machine along with a box and some paperwork. Although the picture was quite small, the packaging seemed to suggest that it could belong to the elusive monochrome Game Boy that had been eluding me for so long. And the paperwork that came with the machine all seemed to be in Chinese, though once again, the photo wasn’t much to go by, as the resolution was small. Since the price was low, I took the risk and made the purchase. My excitement turned to horror though, as soon as the seller messaged me and asked which side of the box I would prefer that he affix the address label. Quickly writing the seller back, I explained that I was a collector, and was willing to pay extra if he shipped the items in a mailer instead. Luckily he agreed to my request, and I could barely contain myself as I tore open the manila envelope I received in the mail today.

Tucked between two pieces of cardboard was a monochrome Game Boy box. As I looked at the inside flaps, I was filled with joy as I discovered the following printed on it:

DMG-GBTR-ROC

DMG-GBTR-ROC

That’s right, it says DMG-GBTR-ROC. I dug further into the package and I saw a few manuals, and I’ll be damned, there’s a manual for Tetris. And the part number is DMG-TR-ROC.

Notice the ID:  DMG-TR-ROC

Notice the ID: DMG-TR-ROC

Great to be able to confirm that the loose Tetris carts I found were indeed packaged with the original Game Boy units sold in Taiwan. The machine I received was purchased in Toys R Us, according to the price sticker.  Ironically enough, Toys R Us in those parts now just sells modern-day NOAC Famiclones.

Originally Bought from Toys R Us

Originally Bought from Toys R Us

Whether the Super Mario Land cart was also distributed as a pack-in is anyone’s guess, but it seems safe to say that it most likely was passed around Taiwan in this way. Until we find another box containing Mario as the bonus game, we won’t know for sure though.

So what about the broken Game Boy that was included in the set I bought? Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say regarding it. That Game Boy machine just seems to be a standard DMG-01 release, though I would suspect that it could be the same machine that came with the box. Sadly there doesn’t seem to be anything marking it as a specific Taiwanese machine, unlike the later Game Boy units (i.e. Color and Advance) had, but that’s just the way things go I guess.

A Licensed Taiwanese Game Boy?!

A Licensed Taiwanese Game Boy?!

I’m glad to have checked another want off my list; now I just need to track down one of the official Famicom machines that circulated around the island. That should keep me occupied for another five years 😉