Monday, October 29, 2012

Leon Feeds The Beast: A Look At A One Man Reproduction Cartridge Operation

Collecting retro games can be a tough row to hoe, and hunting for NES titles can be downright perilous. There are around 756 officially licensed games that were released in the US during the NES life cycle, but after the console left market in the 90s, the desire to "catch em all" didn't go away with some gamers, and eventually, prototypes of unreleased games became the holy grails of the NES library. some collectors have taken it upon themselves to make these never before released titles available to play via emulators, while others have gone the extra mile to make the games available to play on actual cartridges that are playable on the NES. One such collector, Leon Kiriliuk of NES Reproductions, has brought us here in the good old USA some titles that would have never gotten official releases here, as well as prototypes, homebrew games, and hacks that breathe new life into titles that have long seemed dead.

Leon's road to making reproduction carts began as many gaming related loves begin, with an NES. A few years after his NES and games were sold off at a garage sale, his brother picked up another NES and it promptly rekindled his love for Nintendo's 8-Bit console. Eventually, Kiriliuk learned that many of the games that were never released on the NES in the United States were floating around on the Internet. He then learned how the ROM files for these games could be made into actual cartridges. While making reproduction cartridges of prototype games that were never officially released here
for his personal collection, word got out and requests started coming in. Fast forward a few years and Kiriliuk is providing reproductions of well known unreleased prototypes, Famicom imports, and homebrews that you'd be hard pressed to find outside of an emulator website.

Of the close to 60 titles available on his site, the most popular seem to be Earthbound(the prequel to the insanely popular SNES title) and Super Mario Bros. 2(known to American Gamers as The Lost Levels). Kiriliuk's site also features rereleases of Tecmo Super Bowl that contain current rosters(TSB 2013 was recently released in September) and the now infamous prototype of Seta's Bio Force Ape. the cost of these games is $25(shipping included). I'll be picking up a few games from Kiriluk and will be reviewing them as soon as I get them.

Leon Kiriliuk has successfully given the gaming public a way to play some games that would never have seen the light of day here in the US the way they were meant to be played. While he admits that he probably won't be able to continue providing his reproduction cart service for too much longer, it's awesome that he's able to do it while he can.

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