We live in good times for homebrew videogame developers. Enthusiasts of the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Odyssey 2 and other classic systems have learned to program new games, and many have spent long nights recreating the look and feel of original cartridges and packaging of their console favorites. "Beggar Prince" is the first homebrew releases to come out on an authentic cartridge for the 16 bit Sega Genesis (Mega Drive), and the first game to be commercially released for that platform in nearly 10 years.
"Beggar Prince" started life as an exclusively Chinese release back in 1996. Flash forward a few years to see American Brandon Cobb and his Super Fighter Team group begin a year-long process of translating and fixing bugs in the game's code leading up to the cartridge's release in May 2006. Super Fighter Team went to impressive lengths to recreate the vibe of a genuine Genesis release. The cartridge, box, and manual all have the look and feel of a game that might have been released by a games publisher back in the 16-bit heyday. Feeling ten years younger, I was ready to plug the game into my Genesis and get started.
The background unfolds through scrolling text and animation telling the story of a Prince who leaves his castle to sample the world of the commonfolk. Deciding to return to regal life, the palace guards refuse to admit the prince - and the plotting Cat Minister (meow?) puts plans into motion to seize the kingdom. As the game begins you play the prince meandering the environs of the kingdom, encountering townsfolk and gaining valuable clues that will hopefully lead to snatching power back from the sly claws of the Cat Minister.