After 3 years In development hell, Paprium is Finally Out for the SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive
Do you remember Paprium? Well, I don’t blame you if you don’t, but the important part is that the game is finally out! When everyone thought that their pre-order money was long gone, the game gets shipped to the people that bought it years ago!
Watermelon Games is no strange to delaying games and then releasing it when people had lost hope. Pier Solar and the Great Architects for the SEGA Mega Drive by the same company comes to mind.
Well… the game is finally out, so what about it? I did not pre-order the game, honestly, completely missed it when it was first announced, however, some YouTubers that pre-ordered the “Investor’s Mega Pack” started to post unboxings a few days ago, and now you can see a number of them on YouTube.
By looking at some of these unboxings, I must say, the packaging of the game looks awesome. It comes with a very nicely printed manga-style comic book, the entire cartridge case comes in a blister pack, and they did a pretty good job of replicating the SEGA-style artwork on the covers. Other bits and pieces are also really cool, such as the manual, presented on high quality paper and in several different languages. Also included is a cool sticker sheet and a poster. Really high quality material and attention to detail in there to make any collector drooling. I know I did!
How About The Game?
Paprium was promised to be the largest and the best game ever made for the Mega Drive / Genesis console. Using a massive 80 megabit cartridge, and a DatemMeister custom chip, did it fulfilled its developer’s promises? Was it rushed, even after 5+ years in development? Is this another case of frustration on the same vein as Cyberpunk 2077 for gamers and people that preordered it? Again, I don’t have the cartridge and was not able to play the game, but I will go by the many gameplay videos and reviews I’ve seen so far.
First of all, the game looks really good. The graphics are at par, or close to what was showed by Watermelon Games previously. Sprites are big, the characters and the environment is really detailed. Music and sounds are really good for the most part. Presentation overall is really good. The game “looks” like what was promised and showed on their big “reveal party” a few years ago.
The characters are really well animated, gameplay is fluid with plenty of detail on the backgrounds. Some of them quite impressive, like the subway arriving at the station. The game handles two players and 4 to 5 enemies on the screen at the same time without slow downs or any glitches.
Music is nice, but a bit repetitive, and even out of place when compared to what is going on. It sounds more like “shoot ’em up” music than “beat ’em up”, in my opinion.
Now, does it play well? My impression is that the game plays very similar to Streets of Rage 2. It’s the same controller scheme that most console and 2-button arcade beam ’em ups have. Being the Genesis, then we have 3 buttons, so one attack button, one for jumping and maybe one for a special attack. Pretty basic beat ’em up gameplay. Even some of the attacks seem to be inspired by Streets of Rage 2, like the “grab and throw back” movement you can do on enemies. All that does not mean the game can’t be fun, but I feel like this game was going to do more on that aspect.
One thing I though was really ingenious is the use of the SEGA CD attachment on the game. Even though the game is not for the SEGA CD, if you have one attached to your Mega Drive / Genesis console, you can play a two-player game with the SEGA CD “controlling” the second character, if you don’t have a friend to play with you as the second player against the enemies. It will also work on the CDX, it actually seems like the CDX would be the best system to play this game from what we’ve seen.
YouTuber Sarumaru (click here to see his channel), reportedly experienced something weird when starting his SEGA Genesis for the first time with the cartridge inserted. The game went to an 8-bit lookalike game, very similar to “Mighty Final Fight” but with “VERY” limited gameplay and very simple graphics. The game did not played properly until he started the SEGA CD.
This probably means that this game will only work on a SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive + SEGA CD/MEGA CD combo, and if that is the case, this is a huge let down. One thing is the game using the extra processing power of the SEGA CD to add features not possible on a regular console to the game, such as the ability to use the second player controlled by the machine, another completely different thing is not being able to play without a SEGA CD attachment, and that is a major issue, in my opinion.
For the record, if you try to play the game on an Analogue Mega Sg FPGA console, you’ll have the same result.
This pretty much makes Paprium a SEGA CD game on a cartridge. We need more information on this though. I’ll keep an eye on other reviewers and YouTube channels to make sure that is the case, and we might update this article with the exact information, but right now, it really looks like this is the case.
Paprium Looks Awesome, How Can I Get One Myself?
If you have not placed a pre-order back in 2017, you are out of luck, at least for the time being. Watermelon Games already announced a second batch of the game for Early 2021, most likely April 2021, but with Watermelon Games, you never know. But, if you are really jonesing for Paprium (that did not sound right…), get ready to open your wallet big time. Japanese and USA Artwork Special Editions are going for $169.46. European Special Editions for $339.66 – this one looks like it will have a lot more goodies included, compared to the others, hence the higher price. If you are looking to spend less and get just the cartridge on a case with cover and manual, Watermelon Games is offering a JEU (Japan, Europe and USA) world version for $129.00 “only”.
Now, this does really seem a lot for a Mega Drive brawler, specially when I think I’ve got Streets of Rage 4 and River City Girls physical editions for the PS4 from Limited Run Games a few months ago for only $34.99 each, and both included a Soundtrack disc. Heck, I got the 3D digital version of Streets of Rage 2 for the Nintendo 3DS least month on a sale for only $2.99, and it’s a great title on the Nintendo 3DS, with 3D gameplay.
I know games on cartridges cost a lot more to make than games printed on DVDs or Blue-rays, and being even more limited, Paprium will obviously cost more. Of course $80 like it was when people were pre-ordering the game a few years back would be more adequate, while still high when compared to other recent Indie games on cartridge for the SEGA system, but the developer and publisher of the game claimed that there were too many cancellations for pre-orders and they ended up shipping a lot of cartridge “for free”, so they must charge more now to compensate for their losses. I am not sure what they mean by that, however, it’s a lame excuse and put on new customers the burden for their poor mismanagement of funds the first time around.
The costs to manufacture cartridge cases, clamshell boxes, stickers, manuals and everything in high quality as these items seem like they are that make the Paprium package, are not cheap, but are not that expensive that you must charge $129, $169 or even $339. At $339, this is about the same price as a ZX Spectrum Next, or a complete MiSter FPG system, so this is a too much money for a game, I’m sorry.
The game looks beautiful, and of course it would be lovely to have one, but when you also think that there are at least a dozen beat ’em ups in Cartridge format for the many retro platforms you can get for far less money.
On a final note, their Grand Stick III LE Fighting Stick will also go for $169. Also, excessively expensive. You can get an ATGames Legends Arcade Stick for less, and it comes with a ton of games pre-loaded.
Again, we understand the exclusivity of Paprium, but taking in consideration all the factors, even the fact that the game is actually good and really well made, specially for an Indie Game, the cost to own one of these cartridges is almost prohibitive, and still, we think those will be sold out soon.