Pier Solar and the Great Architects
|Pier Solar and the Great Architects|
European Box Art
|Release date(s)||Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
|Distribution||64 megabit cartridge
Pier Solar and the Great Architects is a homebrew role-playing game for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, released in December 2010 by WaterMelon Co. The game optionally utilizes the Mega-CD expansion device to enhance its audio capabilities.
The story is focused around three best friends — Hoston, Alina and Edessot. Hoston's father falls ill and the three friends are left to seek a very rare magic herb to cure him. However this later develops into a much larger plot surrounding Pier Solar and the Great Architects.
- Hoston is a young botanist, taught by his father. Hoston is a carefree laid-back young man. When his father becomes dangerously ill, Hoston realises he is the only person who can save him and heads for the forbidden caverns of Reja where he hopes to find the herbs that will save his father's life.
- Alina was adopted at a young age. Alina grew up with Hoston and Edessot as her only friends. She is desperately trying to get her father to approve of her. She is a superficially strong and responsible young lady but at heart is very lonely. She feels that Hoston and Edessot are the only people who truly care about her. She is very protective of them and in many ways considers them to be her real family, though neither Hoston or Edessot understand this.
- Edessot is a mechanics genius and mature beyond his years. Edessot is part of a wealthy and liberally-minded family, and has been free to explore the world to his heart's content. Usually happier alone tinkering with machines he still likes spending time with Hoston and Alina, having formed a particularly strong bond with the latter.
Development of the game began on June 8, 2004 as a small project by the community of the website Eidolon's Inn, a community dedicated to homebrew-development for Sega video game consoles. The project was originally intended to be a simple RPG based on the members of the community, and the target platform was the Sega Mega-CD. At that time the project was simply called Tavern RPG, a reference to the website's message boards being called "The Tavern".
As development progressed the original idea was abandoned in favor of a full-fledged fantasy RPG of greater scale. By 2006 the game engine had become sophisticated enough that the creation of actual content could really begin. While most of the Eidolon's Inn community was no longer directly involved, other people joined the team, leading to a core of eight members with additional help from many more.
Goals for the game became ever more ambitious, with the development being switched from the Mega-CD, for which CD-ROMs would have been inexpensive to produce, to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, a system using more expensive cartridge-based storage media. To allow for the transition without having to reduce the amount of game content, it was decided to use a cartridge with 64 megabits of memory, making it technically the "biggest" game for the system, while finding a way to utilize the superior sound hardware of the Mega-CD at the same time if the device was present. As a result the game became the first Mega Drive/Genesis game to use both cartridge and CD-ROM at the same time.
The game was announced in a developer's blog with the launch of a website shortly after revealing the game's final title in January 2008. A demo was released later the same year to play on emulators, with pre-orders starting at the same time. A release at Christmas 2008 was announced. The game got considerable media attention for a homebrew title during the following months, with the UK magazine Retro Gamer featuring a two-page article in issue 49 and numerous websites reporting on it.
However this release date was not met, the developers citing the departure of a team member who had contributed essential graphics to the game, and his wish not to have his work used in the final version as the main reason. The delay was announced on November 14, 2008, but no new release date was given. Still media attention remained steady, with Germany's longest running print video game magazine M! Games and UK magazine Games TM reporting.
The game was shipped in December 2010, two years after the originally intended release date. Three different versions of the game have been released: Classic, Posterity and Reprint. The Classic and Posterity editions each have three different language packs, while the Reprint features the three most common European languages: English, French and German. The Japanese language pack originally included Japanese and English languages but the Japanese language was dropped and French and Spanish included due to a lack of volunteers to proofread the Japanese translation.
Reviews of the game were positive. Pier Solar's first magazine review was published by Spanish multiplatform game magazine Games Tribune in their January 2011 issue (published December 28, 2010), scoring 90%. It was Games Tribune's first review of a 16-bit game ever. A preview article had already been published in the previous issue. Dutch multiplatform game magazine Power Unlimited covered Pier Solar in their May 2011 issue, their first full-fledged review of a Sega Megadrive game since the late 1990s; it scored 90% and earned a Gold Award. A review on the site RPGFan gave the game a 69% citing the tedious battle system and mediocrity that increases as the game progresses.
Even prior to the game's official release date, the game had already sold out through pre-orders. Due to overwhelming demand, WaterMelon decided to produce a second, also limited, run with a so-called "Reprint Edition", which sold out in 12 days. WaterMelon announced the production of additional copies as Thursday, September 15, 2011. The third and final forecast re-print of the Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge was released on March 25, 2014. 
Pier Solar HD
On November 5, 2012, the game's developer WaterMelon announced on its Kickstarter page that it was developing the game for Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Linux and Sega Dreamcast. Later in the same month, WaterMelon elaborated their project further, additionally opening an opportunity to make the game available in Japanese, and to release the game on Android platforms, Ouya and Wii U. Early in the following December, the Kickstarter page successfully surpassed the project's minimum donation goal, and assured game's release on Wii U, which had the highest required stretch. On November 15, 2013, it was announced that the Xbox 360 version was currently delayed, and the game will come to both PlayStation 3 & PlayStation 4 in March 2014. WaterMelon announced their studio's acceptance into Microsoft's Xbox One developer program on December 4, 2013, as well as their intention to publish Pier Solar HD on the console. In February 2014 it was announced that Pier Solar HD had been delayed again and is now expected to be released in April 2014.
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