Time Walk Games makes physical prints of NES and SNES games. These shrink wrapped modern game carts are of fan game creations and translations. When I found TimeWalk Games online I was impressed with quality of what they produce. I was able to sit down with Spencer from TimeWalk Games and ask him some questions about what they do and threw in a few other bits as well.

jdodson: Recently you released Final Fantasy Ages for the Super Nintendo. How long does it take from the initial concept to launch? What process is involved to launch the game?

Spencer: The artwork, manual and map design can take anywhere from a week to a few months depending on the type of game that it is. RPG manuals tend to take a very long time to design due to the large scope of the games. Typically when when we decide to release a game in CIB we ask one of our roughly fifteen different graphic designers to develop the printed resources for the title. From there its just a waiting game. We never rush them as that would seriously degrade quality, and our standard has always been to match the quality of the original releases.

jdodson: Do you work along side the fan communities that create games to publish these carts?

Spencer: At the moment no. Unfortunately there are some differences of opinion between rom hackers, translators, and repro-makers, and always has been. Repro makers cater to those who want to play games on the original hardware. We specialize in bringing the game to the gamer as closely as we possibly can to what the game would have been liked if it would have had an official release (How's that for a run-on sentence). We love to see unboxing videos of our games, because when you see the customer remove the shinkwrap for the first time, you can see them transported back 20 years too when they we're buying these games as a kid. That's the biggest reason that we do this. I loved the way games used to be. Not just the game, but the packaging, manual, the whole bit. I have very little taste for modern gaming. Especially the packaging. Have you noticed how bland the packaging is for consoles now? Just look at the packaging for the 3ds compared to the original NES and SNES packaging. The 3DS packaging is very bland and sterile. You wouldn't even know it was a gaming device. The NES and SNES packaging are fantastic! Colorful and bold! They just scream fun.

But anyway, I've gotten away from the question. It is my great hope to see the various communities that are involved in these games come together and get past their differences.

There is so much talent out there, and the gaming community owes so much to the various translators and hackers out there.

jdodson's note: Here is an epic unboxing videos of the TimeWalk print Zelda Parallel Worlds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Asbjsfepl4Y

jdodson: What’s your favorite game you have published so far?

Spencer: That's hard to say. Some of the earlier ones such as Zelda Outlands was my design for the printed materials, and I've always been very proud of it. Its really hard to choose just one. My top pics at the moment that isn't my work are All New Punch Out, Mystic Quest Reborn and Metroid Deluxe.

jdodson: The original Nintendo and Super Nintendo came with lock out technology to avoid unlicensed games. How do you get around this?

Spencer: Very carefully ;)

jdodson: If Nintendo decided to make a 2D retro styled Zelda game what direction would you like to see it take?

Spencer: A sequel to Links Awakening. LA was my favorite Zelda game of all time. It played similar to a link to the past and it had a fantastic humor through out the game and the music is so memorable. Just charming in every way. I don't really feel like the next few Zelda games have to be huge and epic.

jdodson: How do you ensure when you run a game cart, that it works properly on the hardware?

Spencer: We simply test it on real hardware. Build the game, clean the pins and see if it works. We only test on genuine SNES and NES hardware though. There are so many clones out there that it would be to difficult and time consuming to test on all of them, though I hear the Retro-Duo is quite for compatibility these days. Most of the clones have problems with the Super FX chip though.

jdodson: What tech do you use to store the game code on the game cart?

Spencer: A combination of flash memory, eproms, converter boards and anything else we can use. Its something of a magic trick to modify old hardware in this way and we are always learning better ways to do it.

jdodson: To date, what has been your most successful game published?

Spencer: Zelda Outlands

jdodson: In Portland, we have a large Retro Gaming Community with the Portland Retro Gaming Expo and awesome arcades like Ground Kontrol. What’s your local Retro scene like and how involved is Time Walk Games in the Retro Gaming community in your respective areas?

Spencer: Sadly, our local scene is not very big. We own a brick and morter store in the area that specializes in retro gaming, comics, magic the gathering etc. Retro gaming does OK, but isn't huge, and we work very hard to promote it locally. Based on our sales for Timewalk, I would say retro gaming is actually significantly stronger in other parts of the world such as Europe and Australia.

jdodson: What did you think was the most offensive part in the Star Wars prequels?

Spencer: Dear lord where do I start. The fact that they we're made at all just to begin with. The cut and paste story line. The horrible CG. If I had to pick one thing though I think it would be the whole concept of Midiclorines. And yes, I know it didn't spell that right. It offends me so much I won't even take the time to properly look up how to spell it. But basically, the idea of retro actively changing the concept of the force from a spiritual concept to a scientific concept ruined the movie for me. I have to block out the idea that the prequels even exist to enjoy 4 through 6. A lot of people hate Jar-Jar Binks. I really don't have a problem with the character. Yes, he is somewhat annoying, but there are a lot of annoying characters in Star Wars (Ewoks anyone). I can stomach another one rather easily.

jdodson: You published Secret of Mana 2 fan translation on the Super Nintendo because it wasn’t published in the United States. Secret of Mana is one of my favorite games of all time, thank you for doing this!

Spencer: You're welcome.

jdodson: You ask fans to trade in certain games so you can recycle old games to publish future games. This is a really awesome idea! Are you able to get enough trade-ins to meet your publishing demands?

Spencer: Not even close. We are constantly searching and scouring for donor carts. We also have a policy to use only games that are terrible over produced games as well. Games that will more than likely end up in the landfill. That means no Zelda carts to make a Zelda Outlands.

jdodson: What’s a better way to travel through time? Delorean or Phone Booth?

Spencer: Considering the price of gas these days, a phone booth. Though the stainless steel construction of a Delorean really helps with the flux dispersal...

jdodson: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! Anything else you want to mention I didn’t ask that people should know?

Spencer: No problem. Nothing I can think of ;)

Spencer of TimeWalk Games:


AdamPFarnsworth wrote on 10/27/2012 at 07:23pm

Not to mention that a phone booth can be fixed with gum, whereas a broken Delorean has to be hit by lightening, or pushed by a train.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 10/27/2012 at 09:00pm

Agreed, the phone booth is much a much sturdier design.

Timogorgon   Member wrote on 10/28/2012 at 01:42am

The Delorean has more style though. But if we're talking ultimate time travel machine here, I think you need a TARDIS. :)

AdamPFarnsworth wrote on 10/29/2012 at 04:39pm


I just had to post this here! Doc Brown vs Doctor Who

Jacob_Richardson wrote on 11/01/2012 at 10:41pm

I wish he would have elaborated more on the differences between what he does and romhackers and translators. I follow the romhacking scene religiously for all of my retro gaming. Aeon Genesis has always impressed me with its huge array of translated old school games. I hope to one day see those translations put into a box print like these guys do.

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