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Long-forgotten PS1 Net Yaroze game Magic Castle comes out over 20 years later

In another time...

Magic Castle is an eye-catching roguelite made on the Net Yaroze platform by a handful of Japanese developers back in 1997. But it never came out - until now.

For the uninitiated, Net Yaroze was a Sony project that made available to hobbyist coders a basic version of the PlayStation dev kit for £550. Around 1000 units were sold in Europe, which effectively created a ready-made community of budding developers working independently on the PlayStation platform. (For more, check out Eurogamer's 2013 feature, The story of Net Yaroze, Sony's first indie push.)

A Magic Castle prototype was built using Net Yaroze, but unfortunately the game was never finished or released. In March 2020, interviewed the head creators of Magic Castle: K. Matsunami, a game designer who now works at Sega, and a game designer who goes by the name PIROWO, and in the interview Matsunami revealed Magic Castle was created in just eight months as a pitch to a game production company. Sony expressed interest, but asked the developers to work on another project at the company instead. They declined. Eventually, the team disbanded.

The video below is a recording of Magic Castle's original presentation trailer on VHS, using capture from the prototype created in 1998.

Watch on YouTube

Last week, PIROWO took to Twitter to say Magic Castle had been released - and it's certainly caught attention. "I am happy to have the opportunity to play this game for all of you, something no-one has known about for over 20 years," PIROWO said.

A Twitter thread by @Dreamboum extolling the virtues of Magic Castle does a fantastic job of explaining why the game is exciting. There are 20 floors to survive, and four different classes each with different abilities to play with. The on-screen user interface can be moved around the edge of the screen by the player, which is a neat touch.

This release of Magic Castle is of course not the game it might have been had a big publisher stepped in to fund development. But it is fully playable and, crucially, now in the hands of all. Download it here. The video below, by YouTube channel Stranno, is a full playthrough.

Watch on YouTube

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