Handheld Underground

Company Profile ~ Sachen

posted by taizou @ 2012-08-20 13:58:15 Company Profiles

For the next one of these I'm going off in a completely different direction - well still Taiwanese, but otherwise... Completely! Okay they're an unlicensed Game Boy developer as well OKAY WELL Everything else is different yeah? So, Sachen, then. (Thin Chen Enterprise if you want to be formal about these things, or 聖謙企業 if you want to be Chinese). Unlike most of the developers I'll be covering on this site, Sachen was never really committed to the Game Boy. It's probably best known for its work on the NES, but spread itself across a whole bunch of platforms in its 15-ish year existence. so! a bit of history:

Taiwan, 1989. Two companies hard at work on mediocre unlicensed Famicom games. Their names? Sachen and Joy Van. "But wait!" I hear you say (if you've ever heard of either of them before). "I always thought they were the same thing!" Well, so did I, but none other than the legend that is Hummer Cheng cleared up that particular misconception. The two were, in fact, separate entities, making their own separate games of separately dubious quality. But! In 1990 they set their differences (if any) aside, and the two merged, creating the Sachen we know and love. Well I say "merged", but given that the new company was called "Sachen" and the former Joy Van boss went off to start Idea-Tek, it's probably safe to say Joy Van didn't really have the upper hand in that deal.

The merged Sachen would continue its work on the Famicom, putting out something like 60 titles all told. And, honestly, if I'm not completely insane by this point, lots of the games from both sides do have a certain quirky charm about them - while they mostly remain quite average compared to other games on the system, a surprising number of them have decent music (which helps a lot) and lots of the 1992-ish games have these little touches that give me the sense that the people making them actually cared about what they were making, even if they were a bit rushed sometimes. And we like that here at Handheld Underground. We also like the back of Great Wall's box.

Of course, the new improved Sachen wasn't content to rest on its laurels and stick with the NES - after all, no console lasts forever (although it's taken a pretty good whack at it, considering you can still buy clones of the damn thing today). So where to next? Aside from a couple of Mega Drive games that I know nothing about, naturally Sachen's attempts to diversify would take them towards..handhelds! yes. But not the Game Boy. Not yet. Sachen would first throw its weight behind the Watara Supervision - where they were one of about three third-party developers for the system - and the fantastically named Mega Duck, where they were seemingly the only developer for the system. That did mean that, relatively speaking, they did quite well on each console - they were, by default, the No. 1 developer on the Mega Duck, and the piss-poor quality of Watara/Bon Treasure's in-house Supervision titles meant that any third party efforts would seem like solid gold in comparison.

Despite these valiant attempts to back the underdog, though, it was inevitably only a matter of time before Sachen turned its attentions to the (very slightly) more successful Game Boy, though they never seemed really dedicated to the system - most (if not all) of their mono GB releases were simply ports of their Mega Duck titles (I can only assume the architecture was similar enough for that to be a fairly trivial process) in a series of 4 in 1 carts.

These games - some of which bear the name "Commin", for some reason - were a fairly mixed bag. Some are original, some are reasonable-ish, but the quality seems a bit lower than their later NES games and quite a lot of them are simply clones of existing titles (whereas their NES output was mostly original, with only a few being complete unabashed ripoffs), which seems a bit redundant on a console that already has most of those games. Though I suppose Sachen's carts would have been priced around the same or less than an original game, and when they were offering 4 games instead of 1 they could at least work the value angle - they did seem to get fairly wide distribution in Germany among other places. so maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all!

In the mid-90s Sachen seemed to go into some kind of hibernation, seemingly closing down their development office while continuing to churn out cartridges of their old games. But! Around 2000 the Game Boy Color seemingly woke the company from its developmental slumber, and they somehow mustered up the staff to release new GBC ports of three of their NES titles plus an odd King of Fighters strategy game, while re-releasing their old Game Boy games in new (barely) colourised compilations and even shaking loose a Mega Duck title that had somehow escaped the clutches of their 4 in 1s.

Of course, it seems fairly unlikely that Sachen itself actually retained a full development team for the five years it wasn't really doing anything. The NES to GBC ports (Jurassic Boy 2, Thunder Blast Man & Street Heroes) were probably developed by Makon Studio - which was almost certainly staffed by at least one former Sachen developer, who probably stayed in contact with the company - although Jurassic Boy 2 is of higher quality than Makon's usual efforts (IMO it surpasses the slightly rough NES version and manages to be a decent little game in its own right), so they may have either had some outside help on that one or simply been given longer to develop it than they were usually afforded by less legitimate publishers than Sachen. The KOF game was presumably farmed out elsewhere, since it has absolutely nothing in common with any previous Sachen or Makon game, but I have no idea who to.

After this brief revival, Sachen would revert back to its late 90s form for a while longer - once again simply manufacturing carts of its old games - but presumably the market had dried up by then (it almost seems like all the games they sold at that point were bulk orders to American NES collectors) and they shut up shop entirely at some point in the mid-2000s, leaving the world a slightly less weird place. :(

12 Comments

Comments

1posted by Chowdit1 @ 2014-10-19 05:15:33

@Taizou
Wow! First to make a post here! :) Anyways, like I said with the other page post, can you dump the Sachen multicarts, 8-in-1 Volume 2, 16-in-1, and 31-in-1. But definitely the 8-in-1 Volume 2. Apparently, people have been asking for ROM dumps of either the multicart or the games on it for around 10 years! Usually it seems like the ROM dumps of Sachen games are usually not too much the cart was released, if the file actually isn't actually defaultly set to a certain date, but actually truly recording the time and date of it. For example, 8-in-1 Volume 4's ROM was from 2000, as the multicart was from 1999. I would suggest to dump that multicart, AND find the single carts of those 8 games (to dump also), only problem, those might be pretty rare. For about that with Raw Dumps, if they don't work, read about that on the HHUGBOY emulator page.

2posted by taizou @ 2014-10-21 01:58:13

i don't have 8 in 1 vol 2 or any 16 in 1s.. i do have the 31 in 1 but i've lent it to someone who hopefully will be able to dump/emulate it properly because I never could.

3posted by Chowdit1 @ 2014-10-24 03:37:30

@Taizou
Well, can you buy the 8 in 1 Volume 2, and the 16 in 1 of Sachen's, and dump them?

4posted by taizou @ 2014-11-21 02:55:52

if i find them and they're cheap then yes, although tbh i'd probably send them to the same person who currently has my other Sachen carts

5posted by Chowdit1 @ 2014-12-16 11:59:21

@Taizou
I hate to impose and keep bothering you about it, but could try to quickly find a copy of that Sachen multicart? It just seems like after seeing GamTec's "Super Tank War", it just makes me rather wish for "Electron World" of Sachen's. I mean "Super Tank War" just seems depressing. It's stupid how they try to even make the music sound 'realistic and depressing'. :( D: I mean really, Sachen's "Electron World", is *got to be* the BEST hack of "BattleCity". It's perfect for geeks and nerds. ^_^ 'An electronic war'. Good storyline, Sachen. Also, besides, the games on here are much better than most of those on the Volume 4. I don't why whoever dumped the multicart, back then, chose to dump Volume 4. :

PS.: Side note, (when you dump the ROM) can you make an additional ROM of Electron World (pulled out of the multicart), to have the main theme be replaced with Utopia's Commodore 64 theme on that Trained ROM of TBM? The music Sachen made on that game is somewhat pretty awful.

6posted by ? @ 2014-12-16 12:01:01

@Taizou
http://www.romnation.net/srv/roms/16701/gbc/Thunder-Blast-Man-J-C-t1.html

7posted by Chowdit1 @ 2014-12-16 12:04:32

@Taizou
I don't know if read this page before, but here, you can read about someone having that multicart. He seems to taken images and the video from Qiezei.

8posted by Chowdit1 @ 2014-12-16 12:05:37

@Taizou
Wow. I'm accidently making a lot mistakes, sorry. Here, I forgot the link to the page:
http://gameboy.neocities.org/GBC8in1Sachen.html

9posted by taizou @ 2014-12-21 01:34:49

"I hate to impose and keep bothering you about it"
then stop bothering me about it. if i see this cart for sale, and it's reasonably priced, and reasonably available (ie not in some country it's impossible to buy from), i will buy it. but i'm not about to go hunting the fucking globe for it because honestly i don't care that much about it. and i probably wouldn't be able to dump it because i've never been able to dump a sachen game ever. and i can tell you there's someone out there (not me) working on a dump of their 31 in 1 which has all these damn games on it anyway, so if you have some patience im sure you'll be able to play it soon.
(also I haven't played Electron World but Super Tank War is probably better anyway and it definitely has better music)

"Side note, (when you dump the ROM) can you make an additional ROM of Electron World (pulled out of the multicart), to have the main theme be replaced with Utopia's Commodore 64 theme on that Trained ROM of TBM? "
no.

"I don't why whoever dumped the multicart, back then, chose to dump Volume 4"
Probably because all they had was Volume 4.

10posted by Chowdit1 @ 2015-01-06 00:44:39

@Taizou
I'm sorry to kinda piss you off. But just to let you know, at least I ain't like somebody average not even able to wait for a brand new video game to release. At least I've got more patience that most of those usual people, you would think of, like that. I know you're trying. I also am sure it sucks that doing all of this is probably awfully expensive. Buying from China with TaoBao. I mean I was trying get some bootleg games off of there with my aunt. But she read a review saying they were buying something cheap, that the shipping ended up to be 100 something *dollars* (not Yuan). I don't know what's the deal with that. But of course, my family is alot more racist, than I am (basically they're somewhat racist, and I'm usually never racist), so I would go into detail of what they think. It's just about that, I'm sorta like those guys, I mentioned (nobody in general), I just can't wait. It looks SO fun (for a simple game)! :D Also, why wouldn't you want to replace the music? It would be a nice suggestion. Like I said, the music on "Electron World" kinda sucks pretty badly. But yes, I might something about your 'comrade'. Speaking of which, what is his username? (No, I'm not going to rush him, to insanity. I'll just see what's up.)

But yes, *I'm sorry to bug you so much*. :(

11posted by Chowdit1 @ 2015-01-06 00:48:27

Should have probably said "his or her's". :_

12posted by taizou @ 2015-01-06 03:03:57

"But she read a review saying they were buying something cheap, that the shipping ended up to be 100 something *dollars* (not Yuan). I don't know what's the deal with that."
probably the agent, some agents only offer EMS or other relatively expensive methods, and if the item is heavy-ish it can easily add up. If they offer China Post small packets or E-express or something like that it's usually fairly reasonable.

"Also, why wouldn't you want to replace the music? It would be a nice suggestion."
well sure it's a nice idea but i don't wanna do it, i have no experience in music hacking and if i was gonna learn it probably wouldn't be for some random sachen game i don't really care about

"Speaking of which, what is his username?"
.. yeah i'm not telling you that, he doesnt need you bugging him