Yuzo Koshiro's studio Ancient publishes its first-ever NES game

And it's the second brand new NES release for Sept. 2017. Updated with video!

I interviewed legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro back at the beginning of the year, and it was an enlightening conversation. I learned a lot about how his studio Ancient came to be, got his take on the vinyl revival's intersection with game music, and checked out the coolest stuff in Ancient's office display case. However, I didn't have the opportunity to tour the company's offices, much to my disappointment... but I'm going to just tell myself they wouldn't let me into their inner sanctum because they were hard at work on a brand new game for Nintendo Entertainment System and wanted to keep it a surprise.

Ancient dropped their new game, Amazon's Running Diet, somewhat uncermoniously via Twitter yesterday. It's a simple, cute, endless runner style game that ties in with the woefully overlooked Gotta Protectors for 3DS. Gotta Protectors, of course, is a follow-up to Protect Me Knight for Xbox 360 Indies, which is about to vanish forever. Maybe this Amazon spinoff is meant to maintain balance in the universe once Protect Me Knight goes dark?

This release merits attention for a few different reasons. For one thing, unlike some modern NES hacks, it's not just an emulator-only product. It actually works on proper NES hardware:

I've also been told that you can load it onto a jailbroken Classic NES Edition system, if you're into that.

Secondly, it features possibly the largest character sprite I've ever seen on NES — which makes sense, given that Amazon is the only thing really moving on screen. Still, this is basically the NES's China Warrior... except not crummy and lame. It's an endless runner, which doesn't speak to copious creativity, but it looks nice and controls well. Isn't that what counts?

(Sorry for the color quality.) 

And finally, the crowning bit of trivia: Amazon's Running Diet is Ancient's first-ever NES creation. The company has been around since the 8-bit days, but back then they were tight with SEGA and produced their earliest games for SEGA's 8-bit platforms (Master System and Game Gear). It's taken more than 25 years, but Ancient finally jumped on the bandwagon of the most popular game console in Japan.

Oh yeah, and the game includes proper NES chiptunes by Koshiro, so obviously it's worth playing for the soundtrack alone.

You can download Amazon's Running Diet for free at the bottom of the official Gotta Protectors site — just scroll all the way down and you'll find it. Launching the same day as Columbus Circle's new Famicom conversion of Heiankyo Alien, Amazon's Running Diet makes this an awfully lively month for new releases on a console that has been out of circulation for more than 20 years.

Update: I streamed the game this afternoon (along with Kirby's Dream Course), and here it is in action, running on (something almost indistinguishable from) original NES hardware: