It's the question on everyone's mind: What are the RIKI games?


Well, maybe not everyone's mind. But it's a fair and understandable question all the same. Most of the releases Limited Run Games offers fall into one of a few fairly standard categories: Indie games, retro reissues, and special editions of releases from major publishers. However, our RIKI trio—that is, 8Bit Music Power, 8 Bit Music Power Final, and Kira Kira Star Night DX—straddles the line between "indie game" and "retro reissue" without quite being either, at least not in the same sense that other Limited Run offerings are.


They're NES cartridges, but they're brand-new creations. They're video games, but they're only sort of games in the usual sense. They push Nintendo's vintage hardware to new limits, but they're mostly passive experiences. Like I said, they're a little hard to pin down.


But they're absolutely worth making the effort to get to know. RIKI's games are really unlike anything else that's ever been released for NES, and they're wonderful. Creations this unique—and this loaded down with the talent of genuine video game veterans—don't come along too often. In fact, it's been nearly 38 year since Nintendo launched the NES in Japan (under the name "Family Computer," or "Famicom"), so that means things like come along once every 38 years.


For this month's episode of the Limited Run Games Runtime podcast, I connected with Digital Foundry's Audio Sorlie, who isn't simply a fan and supporter of these games—he's a long-time friend of many of the notable composers who contributed music to them. If you'd like to hear more about his connection to the RIKI games, as well as why they're incredibly significant releases in the Japanese indie and retrogaming scenes, you can download the latest Runtime

from Libysn in MP3 format, or just give it a listen here:

You can also watch me stream all three games with this archival Twitch recording from last week.

Of course, some people would still rather read than listen or watch content (and bless you for that, you loyal stalwarts). For you, here's a quick Q&A about what these three cartridges are all about, what makes them interesting, and what you get in the deluxe packages.

 

Q: So, yeah, what are these?

The RIKI trilogy is a set of three NES cartridges designed to run on real Nintendo Entertainment System hardware. These games were initially created and released a few years ago in Japan as Famicom cartridges, via a small publisher called Columbus Circle, and these are those same releases reworked to run on NES consoles instead of Famicoms. The boards for these are being freshly manufactured by Retro-Bit, meaning they're made to Retro-Bit's usual standards (which is to say, they run at the proper voltage, the contact edge is beveled, etc.). Aside from a Limited Run Games splash screen and the NES-compatible physical format, these are the same releases that shipped in Japan a few years ago!

 

  • 8Bit Music Power: This is basically a chip tune album with more than a dozen original compositions by veteran composers. You can mess around with the console's five audio channels to learn how the compositions work. It also includes some simple minigames.
  • 8Bit Music Power Final: Despite the similar names, this cartridge share no content in common with 8Bit Music Power! It's all-new compositions and a totally different interface design. While it lacks the minigames of its companion release, its visualizer elements look much more refined and artful.
  • Kira Kira Star Night DX: The most traditional video game of the lot, this is a sort of runner-style game where you control a girl who must run and leap to collect as many falling stars as possible. Despite the emphasis on interactive play, the music in this cart is every bit as awesome as in the others.

 

Q: Do these only work on American NES consoles?

They default to American NTSC consoles, but according to Retro-Bit, you can change regions to run these on PAL consoles by pressing Reset once they've booted—as with their previous NES carts, like Metal Storm.

 

Q: Do they only run on real hardware?

We have tested and confirmed these games will run on all American NES models, all flavors of Analogue Nt, and (for those of you who like to rip your carts to use as digital-only items) the MiSTer's NES core. We had trouble with Retro USB's AVS console, but we're hoping to get that resolved in a future patch. We did not test the games with emulator-based devices like RetroN 5, as RIKI designed the games specifically to work on original hardware.

Q: What's in the boxes?

The standard editions contain your usual NES fare: A cartridge, a vinyl slipcase, and a manual. 

The Collector's Editions are where things get spicy. Each one is a little different than the others.

  • 8Bit Music Power: Includes the standard game set, of course, but also:
    • 2x enamel pins designed to resemble some of the more, uh, memorable visualizer graphics
    • A pinboard featuring the "shopping arcade" backdrop from the music visualizer
    • A Music Selection CD featuring tunes from the game, newly remastered by BraveWave
    • A Data Disc featuring a selection of files from some tie-in book sets released in Japan
  • 8Bit Music Power Final: The standard game along with:
    • 2x enamel pins featuring the game's boppin' mascot gal
    • A pinboard featuring the "fruit garden" backdrop from the music visualizer
    • A Music Selection CD featuring tunes from the game, newly remastered by BraveWave
    • A "perfect book" mini-magazine featuring translated interviews and essays from a tie-in publication from Japan
  • Kira Kira Star Night DX: The standard game, plus:
    • 2x enamel pins featuring Nessa/Fami-chan, the game's heroine
    • A pinboard featuring the city backdrop
    • A Music Selection CD featuring tunes from the game, newly remastered by BraveWave
    • A "perfect book" mini-magazine featuring translated interviews and essays from a tie-in publication from Japan 

All three games will be available for purchase through April 18. You can buy the games as individual releases or as three-pack sets—we recommend the sets, since they come with a discount! (Standard Edition set | Collector's Edition set) But even if you just pick up a single standard edition release, I really can't over-emphasize how great these carts are. They sound amazing, and they really push the NES and the popular MM3 mapper chip to its limits.

 

Jeremy Parish

 

April 09, 2021