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Watermelon launches Kickstarter to bring Paprium to next-gen consoles, PCs

Watermelon Games has launched a Kickstarter project to port Paprium — their stylish, SEGA Genesis beat ’em up — to “next-gen” consoles and PCs.

The Paprium port is planned to release on the Sony PlayStation 4 and 5, Steam and Linux. The campaign’s goal aims to raise about $300,000, and there are several available tiers and add-ons backers can choose from, including physical copies of the game. The base tier to get a digital copy is $24.

Paprium was released in December 2020 after a tumultuous eight-year development that saw the company lose many of its key staff members, including Watermelon’s president Tulio Goncalves.

Other available tiers include a “MEGAPOPE” tier for $8,888, where a backer can become a playable character in the game and get a custom title-screen, box and cartridge, including 88 copies of the game. If that’s not enough, there’s a Paprium “arcade” tier for $10,000, where a backer can purchase one of three Paprium prototype arcade cabinets. “Just place-in your SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive and your Paprium cartridge and let the magic happen,” the tier description read.

At the time of this writing, the campaign has reached about $75,000 on its first day.

What’s new in Paprium ‘next-gen’?

Watermelon says Paprium’s “next-gen” release will include an upgraded 16:9 aspect ratio and will retain the game’s original graphics and audio through the use of various proprietary methods.

The company stated that “instead of redrawing all the game’s graphics in a boring HD look, we’ve decided to retain the original graphics.” The graphics use an in-house developed proprietary technique that “gives justice to the immense (and massively tedious) work made by our pixel artists.”

“This is not a cheap filter, this technique – using advanced real-time intelligence algorithms – lets us re-transcript the CRT feel to a huge flat screen without getting you a sun-burn or premature ARMD,” the page reads. Other changes include “tuning down” the game’s flickering effects after the company received reports of customers “blowing their “LCDs” due to the stress caused.

Watermelon also said it’s “implemented a digital version of our proprietary DATENMEISTER audio IC that is present in the 16-bit cartridges. This lets us re-transcript with high fidelity the outstanding soundtrack composed by GROOVEMASTER and JREDD and retaining all dynamic soundtrack effects just like the original cartridge.”

Watermelon Games Paprium Collector's Edition
Paprium Collector’s Edition for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

Paprium Collector’s Editions

There are also options for physical collector’s edition on Steam and PS4/PS5 for about $100. The collector’s edition comes with a physical copy of the game, along the standard stuff like an instruction manual, poster, stickers and a CD containing a “mini-OST.”

Watermelon also promises both collector’s editions will come with added “goodies we cannot tell about.”

Watermelon Games Paprium Collector's Edition
Paprium Collector’s Edition for Steam.

Paprium’s troubled development

It’s not a stretch to say Watermelon Games has had a turbulent decade or so. After successfully completing development on their ambitious Japanese RPG Pier Solar and porting it to the SEGA Dreamcast and next-gen consoles, the company’s leadership had a public falling out.

Watermelon first began teasing Paprium on its Magical Dream Factory website, where it had long been called “Project Y.” In March 2017, Watermelon posted the first Paprium teaser on social media and later that month opened pre-orders for the game on its website. At the time, the classic edition was available for $69, and the limited edition was available for $89. The limited edition came with a customized clamshell case, and was numbered and signed by the development team. Watermelon said Paprium was slated to begin shipping in September 2017.

Watermelon Games launches Paprium Kickstarter campaign.

When September 2017 rolled around, Watermelon announced the game would be delayed into 2018, citing issues with PayPal. “They locked our funds after over 8 years of business,” their announcement read. “Thanks to your trust and love for quality retro games, we received an unprecedented large amount of orders. PayPal decided it was way too suspicious for a Mega Drive/SEGA Genesis game to be that successful.”

After that, updates on the game became more sporadic, and many thought the game would never be released. However, in December 2020, Watermelon announced the game was completed and would begin shipping in time for Christmas 2020.

Paprium finally released

Paprium is the pinnacle of video game programming, engineering and artistic excellence, nothing less, believe it or miss it. Actually, Paprium is much more than a game, it’s the total and absolute victory against the odds,” the email read. “We are, at this very time, packing and soon shipping our pre-orders. The release day will be on Dec. 16, 2020.”

True to their word, Watermelon did indeed ship Paprium orders, although some still say they haven’t received all their items. Earlier this year in February, the company issued a statement announcing their funds had been seized. Gwenael “Fonzie” Godde, one of Watermelon’s founders, said the company would have to sell off many of its assets and intellectual properties, including both Pier Solar and Paprium.

That brings us up to date with where things currently sit with Watermelon and Paprium. We’ll be sure to update you with the latest happenings with Paprium’s new Kickstarter campaign.

Chris Powell

Chris is the editor-in-chief of Mega Visions Magazine and the co-creator of SEGA Nerds. He was the former managing editor of Airman magazine and has written for publications like Joystiq, PSP Fanboy, RETRO magazine, among others.
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