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Super Russian Roulette is a new party game for the NES that pits you and up to two friends against a fully voiced trash-talking cowboy.
Super Russian Roulette is a new party game for the NES that pits you and up to two friends against a fully voiced trash-talking cowboy.
Super Russian Roulette is a new party game for the NES that pits you and up to two friends against a fully voiced trash-talking cowboy.
1,090 backers pledged $84,263 to help bring this project to life.

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Super Russian Roulette: A New Party Game for the NES

$84,263

1,090

The Good, the Bad, and the Zapper:

Inspired by the best kinds of bar games (ones with simple rules that become more enjoyable the longer you play), by goofing around, and by my generation’s childlike enthusiasm for that piece of gray plastic, Super Russian Roulette (SRR) is a brand new party game for the NES. One unhinged 8-bit cowboy is prepared to call you yellow, call you crazy, mourn your death, or kick up his boots for the last time. One bullet waits in the light gun’s chamber. You, up to two friends, and The Cowboy take turns passing the pistol, spinning the chamber (or not!), and drinking to your own demise (or not).

The game is written in 6502 assembly, programmed on an original cartridge design, runs on real hardware, and been tested extensively on an official NES console.

Update 2/28:

I want to sincerely thank everyone who pledged, shared and supported the work that I do. The outpouring of support I've received for this project has been overwhelming.

I'll be posting a proper update shortly, but just know that at the amount this campaign has raised will allow me to implement some of the wilder ideas I had for the game / rewards, I can't wait to share them. Really exciting times, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I've added stretch goals! They're going to be seriously fun.

Update 2/21:

I've received many requests (plus a few threats from Australian friends) and I'm happy to announce that the game will be offered in versions for both NTSC and PAL regions! You'll receive a backer survey at the end to select which version you would like.

Stretch Goals

$60,000 - Taunt Contest

I've reserved 16 one-second samples for backer created taunts / nicknames. When the kickstarter ends I'll send a survey and we'll pick our favorites. Cowboy Rob will record the insults and they'll be included in every copy of the game! Winners will also be featured in the game credits screen next to their taunt.

Just a reminder, all of the existing dialog is PG and none of it is truly mean spirited (well, except if you shoot his teddy). Any submissions not within the spirit of the game will be disqualified. 

Some existing taunts to get you thinking:

OL' RATTLESNAKE

PUMPKIN BUTT

WACKY TAFFY

TEETER TOTTER

BIG GALOOT

$70,000 - NSF Saloon

The "NSF Saloon" is an additional mode for the game that turns Super Russian Roulette into an album on a cart, with a player piano where you can listen to the soundtrack as well as bonus tracks that don't appear in the main game!

$80,000 - CHR Upgrade

I've taken the time to rewrite the animation engine to make the cowboy even more dynamic. If we hit this goal I'll update the specifications of the cart to include double the graphics (CHR) memory (128KB->256KB) to include all new animations drawn up by Alex Baderian! 

$100,000 - ?????????

(!!!)

Features:

  • Brand new cartridge hardware with 1 MEGABYTE (wow!) of program memory designed to push the limits of the NES and bring the character to life! 
  • Over 4 minutes of speech recorded by Rob Kurtz in glorious 8KHz Delta Pulse Code Modulation. Never was there another game for the system with this much human speech! Because it wouldn’t have made any sense!
  •  Fully animated cowboy drawn by masterful farmer and 3D-sculptor Alex Baderian. Customized outfits, facial hair, animations, and random behavior each time you play! We took advantage of the limited color palette of the NES to create only the most garish combinations. 
  • Original "Morricone-Meets-NES" Soundtrack composed exclusively for the game by Nick Gargiulo. You've never heard your NES whistle like this.

Background

The NES has a special place in my heart. So when I set out to make a game using the zapper, my intention was to work deliberately: to push its limits and show what it could do. I thought the result might be funny, but I didn’t think it would be fun. Along the way, my technical endeavor turned into a project designed to amuse my friends. I worked on it with their input, and the game skewed dark and weird. We got a lot of satisfaction out of creating an NES-centered social experience that let people bond over discomfort.

*gulp*
*gulp*

We also liked the idea of a shooting game where the non-player character is on the same footing as the players. Besides giving the monitor a seat at the table and a cowboy hat, I used every 6502 assembly programming trick I know to make the cowboy lifelike. The cart’s designed to have room for a bunch of stuff too impractical to have ever been on an actual game—like a huge on-screen character with AI and over four minutes of a crazy human’s cowboy impression. Finally after almost no discussion, my friend Rob sent me an email attachment with 100 .wav files named “cowboy.zip.” Super Russian Roulette was born.

a-hoo-hwee!
a-hoo-hwee!

All of the (many many) late nights I spent programming were instantly validated the first time I witnessed the cowboy turn friends against each other, slamming their fists against the table and chanting in unison with a fictional character. I've heard the cowboy-assigned nicknames stick with people long after the game is over, and the players looked at each other as much as they looked at the screen which really is something magical.

"Fine fella..."
"Fine fella..."

I was floored to hear about how many people still had their NES hooked up in their living rooms, and many asked me for a copy but I had no plans to release Super Russian Roulette. Until Fantastic Arcade.

Super Russian Roulette won the Fantastic Arcade 2015 Audience Choice Award. It was a huge honor to be considered alongside some of the best indie games of the year. 

So I started thinking that the audience for SRR might be bigger than I thought.

Why Kickstarter?

The step up from producing a single prototype to multiple copies is a big one. I’ve done it before, but it requires a substantial initial investment. I also have to fit production around my day job. Receiving a single batch of orders that I can work to fulfill over the course of a few months will help me with scheduling, and with fine tuning the process of making the carts in bulk.

Development:

Apart from Fantastic Arcade, I’ve brought SRR to a many small gatherings over the years to get feedback and whittle away the bugs. There are tweaks and enhancements I’d like to make, but the heavy lifting is finished.

Additionally, I have experience designing and shipping hardware and/or games for the NES, Genesis, and Sega CD in past, and even designed the hardware for a new vector arcade game.

I feel that it's safe to say the project is within my reach and very far along. See "Risks and Challenges" for more details. 

Unique Rewards: 

It's my hope that this campaign will allow me to produce as many copies of Super Russian Roulette as there are people who want it, but there are some rewards which will only be available here: 

  • THE SOUNDTRACK: Five tracks composed exclusively for the game by Nick Gargiulo, lovingly written for the NES soundchip and recorded from real hardware. The download will also include some additional instrumental renditions only available for backers. 

  • THE STICKER: As special thanks for helping production get off the ground, Kickstarter supporters from the Magnificent Second Pledge Level up will receive an exclusive sticker designed by Christophe Richard
  • LIMITED EDITION HAND-NUMBERED CARTS: This release will be the only time you can get the limited edition black, numbered game carts in a handsome leather holster along with three cowboy boot shotglasses. This edition is limited to 100 sets and the serial number will be hand written on the cartridge as well as appearing on the game title screen. The holsters will be laser etched and hand numbered out of one hundred in the cylinder art.
Prototype Holster (Projected Design) + Label Placeholder
Prototype Holster (Projected Design) + Label Placeholder
  • EXTREMELY LIMITED OPPORTUNITY TO BE IN THE GAME: Because I designed the development tools for SRR, it's possible to put in custom screens or substitute the sound files for very high-level backers. It does take a lot of time, though, so these modifications are Kickstarter exclusive. 
Here's an example introduction screen for a bar welcoming customers to play:
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  •  ROOTIN’ TOOTIN’ GRATITUDE
    Anyone who purchases the game outside of the Kickstarter will only receive regular gratitude.

The Commercial

The story thus far of Super Russian Roulette wouldn't be complete without the amazing ad you saw at the top of the page. As the game grew up, I couldn't help but imagine the commercial that would have run between the Saturday morning cartoons of my childhood. Friend, comrade, director, and dungeon master Ray Zablocki created something wilder than I ever could have imagined.

Risks and challenges

Late delivery is the greatest of all sins. With hardware related games, it's usually caused by:

1.) Promising something un-buildable

2.) Promising something you haven't built but believe you COULD build

3.) Promising something you've built one of, but which is difficult to make many of

4.) Being good at one part of a project (making a game) but neglecting another (making a cartridge)

These are real risks! Luckily I've done my best to address them already:

1+2.) Super Russian Roulette is already programmed and running on real cartridge hardware that I designed. It's been tested at festivals, parties, and basements many times over.

3.) Last year I delivered 250 carts for the game Star Versus by Dustin Long. I designed the electronics and assembled them all in the same lab where I'll be producing Russian Roulette.

4.) For the non-electronics parts of the project I've already secured contacts and/or material. I've sourced hundreds of plastic cart shells in past, and have a pallet of them in the garage to prove it. I have contacts for cart labels, manuals, and boxes already worked out. Even the leather holster reward has multiple sources.

I believe any real risk will be one I haven't predicted -- maybe something to do with shipping or moon phases or the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Which is why I have made the delivery dates DOUBLE what I think actual production time will take. If I can't predict it, at least I can dump time on it.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    EL MARIACHI
    (SOUNDTRACK)
    + Digital download of the game soundtrack written by Nick Gargiulo recorded from a real console
    + Bonus arranged tracks
    + A heap of Rootin' Tootin' Gratitude for your support

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    69 backers
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  2. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $55 or more About $55

    THE MAGNIFICENT SECOND PLEDGE LEVEL
    (STANDARD CARTRIDGE)
    + One (1) Super Russian Roulette standard gray game cartridge
    + Soundtrack digital download
    + Supporter sticker

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    Reward no longer available 250 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $55 or more About $55

    THE MAGNIFICENT SECOND PLEDGE LEVEL II - (SECOND SHIPMENT)
    (STANDARD CARTRIDGE)
    + One (1) Super Russian Roulette standard gray game cartridge
    + Soundtrack digital download
    + Supporter sticker

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 140 backers
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  4. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    THE WILD BUNCH
    (STANDARD CARTRIDGE + BOX + MANUAL)
    + One (1) Super Russian Roulette standard gray game cartridge.
    + One (1) game box and manual designed by Christophe Richard
    + Soundtrack digital download
    + Supporter sticker

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    Reward no longer available 250 backers
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  5. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    THE WILD BUNCH II - (SECOND SHIPMENT)
    (STANDARD CARTRIDGE + BOX + MANUAL)
    + One (1) Super Russian Roulette standard gray game cartridge.
    + One (1) game box and manual designed by Christophe Richard
    + Soundtrack digital download
    + Supporter sticker

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 300 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    HELL BENT FOR LEATHER
    (SPECIAL EDITION, LTD 100)
    + One (1) Super Russian Roulette hand-numbered black game cartridge with alternate label
    + One (1) leather cartridge dust sleeve / holster
    + Set of three (3) cowboy boot shot glasses
    + One (1) game box and manual
    + Soundtrack digital download
    + Supporter sticker

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 49 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    BOSS OF THE PLAINS
    (CUSTOM SCREEN AND AUDIO)
    + Custom software build that includes:
    [1] A still image of your choice in the introduction sequence (for your bar, company, one of a kind personal gift, etc.)
    [2] An original voice recording by Cowboy Rob in the opening sequence addressing you or your business

    ** Check out the example in the about section! **

    + Three (3) standard edition gray game cartridges programmed with the custom ROM
    + You or your business will be listed on the supporter screen of every copy of the game produced with funds from this Kickstarter
    + One (1) game box and manual
    + Soundtrack digital download
    + Supporter sticker

    NOTE:
    The NES screen resolution is 256 x 240 with certain palette restrictions. I'll make your image look great on the console, but please contact me if you are unsure about expectations!

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    Limited 5 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    FOR A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS AND A FEW DOLLARS MORE
    (BE THE COWBOY!)
    I'll send you the cowboy’s script, including all 50+ insults, and you can make your own “Cowboy.zip” file. I’ll replace Cowboy Rob’s dialogue with the audio you provide, making a unique cart with over three minutes of frontier taunts in your voice. Your name will also get special treatment on the supporter screen of every copy of the game produced with funds from this Kickstarter.

    Also includes:
    +Custom still image as above
    +Three (3) carts: two copies of your customized version and one copy of the original
    +One (1) game box and manual
    +Soundtrack digital download
    +Supporter sticker

    NOTE: As above, sampled audio on the NES has certain restrictions. Contact me if you are unsure what to expect! See the note on screen resolution above as well.

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Funding period

- (33 days)