From Sega Retro
|System(s): Sega Mega Drive|
|Publisher: RazorSoft (US), Micro World (Japan)|
|Developer: Punk Development|
|Developer(s) of original games: Hewson Consultants|
|Sound driver: RazorSoft sound driver|
|Number of players: 1|
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Stormlord (ストームロード) is a Sega Mega Drive puzzle platform game developed by Punk Development. A port of the titular 1989 Hewson Consultants title Stormlord, it was first published in the United States by RazorSoft in 1991, and was later brought to Japan by Micro World in March 1992. The game is most notable for its poor reception, frustrating design, and the subsequent lawsuit which followed its release.
A side-scrolling platform game with puzzle and action elements, Stormlord is fairly typical of early 1990s Amiga games. Players control a slow-moving protagonist across ten different levels, with a general puzzle emphasis on determining what action is needed to proceed.
Stormlord is notorious for its numerous pitfalls from which the player cannot escape. Either purposefully or due to numerous oversights, the game contains a number of areas which, once entered, cannot be exited (usually due to the adjacent platforms being placed too high), or will permanently lock the protagonist in place due to collision issues. In virtually all of these cases, the player is forced to reset the game.
Created by bedroom programmer and later Hewson Consultations employee Raffaele Cecco, Stormlord was first conceived in early 1988, and was eventually developed into a puzzle platform game with minor action elements. One of Cecco's more notable design choices was the inclusion of nude faeries in certain areas of the game, which garnered Stormlord a significant amount of both press coverage and controversy. Consequently, it was sometimes marketed as an "adult" title, despite the remainder of the game having no adult content whatsoever.
After about a year of development, the game was released in 1988 for the Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and IBM personal computers. Receiving mixed critical reception, Stormlord caught the eye of American video game publisher RazorSoft, who was looking to capitalize on the freedom granted by publishing on a non-Nintendo console (and therefore having to adhere to less strict content standards) by releasing more mature titles. Stormlord would be the first game published by the company, with programming responsibilities falling mainly on Punk Development employee Kevin Seghetti.
In 1991, disagreements between RazorSoft and Sega over the cost and order size of Sega's proprietary Sega Mega Drive cartridges led to Stormlord being released in a smaller run of self-manufactured cartridges (as opposed to purchasing them directly from Sega, as contractually-obliged.) While the company still paid full royalties to Sega, their developer license was revoked in June 1991, and Sega refused to publish any of their future games. RazorSoft then sued for breach of the Sherman Antitrust Act on July 22, 1991, with Sega then counter-suing both RazorSoft and Punk Development in August for copyright infringement and breach of contract.
The final outcome was settled out of court, with RazorSoft agreeing to purchase future cartridges from Sega, having their developer license restored, and Sega dropping the lawsuit. 
|“||RazorSoft didn't like how much Sega charged to make cartridges. The minimum order was 30,000 units, and IIRC, they cost $17 each. So publishers had to pony up about a half million dollars, and the risk was all theirs if the product didn't sell. I never saw the contract between Sega and RazorSoft, but apparently it specified a royalty rate for cartridges (I don't know if that $17 per cart included the royalty or not).
So RazorSoft decided to manufacture their own cartridges for Stormlord instead of paying Sega to do it because they could do a smaller run, it was cheaper, and they could turn them around faster. They paid all of the royalties to Sega, just didn't have Sega make them (if you get your hand on a Stormlord cartridge, you will see they are shaped differently than Sega cartridges were).
Sega was annoyed because they obviously make a profit on making the cartridges and also like to maintain tight control over what gets made when.
IIRC, the final outcome was they settled out of court, RazorSoft agreed to buy carts from Sega in the future, and Sega dropped the suit.
The original 1989 Commodore Amiga release of the game features nude fairies in certain areas. When developer Punk Development initially ported the game to the Sega Mega Drive, the fairies were also ported over as nude. However, RazorSoft quickly called for their censorship, and programmer Kevin Seghetti's wife Melanie Seghetti later created the graphics for the fairies' bras. However, preview builds of the uncensored version of the game had already been seen at Winter CES 1991 and sent to the gaming press, and the nude graphics were soon exposed to the general public. Game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly even apologized for the publishing of nudity in its May 1991 issue.
|“||When we did the port, Razorsoft specified they needed the Faeries covered up, for the American market. That was always the plan. So it wasn’t added later, my wife added in the bra graphics early on.||„|
Due to a lack of information over RazorSoft's lawsuit with Sega over the cost of their proprietary cartridges, it was rumored that the lawsuit was instead a result of the company refusing to censor the nude fairies. While easily debunked in hindsight, as a small piece of art would not be worth the loss of a developer license, Stormlord developer Kevin Seghetti definitively verified the rumor as false when clarifying the details of RazorSoft's lawsuit:
|“||The Wikipedia and SegaRetro pages on Stormlord do not match my recollection on this point.||„|
- Main article: Stormlord/Magazine articles.
- Main article: Stormlord/Promotional material.
|Sega Retro Average|
ROM dump status
- The History of Stormlord article by Dylan Mansfield at Gaming Alexandria
- Stormlord review by Simon Lethbridge at Sega-16
- Beep! MegaDrive, "February 1992" (JP; 1992-01-08), page 24
- https://sega.jp/history/hard/megadrive/software_l.html (Wayback Machine: 2020-07-02 23:21)
- VideoGames & Computer Entertainment, "July 1991" (US; 1991-0x-xx), page 39
- http://gdri.smspower.org/wiki/index.php/Interview:Kevin_Seghetti (Wayback Machine: 2021-06-08 05:24)
- File:PhoenixtheFallandRiseofVideoGames Book US 3rd.pdf, page 153
- GamePro, "November 1991" (US; 1991-xx-xx), page 142
- Electronic Gaming Monthly, "May 1991" (US; 1991-xx-xx), page 12
- 1700 igr dlya Sega, "" (RU; 2003-xx-xx), page 223
- ACE, "October 1991" (UK; 1991-09-08), page 72
- Ação Games, "Maio 1991" (BR; 1991-05-21), page 45
- Aktueller Software Markt, "November 1991" (DE; 1991-10-11), page 146
- Beep! MegaDrive, "February 1992" (JP; 1992-01-08), page 36
- GamePro, "April 1991" (US; 1991-xx-xx), page 42
- Games-X, "15th-21st August 1991" (UK; 1991-08-15), page 39
- Hippon Super, "March 1992" (JP; 1992-02-04), page 82
- Joypad, "Octobre 1991" (FR; 1991-09-17), page 42
- Joystick, "Septembre 1991" (FR; 1991-0x-xx), page 166
- Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming, "January 1993" (UK; 199x-xx-xx), page 94
- Mega Drive Fan, "June 1992" (JP; 1992-05-08), page 83
- Mega, "April 1994" (UK; 1994-03-17), page 63
- MegaTech, "Xmas 1991" (UK; 1991-12-06), page 80
- Mean Machines Sega, "October 1992" (UK; 1992-09-xx), page 140
- Sega Power, "October 1991" (UK; 1991-09-05), page 54
- Sega Power, "November 1991" (UK; 1991-10-04), page 27
- Sega Pro, "April 1993" (UK; 1993-03-11), page 67
- Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 87
- Tricks 16 bit, "Tricks Sega Gold 800 igr" (RU; 1998-xx-xx), page 179