From Sega Retro
- Back to: Stormlord.
Frequently marketed as one of the Mega Drive's first "adult" titles, the history of Stormlord has long fascinated the gaming community, resulting in a number of misconceptions about the game's development. Thankfully, the game's lead programmer Kevin Seghetti has since provided a wealth of knowledge and insight into Stormlord's history through various interviews and statements.
Created by bedroom programmer and later Hewson Consultants 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 While the company still paid full royalties to Sega, their developer license was revoked in June 1991, and Sega refused to publish any of their future games.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. The game's developer, Kevin Seghetti, elaborated on the details of the lawsuit in a November 2008 interview with GDRI:
|“||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).
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 demonstrated 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 fairly obvious that a single instance of in-game artwork would not be worth the loss of a developer license, programmer 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.||„|
- 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