Moonlight Madness: San Francisco (unreleased prototype) – Nintendo Entertainment System, 1990

Tsuki no megami no densetsu II was contemplated for a North American release, and a nearly complete translation was prepared by Merkatur in 1990. Previewed in Nintendo Power, the game was pulled from distribution at around the same time as EarthBound Beginnings, for many of the same reasons. With the new Super Nintendo console just around the corner, it was felt that a niche title on aging hardware stood little chance of success. A complete prototype was located in the mid-2000s and eventually dumped as a ROM, leading to widespread familiarity with the title among enthusiasts.

Merkatur was famous for the high level of quality and polish they brought to their titles, even in 1990, and this shows in the final prototype. The script is well-translated, if truncated, and a number of changes have been made for North American tastes. The setting was shifted from the Kanto Region in 1923 to the San Francisco area in 1906, with many major and minor graphical changes implemented as part of the setting change.

Many of the oni enemies were entirely redrawn as “ghosts” of the sheet-with-eyeholes variety, and the prejudice on display was both toned down and changed from anti-Korean to anti-immigrant. The biggest change was Selene herself; worried how Western audiences would respond to a moon goddess possessing a male body, the character was localized as a male lunar alien named Solenoid. The complex ending system was also changed, with only a single possible villain (the cult). It is unclear whether the finished cartridge would have had battery-backed saves, as there are provisions in the ROM for both a save/load system and a 128-character password (a variation of the PC-Engine HuCard save system).

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