Watermelon games put themselves on the retro gaming map back in 2010 with the release of Pier Solar on the Mega Drive/Genesis; a JRPG that arguably stands beside the 16-bit masterpieces which inspired it like Lunar: The Silver Star, and Chronotrigger. In the last couple of years however, Watermelon’s main source of notoriety has gone from the quality of its work, to the numerous delays of the ambitious Streets of Rage inspired side-scrolling beat-em-up Paprium, and rumors that certain hyped aspects of the game such as its ASIC “Datenmeister” chip responsible for breaking some of the Genesis hardware boundaries is not actually real. Watermelon, which is now being directed by its one remaining founder “Fonzie”, has done very little to quell these rumors aside from sparse, sporadic status updates with vague attempts to explain the latest delays. Most of the solid news available in the last year or so has come from ancillary sources, such as the game’s music composer and the designer of its manual – neither of whom have actually seen the game in action.
On October 8th an email went out to pre-order customers and “investors” inviting everyone to a party in Paris, France to celebrate the game. While it’s not specifically called a “Launch Party”, the message did imply that the two were meant to coincide:
“On the 27th of October 2018, we are having a party in Paris, France. Let’s celebrate SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive’s 30th anniversary and the release of PAPRIUM. We understand this is a long trip but if by any chance you are around at that time, you’re of course very welcome. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for booking and details. The party starts at 19PM for some talk with WM and some 16-bit fun and then turn into electro music feast from 23PM until 6AM. The event is free but booking is required in advance.
PS: We are working hard to ensure you to receive your games around that time but we can’t guarantee it at the moment. You will receive another email shortly to confirm your shipping address.“
The French Language portion of the message goes into considerably more detail, including that Fonzie will be in attendance, but it seems like they’re trying to crowd-source most of the entertainment and equipment. Of particular note, attendees are encouraged to bring their exotic Mega Drive hardware to show off and presumably to play Paprium with (Hope they’re doing proper 3.3v to 5v level translation in that cartridge, lol).
Translated by Google:
“MCMLXXXVIII-2018: 30 years old !!! It’s 1564 weeks, 10,950 days, 262,800 hours (good and loyal services); So we thought it deserved a little tribute.
And for the occasion you can (FINALLY) palpate PAPRIUM, our Beat Them All! Ultra-violent, Brutal and Cyber Punk.
Let go of your joysticks and let cool your cathode ray tube, it’s the moment or never! No need to bring back your Curly and your COCA. DJ chiptune set in the ears, to drink and eat in the throat, hairdresser available to carve a cup mullet AS IN THE GAME !!!
SATURDAY 27 OCTOBER 2018, PARIS (75019), FRANCE:
19h-23h: Fashion petit fours
– Meeting with WM, Fonzie and his henchmen
– Animations, hairdresser and make-up
– Cocktails and buffet
– DJ chiptune set
23h-06h: Fashion trashy party on
– Leather, Latex and Body Bodybuilded AS IN THE GAME !!!
– DJ set electro – it’s going to beat up!
If you also want to be part of the survivors and enter the megapolis PAPRIUM, reserve your place by sending an email to email@example.com.
PS: We are working so that you receive the game before the 27th but it is not possible to guarantee it at the moment. You will receive an email very soon to confirm your delivery address.
Some more or less important points:
– Your registration is required to attend the early evening because we must plan the stewardship accordingly.
Free registration, without commitment, of course. If you arrive after 23h and without reservation, the entrance will be paid (Rates communicated at the entrance and subject to space).
– Dress code (if you dare): Cyberpunk, leather, muscular sprinkled with a few touches fluo, pink or gold.
PS: We will avoid the tshirts mario, atari or pokemon, for the mental health of segasex (and Fonzie).
– Guests who come in:
1. Black Brief (reminder: we have a cabin to change and a deposit).
2. Costplay Mega Drive (very engaged).
3. Mullet cup “TUG” (possibility to make it on the spot).
Unlimited drinks throughout the evening (subject to validation by the WM team).
– We will set up a deposit system that will allow you to put your consoles / games and coats warm during the evening.
If you want to help:
– You’re part of a Jazz band, we’re looking for a group for the early evening to pick up some of the flagship titles MD.
– You have rare megadrive stuff (Aiwa, Mega LD, MegaModem, Karaoke Mega CD, WonderMega VA1, etc …) and want to expose it, thank you for contacting us. We want to put as many consoles in demonstration for our early evening. Everything will be stored and sheltered around 11pm.
– You have emblematic games of the megadrive, ideally in box (Bare Knukle, Sonic, Golden Ax, etc.) to exhibit. Everything will be stored and sheltered around 11pm.
– We also look for smaller PVMs, like 8 or 12 inches for consoles that will be playable.
– We want to make a cathodic screen wall but it is quite complicated to rent.
Ideally we need 16 PVM monitors of similar size (20 inches) and connect them with a 4×4 cutting box. If anyone has a tip or would like to help on this point, welcome help. By getting together we can do it!
– We would like to buy 3 monitors PVM-20 (20 inches), 50 / 60hz and prepare them (BNC connector) for a connection on Mega Drive. If you have in stock or would like to help, please contact us.
– Anyone wishing to help with the installation in the early afternoon and / or service, please let us know.
Any welcome help, thank you for declaring yourself.
– Amateur photography and / or video, we are looking for talent to immortalize the evening.
Thank you in advance and see you soon, we hope!“
This certainly comes across as a proverbial line in the sand. It seems specifically tailored to restore confidence that the game is complete and ready to go. Given that it implies that the game could actually be in some peoples’ hands by October 27th, that would mean that the game has already begun manufacture. However this email did not accompany any other reference to the game’s state of completeness or manufacture and none of the usual pre-launch communications have gone out. There are no screenshots, no videos of beta versions running on Genesis hardware.
An anonymous writer/researcher has made a point of trying to debunk many of communications that have gone out regarding Paprium. While I would caution against simply believing every theory this person puts forward, it does provide some perspective for the journey thus far. This person provides a good deal of research including collecting and organizing nearly every official and unofficial communication that has gone out about the game, plenty upon which to reach your own conclusion. You can read those opinions and research here: https://papriumfiasco.wordpress.com/
While it seems unlikely that Watermelon would organize such a party if the game was not going to be released eminently, given the number and type of delays that have plagued Paprium thus far, investors and pre-order customers should probably be cautiously optimistic until we start hearing reports of the game actually in peoples’ hands and on their screens.