Four lost Kirby minigames from the Super Famicom's Satellaview have made their way into the hands of preservationists after a surprise auction and some help from fans.
Kirby no Omocha Hako (「カービィのおもちゃ箱 or "Kirby's Toy Box") was a Satellaview title consisting of 10 mini-games. The Japanese only peripheral allowed players to download games via a satellite connection. Plenty of games were made for the Satellaview but many have been lost to time. For those that are found, it can take a long time to get them back to their original state.
Matthew Callis and a network of preservationist encountered four of the missing Kirby mini-games in the hands of one buyer in Japan's Ishikawa Prefecture. The following games were for sale:
- "Circular Ball" / "ぐるぐるボール"
- "Cannon Ball" / "キャノンボール"
- "Pachinko" / "パチンコ"
- "Arrange Ball" / "アレンジボール"
Strapped for cash but faced with an opportunity to save a bit of gaming history, fellow preservationist Frank Cifaldi sent out a signal boost on social media to see if eager fans cold make sure the won the raffle. They rallied to help and the preservationist managed to win all four auctions.
Help if you can! We're raising money to preserve these super obscure, impossible-to-find Kirby games for SNES for everyone to play- (1/3) pic.twitter.com/mmWtpSh9wN
— Frank Cifaldi (@frankcifaldi) November 7, 2016
Preservationists often find rare gems at auction. From prototype builds to incredibly rare titles, various games find their way into the hands of people looking to find the best price they can. Sattelaview games are particularly difficult to acquire. The games were written temporarily into system memory and were replaced when a new game was downloaded.
"It's basically impossible to preserve all of these games," Cifaldi told me. "The only way they exist on their temporary cartridges is if they happen to be the last game someone played."
Finding one of these would be difficult. Finding four presented a huge opportunity. Many of these carts are put up for blind auction. It's rare to know what you're getting in advance. Only three Kirby's Toy Box mini-games were preserved before now. Once these fresh finds are in the preservationists' hands, they plan to ensure the games are playable in emulators.
"We do stuff like this all the time," Cifaldi noted. "But preserving a slight ROM variation for the European version of a common game isn't as sexy as a Kirby game that was genuinely considered lost."