Picture the scene. It is late April, 1995. A young Toshiaki Fujino is tucked away in a small room in an already cramped Tokyo apartment. Fujino san is hunched over a desk. Illumination in the room is provided by the glow of a Sharp X68000 cathode ray tube monitor. Amid the cathode flicker, the whir of a ceiling fan and the thick ribbons of smoke emerging from a stagnant Mild Seven, Fujino san is hard at work, creating what would become his first proper shooting game. A milestone that would have become his legacy, but until recently was considered lost forever.
Project Moon would make it’s debut in May 1995, plunging head first in to the chaotic circles of Japan’s crowded, saturated and frenetic doujin (indie, or fan made, for want of a more familiar classification in the West) scene. Ripples were made and the title was well received and passed around said chaotic circles. Project Moon would soon become but a distant memory as Fujino san would take a bold leap forward to form Triangle Service, a company still active today in 2015 and still brand of utmost importance to niche gamers. In particular, fans of shooting games.
From the acorn that was Project Moon, Fujino san worked on several well-known video games including Septentrion (aka SOS!) on the Super Famicom, Pu-Li-Ru-La for Taito and the fantastic Gun Frontier for Xing on the Sega Saturn. By the turn of the millennium, Fujino san decided to go it alone and Triangle Service was formed. XII Stag made it’s debut in 2002 across several Japanese game centers, with Trizeal following in 2006. Triangle Service would also release titles such as Pengo, Shooting Love 2007 and Shooting Love 20xx respectively. Fujino san would also work on Raiden Fighters Aces in 2008 for Success Corp. Fujino san has worked on many more wonderful titles, these are but a mere handful.
As the years passed it was Project Moon that would remain the most tantalizing of titles to source. As so often happens with doujin titles, they are passed around, played to death and in most cases forgotten about. Titles could (and in many cases would) be lost forever as storage solutions, backups and so on were nowhere near as grand and affordable as those afforded to us today. Project Moon would remain ‘lost’ (I use the term loosely), at least in the West, for years, but it was never forgotten. In 2013 Project Moon emerged from a long slumber at the Tokugawa Corporate forum. An anonymous X68000 *.XDF image had been made available online and the game was made available to all once again via the wonder of X68000 emulation.
The irony of all of this is that the game was made available much sooner. 7 years sooner. Though it would appear this slipped off a lot of gamer radars!
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2006 Toshiaki Fujino worked on a little known Windows Mobile danmaku title named Claygun? The title was released for Windows Mobile Pocket PC devices. Originally published by Modaco, the title sold in very few numbers. It is no longer available for sale though I have provided copies of the original demo software for you to download (see the links below) along with a scan of an excellent article from the ClayGun dev team that was featured in the INH Trizeal Insanity DVD companion book. It certainly makes for interesting reading as this would have been published in 2006 around the time of the game being released! SOURCE: INH Trizeal Insanity DVD
In 2006, INH released The Shooting Love: Trizeal (Insanity DVD). A wonderful superplay DVD that also packed in a soundtrack disc and a beautiful companion book. It is on this DVD that the *.XDF disk image of Project Moon was secretly made available. The ironic thing is, in 2012 I had interviewed Minoru Ikeda, CEO of INH and he had actually revealed to me that there was an X68000 game hidden on the Trizeal superplay DVD. Quite what stopped me investigating this juicy bit of information, I’ll never quite fully understand. It is ancient history now of course, but nonetheless, it is somewhat jarring to know that in the grand scheme of things it appears Project Moon sat undiscovered in the wild for the best part of 7 years!
So what is Project Moon like to play? Find out for yourself, I’ve uploaded a copy of the *.XDF image from the DVD for you to play in an X68000 emulator (or write back to disk if you are hardcore). It is a very basic looking title today, but there is some cracking gameplay to bathe yourself in! It is clear from spending just a few moments in the embrace of Project Moon, what a genuine talent Toshiaki Fujino is. A humble, quiet man, perhaps. But a genius programmer with a talent and devotion for traditional shooting games. Project Moon is succinct in it’s showcase of the talent of Fujino san, and it is for this reason alone that Project Moon remains an important video game to this day.