At long last, a rare series of games for the Nintendo Famicom known as Space School have been preserved via ROMs, thanks in part to the work one Russian rom hacker known on twitter as @true_CaH4e3.
The Space School series was educational games made in collaboration by Konami, Tokyo Shoseki, a Japanese Textbook publisher, and NHK, Japan’s National Broadcasting Organization. The games were designed to be mathematical teaching tools, with known games being released in two parts, for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade mathematics, making a total of six games in the series with supplemental study books given out with the games to use while playing.
What was unique about the Space School games is their construction required a specific adaptor for the Famicom, known as the Konami QTa Adaptor, to make them playable on the system. The price for the games and adaptor would cost around 18,000 and 10,000 yen respectively, roughly $170 and $95 when adjusted for modern inflation. Due to the high cost of the products, they were not sold in retail stores but were instead marketed towards schools and businesses as teaching tools for students.
Russian-based Youtuber Russian Geek did a run-down of the adaptor and one of the Space School games with a physical copy, which happened to be posted today on his channel. He also got into contact with CaH4e3 who had previously attempted to dump the roms of Space School online, but was unable to do a proper conversion due to lacking a functioning QTa Adaptor. With the help of Russia Geek, CaH4e3 was able to convert and dump four of the seven QTa Games into working, complete roms. The entire process is documented in the video above.
In total, seven games are known to be made for the Konami QTa Adaptor. Outside of the Space School series is the ultra-rare The Gentle Physics and Science of Hazardous Materials, also known as Space College. This game, made for the petroleum company Idemitsu Kosan, famously was up for auction back in 2008 and sold for around 401,000 yen, or $4,123.
News of the preservation of the ROMs has been met with praise. In particular, Frank Cifaldi, the co-founder of the Video Game History Foundation, noted in a tweet that “Today was a HUGE day for NES game preservation. Konami’s ultra rare Space School series was completely undumped yesterday. Today, we have four of the seven ROMs playable on emulators.”
Though the ROMs for four of the seven games are now playable, they are still in Japanese and require the studybook that came with the cartridge to play them properly. Still the games are now fully preserved as full working ROMs, and are now available worldwide for the first time in history.
What are your thoughts on all of this? Willing to try Space School for yourself? Leave your comments below.