Tokyo 41 is a charming demake of Tokyo 42 – not a 30-year-old, ripped-off Spectrum game

Tokyo 42 hoax tokyo 41 mark followill

Update August 15, 2017: Tin foil hats off, it was all a hoax to draw attention to Tokyo 42’s PS4 release.

Since yesterday’s flurry of activity, Mark Followill’s account shared a new video showing a “more accurate emulation” of Tokyo 41. The video starts much as the previous one, but it then bleeds into footage of Tokyo 42. It’s all been a marketing stunt to announce the game’s release on PlayStation 4.

Mode 7 commissioned Bonerman to make the Spectrum demake and now – not that the curtain has been lifted on the whole thing – you can download and play the demo for free

Mode 7’s co-founder Paul Taylor has written about creating the joke in a Medium post that’s worth a read. In it, he explains, “It’s incredibly hard to get attention for a smaller game these days, especially for a new platform release of something which already exists, so I felt like I had to push the boat out a little bit.”

In that sense it’s been a great success, he’s managed to get a PC website to write about Tokyo 42’s PS4 release.

Original story:Someone claiming to be the developer of a Spectrum game called Tokyo 41 is accusing SMAC Games and Mode 7 of ripping it off with their isometric murder-’em-up Tokyo 42.

Mark Followill has been contacting Paul Taylor, co-founder of Mode 7 – the publisher behind Tokyo 42 – since May, suggesting that their game is lifting from his 1987 Spectrum game Tokyo 41 – a game which no-one appears to have written about on the internet before:

Followill started sharing off-screen images of Tokyo 41 that look remarkably similar to Tokyo 42. Though, obviously, with lower fidelity artwork:

Earlier today, Followill published a blog post in which he says:

In 1987, I released a ZX Spectrum and PC title by the name of Tokyo 41, inspired by my love of Japanese culture.

Imagine my surprise when, 30 years later, my nephew alerted me to the release of a game which not only matched the style of my original game, but was almost identical in every respect!

Despite many efforts to contact the publishers and developers I have received no meaningful reply. The press has been silent on this matter, as 1980’s British game development has been forgotten amongst the corporatisation of computer games, a trend which drove me out of this vibrant creative area at the time.

Followill also shares a video of what he claims is footage of a ROM of Tokyo 41 running on an emulator:

The isometric view and the design aesthetic appears to be very similar to SMAC Games’ shooter:

I reached out to Mode7’s Paul Taylor, with questions about Followill’s claims and he said he had no comment at this time.

However, there’s a lot about this that seems extremely strange. For a start, I can’t find any articles referencing Tokyo 41. Most Spectrum releases, even the ones where no copy of the game remains, will be documented somewhere online by fans. Nor is there any reference to a game developer called Mark Followill. There is an Omen Barn listed onMobyGames but the page has no games linked to it. Nor does Followill’s partner, Michael Hernandez, appear in any games articles.

I asked Followill if he would send me the ROM of Tokyo 41 so I could verify it was a real game, to which he said “I am not able to release a ROM currently as I do not want the game to get out into the public even further.”

Then there’s the footage of the Tokyo 41 ROM in action. The music and sound effects are clearly more than a Spectrum could create – Followill writes in the blog post that he has “restored some of the original sound effects and music to modern standards.” There is also the fact that the game refers to mouse buttons in the video, though the Spectrum didn’t have a mouse. Followill says on Twitter that this is because it had joystick support and the build on show is actually “based on the original IBM-compatible version and also I made some updates.” I mean, that’s plausible, right?

Until Followill releases a ROM of Tokyo 41, you would be best to take all of this with a pinch of salt. And, who knows, maybe it’s all a strange ploy to reveal a Spectrum demake version of the game. One can dream.