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The Internet Data Storage Japan Entertainment Games

70 Long-Lost Japanese Video Games Discovered In a 67GB Folder of ROMs On a Private Forum (vice.com) 158

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Until yesterday, rare Japanese PC game Labyrinthe, developed by Caravan Interactive, was long thought to be lost forever. That is until the almost mythical third game in the already obscure Horror Tour series was found on a 67GB folder of ROMs on a private forum. Other rare games from the folder are expected to become public soon. According to a YouTuber called Saint, who posted a video of him playing the game and a link to download it on Mega, Labyrinthe and as many as 70 other rare or never-before-released Japanese titles have been circulating in a file sharing directory on a private torrent site.

Labyrinthe, alongside other rare titles including Cookie's Bustle, Yellow Brick Road and Link Devicer 2074 were in a folder called "DO NOT UPLOAD." Members of the private forum hesitated to upload Labyrinthe in the fear that the private collector would take down the folder and leave the collection out of reach once again. This hesitation demonstrates the often tense relationship between game preservationists and private collectors. According to a screenshot uploaded by Saint, the private collector threatened to pull the entire folder of content from the directory and stop uploading games altogether if anyone leaked Labyrinthe. In uploading the game to Mega, it's possible the folder will be pulled from the internet. But in doing so, the person advanced the interests of game preservationists worldwide by leaking the this game and others.

70 Long-Lost Japanese Video Games Discovered In a 67GB Folder of ROMs On a Private Forum

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  • by hjf ( 703092 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @09:08AM (#56736214) Homepage

    You have to be a whole category of imbecile to keep "private" collections of ROMs.
    "Look at me, I'll die the last person to ever play this video game". What kind of virgin feels proud of this?

    Also, are the other forum members retarded? Can't they download the folder themselves in full and repost?

    Imbeciles, imbeciles everywhere.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      No matter how old lost and abandoned these games are, sharing the ROMs is still piracy. And the Japanese in particular take piracy very seriously, so much that while we had torrents in the west, Japan used TOR-like anonymized P2P networks like Perfect Dark.

      It is understandable that collectors want to keep a low profile.

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @09:34AM (#56736328) Homepage Journal

        It is understandable that collectors want to keep a low profile.

        By uploading they've already failed to do that. Other people downloading and re-upping the files elsewhere won't change that at all. They've already taken the action of uploading them, the smartest thing for them to do is to never touch those uploaded files again. Therefore, they are either a staggering idiot (of which there is no shortage) or just refusing to share their toys with the other children, which is pathetic and childish.

        • The collector uploaded them to a group of associates, who presumably all face similar legal risks. They're safe as long as nobody outside knows they infringement happened, so they want that group of associates to stay closed and small. Once the group leaks, however, news articles like this one happen, and others will come poking at the group to see what else falls out... then everyone's fears are realized, and they're left scrambling to erase any evidence of illegal activities.

          As Ben Franklin is supposed to

      • If it's abandonware, how can it still be copyright infringement?

        Abandonware means there's no owner anymore so there's nobody to "steal" from.

        • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @10:01AM (#56736492)

          Abandonware means there's no owner anymore so there's nobody to "steal" from.

          No, abandonware is IGNORED (as in: not supported) by its owner. If the owner suddenly sees some money to be made from it, he'll start paying attention....

          • So what do you call something which no longer has an owner?

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              I imagine the exact name for such works depends on the exact chain of facts that led to a work's no longer having an owner.

            • Say I own the game but need the rom images / HDD image to fix it?

            • by houghi ( 78078 )

              Imaginary (Well, for code for the next foreseeable future + 70 years)
              The original owner would have been able to give it to somebody (e.g. a company or to the public) If he did not, he is still the owner, even if you can not find him.
              If he died, it will have gone to the people that inherited the rest of his stuff. So most likely kids, parents, siblings or the state.

            • by novakyu ( 636495 )

              It's called "public domain [wikipedia.org]." We are about to get some of it back soon [wikipedia.org].

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There is no such legal category as abandonware. It's only an ethical categorization.

        • Because copyright as it currently exists is fucking stupid.

        • If it's abandonware, how can it still be copyright infringement?

          There probably aren't very many legal examples of abandonware. The way copyright law works in many countries, at least in the 21st century, is that a work doesn't passively cease to be covered. You may not know who owns it anymore, but that doesn't mean it is abandoned.

          Abandonware means there's no owner anymore so there's nobody to "steal" from.

          When businesses go under, their assets are purchases. Theoretically the rights to all works gets transferred somewhere along the way, and it is horribly complicated in my opinion. Also when a person dies, their estate gets the right unless th

      • Culturally, Japanese will be outwardly humble. Bragging about your collection to the public would be in bad taste.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Piracy is massive in Japan, just like everywhere else. In fact their ultra high speed internet connections are perfect for it.

        There used to be magazines on sale in major book shops that were nothing but 100 pages of how to pirate stuff. Lists of web sites, translations of the word "download" into Chinese, Korean and English, how to set up various P2P apps, how to avoid malware and scams... I think I still have one somewhere, I should scan it.

        The main worry is getting caught, which would be extremely embarra

      • The piracy argument is bullshit in this context.

        We are losing our digital heritage and culture due to some idiotic blind worship to "It's the law" excuse. If a game is no longer being commercially sold it should revert to the public domain. And I say this as a game developer who has shipped around a dozen games.

        Instead we get some collector (hoarder) trying to maintain an artificial monopoly on a digital supply.

        In the Apple 2 world some of these games would be completely lost were it not for the crackers

        • No, what is bullshit is people like you thinking you're entitled by divine right to the work of others.

          If someone produces something, and decides not to release it, for whatever reason, that does not entitle you to have access to it. The same goes even if it was released. It's not yours, you're not entitled to it, nor is the public entitled to it.

          You claim to be a game developer but don't understand this simple concept. If you didn't produce it, it's not yours. End of discussion.

          • Says a person that has never made anything of consequence in his life.

          • > what is bullshit is people like you thinking you're entitled by divine right to the work of others.

            Uhm, Hello McFly. Why do books enter the public domain after artificial copyright expires?

            > If you didn't produce it, it's not yours.

            Except we have 200+ years of copyright that shows you don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

          • by fafalone ( 633739 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @04:07PM (#56738802)
            The entire concept of copyright is to grant limited protection in pursuit of enhancing the public domain. Creators rights are balanced with the rights of the public; it's not for their exclusive benefit to do whatever they want in perpetuity (or at least that wasn't the original intent). The trade-off that if they're not selling it, it loses protection, is entirely in line with the purpose of creating an economic incentive to *create*. Copyright maximalists like you are wallowing in unmitigated greed. If you're done realizing the economic benefit of the limited protection of copyright, damn right the public domain is morally entitled to that work, especially if it's older than 28 years (which the games here most are), even if corrupt legislators have allowed the original limited term to be changed to effectively unlimited.
          • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

            I disagree. Copyright is a temporary exception to the default, which is the public domain. I'm all for people being able to make money on their creations. I'm not particularly happy with the current version that sets terms much longer than historical ones. I think there's a gigantic gaping hole in the concept when it comes to abandonware and other similar issues.

            When copyright was 12-24 years and applied to physical media, odds were good anything interesting could be still around after it expired to be reis

          • by LocalH ( 28506 )

            Those wishing to preserve games for future generations are entitled?

      • It is understandable that collectors want to keep a low profile.

        "Collectors" or "pirates"?

      • No matter how old lost and abandoned these games are, sharing the ROMs is still piracy.

        Like the law matters when it's bought and paid for by corporate shills. You really need to stop sucking corporate cock and start to get a clue. IP wasn't there to grant eternal property rights to destroy human culture. It was there so human cultural works like games and books would eventually become public domain and go into libraries. So "It's still piracy" brigade can go get fucked until public domain and reasonable IP law is restored instead of out of control eternal copyrights (aka nothing ever pas

    • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @09:47AM (#56736412) Homepage

      There is a certain appeal to being one of a small group with secrets. For a game collector, it's not about being the last to ever play the game, but simply to have something that nobody else does. That's why "collectibles" are numbered and often have limited production runs. That rarity is what the collectors value, not necessarily the game itself. That's also why having collections in unopened boxes is valued - being unopened is a rare feature that can't be restored once lost.

      As for re-uploading, throwing around a 67GB file is still not trivial, especially when it carries a (small) legal risk for being copyright infringement. Somebody still owns the copyright on those games, whether they realize it or not, and it's entirely within their (legal) rights to sue someone for redistributing the games, when they'd rather see them completely disappear - perhaps to re-release a "discovered" copy found in a corporate vault.

      • and when the roms bit rot or the HDD fails?? Without an dump they are dead.

        well they should not get full rights to sue someone for redistributing the games. As when redistributing = just giving out an restore image that still needs the arcade hardware to run.

      • That's also why having collections in unopened boxes is valued - being unopened is a rare feature that can't be restored once lost

        This is actually a thing?
        Maybe someone should create a product with the same packaging, but filled with the equivalent mass in sand. If it's not going to do anything except sitting around and looking pretty, maybe it might as well be something that doesn't end up as another polluting plastic gizmo.

    • Have you never seen any hollywood movie? Once the bad guys download your data, it's gone from yours!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I used to pirate FLAC albums. There is a lot of value in having a rarity to trade. In fact, I would guess that there are many people out there that only trade rare for rare. It sounds selfish (because unlike a dollar bill, copying a file leaves the original), but it's an economy. It sounds like this guy had REALLY rare stuff and didn't want to lose that commodity.

    • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @10:26AM (#56736620) Homepage

      At least this one had copied them from the original media. There are collectors with games on actual physical EPROMs who refuse to have them dumped at all. Bit rot is a thing, eventually after enough time the charge will leak away and the chip will erase itself bit by bit. It just takes longer without being exposed to light. CD-Rs also have similar degradation with time. They would rather sleep on their dragons hoard while the actual game vanishes and becomes almost worthless, than take the chance that someone else having a soft copy of it might cause more than a penny of its value to vanish.

      And I say this as someone who has found at least one game that nobody else has ever found, and I dumped and shared that sucker right away.

    • some assholes like to quote copyright law when asked to dump them.

      I asked some one on youtube about dumping an old and rare (now days) arcade game I think it was pc based and they wrote back with an copyright law quote. And other guy with an rare undumped prototype game roms (the full game was made but the prototype has different things in it) said they have to ask there boss about it.

    • It's the collector's mind set in action. While this person is the only / one of the few people to have these ROMs, their collection is special and unique. Once everyone has access to the ROM there's nothing special about their collection any more.

      I get the mindset a bit as this person likely went through a bit of trouble to get these ROMs but ultimately I agree with you that it's pretty petty.

    • you use rare games in your collection to trade for rare games in other people's production.
    • Considering the number of so-called "private collectors" of fine art who happily buy stolen paintings or sculptures valued in the millions, then store them in secret vaults, I'm not in the least surprised that there are similar assholes in the software world.

  • The correct term for a private collector of things with no monetary value is "asshole."
  • Since when were PC games on ROM ?

    Of course its probably am error in translation

    • by Anonymous Coward

      DVD and CD are ROM.

    • It's not hard to put a PC game in a folder that otherwise consists of 67 GB of ROMs. I imagine a Japanese game collection could mostly consist of old-school console ROMs with some PC games in the mix.

    • Re:ROMs? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @10:04AM (#56736510) Homepage

      In the world of game emulation, the binaries are known as "ROMs", regardless of their original medium.

      The term originates as "ROM dumps", which is exactly what you'd expect - extracted contents of the ROM from old console systems and cartridges. Notably, that's the part that is actually covered by copyright laws, with the actual execution details (originally in coprocessors, and now handled by the emulator itself) more often covered by patents, trade secrets, and simple secrecy.

      As distribution technology has progressed such that games no longer have their data on read-only memory, and more importantly as those games have entered the emulation scene, the term hasn't changed. Now, "ROMs" include any game data not directly part of the emulation.

      It's worth noting that legally there is very little risk from developing or distributing an emulator, but significant risk in distributing the ROM data. There have actually been some open-source or public-domain ROMs produced from scratch, but of course the biggest trade in them is in redistributing commercial software.

  • Just had to ask.
  • by dohzer ( 867770 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @09:50AM (#56736424) Homepage

    When were these ROMs developed and lost?! How long were they lost for?! Key information left out of the summary!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The game mentioned in the summary (Labyrinthe) was released in 1998.

      The others I don't know of.

      Not NEC PC-98 era long lost, but still pretty old.

    • Re:When (Score:4, Funny)

      by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @10:06AM (#56736532)

      From what I gathered, the ROMs were developed in a dark room in 1830, lost around 1945 and then found again last week in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard".

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I don't think these games were really "lost", just not dumped by anyone else yet. The first one, Labyrinthe, is a PC CD-ROM game and is actually listed on Amazon. Copies appear on auction sites from time to time. I wouldn't be surprised if a copy was available on the Perfect Dark P2P platform, but no-one on this forum bothered to check.

  • by sqorbit ( 3387991 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @09:55AM (#56736436)
    "This hesitation demonstrates the often tense relationship between game preservationists and private collectors." I'm sure I'm a out of the loop idiot on this topic but really? There is "often" a "tense relationship". Exactly how often, twice in history? How many private collectors of games are out there and what exactly are they collecting? If they have pirated the software initially they won't have the rights to take it down anyway. I'm totally confused and this seems like someone wrote an article to create something rather than report on something.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually see this a lot with old video game collectors and roms. They're fearful of the value of the 10,000 dollar rare game unreleased prototypes they bought suddenly becoming worthless just because a rom of it got relaeased.

      The game collectors like that look at their collection like an investment. And view rom dumping as something that will greatly devalue it. So you can bet they'll be as negative and hostile as possible when people try to release a rom of something they have.

  • How many of these games are hentai pr0n and where can we get our hands on them?

  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @11:47AM (#56737090) Homepage

    Jerry Pournelle, the late science fiction author, said on a TWIT podcast that his publishers had, really! lost a number of his books that had not been in print for many years. Libraries didn't have the books, NO ONE had the books. But, TA-DA, book scanning "pirates" *had* scanned the books and gladly zapped him the copies, which he put back on sale and were making him a nice bit of income.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      I know a guy who's published about 30+ books sold in a multitude of languages for the last 30 years.

      His publishers used to be in the WTC (he was scheduled to visit them on Sept 11!).

      Since then he's taken to self-publishing them all again, which he says keeps him ticking over in terms of pocket money. At least one of them he had to a copy from someone else, having lost the manuscript, and type it back in again.

      He's taken the opportunity to reformat, reflow, re-edit etc. and sell them as Kindle versions, but

    • About Pournelle's work: some crazy non published books collector could release the conclusion of the Janissaries series, that was left unconclude due to his demise. Just kiding, but someone could finnish the book, it's a serious scar in my bookshelf.
  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2018 @11:49AM (#56737102) Homepage

    Invariably, they will be the worst games ever, with literally nothing going for them, and then people realise why they were so "rare" (unpopular) in the first place.

    I've seen the same with everything from books to LPs to consoles to games to artworks to collectibles.

    I get the preservation angle.
    I get the "all the games from my youth" angle (I'm pretty sure I have them all still, emulated or real).
    I even get the "my dad says this was the greatest game ever in his youth, so I want to play it like he did" angle.

    But I will never get the "gotta catch 'em all" angle.

    A friend of mine paid for fortune pre-Internet for a copy of Geoffrey Trease's The Black Banner Players. It was rumoured so rare that even the author couldn't get a copy for himself, and they were changing hands for thousands of GBP (now you can get a paperback for "only" a couple of hundred GBP or a hardback for twice that).

    He managed to find a copy. He read it. He sold it. He says it's one of the worst books he's ever read, and the worst of all the Banner series.

    That said, I am still trying to track down a game from my SNES days that was about flying a little biplane. No it wasn't pilotwings. The problem is that I just don't know the name. It wasn't very good at all, but it would just bring back memories to play it. I certainly wouldn't pay more than a couple of quid for it.

    • You can find a lot of old games on the network, but they are mostly archived in such formats that the computer can not open them. The benefit of using the site here https://wikiext.com/ [wikiext.com] have solved this problem.
  • It is something that society grants the creator of a work but there is an expectation that the work enters the public domain after the copyright expires.

    Any entity that loses the ability to distribute the work in a meaningful way should immediately lose the copyright. So the BBC should no longer have copyright on the Doctor Who episodes they lost. Any game made for a now obsolete system that wasn't ported to a newer system should now be public domain. And copyright should be for 5 to 10 years. That is

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