Surprise! I’m doing a followup to an article from earlier this year but with a bit of a reflection-esque twist to it. See, if you’ve noticed some opinion articles and such from the summer, you’ll know that me and Limited Print companies haven’t been getting along well, mainly due to a sheer amount of quality control issues I’ve called out and experienced myself, along with that reported in the past few months. In fact, if I made articles for every Limprint mistake that took place, I’d have enough for monthly articles, and I just do not care nor want to really do those again.
Yes, this is despite people requesting I do articles on Dispatch, First Press, Special Reserves, Strictly Limited, or whatever else folk are mad at the current day of the week. Each and every time, I say no, with the few that did perk my ears up the most being ones I just point out in Limited Print collector groups and such so I don’t have to waste time writing thoughts on every single incident ever. There are some very alarming cases I do think should be looked into more, (especially on the Dispatch side of things, which, surprise! Brian went ghost again) but at this rate it’s out of my hands and if other sites don’t want to look further into it, then that’s where it’ll be.
That being said, I have a lot to say about the future of these articles, and why I’m basically cutting it off here, but of course, there’s the report card aspect, where I’ll go through each company that I can think of with a notable change from last time, and update you on where they stand in my eyes today. You’ll see a pretty common trend, and if an older article I wrote this year is any indication, it seems my general suspicion of a limited print market collapse is almost certain. So let’s get back into this, one last time…
I literally predicted everything these guys would do after my last article. I mentioned their history of erasing socials and ghosting, only to come back anytime I wrote anything critical of them, and the cycle would repeat when the heat cooled down for Brian Schorr. Last we heard, he was at the Switch Cartridge factory hoping to get the games made… Showed off final carts of Game Tengoku, (confirming for sure that at least 5,000 cartridges exist) and has gone silent for 3 months now.
Nothing else would really be worth noting here as little new or surprising came from any of this, but to reiterate how outright scammy this man is, when I reported on their business license expiring back in August, Brian quickly rushed back on Twitter to ensure everything was in the works still and that people who wanted refunds would get refunds. After erasing socials, again. After locking comments on posts, again. After only replying to specific people not being aggressive and not customers wanting refunds or their undelivered digital codes, again. Sure enough, he started refunds for some people and canceled their orders, then told them he’d manually Paypal them the money as soon as it was possible… And has gone ghost again. Now some people have no game and no sign of their refund money. Make no mistake, Brian Schorr scammed everyone. If you have the means to do a legal filing against Dispatch Games if you live in the state of TN, please do so: that, or ask your bank to chargeback the purchase and use the expired license as reasoning. It’s worth a shot, at least…
Lastly, as what’s almost the final nail in this coffin, one game Dispatch was going to publish was picked up by another, more safer limprint: Strictly Limited is now offering the PS4 version of a more complete Jajamaru Collection, which Dispatch Games planned to stock the JP Imports of in 2020 only to quietly cancel it when the Japanese version got delayed. This, and other recent City Connection partnerships, seems to imply to me that Dispatch Games is very likely to no longer have the licenses to some of their titles, or are about to run out of them. So at the very least, the three impacted games may eventually get a physical elsewhere, but the goalpost moving is beyond parody and has been for a long while.
SFG Grading: F. (Unchanged) Abhorrent communication, one-man staff, many, many missed promises, and not even the dev partners are able to get in touch with Brian. Not a good outlook that gets worse by the month. Any goodwill they had from publishing gems like Psyvariar is completely null and void now. Avoid at all costs, and if you’re stuck in an order with them, chargeback.
Super Rare Games
Disclaimer before I start writing: I’m in the middle of reviewing one of their Super Rare Original titles, set for next year, but that has zero impact on my evaluation of the company. Just figured I’d be honest about that aspect first.
So, what has Super Rare done since I last wrote on them? Well, some of their games went un-exclusive! In a move that was a bit weird, but one I feel is good for the market, two titles published by SRG in their early days are now being published by Limited Run as Distro games, meaning they’ll be reprinted if demand allows for it and available on Amazon. Most notably, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, one of the holy grails of the SRG lineup. SRG made a statement seeming to be in support of such exclusivity deals ending after a while, and I feel that’s a wise decision.
No full word on the Octahedron situation I mentioned earlier besides that it was being looked into, but some games of late they released are worth looking at, the most notable being Transiruby, which I happily picked up. Unfortunately, this is also near the end of the year, meaning their silly and ridiculous membership program is bound to start up again. Still, they’re at least listening to feedback and being consistent with their quality, seemingly stopping the shorts program in favor of Super Rare Originals and the Mixtapes, and I have no major complains about them, especially with their exclusivity loosening. Good work!
SFG Grading: C (Up from C-). Refocusing on what works and pushing aside what doesn’t, I feel SRG is the company that knows the limprint model well and just does what they feel confident in: print a certain amount, sell when in-hand, and help bring new original games to market in the process, all while no longer being super stupidly strict with exclusivity. Could really go without that membership FOMO gimmick, however.
Special Reserve Games
Now for the other SRG, this one a company I would have honestly had zero issues with until this very summer, when I saw several troubling reports on their reaction to customers wanting to cancel with them, mainly due to retail releases of some of their formerly exclusive games. I made a whole article on it, so go read that so I don’t repeat myself. Needless to say, before all this blew up, Special Reserve were pretty much a Devolver limprint joint, and focused on bringing Devolver games to a nifty physical format.
They came in cool boxes and some stuff like Ape Out even included a steelbook, but generally it was pretty much just a company that did as it was meant to do, with little in terms of major delays or QC screwups: hell, I can only thing of a singular QC error these guys did, and it was very recently, and generally the build quality of their products are really damn solid. They weren’t on here last time, since they pretty much just did their own thing and were flat in the middle, with nothing really to note one way or the other.
Well, since that last report card, the whole retail release thing picked up, with them being oddly hostile in regards to refunds, leading to them changing their own policy during a pre-order phase and blocking customers who ask them to abide by the older one. What was once a company that pretty much stuck to a routine and did the routine well became one that completely lost control and just mishandled the situation so, so poorly. Since then, SRG reeled in, still sticking to a stubborn no-refund policy and noting that if every refund request sent to them was granted on a whim, they’d be out of funds quickly: sure, fine, policies like that are normal, but when they’re stealth changed on a whim, you can’t not expect customers to be mad, and it seems as a result of the backlash to Demon Throttle and Trek to Yomi, upcoming releases like Cult of the Lamb have been a lot more forthcoming in which versions include what content, (the SRG version having DLC, retail not) so at the very least, they seem to have learned to be more careful.
That aforementioned QC mistake from earlier, I should note, comes from a recent release of Gato Roboto, a very fun, cat-focused Metroidvania adventure. This only got a Switch physical, (PS4 physicals being dropped by them because, and they’re right on this, the market for those limprints has mostly shrunk in favor of PS5 stuff) but that version has really no bugs, errors, or anything of the sort to worry about. Until it got an update to prep it for the physical, which made the game unbeatable. Yet another update followed soon after, fixing the game back to the way it was before. By some baffling, horribly confusing mess, the bugged patch issued this year ended up being the version on the cartridge.
Yes, that means if you were to buy Gato Roboto right now from Amazon and play it without an internet connection, the game would be unbeatable. Needless to say, this made people immensely mad, and initial reactions from SRG were to just note to keep an ear out for a developer statement. Doinksoft would eventually issue said statement, and that didn’t go well at all, basically telling customers to just update the game. As much as I’d always say that yes, updates is just a push of the plus button away and generally not bothersome, for this game in particular as a limprint, that’s just an absolutely shitty way of handling things, especially considering the patch size was roughly the same size as downloading the game itself. Fine for general consumers buying it off amazon, maybe, but for the collector fanatics, this definitely needed more done to make this cartridge more than a brick, and I was honestly convinced that perhaps it would even be chargeback worthy if SRG were to treat it like they did the Trek to Yomi/Demon Throttle situation by continuing to ignore people.
Well, thankfully they pledged to issue replacement carts and pulled the SRG version from the website for the time being, and it seems that they do mean to do well. The quality of their other releases is still solid and I generally do believe these guys have a great curated catalog of games, but their behavior this year is definitely one I found incredibly bizarre, and the statement they issued about Gato reads more like them begrudgingly doing it out of fear of chargebacks rather than swiftly wanting to fix the issue.
SFG Grade: D+. Mostly a Devolver focused company, and generally do just fine to the point I still don’t really have too many personal issues with them, but their behavior this year regarding retail reissues of their games (denying them when leaked, only for them to indeed get rated and come out anyway) and stealth editing refund policies on the fly to prevent people from just buying the more accessible version really soured a lot of collectors, and I don’t blame them for getting mad at all, especially with the excessive hostility I’ve seen towards some customers that absolutely doesn’t help anyone. Still, I don’t really think the idea of a general reprint is bad though, and I do hope they reprint The Messenger in a retail format as well, but I’m hoping this year is just them tripping over a rock and getting back up next year, rather than a sign of potential downturn.
First Press Games
Last time we talked about FPG, I praised the quality of their components and some of the games they acquired, but criticized the extreme waits for some games, mainly the second switch triple pack which has a game that went up for sale in 2019, still in the same “Patch in QA” status they had back in April. That game is now slated for Q1 2023, and uh, yeah, not much has moved from these guys… In fact, my opinion and benefit of the doubt for them dropped significantly since the last article, to the point this was honestly the main motivator for me writing this report card.
So, to recap: First Press started doing games for Switch and PS4, and have put out five physical standard Switch games, and a few PS4 ones. The first three collector editions finished up and are pretty great looking, but anything past that has completely stalled, leading to tons of the games on their site having had open preorders for years now, with nothing selling out and nothing seemingly coming in outside of a couple items. Earlier this year, Natsuki Chronicles hit the PS4 physically, and FPG got those shipped out during the summer, with the sister game Ginga Force promised to ship shortly after. Then Ginga Force got bumped to fall. Then it was assured it would be “no later than November!” only for it to get stealth delayed to January. Don’t even get me started on the CEs for these games, as those got shot up into space along with everything else. Yet again, no word or major ETAs on the holdup or why the promised November date came and went without much of a peep to customers, only being noticed when someone on Reddit saw that a sheer amount of their other in-production games got bumped from Q4 2022/Q1 2023 to Q3 2023. Yes, nearly an entire extra year for standard editions of games that have been available for order for over a year or more. See why this is alarming to me? You don’t stealth delay a messy production update page without a reason, and these guys sure don’t want to give it.
In fact, despite pledging and mostly doing good on not opening up preorders for quite a while so they could finish their older titles… They did just that anyway, opening up preorders for Sydney Hunter (originally slated to ship later this year, surprise, it’s Q3 2023 now too!), the recent acclaimed hit Chained Echoes, and a new Game Boy Color title. All with multiple editions, all months off from shipping, with one of their new announcements already missing the first ETA it was given. So naturally, customers are upset, especially ones who bought Neko Navy, Psychotic Adventures, or other such games several years ago with nothing to show. Thus, people complained, or threw in the towel and submitted a support ticket to ask for a refund, and since the game isn’t even finished for shipping, with FPG being based in Germany, at the very least FPG did good and refunded people in hopes they’ll come back when the games are in hand, right?
Wrong. In fact, for most of the year now the response to seemingly any attempt to ask for a refund from these guys, or a status update on a product, or really anything, is for FPG to rush and shut off the comment sections to their tweets. Or delete facebook comments. Or shut those down, too. They completely ignore emails, and several hidden replies indicate that some customers have tried for weeks, if not months to have an order cancelled, with FPG continually ignoring them, despite this being in sheer violation of German and EU consumer protection laws. In fact, when they forgot to disable the comments one time on a tweet, they flat out nuked and redid it while continuing to ignore refund requests.
As of now, no explanation has been given for the huge delayfest of many games to Q3 2023. The recent newsletter they put out, issued new ETAs for games, but little info on why the ETAs changed or the specific processes, or why refunds are being ignored. The only people that appear to be actually getting refunds from these guys, are those who are being the most vocal and replying to every last social media footprint they have. So what gives? Even if games take a bit to make, there’s no reason to be this hostile to refund/cancellation requests, especially in a EU country.
Well, my personal theory is… FPG is just running out of money. I don’t honestly think these guys will last much longer at this rate, since next to nothing they made has fully sold out, they’ve gone on several attempts to promote their site via youtube influencers, weird reddit ad campaigns, a plushie partnership that already seems to have fallen through (with one of their Bubble Bobble plushies getting stealth canceled by email) and by doing anything to promote their site in a way to get someone, anyone to buy their products before they’re in-hand. And clearly, that isn’t working, and it seems obvious that the cashflow to make the older games isn’t there… Hence why they opened these new preorders up in hopes of sparking people to fund them.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s gonna work, and the fact they’re still continuing to ghost customers asking for refunds or ETAs or any reason why so many of their games just keep getting delayed with next to no progress actually made, indicates to me that this business is in bad, bad shape. If you really want to own their games, only get the ones they have in-hand. Do not even attempt to buy anything else, for I have a bad feeling about this, and they don’t seem keen on wanting to clear the air…
SFG Grade: F. Jesus Christ, if any company on this entire list outside of Dispatch screams “bleeding money fast”, it’s these guys. There is zero excuse, zero to be ignoring and refusing refund/support requests on such a massive scale, especially in a region with strict consumer protection laws. The fact FPG has gone as far as they have to stealth edit delays, shut down comments on all their socials, blocking customers asking for help on support tickets or refunds, barely inform customers of their absurd wait times getting even longer, and constantly overshooting their ETAs with no explanation as to why, all while opening up more orders that’ll almost certainly never come for years on end, and you have a company that just screams to me as one that’s on the verge of running out of money and desperately, urgently hoping someone will just fall for the FOMO and give them the cash they need to produce the old games they should have made 3 years ago.
I gave them some benefit of the doubt in my last report card due to the quality of their products, but I’m sorry, top notch quality doesn’t excuse this level of horrible communication or treatment of customers, especially when all the ETAs from the time of the last report card article were completely missed. I’ve hoped they’d issue a full statement explaining why everything was suddenly moved a whole year ahead, or why they’re shutting down social media comments and generally backing away from customers wanting refunds or help, but with their recent statement just being one that provides new ETAs this company will absolutely not hit with no explanation as to why everything got delayed again, I’m confident in saying to anyone with orders with them, to cancel them now. If they’re recent and they don’t respond to you and continually ghost you like they have a lot of other people, chargeback. Chained Echoes may be a promising little game, but it’s not worth risking your money on until they get the games in hand, if you ask me, same with all of their other CEs.
Strictly Limited Games
Not too much to note here from last time: some long-delayed games finally came out, like the cotton/asha CEs and some of the Turrican stuff (the vinyl exists! It is real and glorious!), but the mega CE for Turrican is still, still in production, and the statue got restarted from the ground up. They also had a plagiarism accusation regarding some art that comes on the included Turrican postcards, but it seems to have petered out quietly in private and is no longer a public complaint that I could find. Newer stuff has been announced of course, and some of it like Jim Power has already shipped, so I do think these guys are getting some things in a bit of a better shape lately.
Unfortunately, my experiences with them lately have not been as fun, so let’s get into it. Last year, they opened preorders for Cotton 100%, a fun SNES shooter that was getting a repro and a Ratalaika port. I even reviewed it. I decided to buy a fun art plate of the game since it was a cool display piece I could have for a future Eternal Memories episode I plan to do on that game. (as I grew up with the PS1 port in my late teens) Flash forward to the summer when the plates are ready, and mine is shipping! I get it a few weeks later and…
They sent me the wrong plate. So OK, I contact them for the right one, yeah? And I have to ship it back to Germany. OK cool, do I get a return label? Nope, I have to pay $100 to send this back for the thing I ordered a year ago since it’s sold out and I can’t just buy another. Fine, I do it, and then they manually refund me the shipping money. Coolio! Now to get a cool plate swap since their new one shipped out. I also get word at this time that others have gotten the Panorama plate in place of the 100% plate, meaning several people got the wrong item, so it wasn’t just me!
Flash forward a month later, and I get a plate in the mail… My original plate I sent to germany. Turns out, per UPS, they couldn’t pay the customs fee and pick up the parcel, so back to me it went! Needless to say, a company being unable to afford customs for a returned item caused by their own messup is very, very alarming, and I panicked. Thankfully I got the OK to keep both plates and sure enough the right one arrived a few days later, but now I have someone’s Panorama plate, and I can’t help but feel irked about that, and just how sloppy the whole experience is. Seeing others later on discuss dealing with the same issues (bounced package from Germany and all!) with items such as missing components in CEs or the wrong platform of a game being shipped, and I don’t really think it’s wise to gamble on dealing with overseas shipping from these guys. At least I can say their refund policy is super top notch and every single time I asked for one they swiftly delivered, so you can rest assured these guys will have your back if you need a product canceled.
They also did make another pledge to be more transparent in the future, accompanied by a website redesign that actually helps explains ETAs and such a bit better now, so part of me is a bit hopeful things turn around, but still… That shipping ordeal really was sour.
SFG Grade: C- (Unchanged). Splitting SLG games into smaller ININ retail games is still incredibly stupid, and don’t even bother returning anything back to germany if you want to avoid major headaches. Still, their lineup is promising and I do advise buying when it’s in-hand rather than from their site as a preorder. Or you could just go with VideoGamesPlus who does it hassle free. Seems a lot of these limprints are opening up to other stores, hmm…
Limited Run Games
Yeah, these guys continue to be the folks I get a lot of flak for writing about, even though those articles are months old and are mainly promoted by SEO. Quite honestly, I mean it when I say I’m not making further articles on them as the older ones still explain everything just fine, and that doesn’t change even with the Embracer buyout. Despite that, they have 300+ games in production, the warehouse is flooded with in-stock items and even stuff like their new book venture is a pain because the in-stock books barely budge and don’t ship out on time. In fact, a lot of things haven’t shipped out on time, with a lot of games missing their ETAs. Again. They promised TMNT Shredder’s Revenge would ship out fast and would be worth buying over the other regional versions. It didn’t, and shipped in October, 2 months after EU/JP versions, including those region’s CEs. To give some credit though, the VHS editions did hit mailboxes recently, but that still proves how this limprint model is just not at all sustainable for a company of this size, especially one that sells so many games.
That being said, things seem to be slowing down a tad: their CEs seem to have been stopped being spat out so often, with some preorder windows even getting extended by an entire extra month, likely because sales are slowing! With a recession and interest in Limprint stuff in general waning, it seems LRG is shifting more towards reprint-friendly games with their Amazon store, only saving the big guns for the numbered releases. (Well, Switch anyway. Kemco EXE Create games are still PS4 numbered titles, sorry) On the bright side, I do hope this means the cutback in CEs lead to future ones being of way better QC than ones of late, but they still have a huge, huge backlog problem, and it’s only gonna get worse if they don’t hit the brakes.
As for Embracer? Well, they did seem to buy LRG for the Carbon Engine aspect, and well… River City Girls 0 was indeed a game I enjoyed a lot this year. But a lot of their 2022 Carbon games got delayed with little to no word on their status. With that said, social media of the Carbon Team indicates work is going pretty well and if that means 2023 is the year of a godly Rendering Ranger R2 port… I could see this actually being a good shift for Limited Run. Rather than just printing tons of plastic and gambling it on seeing if Gunbrick can sell a lot of copies, why not make retro reissues of some highly desired games? If LRG ends up being the ones to bring back Battle Mania, Snatcher, Vay, Gaia Seed, or other such unicorn titles via the Carbon Engine, they could very well redeem themselves, at least partially, by becoming a console archives company of sorts, kinda like how Hamster releases great Arcade Archives titles weekly. Even if I’m swearing off their physical releases forever, I may give the Rendering Ranger Carbon release a shot and write about it when it launches…
SFG Grade: D. (Unchanged) QC basically the same as before, and CEs are finally slowing down. However, the warehouse issues, lack of ETA and updates, are still a problem, but the Carbon Engine might be their lynchpin to redemption. Perhaps even if the limprint industry crumbles and they stick to only printing the best of the best instead of everything under the sun, the Carbon Engine could be the key to reissuing a lot of retro classics and making them more accessible: far, far more accessible than a limited open preorder window ever could hope for.
And that concludes it! A bit of an… odd 2022 roundup piece, and one that definitely took a lot to write. Mainly, it was really to just warn about FPG and give my thoughts on some companies people asked me to write on, but otherwise I mean it when I say I’m done writing Limprint articles from here on out. Unless something forces me into making it site-worthy somehow, I’m just gonna share anything interesting I find on limprint collector circles, rather than write about a hobby I’m just not into much anymore.
Nevertheless, I still think a few of these companies are worth a look, and if you want my advice on the best, I say Super Rare is the best from this article, and ones I didn’t mention but still feel are cool are VGNYSoft and VideoGamesPlus. The latter isn’t really a limprint, but they are reprinting some hotly valuable Switch games, so I still think they’re worth checking out! (Plus they’re the best way to pick up the other limprints after the window closes).
Tomorrow, I’ll be back, for the Worst of 2022 list. See you then.