November 18, 2021

Feature: More Than Four Years Of Painful Waiting Later, We've Finally Got Paprium - But Is It Any Good?

Hands-on with the troubled fighter that's coming to Switch soon.

Paprium's road to release has been quite a tumultuous one, to put it mildly. The product of WaterMelon Games' 'Magical Game Factory' crowdfunding campaign which kicked off way back in 2012, this scrolling fighter was intended to push the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis hardware to its absolute limit via custom chips and ingenious programming techniques. WaterMelon, you might recall, is the indie behind Pier Solar, another Mega Drive release that eventually made its way to the Wii U. Given the surge of interest in retro games of late – and the mini-revival in the belt-scrolling beat 'em up genre – it's easy to see why Paprium garnered so much attention when it was officially announced for pre-order back in 2017. However, since then, there's been a mountain of negative press surrounding the title and WaterMelon's current boss, Gwénaël Godde, better known as Fonzie.

We were one of the many who placed a pre-order back in 2017 in the hope that we'd be playing a brand-new side-scrolling brawler on our Mega Drive consoles before long. However, as we've already covered on this very site, things didn't go exactly according to plan and WaterMelon's handling of the situation has been, at times, utterly abysmal. Paprium missed its proposed launch date and months of radio silence followed – so much so that even the game's lead artist was left out in the cold. Fonzie has laid much of the blame on a 'PayPal partner' which 'seized our funds for an unlimited period of time via a set of extortion techniques', which apparently included 'sub-contracting dirty business to China'. In 2019, it was revealed that development was back on track following a truly disastrous 'launch party' at the close of 2018, but the silence fell again until, in 2020, some people actually started receiving their copies of Paprium. We say 'some', because not everyone who pre-ordered in 2017 got one (including us), and in early 2021, Fonzie sent out a rather troubling email that did little to inspire confidence; he claimed that the game was being developed 'for free' due to the lack of access to funds and that WaterMelon was going to sell its IP or order to raise cash.

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