This is the background story and foundation for how we determined that one of the unknown software product code numbers was in fact already discovered.
Time for archeology!
CHAPTER 1 - GAME MACHINE MAGAZINE
In May of 2020, I was contacted by Gualtiero Cannarsi aka "Shito" from the neogeo community. He informed me of a website called Gaming Alexandria, a site similar to Lost Levels and Hidden Palace, run by video game historians and preservationists. In January of 2020, the site had begun the process of digitally scanning the entire catalog of "Game Machine" magazine, a Japanese arcade industry publication similar to our Replay and Play Meter magazines that we have here in the United States. The magazine began covering the coin op industry in 1974 and ceased publication in 2002. So it was a little known, and mostly never before seen, untapped resource for potential pics & information on the neogeo. So I undertook the painstaking and time consuming process of looking through the thousands of pages of material in the hopes of finding anything that could yield a new discovery. And mind you, yes, I did find several never before seen screen shots for Sun Shine, Dunk Star, and Pair Pair Wars as well as the first pic for "Maseki Taisen Stoon" and most relevant of all, a full color advertisement for Magic Master by Saurus. It was also a good source for additional timeline information which is a key component of the "fact files" that I maintain for each proto on my website. Details such as which games were displayed at which shows and when they took place.CHAPTER 2 - EX-ADK PROGRAMMER
After a few days of interesting conversation and exchanging information with Shito, he informed me of a Japanese website which was apparently put together by an ex Alpha Denshi programmer. It catalogs the entire history of Alpha (ADK) from its beginning in 1980 until its closure in 2003. Mind you, it was a great resource of detailed information, but it did not have any new pics or screenshots. In fact, the programmer had even used some of my own personal pics from my website for his! However, the chronological timeline in which the information was presented was excellent. But the key piece of relevant information which I found there, and the subsequent discovery that came as a result of my piecing it together for the first time, was, in essence, the discovery of one of the remaining mysterious NGH product codes. Now, to be fair, what I have stated above is nowhere near as exciting as it may seem to be at first glance. Reason being, it's not what you immediately think. It isn't some newly discovered, never before heard of unreleased neogeo game. No, rather it is merely yet another example of a "re-assignment" of a software product number to an already existing game.CHAPTER 3 - THE THREE VERSIONS OF ALPHA'S SUN SHINE
You have probably guessed it by now, but here is the story of what happened here, presented in a chronological order. I have purposely listed the "game" being discussed at the beginning of each entry to avoid any possible confusion. Follow VERY CLOSELY and read VERY CAREFULLY or you will get lost!LATE 1989/EARLY 1990 Alpha & SNK co-develop the neogeo hardware and are actively working on the first dozen or so "launch titles" of game software. A puzzle game called SunShine is among those initial titles. It is believed with 90% certainty that it is assigned NGM-008.
JULY 1990 - (NGM-008 - Sun Shine - Alpha - 1990 - 18 megs) - Sun Shine is location tested at a popular Japanese arcade called "The Gorilla", located at the underground level of the Ikebukuro Sunshine Mall in the Ikebukuro Ward in Tokyo.
SEPTEMBER 1990 - (NGM-008 - Sun Shine - Alpha - 1990 - 18 megs) - SNK prints up the pamphlets (arcade flyers as we refer to them here) for the games which they will be presenting at the upcoming show for distribution to the attendees, and Sun Shine is among the titles.
OCTOBER 1990 - (NGM-008 - Sun Shine - Alpha - 1990 - 18 megs) - Sunshine is exhibited at the 28th Amusement Machine Show (commonly known as the AM show) held at the Tokyo Distribution Center on October 3rd and 4th in 1990.
NOVEMBER 1990 - (NGM-008 - Sun Shine - Alpha - 1990 - 18 megs) - The results of the location test were poor. The game was not well received and it did not perform to expectations. The game was then canceled and would not be released.
DECEMBER 1990 - (NGM-008 - Sun Shine - Alpha - 1990 - 18 megs) - Japanese publication GAMEST Magazine prints up a special article on all of the puzzle games shown at the AM Show, and Sun Shine is mentioned along with a screen shot.
DECEMBER 1990 - (NGM-012 - Block Paradise - Alpha - 1991 - 22 megs) - The Alpha team improves and enhances their "puzzle game engine" and using the original Sun Shine game as a foundation, they reprogram it into a new game to be called Block Paradise. The concept of adding shooting game elements to the puzzle elements of "Tetris" was an idea of ADK President Arai, and so it was decided to go astray with the current game, rather then being discontinued.
JANUARY 1991 - (NGM-008 - Sun Shine - Alpha - 1990 - 18 megs) - Despite already having been canceled, SNK still displays Sun Shine at their booth at the 1991 (CES) Winter Consumer Electronics Show because of the need to push & promote the neogeo system which at this time is taking critisicm for having a lack of software.
FEBRUARY 1991 - (NGM-012 - Block Paradise - Alpha - 1991 - 22 megs) - Japanese publication GAMEST Magazine publishes an article on Block Paradise, complete with descriptions and screen shots.
MARCH 1991 - (NGM-008 - Sun Shine - Alpha - 1990 - 18 megs) - American publication Electronic Gaming Monthly reports on the games shown by SNK at the CES and Sun Shine is among them.
MARCH 1991 - (NGM-026 - Fun Fun Brothers - Alpha - 1991 - 26 megs) Block Paradise is becoming a very busy game because the shooting game element that rearranges the blocks and the paddling element that receives it are completely inherited from Sun Shine. Block Paradise is canceled and the game is not to be released. After that, at the meeting on Thursday, March 07, 1991, the project is changed to "Fun Fun Brothers".
APRIL 1991 - (NGM-012 - Block Paradise - Alpha - 1991 - 22 megs) - Japanese publication GAMEST Magazine publishes an article on Block Paradise, complete with descriptions and screen shot.
MAY 1991 - (NGM-026 - Fun Fun Brothers - Alpha - 1991 - 26 megs) After all this time and despite all the work put into "Alpha's Puzzle Game", Fun Fun Brothers is also canceled and not to be released. And thus ADK ends up without a puzzle game, despite making 3 attempts at designing one! (Zintrick would eventually be their first puzzle game) But President Arai continued to have his dream of a puzzle + shooting concept...
NOVEMBER 1996 -(this entry is only here for historical relevance and irony) - On November 26th, 1996 ADK releases their final neogeo title, Twinkle Star Sprites, a bizarre combination puzzle/shooting game. In the games attract mode, the following text is shown: "at last match play shooting!"
FEBRUARY 1998 - (NGM-026 - Fun Fun Brothers - Alpha - 1991 - 26 megs) - Completely against all odds, somehow by a miracle, an actual physical proto cartridge of Fun Fun Brothers is found and privately purchased.
JANUARY 2005 - (NGM-012 - Block Paradise - Alpha - 1991 - 22 megs) - Emulated screen grabs of the game surface on the internet
AUGUST 2011 - (this entry is only here for historical relevance and posterity) - It was at this time, while looking at detailed screen shots, that I first realized that Fun Fun Brothers and Sun Shine shared many similarities and made the connection that they were, in essence, distant cousins.
APRIL 2021 - (NGM-012 - Block Paradise - Alpha - 1991 - 22 megs) - A video of the game running in attract mode surfaces on the internet.
MAY 2021 - (this entry is only here for historical relevance and posterity) - It was at this time, after watching the Block Paradise video intently, that I first realized that Block Paradise and Sun Shine were NOT the same game. It had been assumed until now, that the different titles were merely Japan/USA localization differences. (like Raguy/Blue's Journey)
The end result is that we now have a much better understanding of why we were unable to find any material whatsoever on the 3 as of yet undetermined product codes. (NGM-012, NGM-013, NGM-015) It was because 1 of them never even existed, as it was merely a reprogrammed version of an earlier product already the list.
NGM-008 was intended to be Sun Shine
NGM-012 was intended to be Block Paradise
NGM-026 was intended to be Fun Fun Brothers
All 3 were canceled, all 3 were abandoned, all 3 went unreleased.
To answer the inevitable question that this raises, how do we know that either of these 2 early product numbers are correct? Well, in short, we do not. But, it does not affect the outcome either way. Because we have 4 numbers and 2 games to fill them. So it still leaves us with only 2 remaining mysteries.