Xacrow Revisited: A retrospective

Xacrow: A Retrospective

Back in 2012 I wrote an article here entitled: "Ticking Time Bomb". It was an analytical piece which focussed on the instability of the perceived value of Xacrow's NEOGEO protos. Now, to be fair, the main intention of the article was to cause him stress in the hopes of bringing him to the negotiation table. And in that sense it was a worthy effort. But 10 years later, just how accurate was the article? Well, lets take a look now and set the record straight.

With the recent February 2022 yahoo japan auction of the unreleased neogeo game Block Paradise, concerns were raised about the true status and value of the game, or more specifically, the true value of the games rom data itself. And there is no doubt that the perceived value of the game was directly affected by the fact that the rom data contained inside had already been safeguarded back in January of 2005. The fact is, Block Paradise was 1 of the 8 unreleased neogeo games for which Xacrow had provided emulated screen shots. And at the time of the auction, it was unclear and unknown if it was the same original cartridge that Xacrow retrieved the rom data from, or if it was another completely unrelated cartridge. But either way, the existence of the emulated screen shots was well known and absolutely hurt the value of the game, as it caused restraint with potential buyers.

However, all is not as it seems, which is the main purpose of this article
After the auction ended more information came to light. As such, we now know the provenance of this cartridge. And so with the proper timeline now established, it is now possible to know the facts. Xacrow's cartridge (assuming one ever existed as it is also possible that he didn't have any physical cartridges and his rom data came from backup disks or a computer hard drive) was dumped sometime in the past. We don't know exactly when of course, but we do know that it had to have been done prior to January 2005. 2021kDuck's cartridge has been in his possesion since 2000. He has never opened it. He has never leant it out to anyone. It never left his hands until February 2022. And most importantly, detailed analysis of the physical cartridge itself supported these statements and revealed that the rom data had not been extrapolated from it. Therefore, 2021kDuck's cartridge was NOT the source of Xacrow's rom data that he posted back in January of 2005.

So, why does this matter?
When I was debating with wether or not to go above my initial limit of how much I was willing to pay for this cartridge, I had a realization. And the provenance of Duck's cartridge was the key that swayed me to raise my limit beyond my comfort zone. Knowledge is power. And just the knowledge that 2021kDuck himself had never messed with the cartridge and that it would come directly to me, meant that I would in fact have the much needed control over it's contents. I no longer had any fears or worries that the seller himself could or would release the rom data after the sale. And this solidified the deal for me.

But, what about Xacrow?
Ah yes, so what about Xacrow? Of course, eliminating the danger of the seller releasing the rom only established HALF of the control needed to lower the financial risk involved here. Afterall, Xacrow also has this games rom data and he is still out there! What if he was somehow involved and what if he releases the rom data? Well, of course I considered this possibility, but with calm anlysis it becomes quite clear that Xacrow is not a factor whatsoever. In fact, he never really has been for that matter. All of the evidence that we have on Xacrow and his roms points to exactly the opposite. Because while it is true that many of his roms have found their way into the community, NONE of them have been with his involvement. Rather, they have all been obtained through completely different and unrelated sources.


We managed to get the rom data for Ironclad Brikinger through lucky circumstance. SNK themselves released the game for play on the Nintendo virtual console. Hackers then extrapolated the original rom code from that release which allowed us to build physical cartridges for play on our systems. Xacrow's rom data for this game remains locked away. He never shared it. Granted, it is pretty much worthless now, and that part of the story has not and never will change. But the fact remains that Xacrow's rom file for this game has yet to leave his hands.


We managed to get the rom data for Bang Bang Busters because N.C.I. met with Visco in Japan and were given a sample proto cartridge of the game. And once again, Xacrow's rom file for this game remains locked away. He never shared it. And in fact, in this particular case, he has the original 1994 revision of the game, while the revision that Visco gave N.C.I. was the 2000 version. So again, his rom file has never left his hands. And for those few who know about this...yes, since then, the 1994 revision has also surfaced (although it remains undumped, at least publicly), but again, it also has nothing to do with Xacrow.


This one never even materialized. At the time that I wrote the original article, it was looking like N.C.I. was about to release this game next. But it had not happened yet, and still to this day has not happened. Mind you, the cartridge itself still sits in a display case at a Japan game store. And granted, entire full length videos of the complete game from start to finish have also turned up since then. But, all of this aside, we still have yet to get the rom file for this game and more importantly, even if and when we do, Xacrow will once again have NOTHING to do with it. Because again, he has done absolutely nothing with any of his known protos since 2005.


This one also has sufferred delays, but again, once it finally does reach us, it won't be because of Xacrow. Two people have come forward since 2005 having found physical cartridges of this game. One of them in California and another one in Europe. And one of them has even partially dumped the rom code from the cartridge. But, again, neither has anything to do with Xacrows rom file of the game.


This rom file has yet to surface but this is not an unreleased proto! Nor was the above Super Volleyball game either! These are older builds or earlier betas of games that actually did see official releases on the system. So other then a mild curiosity, the only relevent information that they might provide would be to see what earlier NGH number they were originally assigned. The number COULD be one of the unknowns, but, it is just as likely that whatever number they were assigned, was simply reissued after the game was indefintely postponed and given to another product that was ready for release.


Despite the fact that this game has actually been dumped twice, yes TWICE, the rom file has yet to surface. But if and when it ever does, it would not mean that Xacrow had a hand in it because it could have come from the previous 2002 source instead.


Now this one is VERY special. In fact, it has become the LAST MAN STANDING. I will explain. So the ONLY emulated shots that have EVER surfaced for this game did indeed ONLY come from Xacrow. So he really is the ONLY source for this game as of this writing. And, at this point in time, mostly due to circumstance, it has become and will likely remain Xacrow's most valuable proto. However, it gets even more relevent then that. Because, specifically, it is now Xacrow's ONLY unreleased proto. Every other entry here is either an early beta, or has been located from a secondary source. In essence, my 2012 prediction has come true.


And finally, the premise for my original article and the purpose for this follow up article. This game WAS the absolute holy grail of Xacrow's collection from January 2005 until February 2022. But with a second source surfacing, that honor immediately transferred to Magic Master.