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Sega made a traffic safety game in 1988, and collectors now have it

They’ve translated and put it online, too.

Blocky 1988 8-bit graphics showing cars doing unsafe things. One passenger is sticking his head out the window.
A screen from “You’re the Best Driver,” part of a rare traffic safety game for the Sega Master System.
SMS Power via Sega/Tokio Marine
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Game preservationists have found, saved, and even shared and translated, an extraordinarily 33-year-old cartridge for the Sega Master System. It’s about traffic safety.

Game de Check! Koutsuu Anzen was never put up for sale (it, and a system, were available for rent as part of a public service campaign by an insurance company). SMS Power, a group dedicated to preserving Sega’s 8-bit legacy, managed to find a complete kit in a Yahoo! Auction at the end of 2019.

Considering that a loose cartridge was sold on the same site for about $33,000 in 2009, and the seller of this kit had sought a similar price, SMS Power crossed its fingers and hoped its modest bid was enough. It was, and for 521,000 yen (roughly $4,800) they won it.

The story doesn’t end there. SMS Power linked up with the NPO Game Preservation Society in Tokyo to help with handling the materials and transporting them. NPO scanned all printed materials and dumped the cartridge’s ROM before the briefcase arrived, “in order to avoid any risk that the game may be lost or damaged while transporting.”

And from there, SMS Power and NPO Game Preservation Society even created a translation patch so that an unofficial English version of the game could be made available as a ROM.

The screenshots of that translate the game as Let’s Check With a Game! Traffic Safety, which contains three mini-games: a “Driving Sense Test,” “You’re the Best Driver,” and “Pyonkichi’s Adventure.” The last looks like a game in which a rabbit ventures out into the real world and gets into encounters where he has to make a safe choice.

Game de Check! Koutsuu Anzen was a product of Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Ltd., and was developed by Sega in 1987. The kit that SMS Power won includes all documentation, and the group even found two newspaper articles from 1988 that described the campaign’s purpose and execution. It was intended for use in traffic safety campaigns at kindergartens and in day care, as well as in community centers such as neighborhood or residents’ associations. Tokio Marine sent 200 copies of the game and 100 units of the hardware to its branches across Japan.

SMS Power has uploaded scans of all the manuals and the original, unaltered ROM. If you want the game’s soundtrack well, here’s that, too!

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