Off Zarken (lost build of cancelled Famicom role-playing game; 1991)

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OffZarken 1991 Shoshinkai front.jpg

1991 Shoshinkai brochure front

Status: Lost

Off Zarken (オフザーケン) is a cancelled 1991 Famicom role-playing game, developer and publisher by Tokumashoten Intermedia Inc (TIM). The game is very quirky, and unlike typical role-playing games such as Dragon Quest, job classes include sumo wrestler, an itamae, and high school girl, and enemies include huge creatures that don't fit on the screen (only their feet are shown) and tiny creatures that are only about one pixel in size. The character design was done by manga artist Kentarō Yano.


An ancient civilization depended on a substance called "Nyukla" and flourished; the great energy hidden in Nyukla was the source of all magic and seemed to make everything possible. Suddenly, however, the dark side of Nyukla's power went out of control. The people had no control over it, and the entire land was swallowed up by the raging sea.

Thousands of years passed, and mankind barely survived on the islands that remained at sea, but Nyukla's influence remained. The sea that lies between the islands emits an evil spirit that destroys anyone who tries to wade through it, making it impossible to move to another island. Most troubling of all, the monsters created by Nyukla's evil power gradually multiplied and evolved, threatening the people. Is it only a matter of time before the human race is annihilated?[1]


According to Hidemi Wada, formerly a book editor at TIM, planning for the game began on December 6, 1989. The team from TIM's software department, including character designer Yano, had a meeting at a ryokan in Jimbocho, where they came up with ideas for parodies and other antics, so Yano came up with the title "Off Zarken," a play on the word "Ofuzake" (meaning "playful" or "joke" in Japanese)[2].

According to Yano, to differentiate the team from Dragon Quest, the team did not have a "hero" job, but instead allowed people to choose which job class to be a hero, and mixed in dummy jobs that existed graphically but could not be chosen. Yano also allowed players to choose where they would start from among the first five islands (Tsugariya Island, Edgard Island, Rasu Island, Inzaliba Island, and Schutzun Island), and the development that occurs on each island they chose would change accordingly. However, having five starting points on each island would have resulted in an imbalance in the strength of the monsters from the start to the end of the journey. Therefore, after clearing one island, when crossing to the next island, the party's level is reset to 1 and the player must start fighting from the weakest monster. The scenario consisted of three stages, the first stage consisted of five islands based on Honshu, the second stage consisted of three islands based on Shikoku, Kyushu, and Hokkaido, and the third stage was the final battle stage[2].

Also according to Yano, Nyukla was a pun on "Nuclear" and represented the nucleus. He was also thinking of a setting in which the world is contaminated by nuclear fission and the world is saved by switching to a fusion reactor[2].


According to Wada, the development schedule was tight. The ROM was exhibited at the 3rd Shoshinkai in 1991, but at that time only one scene of battle was playable and it was not fully completed. They finally decided to cancel the release as of October 7, 1991[2].


Currently, the ROM is not publicly available and has not surfaced online.



  1. From a brochure distributed at the third Shoshinkai in 1991. Retrieved 4 Jan, 2024
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 幻の未発売ゲームを追え! ISBN 978-4-1986-4380-5 Retrieved 4 Jan, 2024