The HD Console Game From...1993?

While most people would peg the beginning of the high definition era around the time of the PlayStation 2 (some games able to run in 1080i), here's one game that was running in HD nearly twenty years ago.

It's Hudson's Hi-Ten Bomberman, which has the honour of being the world's very first high definition video game.

The game was only ever publicly playable twice, at the 1993 and 1994 Hudson Soft Gaming Caravan exhibitions. It's important to note that, despite HDTVs not becoming widely available in the West until the late 1990's, in Japan the technology had been established a little earlier, with plasma sets available (though not that common) at the time. They cost tens of thousands of dollars, sure, but they were available.

Hi-Ten Bomberman was built to take advantage of this. A modified version of the party/puzzler classic, it featured not just high-definition graphics, but support for 16:9 widescreen TV sets and could host a maximum of ten players.

The HD Console Game From...1993?
Just half the number of players in a game of Hi-Ten Bomberman

Anyone who's played Bomberman will be able to imagine how awesome having ten players at once would be. Those ten could be split a number of ways, too, whether it be five teams of two, two teams of five, three teams of three or a ten-man fight to the death.

The game was not running on any existing console of the time; instead, it was powered by a custom piece of PC hardware called "Tetsujin", which was hooked up to a HDTV.

A report from someone who's actually played the game said it went above and beyond a mere technical demonstration, as it "had been properly tested and bug checked" and even featured "lots of power ups and a couple of things that were (at that time) new to the series".

Interestingly, while "Tetsujin" evolved into the hardware that would become Hudson's short-lived PC-FX console, Hi-Ten Bomberman was never released for the system. It was, however, later ported to the Sega Saturn, though in doing so it obviously lost its HD graphics.

While the game has never surfaced for download or emulation, we do at least have the good fortune of seeing this recorded footage from the 1993 Hudson Soft Gaming Caravan, in which the game (and it's amazing control ports) are clearly visible.

The HD Console Game From...1993?

Hi-Ten Bomberman! [Lost Levels, via GSW][Hi-Ten Bomberman (unreleased) vs Saturn Bomberman @ NeoGaf][video courtesy of ASSEMblergames.com]