UEP-Systems, Inc

UEP Systems logo ©2001 UEP System

UEP Systems logo ©2001 UEP System

UEP-Systems are largely now a distant memory which has largely consigned to history but at one point in the mid-nineties UEP-Systems could arguably be considered the preeminent consumer snow-boarding development studio. The company was synonymous with the original PlayStation with their Cool Boarders franchise receiving critical acclaim and worldwide commercial success. The company’s name is an acronym for Universe Electronic Plant Systems and they were established on the 12th of April ’85. The earliest incarnation of the company was primarily concerned with the importation of computer peripheral equipment like computer graphic cards for the Japanese market. By the late nineties UEP-Systems operated three separate consumer, amusement & electrical equipment divisions.

In November of ’00 UEP-Systems announced that they were in talks to restructure the company in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy proceedings. Unfortunately, on the 9th of July ’01 they were declared bankrupt at the Tokyo District Court. While i can’t conclusively state that it’s the case but seemingly UEP-Systems intellectual properties are split between various regional territories & individual publishers. UEP-Systems early Cool Boarders titles are published in Japan by Studio ZAN Co., Ltd with the North American rights for the same titles being held by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The complicated intellectual rights situation was due in part to UEP-Systems selling the North American rights to the franchise to Sony Computer Entertainment who in turn published a further three entries in the series which were internally developed by Idol Minds, LLC. The three Sony published entries by Idol Minds were Cool Boarders 3 & 4 for the original PlayStation and the North American exclusive Cool Boarders 2001 for the PlayStation 2.

Even through UEP-Systems had lost the North American rights to the franchise they continued to publish the Sony developed titles in Japan. They also continued to develop new instalments in the Cool Boarders franchise for the Japanese & European markets which amounted to three further titles. The first and realistically best known of these titles was the Dreamcast exclusive Cool Boarders Burrrn! This was quickly followed by Cool Boarders Pocket for the Neo Geo Pocket colour in ’00. The final title attributed to UEP-Systems was Cool Boarders Code Alien which was a Japanese region exclusive which was released in very late ’00.

Cool Boarders Burrrn! logo ©1999 UEP Systems. Inc

Cool Boarders Burrrn! logo ©1999 UEP Systems. Inc

As i’ve mentioned the Dreamcast received its own exclusive instalment of the series which was tentatively known as Cool Boarders & Cool Boarders DC while in development before finally Cool Boarders Burrrn! was decided on as the final title for the game. Cool Boarders Burrrn! was released on the 29th of August ’99 & it retailed for ¥5,800. The game was subsequently published outside of Japan where it was released in both North America & Europe where due to the complicated rights issue surrounding the Cool Boarders franchise it received a new title in both territories. ©1999 UEP Systems, Inc / © 1999 SEGA

https://web.archive.org/web/20140803154742/http://sega.jp/dc/990602/

The North American version of the game was retitled to Rippin’ Riders and it was published by SEGA of America. The game adopted this new title simply because Sony Computer Entertainment had the North American intellectual rights to the Cool Boarders name. The European incarnation of the game is slightly different as while it was published by SEGA Europe and probably for the same reason as the American version of the game couldn’t use the Cool Boarders moniker. But for unknown reasons it didn’t use the American title either. Instead it was retitled to Snow Surfers Fresh tracks but for unknown reasons before its release it dropped the Fresh Tracks part of its title & was simply known as Snow Surfers. Cool Boarders Burrrn! entry on the official archived Dreamcast catalogue is linked to below. ©1999 UEP Systems, Inc / © 1999 SEGA

https://web.archive.org/web/20140803154742/http://sega.jp/dc/990602/

Cool Boarders Burrrn! was also amongst the first Dreamcast games to be released as a Dreamcast collection title. This collection of software was also known as dorikore software which was a continuation of the previous SEGA Saturn satakore budget range of software. This dorikore incarnation of the game was released on the 21st of December ’00 and it retailed at the budget price of ¥2,800. © 1999 UEP Systems, Inc / ©1999 SEGA

https://web.archive.org/web/20140803154746/http://sega.jp/dc/001201/

As a way to engage with the Cool Boarders fanbase and provide a promotional opportunity before the game was released UEP-Systems held a competition in association with the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine. This competition allowed its readers to name an as yet unnamed female character. Dreamcast Magazine reported that they had received over three hundred entries which had included submissions from outside Japan. The winning name chosen from those submitted was Tia which was based on Tiara because apparently the character was a ski princess. The official description of the name is reproduced below.

キャラの特徴であるお団子を冠(ティアラ)に見立て、それを縮めてティアとつけた。ゲレンデのお姫様のようなイメージ。© UEP Systems 

The winning submission as well as information about the prizes for both the winning entries and the runners up is detailed on the competitions archived page. You’ll find the competitions archived page is linked to below. © UEP Systems 

https://web.archive.org/web/20010309022724/http://www.uepsys.com/rnd/cbb/tia_j.htm

To commemorate the launch of Cool Boarders Burrrn! UEP-Systems held another competition which was in conjunction with five different Japanese Dreamcast periodicals entitled the editorial office board design contest. The five magazines that took part in the contest were Dreamcast Fan, Dreamcast Press, Dreamcast Magazine as well as Dreamcast Dengeki & Famitsu DC. This competition was slightly different as the editors of the five magazines each designed various snowboards that readers of their respective magazines could then vote for. The archived announcement of the editorial office board design contest is linked to below. © 2001 UEP Systems, Inc

https://web.archive.org/web/20010210113537/http://www.uepsys.com/rnd/cbb/dcmagatop.htm

After the competition had finished the various boards that the editors had designed were made available to download by UEP-Systems on their official site. You were able to save to your VMU by navigating to the respective page and selecting the boards you wanted to download. The only restriction was that only three boards could be saved to an individual VMU at one time. Below is the partially archive page which featured all fifteen boards of the editorial office board design contest. © UEP Systems

https://web.archive.org/web/20001021104439/http://www.uepsys.com/rnd/cbb/boarddown.htm

From around the time of Cool Boarders Burrrn! release UEP-Systems held another competition once again in association with Dreamcast Magazine. This time it was a time trial competition in which people could participate by using the trial version of the game that was included on the Dreamcast Magazine GD-Rom Vol.2 disc 1. In this competition you had to use Accele who was the only character available and compete the game’s first course Mountain Review in the quickest time possible. Participants had until the 24th of September ’99 to submit their entries directly to UEP-Systems.

 

There were three prize tiers and the third place Prize was a Richman t-shirt and a QUO card while for second place the prize was a pair of Arnette sunglasses & a Richman t-shirt. The grand prize was an actual RC-M snowboard which was orange with the familiar Dreamcast swirl logos at each end and the Cool Boarders Burrrn! livery in the middle. I’ve been unable to find any information from RC-M about this exclusive snowboard but i do know ten in total were produced for UEP-Systems. Dreamcast Magazine featured a Cool Boarders Burrrn! advert which included a picture of this exclusive snowboard and i’ve reproduced it below. ©1999 UEP Systems, Inc ©1999 Softbank Publishing. Inc All Rights Reserved. 

Cool Boarders Burrrn! competition prize by RC-M snowboard the company had ten of these snowboards to give away as various prizes.

Cool Boarders Burrrn! competition prize by RC-M snowboard the company had ten of these snowboards to give away as various prizes.

Famitsu DC also ran its own competition in association with UEP-Systems which was known as the replay score attack contest. This competition as its name suggests was simply to amass the largest score possible on Cool Boarders Burrrn!’s Super Pipe stage and submit your entry to UEP-Systems by uploading your data through the games Dream Passport 2 browser. Once again, an RC-M snowboard was the grand prize while the second place received a selection of Cool Boarders Burrrn! goods & a Dreamcast VGA box, developers autograph & an exclusive telephone card. Lastly for the third-place finalist they won a selection of Cool Boarders Burrrn! goods & a Dreamcast rumble pack. The winning entries were posted on UEP-Systems official site and you were at the time able to directly download the winning runs to your VMU to see for yourself just how good the winners actually were. The page for the official replay score attack contest has been partly archived and is linked to below. ©2001 UEP-System, Inc

http://web.archive.org/web/20010114124300/http://www.uepsys.com:80/rnd/cbb/ranking_5.htm

Cool Boarders Burrrn! release coincided with the height of the extreme sports genre’s popularity. Major extreme sporting events like the X-Games were now receiving mainstream coverage and other extreme sports were permeating into other forms of media including television & film with the like of Vin Diesel’s extreme sports inspired XXX film. With this explosion into mainstream media the extreme sports game genre was quick to adapt and release entries in new extreme sporting events like BMX, skate boarding & snowboarding as well as surfing & ski mobile racing which became major extreme sports franchises of the early millennium.

UEP-Systems Cool Boarders Burrrn! was perfectly placed to take advantage of this popularity with the franchise already having two successful entries on Sony’s PlayStation. While the Dreamcast incarnation was a clear generational leap over the previous instalments it was set to compete with a number of announced or known in-development Dreamcast exclusive snowboarding titles. Cool Boarders Burrn! main early competition was arguably from Infogrames who had the heavily promoted Boarder Zone which perhaps rather fortunately for UEP-Systems actually went unreleased on the system. This left Cool Boarders as the only snowboarding title available for the Dreamcast.

Cool Boarders Burrrn! has three gameplay modes, Free ride which is the games equivalent of an arcade mode in which you have to compete the games five initial courses + one hidden stage which is unlocked when the requirements have been met. Each course has a number of trick points that by landing a successful trick will add an extra time bonus to the ever-decreasing timer. By the later stages landing complex tricks is almost a seemingly mandatory requirement to complete the course. If you don’t actually land your intended trick you’ll lose precious seconds as you’ll start from something of a standstill.

The various stages featured in the game definitely become much more extreme in nature than you’d probably expect for a snowboarding title. The games five normal courses are in chronological order Mountain Review, Emerald Forest, Urban Striker as well as Cave Slider & finally Dancing Devils. The extra hidden course i’ve not actually unlocked as i’ve not completed the game yet. I’ve not got past Cave Slider so i don’t have any first hand knowledge but its apparently based on a stage from Cool Boarders 2.

The game also has a multiplayer mode which features a number of interesting game modes which have a bit more thought put into them than the usual simple race against your opponent. Trick Boost is a mode much like its name implies that sees you performing tricks to build up your boost gauge and by pressing the guard button propels your character at high velocity allowing both a speed boost and an opportunity to perform even more complex tricks. Line Versus is a more visually competitive mode in where by performing tricks shrinks your opponent’s screen size by as the name suggests moving the dividing line in your favour.

Personally, nowadays if i play Cool Boarders Burrrn! i generally tend to play the games Super Pipe modes which are essentially score attack stages. The game actually features two versions the first Super Pipe is the only one initially selectable once you complete the Super Pipe you unlock the Super Pipe Extra. To be honest the Super Pipe is quite limited as its short and just completely straight while it does provide some decent potential for tricks the Extra Pipe is much better. This is due to it being much longer with various hazards that you are able to trick your way across as well as many higher sided walls which give much better scope to perform more complex tricks. Its surprisingly addictive to try and improve your score with each successive run but in all honesty i don’t think i’ll be challenging those scores from the replay score attack contest anytime soon.

Apart from the not insignificant challenge posed by Cool Boarders Burrrn!’s Free Run mode’s later courses and the score attack challenge provided by the games Super Pipes. UEP-Systems packed the game with many extras from secret characters & boards to a hidden course all of which can be unlocked through various gameplay requirements being met.

Cool Boarders burrrn! Definitely encapsulates the late ’90’s extreme sports genre’s popularity. Personally, while i enjoy Cool Boarders Burrrn! i do recognise that it does have a number of issues mainly relating to its design. While i’m not aware that UEP-System ever had any intention of releasing a Naomi version of the game it definitely feels like it was intended to be an arcade title first & foremost that was subsequently ported to the Dreamcast.

The Cool Boarders franchise was always more arcade than pure simulation but the Dreamcast exclusive incarnation feels like this has been embraced much more with an extreme edge that was so popular at the time of its release. This is apparent throughout the games design with strict time limits which in later courses almost necessitates the need to perform & land complex tricks just to add extra time to finish the stage. This combined with the environmental hazards and obstacles designed to impede your progress makes the game feel much more arcade like than a simulation. Which in reality this means you have to become intimately familiar with the stages and their short cuts to be able to navigate them for any chance to progress.

This i’d argue has all the traits of an arcade title designed to entice to credits to be used rather than a consumer sports title. While i’ll discuss it in more depth in its relative section i think the very early in development version of the game showcased on the Dreamcast Partners exclusive Dreamcast Express Vol.2 disc shows that the game was at least initially much more similar to the previous instalments of the series. While its pure conjecture the fleeting look at the game doesn’t provide all the answers i do however suspect that the more extreme elements featured in the game were added much later on in its development.

 

T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn!

 

Front

 

T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn! front

T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn! front

Back

T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn! back

T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn! back

 

T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! dorikore

 

Front

 

T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! Dorikore front

T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! Dorikore front

Back

T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! Dorikore back

T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! Dorikore back

 

SAMPLE covers

 

SAMPLE T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn!

 

Front

 

SAMPLE T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn! front

SAMPLE T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn! front

SAMPLE T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn! back

SAMPLE T-36901M Cool Boarders Burrrn! back

 

SAMPLE T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! dorikore

 

Front

T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! Dorikore front

T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! Dorikore front

SAMPLE T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! Dorikore back

SAMPLE T-36902M Cool Boarders Burrrn! Dorikore back

 

(NOT FOR SALE) 非売品 discs & other media

 

While i’m not currently aware of any individual Not for Sale disc existing for UEP-Systems Cool Boarders Burrrn! it’s perfectly possible that one might exist. The game does however have a multitude of content relating to it on various Not for Sale discs which feature other software.

The first one i’ll discuss is probably the best known of these 非売品 discs to be available to the general public and that was the Dreamcast Magazine GD-Rom Vol. 2 disc 1 which contained the first playable trial of Cool Borders Burrrn! This trial was able to allow participants to enter the Dreamcast Magazine’s time trial competition. Below is a picture of the Dreamcast Magazine’s front cover which came with the Cool Boarders Burrrn! trial.

The next available Not for Sale content could be found on the Dreamcast Express Extra disc which was distributed at Lawson & TSUTAYA stores in December ’99 to patrons who bought a Dreamcast system from the stores. The Dreamcast Express Extra featured included the same playable demo of Cool Boarders that had been previously featured on the Dreamcast Magazine GD-Rom disc Vol. 2 disc 1. Below is my copy of Dreamcast Express Extra.

Dreamcast Express Extra which has a playable trial of Cool Boarders Burrrn! © 1999 SEGA image © 2018 dreamcastcollector

Dreamcast Express Extra which has a playable trial of Cool Boarders Burrrn! © 1999 SEGA image © 2018 dreamcastcollector

The next discs to feature Cool Boarders burrrn! content wasn’t available to the general public. The Dreamcast Express discs were distributed exclusively to members of the Dreamcast Partners program and included content like video & playable trials as well as reports on events and news about exclusive goods that were only available to members of the Dreamcast Partners program. Dreamcast Express Vol. 2 features very early video footage of what was known at the time as simply Cool Boarders. My copy of Dreamcast Express Vol. 2 is pictured below.

Both Dreamcast express Cool Boarders Burrrn! trials contained in Vol.2 & Vol.3 respectively feature significant differences than the retail release. The video trial featured in Vol.2 is almost  unrecognisable to the final released version of the game. Everything featured in the footage is different from the character who at least to me seemingly appears to be an early version of Tia who is completely different to the later released incarnation. The course itself is apparently a very early version of the game’s first stage Mountain Review. Interestingly while only a brief glimpse of the stage is showcased it seems to be more in common with UEP-Systems previous Cool Boarders titles than the more extreme version that the Dreamcast incarnation eventually became. 

The following Dreamcast Express disc Vol. 3 featured a playable trial of Cool Boarders Burrrn! which was the same as the later pre-order bonus exclusive Dreamcast Express Extra. The Playable trial is the same version that’s featured on the Dreamcast Magazine GD-Rom Vol. 2 trial. My copy of Dreamcast Express Vol. 3 is pictured below.

The playable trial that was included with Dreamcast Express Vol.3 & the Dreamcast system pre-order Dreamcast Express Extra disc is a near final finished version of the game very similar to the retail version of Cool Boarders Burrrn!. However even this relatively late version of the game features some major alterations the most immediate is the total absence of the character of BOB from the character select screen. While the other characters are featured your only available character is Accele and when you start Mountain Review you’ll notice it features starting gates that for some unknown reason were removed from the final game. The game also features more background elements in the form of spectators that have also been omitted in the retail release. While I can’t state definitively but, in my mind, the trial version seems to run faster than the retail release. 

I’m convinced that there is content relating to Cool Boarders Burrrn! on the Dream Preview discs but i simply haven’t had time to catalogue all of their contents yet. Once i have i’ll update this section.

As for media outside promotional posters or point of sale items the only thing i’ve been able to find was an official soundtrack. Burrrn Cool Boarders Burrrrn! soundtrack was published by Pony Canyon on the 17th of November ’99. The Burrrn Cool Boarders Burrrrn! soundtrack is pictured below.

Burrrn Cool Boarders Burrrrn! soundtrack ©1999 Pony Canyon / UEP Systems All Rights Reserved.

Burrrn Cool Boarders Burrrrn! soundtrack ©1999 Pony Canyon / UEP Systems All Rights Reserved.

The Burrrn Cool Boarders Burrrrn! soundtrack retailed for ¥3,150 and its catalogue code is PCCG-00516 and its still available from select retailers if you’d like to purchase a copy for yourself. I suspect the reason i’ve been unable to locate a guide book for the game is simply various contemporary Dreamcast magazines did in-depth guides which covered all aspects of Cool Boarders Burrrn! comprehensively thus mitigating the need for a dedicated guide book.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article about UEP Systems and their Dreamcast title Cool Boarders Burrrn! If you think i’ve missed anything pertinent relating to the company themselves or their Dreamcast title then please get in contact either directly through the site or on Twitter @dreamcastcollector

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