From Game Developer Research Institute
I feel the urge to put up one of those old "Under Construction" GIFs, but I won't. A few points for those who might be wondering what's going on around here:
- The company entries are gradually being fixed up and moved into the "Companies" category. Same goes for the people entries. The interviews are slated to be re-edited as well.
- The target date for "construction" completion is our fifth annivesary in August 2011. I was going to reveal here what else might be in store for our fifth anniversary, but I think I'll hold off on that.
- I have decided to discontinue the forums. That decision is final unless there's some giant outcry for them to be brought back. I was against having forums, but I caved in. As I suspected, there just isn't the traffic or "community" to warrant them.
Good Friday indeed...for two reasons! The first I won't get into here. The second is Air Raid for the Atari 2600. That is, someone found the ultra-rare box for what is already one of the rarest games on the system and is now selling it and the cartridge on eBay.
John D. Perkins, a Michigan native, passed away on February 2, 2010, at age 65.
Perkins was a graduate of the US Navy Electronics School. He was one of the first US Navy tactical programmers and a specialist in Electronic Warfare.
Perkins was the sole proprietor of Perkins Engineering and consulted on projects in entertainment, aerospace, and cable television. Perkins Engineering made the Blue Ram expansion system for the Astrocade system.
Perkins wrote the Astrocade BASIC program Artillery Duel, which went on to be one of the more well-known artillery games. It was printed in The Arcadian, an Astrocade newsletter, in 1979 and later reworked for a commercial cartridge release. Conversions for the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, and VIC-20 were published by Xonox.
Perkins eventually became an advisor to Dave Nutting Associates (DNA), the Bally subsidiary that created the Astrocade.
Perkins was also involved with Action Graphics. According to former Astrocade employee Tom Meeks, DNA software manager Bob Ogdon started the company with Perkins. The July 15, 1985, issue of InfoWorld referred to Perkins as "vice president of engineering." Action Graphics was responsible for developing the original Commodore 64 version of Epyx' Winter Games, Rock n' Bolt (C64), and numerous other titles.
Commodore 64 version of Artillery Duel (above). John Perkins or Action Graphics involvement unknown.
I plan on writing an in-depth post soon about Yumekobo, Aicom, Santos, and Eleca. What do they all have to with each other? Well, you'll have to wait to find out. I'm hoping to get some more info. In the meantime, let's get this out of the way.
Below are three scans from an unknown magazine featuring an interview with Nobuyuki Okude, who was then the head of Yumekobo. He talks about the company and a game called Karate Ninja Shou. Yumekobo is perhaps best known for the Neo Geo shooter Blazing Star.
If you've never heard of Karate Ninja Shou, there's a reason for that - it was never released. It's been assumed in the past that this was a Neo Geo game, but that is not actually specified anywhere in the article. Neither is the genre, but it does appear to be either a beat 'em up or fighter.
The origin of Shou's development is a bit of a mystery, too. Note the screenshot with a character named Santos. "The new Santos" was supposedly at least partially absorbed into Yumekobo. One possiblity is that development started at Santos.
Thanks to Billy Pitt of the Neo Geo Proto Page for providing the scans.
- In the credits from Houkago in Beppin Jogakuin for the Super Famicom (otherwise developed by a Japanese company called Access), you will find two Chinese programmers: Chen Qiming and Hu Yumin. It looks like they were also programmers on World Beach Volley for the PC Engine (credited as "Yimin Hu" and "Aiming Chen"), which I've talked about before. Thanks to Ita for his (?) continued contributions to our Credits Dump.
- Speaking of World Beach Volley for the PC Engine, here's an old blog post (search for "031103," the date) written by someone who apparently worked at the now-defunct IGS (not to be confused with the Taiwanese game company), the game's publisher. The post is in Japanese, so I have to use an online translator. From what I can make out, the game was programmed in Shanghai around the time of the Tiananmen Square incident. This person resigned, I guess, perhaps out of protest.
Past "Trans-Asian Outsourcing" Posts
For your listening pleasure, GDRI presents a special selection of classic NES game music by one David Wise as found on YouTube. Wise is the longtime Rare composer who announced in October he was resigning from the company.
This post is very late, but I was waiting for some sort of confirmation of Mitsuji-san's death. I never got that, just parroting of the original Mixi post that broke the news and my SMS Power post. About a month ago, I noticed the website for his game design school was no longer online. I guess that will have to do (for confirmation, that is)...
- For a change of pace (or not), I interviewed Tony Gonzalez, who was a technician at Romstar and SNK of America and manager of Romstar's home game division. I contacted him because of his involvement with Romstar's NES games (some of which were developed in part by Pixel), but I would say most of the interview is not about those.
- If you are interested in old Romstar and SNK arcade stuff, you might want to read Mr. Gonzalez's old posts on the Neo-Geo forums. The man is a wealth of technical information and stories.
- Halloween may be behind us, but we can still look forward to Horrorween, a horror comedy film coming out next year featuring a number of celebrity cameos. And it's directed by Joe Estevez. Yes, THE Joe Estevez. Mr. Gonzalez is credited as "composer: effects music." I don't know if that means he composed sound effects and music or "effects music." I suppose I could ask.
- Mr. Gonzalez recalled during our conversation, "One of the most famous early Seta games sold under the Taito name was Gladiator." That was interesting because I was reading just days before on Japanese sites that Seta developed said arcade game. Since then, I've read that it was Allumer that developed Gladiator. Makes sense since characters from Gladiator later turned up in Allumer's Blandia arcade game. I also noticed that two of Seta's company officers had previously worked at Allumer, one joining as early as January 1984. I didn't think Allumer was around that far back. Also worth noting is that Allumer's early-1990s arcade games like the R-Type-esque Rezon and the aforementioned Blandia ran on Seta hardware. I've also read that Joshi Volleyball and Great Swordsman, two arcade games released by Taito, were developed by Allumer. Sounds about right since Great Swordsman and Joshi Volleyball run on the same hardware, and I figured whoever made Gladiator also made Great Swordsman (They look kinda similar.).
Oh, to think it was summer 2008 when Dimitri and I pored over these images from Tose's 2000 and 2001 Corporate Guides, trying to figure out what games were pictured. Actually, it was Dimitri who figured most of them out, but there were still some that left the both of us scratching our heads. If you are a game box cover expert, test your skills and help us identify the rest.
If you think you've seen these pictures before, you probably did via our Tose entry. These are newly slimmed down versions with one "new" game identified (Shinobi X for Saturn). [EDIT: Actually, maybe more than one. Looks like I might not have uploaded some updates.]
By the way, I'm pretty sure this was all inspired by a Japanese attempt at Tose-related box identification with a picture from 1UP.com:
Note: Click thumbnails to view larger images
After many months, my interview with Beyond Interactive CEO Hitoshi Akashi is finally up. Akashi has previously worked for Communicate, Sonata (which later became Human), Zap, and Electronic Arts Victor. He was also involved in the development of some Family Trainer/Power Pad/Family Fun Fitness games. All that and more are talked about in the interview.
Because of language barrier issues, Akashi's answers required lots of rewriting, editing, and cleaning up. I had to do the same sort of thing with the Shouichi Yoshikawa interview. Not exactly what a professional publication would do, I'm sure, but I'd like to think writers for professional publications would stay away from e-mail interviews in general. I can say this much - I tried to maintain the intent of the original answers. Think of it as an English-to-English translation. As with a Japanese-to-English translation, fixes and adjustments and rewordings may be made in the future as necessary. There's still a little awkwardness in there. I also changed a couple of my questions slightly. That's something I usually avoid, but with all the other changes, why not? Oh, and I might ask Akashi some more questions.
My thanks to Akashi-san for all his time and patience. I'm sorry for taking so long! Everybody who's not Akashi-san, be sure to check out Tappy Typing, available on the iPhone App Store.