Saturday, May 12, 2018

Gaming Ads: Kemco America and Kemco Seika

Kemco was founded in 1984 as a subsidiary of Kotobuki Engineering & Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Based in Japan, Kemco began as a developer of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games and is still in business today, primarily digitally releasing role-playing titles for mobile devices, home computers, and Nintendo platforms. I'm splitting the ads between Kemco Seika and Kemco America which are different companies, though there isn't a lot of specific data on either one.

From the ads and its releases, Kemco Seika appears to have been a distribution arrangement between Kemco and Seika Corporation U.S.A. that released games from 1989 to 1991. The Kemco America ads begin in 1991 so my best guess is Kemco decided to begin self publishing its own games at that time. Based in Redmond, WA, Kemco America is best known for the Top Gear racing series and it also has one of the most memorable box covers in Phalanx, a side-scrolling shooter for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Featuring an elder man playing a banjo, Phalanx's box cover is both unique and odd, sometimes appearing on top box cover lists or worst box cover lists.

Kemco America actually published one of the very few Virtual Boy games, a baseball title called Virtual League Baseball (1995). The ad I have for that game may be the most unpleasant ad I've got as it features two butt cracks, and if you read the marketing lines on the Top Gear ads it would seem Kemco's advertising department enjoyed that type of humor. Although that game may or may not have impacted its business, I believe Kemco America closed that year or the year after. Kemco continued to publish games in North America from its Japan location so it most likely set up another distribution deal. A second U.S. branch was founded in Bellevue, WA around 2001. Known as Kemco U.S.A., that company appears to have closed around 2005.

Flickr album: Kemco America
Flickr album: Kemco Seika

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