Saturday, August 31, 2019

Gaming Ads: Takara U.S.A.

Based in Japan, Takara is a toy company founded in 1955. I've previously mentioned Takara in a couple of toy-related posts, one about Transformers and another about Tomy. Transformers is the toy Takara is best known for, though in Japan the toyline is known as Diaclone. It entered the video game industry in the late '70s and during the early '80s primarily published games for a Japanese computer known as Sord M5 before moving onto console games. As you'll see in the ads, Takara brought a lot of SNK's arcade games to consoles. Aside from SNK ports, it's also known for the Battle Arena Toshinden series (developed by Tamsoft) and games based on its Penny Racers (ChoroQ) toys. Takara U.S.A. doesn't appear to have been in business for very long; it published games in North America during the early to mid-'90s.

In 2003 Takara bought a controlling stake in Atlus but sold it to Index Holdings after it merged with Tomy in 2006. While it is known as Takara Tomy in Japan, only the Tomy name is used in other countries. That was the end of the Takara name in gaming for North America though Tomy did publish games for a few more years, most of which were based on Shonen Jump's Naruto.

Takara U.S.A. albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Year 3: August Update

Has it been a month already? Once again I didn't get a whole lot done but I have been working on those Dreamcast ads! Maybe I'll get a "Let's Play" video up tomorrow if I have time; I did try to record one last week but didn't like it so I need to try again. Last week I used a He-Man image on my update and this month there was some good Masters of the Universe news so here is another to the right. Kevin Smith is bringing a new version of the cartoon to Netflix that will pick up where the show from the '80s left off. Netflix also has a She-Ra cartoon though I don't expect this one to be in the same animation style as that which doesn't look anything like the original She-Ra.

Since I've been putting 2-6 hours/day into editing the Dreamcast ads I've not been gaming much at all. After a three week break of almost nothing beyond some quick looks at five games to get screenshots for work, I put Wolfenstein: Youngblood back in, lowered the difficulty, and beat it. I was stuck on the last battle which is probably easy with a co-op partner but with the AI character it can be frustrating. The European game show known as Gamescom was this past week so there was a variety of news though much of it was new trailers, screenshots, release dates, etc. Sega did announce a Yakuza remaster collection for parts 3, 4, and 5, and showed a new strategy game called Humankind from Amplitude Studios that gives off some Civilization vibes. Electronic Arts finally unveiled the next Need for Speed game that releases in November. Google showed a bunch more games coming to Stadia, something that is also not far off at all as it is expected this November too. Intellivision Entertainment released a new trailer for the Amico console that is coming October 10, 2020.

I was reading comments at Game Informer (GI) and, well, reading comments on Internet articles is never a great idea (and responding to a dumb comment is probably a worse idea) but I do it anyway. People tend to say stupid things and like to believe they're being funny by being negative. While the Amico may very well be unsuccessful, there really is no reason to hate on it. It's self-funded and Tommy is clearly excited about it which I think is great. However, despite my love of the original Intellivision, I'm not exactly the target audience. It aims to appeal to families with a strong focus on local co-op and simple gameplay. The controllers have screens similar to a smartphone which makes sense as that would not intimidate those that don't normally play games. Parents will certainly have an easier time picking up on Amico games than something on PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch. Another appealing factor to parents is that games will be inexpensive too ($2.99-7.99). I'd guess the biggest hurdle will be the price of the Amico itself which is expected to be $149-179. Atari is actually releasing something similar this year, yet it's the Amico I'm always hearing about.

Speaking of Game Informer, its owner GameStop laid off a bunch of staff including 7 of the 38 people at GI. I don't have a subscription to GI but I do regularly visit its website and was surprised by some of the folks that were let go. They're definitely skilled writers and possibly half (or at least a third) of the reviews/features writers GI had. The editor-in-chief said the print magazine will continue though I can't help but wonder if it will shrink dramatically. It's too bad as most video game magazines are long gone and I don't know that there are any others still around in the U.S. aside from maybe a couple fan-made retro gaming mags. Hopefully everyone that lost their jobs can find work quickly, and a job that's just as fun as I assume working at GI was, though I expect it's difficult to get good paying jobs when it comes to writing about games these days.

Look for that Dreamcast coverage on 9/9/19! (...or maybe the day before which is a Sunday!)


Gaming Ads: Taito America

In 1953 the Taito Trading Company was founded in Tokyo by Ukrainian Michael Kogan and initially sold a variety of goods and vending machines, then leased jukeboxes and amusement equipment. The company name was changed to Taito Corporation in 1972 and entered the arcade game business in 1973, and had its first huge hit in 1978 with the release of Space Invaders. Taito did continue making other amusement machines and specialized in karaoke systems while releasing many more hit arcade games throughout the '80s.

I don't believe anything matched the success of Space Invaders, the game the company will always be best known for. Some of its other most recognizable games include Qix, Elevator Action, Bubble Bobble, Arkanoid, Rastan, Darius, Operation Wolf, and Chase H.Q. Qix was actually developed by Taito America which was based in Illinois; it opened in 1973 and closed in 1996. There was also a Taito Software based in Canada from 1988-1995, and its address appears on some of the ads I'm posting. Square Enix bought a stake in Taito in 2005 and then made it a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2006.

Taito America albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Gaming Ads: Synergy Interactive, T&E Soft of America, and Backfilling #10

Synergy was a Japanese developer and publisher with a U.S. publishing branch based in Los Angeles known as Synergy Interactive. I cannot locate any other details about this one; from what I can gather it released less than 10 games, all during the '90s and all for either home computers or the 3DO console.

The T&E in T&E Soft are the first initials of the two brothers that started the company: Toshirou and Eiji Yokoyama. Founded in 1982, it released many games in Japan on a variety of platforms and continued to develop games up to 2002 when it was renamed D Wonderland. I'm not entirely sure what D Wonderland does but it is not involved in games. T&E Soft of America published two golf games in North American during the early '90s and nothing else.

Between Synergy and T&E I've only got five ads so I'm doing some backfilling for Nintendo of America this week as well. When I posted about Nintendo I mentioned it didn't seem to advertise heavily in early game magazines and when researching Game Boy more recently found that it did put most of its marketing budget into television and Nintendo Power. These five new ads I've got came from ESPN the Magazine and are Game Boy-centric.

Synergy Interactive albums: Facebook - Google Photos
T&E Soft of America albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Gaming Ads: Sunsoft

Sunsoft itself is actually a brand of Sun Corporation, a Japanese company originally founded in 1971 as Sun Electronics Corporation. Before gaming it made a variety of products, including automatic ticket vending machines, coffee makers, and personal computers. It released its first arcade games in 1978 and began making games for the Nintendo Entertainment System five years later with the Sunsoft name first appearing on game boxes in 1985. The U.S. subsidiary, Sun Corporation of America, also published console games under the Sunsoft name starting in 1987. Sunsoft had financial difficulties in 1995 which led to laying off most of its staff but the U.S. branch continued to publish games after that for a little while. However, all but the headquarters did close at some point in the late '90s I believe. Sun Corporation is still in business today publishing digital games for consoles and iOS/Android devices.

Sunsoft albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Gaming Ads: SubLogic and Suncom Technologies

Established in 1977 by Bruce Artwick and incorporated in 1978 by his friend Stu Moment, SubLogic's first game was Flight Simulator 1 for the TRS-80 and Apple computers. Flight simulators are what the company became known for as it went on to develop Microsoft's Flight Simulator, its sequel, and numerous scenery add-ons for the series. Artwick held the rights to Flight Simulator when he left SubLogic in 1988 to form a new company with Microsoft acquiring his company along with the rights to the game in 1995. Also in 1995, Sierra purchased SubLogic and shortly after that I'd say the company was dissolved. However, there is a SubLogic website that says it was re-established in 1998, though the last update on the site is from 2017.

SubLogic was based in Illinois just as Suncom Technologies was. Although Suncom did not make games, it did make joysticks for flight simulators among other controllers. I cannot locate anything else about the company; my best guess is that it was in business from the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s. There are a couple companies called Suncom in business today but those are not related.

SubLogic albums: Facebook - Google Photos
Suncom Technologies albums: Facebook - Google Photos