As the years goes by in the video game industry, many companies either go out of business, get bought out by someone else, or just stop making games for whatever reason that may be. Whether they were former big names like Atari or Acclaim, or smaller lesser know studios like Quintet or Technōs, surely there is a video game company that used to be around that you wish would come back in some form. So here is a look at five video game companies that deserve a comeback.
Now some of you reading this may have never heard of this company. Quintet though was quite active in the 1990’s with Super Nintendo & PlayStation titles, mostly in the RPG genre. They were the team behind the so-called Soul Blazer/Gaia series of games on the SNES released in the early to mid 90’s as well as the team behind both ActRaiser & ActRaiser 2, also in the early 1990’s. As I’ve mentioned on the GameSaga Podcast before, ActRaiser was one of my favorite games from that time period and had an awesome concept & music. The Soul Blazer series was also awesome and all three games are well worth checking out. ActRaiser 2 wasn’t as good in my opinion, but that is probably because they took out the simulation parts. It was rumored that Enix’s American division requested this to happen because they didn’t think players would understand it.
Sadly Quintet has been pretty quiet since the early 2000’s. Their staff members have popped up in the credits of various games on an individual basis occasionally and the company itself was listed in some of the Atelier games, as well as in Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, but they have seemingly not developed any games of their own since. Orphen: Scion of Sorcery was one of their last games released (they were working under the name Shade for this one). It came out in October 2000, almost 14 years ago.
What has happened to Quintet? Who knows. With the Square Enix merger in 2003 a lot of the latter’s original franchises have been left in limbo. Grandia, Star Ocean, & Dragon Quest are some of the only ones that have had releases since the merger. With Quintet’s apparent demise, The Soul Blazer series is gone and so is the ActRaiser series. I’m guessing Square Enix still holds the rights to both of these. It would be awesome if they could reassemble the original teams and release sequels to one or both of these and if they made an ActRaiser sequel if they could put the simulation parts back in after taking them out in the 2nd one.
Check out the rest of the list, after the jump.
Technōs Japan or Technos as we’ll call them for simplicity’s sake was a developer of a variety of games in the 1980’s and 90’s. In particular, they were known for the Kunio-kun series (some of which were released in North America as Renegade, River City Ransom, & Super Dodge Ball) as well as many of the games in the Double Dragon series. The early Double Dragon games were awesome and a lot of fun in my opinion as was River City Ransom. Nintendo World Cup was another game in the Kunio-kun series and was one first soccer video games I had played extensively and it was actually fun which was an accomplishment for sports games back then as most of them were pretty simple/basic. It was kind of a mix of a beat’em up and a soccer game if you can believe that. You could actually knock down other players and they would stay down until the end of the half. The game also featured super shots which could take out any players who were unfortunate enough to be caught in its way and they were almost always a goal. I think this game probably influenced the later Mega Man Soccer quite a bit, which featured somewhat similar concepts, albeit with Mega Man characters.
Sadly, like Quintet, Technos has been out of the industry for quite some time now. One of their last releases was Super Dodge Ball for Neo Geo back in 1996, nearly 20 years ago. Around the same time, the company went out of business. Fortunately, this story has a somewhat happier ending as a company named Million Co., Ltd bought the rights to a lot of Technos’ former IPs and has even produced a few new games with them for GBA & DS, though it doesn’t appear that they have done much with them since then. Super Dodgeball Brawlers was one of their most recent releases back in 2008 on the DS (they were not involved with Double Dragon Neon which was released in 2012).
Quest is another studio who once worked on projects with Enix (and later Atlus) before the Square Enix merger and like Quintet, not much has been heard from them since. Quest is perhaps best know for the Ogre Battle series of games, the last new entry of which, Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, was released in 2002 for the GBA. Sadly, Quest would cease to exist in 2002, just a year before the Square Enix merger. This happened because Square bought out Quest and then merged them into Square itself. Since then, there have been no new releases in the Ogre Battle series, though team members did work on both Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift.
In addition, Yasumi Matsuno, one of the main people behind the Ogre Battle series, left Square Enix in 2005, his last project as an employee of that company was Final Fantasy XII. He would then go on to work on MadWorld, a port of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for the PSP, a Nintendo eShop game called Crimson Shroud, and his latest title is Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians scheduled for release sometime next year on Android & iOS devices.
If you haven’t played any of the Ogre Battle games and like strategy titles like the Advance Wars/Wars series or the Fire Emblem series for example, I’d highly recommend you check out the Ogre Battle series. The first game, Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen, is available on the Wii Virtual Console as is Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber. Sadly, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is only available on Virtual Console (Wii & Wii U) in Japan. The only Western release it has seen thus far was a remake on PSP in 2011 (for both North America & Europe). Thus far, Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis has not made an appearance on the Virtual Console service, but that may change eventually as Nintendo has been adding GBA games on there for the past few months. Legend of Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia is another entry in the series (a side story to MOTBQ) that has never been released outside of Japan. It was released on the Neo Geo Pocket Color back in 2000. Though considering Neo Geo titles were released on the Wii Virtual Console, it’s possible the NGPC may one day have releases on either the Wii U Virtual Console or 3DS Virtual Console, and if so, maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get a translated release of POZ, though that is probably unlikely to occur.
Tradewest is a bit different than some of the other companies on this list because they still technically exist, though not in its original form. The original Tradewest was bought out by WMS Industries (the parent company of Williams & Midway) back in 1994 and were renamed Williams Entertainment, Inc. Just 2 years later, they spun it off into Midway and it was renamed Midway Home Entertainment, Inc. Tradewest was well known for being the publishers of the Battletoads & several of the Double Dragon games. Though unlike Double Dragon, Battletoads has not seen any release, remake, port, or sequel since Super Battletoads (for Arcades) in 1994, though Tradewest was not involved with this game (EA published it actually). Rare were the developers behind the Battletoads series and they seemingly lost interest in it once Tradewest was no more, since the last release lines up with the same year that Tradewest ceased to exist.
As far as I know, none of the Battletoads games have appeared on any digital service. There are no ports to Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade, or PlayStation Network. It’s somewhat surprising that they haven’t appeared on XBLA given that Microsoft owns Rare these days. It would be nice if Rare would start making new Battletoads games again and maybe even give Tradewest Games SAS a call to publish them (assuming they’re still around, their website is inactive and has an unrelated placeholder for its home page).
Tradewest came back to life in 2009 when former subsidiaries of Midway Games in Europe renamed themselves Tradewest Games. As I mentioned above, they are now called Tradewest Games SAS and based out of France as far as I can tell. Unfortunately three of the main people behind the original company are no longer involved with it and would leave the industry altogether after the shut down of Midway. John Rowe went on to start another company called High Moon Studios (which was formerly known as Sammy Studios) and then left in 2001 and now is a photographer. Byron Cook left the industry for politics and is now a member of the Texas House of Representatives. His father, Leland Cook (who was also one of the founders of Tradewest) sadly passed away in 2009 at the age of 76. There is also a Tradewest-Digital which seems to be involved with Tradewest Games in some form and they are working on various titles for mobile devices, with their website last being updated this past March.
I remember when I first played UFO: Enemy Unknown (or X-COM: UFO Defense as it was known here in North America). It was the first Turn-Based Tactics game I had ever played and I was hooked. The setting of saving humanity from alien invaders and then blasting off to Mars to destroy their base. It was unlike any game I had played before and really made you think about your actions instead of just getting through on trial and error like action games or platformers. This game was developed a by a British studio known as Mythos Games (formerly Target Games). Julian Gollop was the founder of the company and he is well known in the world of strategy games, particular for the X-COM series.
Sadly, Mythos Games would go bankrupt in 2001, the same year X-COM: Enforcer was released. That game may have contributed to the demise of the company indirectly as even though they were not the developers of Enforcer, it still had the X-COM brand attached to it and thus people may have associated it with Mythos. Enforcer ditched what made the series popular in the first place (the strategy elements) and instead was a Third-Person Shooter. This also was likely one reason why its publisher, Hasbro Interactive went out of business shortly thereafter as well.
After the closure of Mythos Games, Julian Gollop would go on to start a new studio called Codo Technologies, which was only able to release two games, Laser Squad Nemesis and Rebelstar: Tactical Command for PC & GBA respectively. Codo itself would close in 2010. Gollop would go on to work on two games for Ubisoft, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars & Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. He then launched a Kickstarter project earlier this year for a sequel to 1985’s Chaos: The Battle of Wizards called Chaos Reborn. True to form, Chaos Reborn is a tactics game, though this one is a Tactical RPG as opposed to being a Turn-Based Tactics game.
Of course, Firaxis & 2K Games would go on to resurrect the X-COM brand with 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the first XCOM game in 11 years. Gollop has been quoted as having complimented the game and the team at Firaxis, though he admitted he would’ve done some things differently had he been the developer such as placing more emphasis on the Geoscape which he called “basically irrelevant.”
All of the above companies made an impact in my life and were part of the reasons of why I loved video games and still do to this day. I can only hope that one day we see them return to their glory years and bring back our classic favorites from years before.