A diverse selection of Mitchell Corporation's arcade back catalogue is up for grabs, to license and re-release on modern systems, including the phenomenal Cannon Dancer / Osman. Read on for details.
This news story is actually several weeks old, having first broken on the Facebook feed of Kouichi Yotsui, creator of both Strider and Cannon Dancer. I shared it on my timeline, as did others, but I'm surprised and also a little disappointed that this wasn't picked up by any news websites. If you do write a news story, feel free to use anything on this page, the photo is mine, while the in-game images were taken from various websites including HG101. Right at the bottom you'll find some interview excerpts from my up and coming book, The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers, to be available on Amazon the end of August or early September.
Below is the company's English message:
"Mitchell is currently looking for a licensee for our arcade titles. For use on mobile phones, computers, and other devices. The terms would be a limited-time license on ports and sales. We would want to receive royalties as well as advance payment. The following bolded Mitchell arcade games are currently available for licensing. For the titles listed, the arcade PCB, source code, and instruction manual are available. If anyone is interested, we would be happy to discuss matters further."
- Roy Ozaki, company owner
- Roy Ozaki, company owner
Double Wings / 雙翼 - Arcade, 1993
Lady Killer / 燃えよゴンタ!! - Arcade, 1993
Demon Mirage Mahjong / 妖獣麻雀伝 - Arcade, 1994
Party Time: Gonta the Diver II / がんばれゴンタ!!2 - Arcade, 1995
Charlie Ninja / チャーリー忍者 - Arcade, 1995
Osman / Cannon Dancer / キャノンダンサー - Arcade, 1996
Three Engraved Intentions / 三刻志 - Arcade, 1996
Gamshara / 銃武者羅 - Arcade, 2002
This Good Octopus / Eタコ - Arcade, 2003
The official Mitchell Corp website
The important thing to note with this list is that all of the games are arcade exclusives. They have never (to my knowledge) been available for home use before. Some excellent games, like Gamshara, aren't even emulated. At all. There is no way to play Gamshara without the original arcade board; a unique experience which few have access to.
Sure, some of these games, such as the mahjong title, won't have widespread appeal, but this is still a really cool opportunity.
The author, during an interview with Mr Ozaki and Mr Yotsui. For video footage of this day check out The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers DVD.
I'm going to take 90% credit for giving Mr Ozaki and Mr Yotsui this idea. We were in Japan, at a mountainside inn, and repeatedly I was explaining what a great idea it would be to re-release games like Cannon Dancer. It is, in my opinion, even better than the original Strider. It's amazing! And yet few have had the opportunity to play it. Without hesitation I would buy it if re-released on something like GOG or Steam. Or what about a compilation for a handheld device like Vita, or 3DS, or a disc for PlayStation3/4 or Xbox360/One, or the WiiU? Even if production is too costly for a physical release, now is the perfect opportunity for a digital download. Perhaps for an iOS or Android device? There are 12 arcade exclusive games here, some of which on their own are worth the price of admission.
Interestingly, Mr Ozaki mentioned publicly that he will be retiring this year, so it makes sense that he's looking to sell or license on his back catalogue of games. He just needs to find a company that's interested.
Here's the message in Japanese:
Excerpt from my interview with Roy Ozaki:
JS: How come Cannon Dancer was never converted to a home system?
RO: Because it didn't sell, as a coin-op.
JS: You said Strider didn't sell well, but when it was ported it made money. It's money for nothing, because the game already exists. Converting to a home system can be done quickly and cheaply.
RO: OK, let's say we do a conversion, you need money for that!
JS: Do you still own Cannon Dancer's rights?
RO: Yes! You want to buy them?
JS: Perhaps, how much?
RO: The money you need is not to pay me. It's to pay Sony or Nintendo, if you want to make it.
JS: You mean to have it run on Wii or PS3?
RO: You have to make the [conversion] or whatever, right? For that you need money.
JS: What about on PC, there are companies like Good Old Games. The PS3 or Wii is a locked system, which Sony and Nintendo controls, but a computer is an open platform. You could sell it without any extra publisher or middleman.
RO: But how much money can you make?
JS: Probably... Possibly... I have no idea. I don't know figures. But people have made money selling their back catalogue through places like GOG. How much money could you lose selling it? Probably nothing.
RO: But you need to get a programmer to convert it to PC.
JS: Well, really all you need is someone to program an emulator.
RO: Well, if somebody wants to do that, I'm willing to license it.
JS: So if someone was interested in producing an emulator for you to sell Cannon Dancer online, through GOG, you would be open to negotiating with them?
RO: I don't know. I don't know the PC people so well. I do business with people who I think I try to drink with. I mean, it's not the paperwork. We drink three cups of this and... I mean, that's what this whole world is. I've done different businesses, and worked with companies. I realised that if you drink, you can get along with anybody in the world.
JS: What I've found is, Japanese developers seem reluctant to embrace the Western PC market, even though a lot of developers make a lot of money.
RO: Cannon Dancer - no other company else was involved. It was Mitchell Corp's game.
JS: A company like GOG wouldn't own the rights, it's just a distribution platform...
RO: It's a license?
JS: For example, with GOG, a lot of other companies put their games on there. They're a shop. You're not licensing to them, you're selling it yourself, in their shop, and they take a percentage, and the rest of it goes to you.
RO: I don't have people to do that kind of thing for me.
JS: Plus there's other games in your back catalogue that you can make use of.
RO: I'm willing to go along with it...
JS: Do you still own all the rights to all the other games developed at Mitchell?
RO: Coin-op, yes.