Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mitchell Corporation arcade games available to license

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


Funky Jet / ファンキージェット                                        - Arcade, 1992

The Karate Tournament / チャタンヤラクーシャンク       - Arcade, 1992
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
Diploma / 卒業証書                                                              - 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.


  1. I know a company exists to make money but he comes off as a relative that inherited the company and it just seems like he doesn't particularly care about the games but just the potential for money (that and he seems totally disconnected with almost anything with games).

    1. Then all the better that he's willing to sell that to someone who cares.

    2. I disagree, maybe he is just humble and hasn't kept on top of digital distribution? And maybe discouraged by how the games did in the arcades?

  2. This is such great news! Still, from the interview alone, I didn't exactly like the insistence on always mentioning GOG as viable distribution platform for the games and not mentioning Steam as well.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I like GOG and think they're awesome, plus, I'm no Steam fanboy. It's just that, by bringigng the game over to Steam as well, a lot more gamers get to properly savour these games and Mitchell gets to make even more money out of the process, it's a win-win situation. Besides, not every game on Steam is wrapped in DRM, so if Mitchell decides that they don't need it, they won't have any DRM on Steam at all. ;)

  3. Hello, we are team of indie developers, and we are really interested in one title in particular, "Gamshara", but we couldn't find a way to contact Mitchell or Roy Ozaki, do you guys know if there is an e-mail to contact him?, thanks!

  4. Wow, you're right. I searched the whole site and all I could find for contact info was this:

    No email. I took it for granted that I had Roy's company email. I've asked what he prefers for those wanting to contact him.

    My apologies, I should have double checked that.

  5. I hope it does happen. :)

  6. Hi Sketcz, my name is Esteban Salazar. I work at Japanese publisher Marvelous, Inc. We're always looking for titles to put on Steam/GOG and I have feelers out to try and contact Ozaki-san, but if you could get me his email and or phone number, that would be fantastic.

  7. Oops, nevermind. Found the phone number. We'll try and get in touch with them.

  8. Hi Esteban! Just in case the phone number doesn't work, feel free to email me at:

    I will forward it on to Mr Ozaki verbatim. If you include the message in Japanese as well, I will CC in Mr Yotsui, who seems to have been the more vocal of the two with regards to this (he was the one who actually broke the news, and the two of them hang out regularly).

    Until I have an email address to post, the same goes for anyone else who is serious. Drop me an email and I will forward it on to both Mr Ozaki and Mr Yotsui.

  9. It blows my mind that only now they are considering this, and that it took John having to fly half way across the world to have some drinks just to plant the idea. That said, I'd hate for the Mitchell games to just land up overnight on these services. I hope they'd be handled with more care than that. Like John says, Osman is an amazing game, and Funky Jets not far behind either! Mitchell ♥

  10. Mr Ozaki got back to me, he can be contacted via this email:

  11. I would love to support them by buying a legitimate (digital) copy of Osman/Cannon Dancer!
    On the other side I also really hope that they don't just sell me an emulator with the rom but at least try to include an arrange mode and/or different graphical filters (maybe even level select and save states for training?). The Metal Slug 3 version that is currently sold on Steam is a good example. The arrange modes on the 3DS Sega Classics an even better one. I really don't care whether it's 10 or 20 bucks btw.

  12. Mr Ozaki still has boxes with materials related to the games (I personally dug through their old PC-98 development disks), so I guess it depends on the company which licenses the games. Mr Yotsui should do a full director's commentary of the whole of Cannon Dancer to be bundled alongside - that would be fun.

  13. Didn't they do Snow Bros? I didn't see it listed. Such a cool game.

  14. I'll buy them /._./
    If somebody here get's the deal, I'll help with marketing on my channel :D

  15. Someone talk to the Outfoxies team next, that would be so rad on Steam.

  16. I'm going out to meet with Mr Ozaki tomorrow! Rest assured that if we get the rights the games, we'd trick them out with all the options gamers (and I personally) would want, too. Save states, arrange mode, remix soundtracks(?), filters, art gallery and whatever else we can fit in!

  17. Snow Bros isn't by Mitchell Corp, @Jordan

  18. Oh, wow! This is incredible! If this works, then I can finally play legit Osman!

  19. osman needs a wii u virtual console release. there wasnt many virtual console arcade games. osman would sell very good on the wii u.

  20. You should all really be checking out Arcade Odyssey in Miami, We currently have ythe Osman Arcade game on the floor!!! in fact I have put out almost all of these Mitchell games out in the past, I built the Arcade to promote super rare classics such as these, but unfortunately they get very little love down here in Florida, Someone was mentioning outfoxies, awesome game, great concept, but I just took that out a couple of months ago, no one was playing it , just like Osman, they might get 1 play a day if that. you can check us out at or if you want to see all the games I have put out on the floor and already removed because of lack of play you can see them here , it is a shame there are not more gamers that appreciate incredible titles like this around here.