#10: Data East
Starting off with a company who have barely left the Japanese market for North America, maybe because the arcade scene in Japan is extremely strong compared to Europe and North America. Data East were a company who entered the arcade scene during the 1980s and managed to create arcade hardware boards. They've somehow managed to continue making them as home console became extremely popular during the 90s. Maybe the prime example of games they successfully made were Karate Champ and Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja, which was a hit which maybe help the company push to make more games, with better graphics and to take advantage of the new hardware at the time, such as the Laserdisc for their game Road Avenger. They did start focusing making their games on other boards. They made games for the Neo Geo for some reason with Magicial Drop series and Karnov's Revenge. All in all, it is believed they've made 24 different arcade system boards for themselves, the last being Data East MLC, with games such as Avengers In Galactic Storm and a few very generic sport games.
Data East eventfully struggled making games and arcade boards and filed for bankruptcy in 2003, making the company being in business for over 20 years and their assets sold to other companies to be published for the home consoles. They never broke grounds of making games in 3D, maybe being a risky investment or didn't have enough resources to try but they left behind some very niche and generic games which made a good part of the arcade scene some may remember.
During the 2000s in Japan, the arcade scene was still popular. Popular enough in Japan that a company named Cave still made boards for their games. The company made a good collection of space shooting games, where the genre is very popular in Japan. With the help of Atlus, Cave managed to continue making arcade boards for their games. It has been mentioned that the employees who've worked at Cave, previously worked for Toaplan in the early 90s but after Toaplan faced bankruptcy, many of the employees have reportly left to create other companies, one company being Cave, which continued what Toaplan was known of making, bullet hell/maniac shooters, a subgenre from space shooters genre but having to avoid hundreds of bullets which completely covered the entire screen for the players craft to avoid, hence the term "bullet-hell". Cave had created some of the most challenge space bullet hell shooters out there into the millennium until the end of the last decade, which were mostly found in Japan's arcades, with series like the Do-Don-Pachi and Mushihime-Sama. All in all, Cave make 4 boards over their company lifespan.
Many of thier games were eventfully ported to the PC and across many consoles but it shouldn't be forgotten that the boards, they've made those games for are out there and have become collectors items themselves as they were being released so late in an era while the arcade scene have died down since the mid 90s. Cave were short lived and a few of their games can be also found on Steam. Cave is more of a strong contender to making games exclusively for their system boards and it's very hard to believe they managed to make the hardware at the time when home consoles were extremely popular.
Midway entered the arcade scene in the early 70s with their games, many of them similar to what Atari had created like their version of Asteroids and many variations of Pong. Despite that, Midway were very strong at the arcade scene during the 1980s. I believe it was the style of their games that helped them get the attraction they wanted to keep their machines in business. Some of their strong games were Rampage and Spy Hunter during the 1980s and Cruis'in USA series during the 90s. Their most formidable title was Mortal Kombat, which spawn many sequels and even found the fourth title of Mortal Kombat being rendered in 3D in 1998. Midway is another company who really tried trying to make arcade boards when home consoles were being popular during the 1990s and they managed to keep themselves in the scene by making their games in 3D, taking advantage of the growing technology in hardware to allow that to happen. They managed to get to around 30 boards.
Capcom are an company who had entered the arcade scene during the 80s with video games like Commando and Ghosts and Ghouls, which were hits. Capcom were extremely resourceful when making games for their boards. When they started making their Capcom System circuit board (CPS), they made enough games to keep players entertained, from Ghost and Ghouls, Final Fight and Mega Man. Their strongest title was Street Fighter 2, which clearly helpped them continue making games for the arcade scene.
They later went onto to create the Capcom System 2 (CPS2), which was much stronger, with many of the games being a sequel to Street Fighter, such as Puzzle Street Fighter and Street FIghter Alpha however it didn't stop them from making games such as Marvel Vs Capcom and Darkstalkers. They even went out of their way to make a game based on Jojo's Brizzare Adventure manga. At the time, the CPS2 allowed for more colorful graphics and more freedom to show how great graphics in 2D can get.
Capcom later made the System Board 3 however this wasn't as successful as they hoped as the games let them down as it's believed only 6 games were made for it. Capcom also attemped to make an arcade board to cater for 3D graphics, called the Capcom Sony ZN-2, which was close to the PlayStation hardware, which they tired making a Street Fighter EX series and gave birth to Rival Schools and Tech Romancer. It is believed the games couldn't stand the competition at the arcade as they maybe weren't strong enough games however they made great collectables as they were ported onto the home consoles as such as the Sony PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast. Capcom made a great portfolio of games however it is worth a thought that their hardware was helped their games what they are.
SNK started out with their line up of games during the early 80s. Some of their formidable titles were Athena and Ikari Warriors along with many more. Towards the late 80s, they went the length to make the Neo Geo, an arcade board which used cartridges however because of the nature, led this to be extremely popular for arcade vendors (as every gaming enthusiast is aware of by now), allowed them to easily change their games for their arcade board that they own, which helped them get the sales for their hardware to help develop more games for the system as they being easy to store and swap games on the same machine with their cartridge based format. This also attracted developers for their board such as Data East for example to make games for the board, maybe because they felt they would get much further making games for it to attract people to own their games.
SNK tried to make another arcade board to allow games to be rendered in 3D however, just like Capcom, the Neo Geo Hyper 64 never had taken off and were left with the Neo Geo to continue making games for until 2003 with Metal Slug 5, King of Fighters 2003 and SvC Chaos to respond to the arcade scene at the time, which was still active in Japan.
My best guess into why the Neo Geo 64 never had taken off, the boards had two cartridge sorts however these boards only catered to specific genres.The games were districtive however in my opinion, it did come across like a risky investment and backwards thinking to how the Neo Geo MVS offered arcade owners with cartridge slots for any game. SNK eventfully moved away from their arcade and tried making games for other hardware such as King of Fighters Neowave for the Sammy NeoWave and eventfully settled on the Taito Type X as the arcade scene was declining after the millennium.
Onto Konami making circuit boards and hard to think about as many of their arcade games were extremely hands on as they had an array of desirable musicial controls such as dance pads and guitars to compete with the arcade machines which had plastic guns and rifles. Konami. Believe it or not, Konami has almost 60+ boards for hundreds of the games they've rolled out on the arcade scene from 1978 until now. Some of their noticiable games consisted of Contra, Graduis and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which were the most desirible games which were later ported onto home console during the late 1980s.
Many games during the 1990s weren't as formidable as they hoped, which later had them later rolling out new hardware but not many games for them. During the late 90s, that's when they saw massive success with the music rhythm genre with Dance Dance Revolution. They set out to make games in whatever the music culture offered for video games, such as Beatmania, Pop'n Music and Guitar Freaks, which allowed them to continue making the circuitly boards for them. This didn't stop them from trying to make new games othen then the music genre. They tried taking the games they made from the home console such as Pro Evolution Soccer and Metal Gear Solid and created them as arcade releases. Konami may be still making more circuit boards for their games because their website has one or two arcade games with their cabinets listed for sale as of 2019.
Atari were a company who had spearheaded the arcade scene. They were responisble for games in the late 70s and continued until the arcade scene had died in the late 90s. Atari led the scene with games such as Pong and continued to make games in the arcade and home console. Their games were maybe as generic like Missile Command, Asteroids and Area 51 however they somehow managed to get their share on the market and continued to do so. Atari also invested heavily in the 3Dfx technology to bring 3D to video games such as San Francisco Rush which managed to have them to stay on the scene for a bit longer. Atari have produced over 30 boards until the end of the 90s. They've moved onto making games for the home consoles and smartphones as they continued making games to this day.
It is amazing for a company which was said to have contributed heavily to the video game crash of 1983 when they made games for the Atari 2600, to continue making arcade hardware for decades. The crash had maybe helped boosted the company to help make better games as they managed to continue make arcade boards considering that their hardware for the home market like the Atari Jaguar really didn't appeal to many as the Sega Master System and Nintendo Entertainment System outsold them. I would say they have managed to keep their success in the arcade scene to continue making the hardware then.
Sega have a formidbale history of designing and making games for both home consoles and the arcade scene. Sega has 65+ circult boards they had used to help power their arcade games. During the 1980s, their hardware really made the games play as well as they looked, maybe with the help of the movie scene at the time, led them to make the games as appealing as they could but it hadn't stop them from playing well, as many of their games were later ported onto the Sega Master System or Sega Genesis. Some of their games didn't look as great on the home consoles as they did on the arcades, which adds to the value of owning any arcade games from Sega from that time.
Despite the home consoles being made and sold during the 1990s, it didn't stop Sega from making arcade games, clearly with games such as Crazy Taxi, Virtua Fighter and Sega Rally to show they were willing to cater for both the arcade and home markets at the same time. It was also because Sega had more of a challenge fitting in the games for home consoles as the console hardware was much more limited to port the games too, so players were better off finding and playing the arcade machines then to wait for the home consoles releases in many cases. Interestingly enough, despite discontinuing developing new consoles after their effort with the Dreamcast, they still continue make hardware for their arcade games.
Sega are very openned about what's on their hardware and are still designing and rolling out arcade cicruit with the latest being Sega ALLS, which was manufactured and released in 2018 with the game Chrono Regaila being released this year. There latest arcade boards they're similar to PCs, even with the use of the internet being used to maybe help with network play or to transfer data to help create more longer experiences for their players for their games. Sega's arcade boards are still as interesting as how hobbies enjoy owning Sega's consoles.
Namco entered the arcade scene in the late 1970s. Their first game was Gee Bee in 1978 with Galaxians in 1979 however with the breakthough success of Pac Man or Puck Man in 1980. More titles followed such as Dig Dug, Pole Position and Xevious in the 1980s and led the era of video games, which helped them develop and produce more boards. During the 1990s, with the arcade scene declining in popularity, Namco were almost one step ahead, almost knowing what people wanted. Games like Ridge Racer which was released as early as 1993 and Tekken and Soul Edge, two really appealing fighting games which hit the arcade scene. They also released the light gun game Time Crisis as well as many other games which looked like they were more catered for Japanese audiences.
With Tekken being extremely popular, they somehow managed to continue making the boards for the Tekken games, with Tekken 7 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 still requiring their own hardware to run when those games were released but not many other games for it. Namco are still making games for their hardware with Tekken 7 and the Wangan Midnight series as late as 2019. Namco have done much more to make their arcade games appealing other then just an arcade cabinet, which is maybe why they were able to pull in a crowd to get people to play their games which makes the games feel like they've help represent the power of the boards.
Taito are another company who've appeared in the 1970s who've rivalled Namco and Atari. Taito was the company who've made and released Space Invaders in 1978. Despite their massive success, many of the games weren't as popular as Space Invaders during the early 80s however this changed as time progressed. Some of their games which attracted audience in the late 80s were Arkanoid, Police H.Q. and Elevator Action. Their biggest success was the game Bubble Bobble, which was one of the most requested games to be ported onto consoles at the time.
Despite their effort during the 90s, where they created games but again, not as popular as their previous games however they still managed to continue making boards. Their big break was their arcade board Taito Type X released in 2004. Being PC based, the board didn't care so much with the resources games required. The first games were games such as like Chase H.Q. 2 and Battle Gear 4 developed by Taito themselves. They also encouraged game developers at the time to focus on making their games for the arcade scene while they would focus on Taito developing the hardware such as SNK who made King of Fighters Skystage. Valve even went to create Half Life Arcade for the scene with the help of the Taito Type X. Taito quickly went off to produce the Taito Type 2 which allowed SNK to make King of Fighters XIII and Arc System Works developing many fighting games for the boards along with SquareEnix publishing the Lord of Vermilion series for example. If you see the amount of games the board has catered for, it's too good to be true. Capcom had even moved to make their Street Fighter VI and V games on the boards.
Taito Type X series boards are still being made today, with the fourth board in service with games with a few games and the Tatio Type X3 having many games still being released such as The King of Fighters XIV and Samurai Shodown to be released next year. Taito are a company who've really done so much to cater for developers as well as themselves in making video games and I think they're a company to follow and the games that are released for their system boards as well as the previous boards they had made during the 1980s and 1990s.
Well, that's it folks, that's the list. Maybe one company who deserves some attention and aren't on the list would be Irem. They had made the R Type series. Irem's games were noticed and it did help them create more boards. We're living in a time where video games are dominated by home consoles and computers. The arcade scene is still alive and while they are more geared towards the younger audiences who are mostly children, many companies still find their way to keep players in their 20s or 30s entertained in the arcade scene. Underneath those arcade cabinets are the boring looking green and black electronic system boards, which many wouldn't care about and are bored looking into however for the vendors, they are worth a lot more to allow them maybe enjoy owning them as well as offering their services to the player. Maybe it is a good idea to think about the companies who've helped deliver the games in the arcade scene over the decades because without them, maybe we wouldn't have the video games we have today for our home consoles.
List by 91210user (09/05/2019)
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