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  • A Twisty Maze of Konami Computer Entertainment Studios

    Posted on August 11th, 2009 keving 5 comments

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    On April 3, 1995, Konami’s satellite studio in the city of Kobe was spun off into its own separate company, Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka (KCEO). A year later, KCE Production Studio 5 went similarly independent, resulting in Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (KCEJ). Seeing a trend, Konami jumped on it and established three more satellite development studios on March 28, 1997: Konami Computer Entertainment Sapporo (KCES), Konami Computer Entertainment Yokohama (KCEY), and Konami Computer Entertainment Nagoya (KCEN). In 1998, KCE Osaka’s first production studio decided to shed its yoke of opporession and go independent from the independent studio, forming Konami Computer Entertainment Kobe (KCEK).

    So, at its peak, we had KCEO, KCEJ, KCES, KCEY, KCEN and KCEK all developing games at once. That’s not a list of Rush Limbaugh’s affiliates in Humboldt County, I promise.

    KCE Yokohama and KCE Sapporo merged in August 2000 to form the (old) Konami Computer Entertainment Studios. The development staff that remained in Sapporo wound up getting turned over to Hudson in December 2001, part of the deal that made Hudson a member of the Konami group of companies. A year later, in late 2002, KCE Kobe merged with KCE Osaka, with KCE Nagoya folding a little while later.

    In March 2003, KCE Osaka bought all of KCE Studios’ public stock, essentially making it a child company of KCEO. The resulting company changed its name a month later to the (new) Konami Computer Entertainment Studios and moved its offices from Osaka to Tokyo.

    This studio, the new KCE Studios all set up in arguably the fanciest office space in downtown Tokyo, is the outfit that deveoped Enthusia Professional Racing, a game I remember nothing about but must’ve seen at E3 2004. The project was headed up by Manabu Akita, who (judging by his Mobygames entry) mainly worked on arcade games and their home ports before shootin’ the works on this purported Gran Turismo beater. The game was all right — it reviewed pretty well, had a bit of a fanbase, and in any case was nowhere near as bad as Konami’s non-soccer sports games from around this era — but was bulldozed in the marketplace, chiefly thanks to coming out on the same day as Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport in America.

    Akita seems to have disappeared from both the game industry and Planet Earth after Enthusia. There’s a Manabu Akita with a few recent small-time anime credits, but I’m pretty sure that’s a different guy with the same name.

    Almost immediately after Enthusia’s release, on April 1, 2005, Konami reabsorbed all of its external game studios and ended all this Konami Computer Entertainment tongue-twister malarkey for good. In case you’re wondering, the chief projects each studio worked on:

    KCE Osaka: SNES Goemon, Hybrid Heaven, assorted other SNES games
    KCE Kobe: N64 Goemon, the first N64 Castlevania, Rakugakids
    KCE Sapporo: Bishi Bashi Special, cell phone stuff
    KCE Yokohama: Air Force Delta, Pop’n Music, Beatmania II DX
    KCE Nagoya: GI Stable, Castlevania Legends