A Twisty Maze of Konami Computer Entertainment StudiosPosted on August 11th, 2009 5 comments
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
So, what precisely is the relationship between Hudson and Konami these days? I remember sifting through press releases back in 2001 when figuring some of the details, but it seemed as if Hudson’s management answers to Konami…
All I remember about Enthusia from the carefully stage managed debut presentation I was given at Konami’s US offices is that 1) it had some kind of vibrational feedback thing built into the HUD, which was lost on me because I’m not a car guy, and 2) part of the presentation involved them hauling out lots of official, approved logo variants to show how carefully they were approaching the game’s branding, and how that was the moment I was pretty sure this game was doomed.
i’ve heard that the konami divisions were not in the cities they were named for. this post sort of says yes and sort of says no. can you clarify?
I am also confused, especially re: kobe/osaka.
also, didn’t kobe do circle of the mooooon?
One thing one can add is that Konami in the end moved their offices in Tokyo again to an even newer and more luxurious office in “Midtown” where they have now their own tower. Quite fun to see the Konami logo there .
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