Not that long ago, while I was browsing through IndieGala’s Retro Classix games I thought I recognized a name. And not just one, but plenty of them caught my eye. They’re cool arcade-style games similar to the ones I played as a child, and I just knew that I have to write about them. And yes. They’re probably quite literally the very same games from my neighborhood arcade games stores. Hey, they’re one of the few games I was familiar with before I joined IndieGala.
The other one is Tekken, and i already did an article about it. Check it out. However, I can’t tell you enough about the excitement I have with the Retro Classix games, and to top it off my husband is a fan as well. So, I knew I have to write about them since he informed me that the company that made them is no longer operational. Indeed. I’m talking about Data East, and I’d very much love to know more about that. So, I did a little bit of digging.
Retro Classix Games At IndieGala
However, before I could go on with this article, I must mention a word or two about the games of course. We currently have 8 Retro Classix games in total and not to brag or anything.. But they’re all amazing. From Bad Dudes to Two Crude and of course Heavy Barrel. They’re all amazing and you’ll be missing out if you don’t get some of them. They’re a nice nostalgia boost, now published by Ziggurat Interactive. And they’ll teleport you back to your childhood. You know what to do! Just click here and enjoy them.
But Why Are The Retro Classix Games A Blast From The Past?
Well, because they are from the past. Literally. The company itself (Data East) was founded on 20th of April 1976 by Tokai University alumnus Tetsuo Fukuda. And they released the first arcade game Jack Lot in July the following year. It’s a medal game based on Blackjack and it was for business use. However, the first actual commercial use game was released in January 1978. Super Break is the name of the game, and historians consider it to be the first actual video game from Data East. More than 15 other arcade games followed in the ’70s, but back in 1979 came the first US division for the company. The main competitors of Data East (SEGA and Taito) all had a US division, so Data East made one too.
And the start of the new decade the company published Astro Fighter. Probably their first major arcade title. But it was at this time that the company released interchangeable systems compatible with its arcade games. Most notably the DECO Cassette System, and served its purpose in the next five years. Yeah, they dropped the DECO Cassette by 1985, but around this time the company made a UK division in London too. But the thing is, the company did survive the video game crash of 1983 and released plenty of games in the next 15 years. Some of its most famous coin-op arcade games from its 1980s heyday include Karate Champ, Heavy Barrel, BurgerTime, Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja. Not to forget Sly Spy, RoboCop, Bump ‘n’ Jump, Trio The Punch – Never Forget Me… And of course Karnov and Atomic Runner Chelnov.
Strong, Varied and Eclectic 80’s
But aside from making cool arcade games all by themselves, Data East purchased licenses to manufacture and sell arcade games created by other companies. The most notable games from the era are of course Kid Niki: Radical Ninja, Kung Fu Master and Vigilante. All of them all licensed from Irem, Commando,or Capcom. But when we say strong, varied and eclectic, we mean it. The company’s dipping its toes in the video game console market started back in 1986. And the first of the video game games for consoles was B-Wings for the Famicom. Remember the Famicom? Ah, the memories of me playing Super Mario on my cousin’s Famicon.
He wouldn’t let anyone touch the console so I had to do it in secret. But titles like Tantei Jingūji Saburō, Glory of Hercules and Metal Max, were created specifically for home consoles. From 1987 to 1994 there were the Data East pinball machines. And yes, Some of the IP’s that Data East licensed for its pinball machines included Guns N’ Roses, Star Wars, Back to the Future.
Oh and Batman, RoboCop, The Simpsons, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles too. Which if I remember all too well, were most in my rotation as a kid. Loved me some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, and before I forget, I always had to wait (and wait) to get to the Guns N’ Roses pins. Not to mention they were clanky and weird but I didn’t know any better back then. Oh, and the rules and layouts were weird but nonetheless they were fun for the 10 year old me. They’re still one of my favorite parts of my childhood. Nostalgia overload here, I know. I know.
Engineering Was In The Mix Too!
And although video games represented the majority of the company’s revenue, Data East was always involved in engineering as well. Furthermore, they made transmission equipment, data communication adapters for satellite phones from NTT DoCoMo. And yes, the company developed electrocardiogram equipment for ambulances which is also cool. Yeah, there’s that variety I mentioned earlier. Cool right? I thought so too.
Slow And Painful Demise
Yes, it was, and it’s a crying shame. However, it was in the s that the troubles started for Data East. And at the end of the decade, the US division was liquidated. Their final releases were Defcon 5 and Creature Shock: Special Edition and by 1998 the Japanese parent company itself withdrew entirely from the arcade industry. Furthermore, the debts were in the ballpark of 3.3 billion yen, and Data East filed for reorganization soon after that. Finally in 1999 stopped making video games altogether. But in the years that followed Data East sold negative ion generators for the most part, and in 2003 the inevitable happened. Back in April 2003, Data East filed for bankruptcy and was finally declared bankrupt several months later. The following year G-Mode, a Japanese mobile game content provider acquired Data East’s video game library. And the trademark too I might add.
But yeah. It was a slow and painful demise led by bad management, band investments and their reluctance to spice things up. I mean, they practically recycled most of the music in their games? Well, that’s a statement based on my best memory flex. Don’t judge, it was a long time ago. But yeah. The time caught up with Data East and they didn’t stay in touch with it.
Are You A Fan Of The Retro Classix Games?
Let us know in the comment section which one is your favorite. We’d love to know all about them.