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Thread: Developer Obscura Vol. 1: Pony Canyon & Friends

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    Strawberry (Level 2) CRV's Avatar
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    Default Developer Obscura Vol. 1: Pony Canyon & Friends

    What did Pony Canyon do for the NES? Did Pony Canyon develop Capcom's early NES games? These questions were discussed in this thread:

    http://www.digitpress.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=58953

    I decided to undertake a mini-investigation into NES fans' favorite developer. Here are the results so far:

    GAMES KNOWN OR DETERMINED TO BE DEVELOPED OR WORKED ON BY PONY CANYON

    1942
    Tiger-Heli
    Dr. Chaos
    Phantom Fighter
    Onyanko Town
    Ghosts'n Goblins
    Son Son
    Exed Exes
    Ikari Warriors
    Winter Games
    Super Pitfall
    Break Time
    Mike Ditka Big Play Football (Unreleased)

    POSSIBLE PONY CANYON GAMES

    Attack Animal Gakuen
    Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
    Commando
    Trojan
    Thundercade
    Ultima: Exodus
    Ultima: Warriors of Destiny

    The thing about Commando and Trojan is that while they are glitchy, they lack the blurry/choppy animation of most NES Pony Canyon games.
    Last edited by CRV; 01-13-2007 at 12:26 AM.

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    Apple (Level 5) Lord Contaminous's Avatar
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    Zanac is another one.

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    Pony Canyon Aslo Did the NES/FC Ballblazer I beleve.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) Leroy's Avatar
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    Well, that explains some of early Capcom crap-ware.
    Zelda is NOT an RPG.

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    Pony Canyon (like Asmik or Bandai if you follow the reasoning) was a Japanese publisher of music, movies, books, etc in addition to games. I think they're still around, actually. For one, they were instrumental (pun intended) in making game music soundtracks a huge deal in Japan. The vast majority of early game soundtracks were published by Pony Canyon.

    That said, another one you can add to the list is the Famicom port of Artdink's "Arctic". I don't believe it's mentioned in-game, but the box has the Pony Canyon logo on it...like most Artdink titles, it is also incredibly bizarre and mostly pointless...

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    Cherry (Level 1) Kim Possible's Avatar
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    far as I know Pony Canyon did the work on all of the Ultima games, maybe not Warriors of Destiny, but I know for sure they did the other two.
    SO not the Drama.

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    Pretzel (Level 4) Mr. Smashy's Avatar
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    Add "Pool of Radiance" to the list.

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    I believe it has also been speculated that the same team was responsible for Athena. BMF54123 was looking at it in a debugger awhile back and he was talking about how it had the same inefficient loading technique that gives all their other games load time.

    The general theory is that all these terribly coded games came from an independant development studio that Pony Canyon contracted to code most of their Famicom/NES games. This would explain why so many different companies had stuff developed by them early on. I personally suspect they originally developed for computers and just couldn't get the hang of the Famicom hardware. Whether Pony Canyon actually contracted them to develop computer games is a mystery. None of the MSX or PC88 games published by the company I've played have had the same feel. Some are actually quite excellent, like the PC88 version of Super Pitfall.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) CRV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Contaminous
    Zanac is another one.
    Developed by Compile

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Possible
    far as I know Pony Canyon did the work on all of the Ultima games, maybe not Warriors of Destiny, but I know for sure they did the other two.
    According to Developer Table, a company called Infinity developed Ultima: Quest of the Avatar. They also did Battle of Olympus. If you compare the two, you'll see the similarities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Smashy
    Add "Pool of Radiance" to the list.
    According to Developer Table, it was done by Marionette.

    Quote Originally Posted by Li Wang
    The general theory is that all these terribly coded games came from an independant development studio that Pony Canyon contracted to code most of their Famicom/NES games. This would explain why so many different companies had stuff developed by them early on. I personally suspect they originally developed for computers and just couldn't get the hang of the Famicom hardware. Whether Pony Canyon actually contracted them to develop computer games is a mystery. None of the MSX or PC88 games published by the company I've played have had the same feel. Some are actually quite excellent, like the PC88 version of Super Pitfall.
    Makes sense, but what studio? Hmmm...

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    As far as I know, Pony Canyon hasn't developed ANY games. They're a publisher. A lot of those games were developed by Capcom, while others are from SNK, and the rest are from other random companies. As Dimitri pointed out, Pony Canyon is also a huge publisher of albums. I think every SNK soundtrack I own was published by them.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) CRV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B
    As far as I know, Pony Canyon hasn't developed ANY games. They're a publisher. A lot of those games were developed by Capcom, while others are from SNK, and the rest are from other random companies. As Dimitri pointed out, Pony Canyon is also a huge publisher of albums. I think every SNK soundtrack I own was published by them.
    PC does all kinds of stuff (as I mentioned in that earlier thread, they're part of the FCI empire):
    http://www.ponycanyon.co.jp/

    Anyway, if you play the games, there is no question they were done by the same company, whether it was Pony Canyon (which seems to be in doubt now) or some other studio (as Li Wang suggested).

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    Yes, I realize they are involved in a lot of things and have had a hand in the publishing of many games, but that doesn't mean they're MAKING them. The only evidence in game involvement I can tell from that site is the page about those PS2 "games" with Japanese idols, which makes sense since they're more like interactive videos than games, if I'm not mistaken.

    At the very least, I can assure you that NO ONE but Capcom and SNK made their respective games, like Capcom with Ghost 'n' Goblins and SNK with Ikari Warriors and Athena.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) CRV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B
    At the very least, I can assure you that NO ONE but Capcom and SNK made their respective games, like Capcom with Ghost 'n' Goblins and SNK with Ikari Warriors and Athena.
    Play Son Son (Capcom) and Onyanko Town (published by Pony Canyon) and tell me they're not by the same people. A lot of these games have similar graphical issues, musical styles, graphical styles, and have the same or similar pause tone(s) (like how many NES Konami games shared a pause tone).

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    The Ponycanyon "magic" touch is there in all these games people are mentinoning, Aussie2B. It really is. There's no way that Ghosts 'N' Goblins and Mega Man are developed by the same people. Mega Man is amazingly well made. G'N'G...well, it isn't.

    I'm glad this topic resuraced. I'm absolutely fascinated with Ponycanyon. This is because, in a time when games like Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania, and many other good titles for the Famicom existed, how were these pieces of crap considered acceptable? Nintendo's QA was sort of inconsistent, wouldn't you think?

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    A lot of people love Ghosts 'N' Goblins, and a lot of people don't think the first Mega Man is so great, so meh on that.

    Considering that a lot of these games discussed were originally arcade games, I could accept the theory that Pony Canyon had a role in the porting over of them to NES, but that's it, at the very most.

    Oh, and my boyfriend suggested the theory that since, to many, Pony Canyon is synonymous with game music, they may have been responsible for the sound in the games. Obviously, the composition belongs to the respective composers from each company, but having the music use the hardware in similar ways could result in similar styles and this could also explain reused sound effects.

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    Pretzel (Level 4) Mr. Smashy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pony Canyon & the NES

    Quote Originally Posted by CRV
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Smashy
    Add "Pool of Radiance" to the list.
    According to Developer Table, it was done by Marionette.
    Quote Originally Posted by CRV
    What did Pony Canyon do for the NES?
    *snip*
    GAMES KNOWN OR DETERMINED TO BE DEVELOPED OR WORKED ON BY PONY CANYON
    Here's what I see when I put Pool of Radiance in my NES.

    I can only assume that since Pony Canyon is shown right on the first screen, Pool of Radiance is something they "did" and possibly "worked on". If you are looking for games that were only developed by Pony Canyon, you may want to modify your first post.

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Ghostbusters is another possible suspect. It was published by Tokuma Shoten, who also published Exed Exes. It doesn't have the famous Pony Canyon load time but the game itself just has that feel. The music, graphics, and gameplay are vintage Pony Canyon. The game doesn't have the pause tone...because the music just sort of comes to a leisurely stop when you pause it. That's really the only way I can describe it. The current bleep or blip actually gets stuck for a couple seconds.

    In the Famicom version you can actually get enough money to get into Zuul without ever leaving the shop. The ghost alarm costs $2000. The buyback value is $3000.

    For extra fun, visit one building with ghosts, then return to "SHOP WORKSS". Buy and then sell back an anti-ghost suit. Enjoy your $9999999!

    Of course, it could just be another crappy early Famicom game. The era from 1983-1986 had some really putrid third party garbage from all kinds of companies. It does feel like them, though.

    Here's the Pony Canyon listing on Gamefaqs, by the way. We'll have to go through and guess which of their published titles were from the crap dev house and which ones weren't. Shadow Brain is one of the ones that obviously wasn't.

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    Lunar Pool was confirmed to have been developed by Compile (that's why it's awesome) so scratch that off the list.

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    Insert Coin (Level 0)
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    I believe it was confirmed awhile back that the company who developed these games is just an anonymous third-party developer, not Pony Canyon themselves.

    They developed all the games you listed, along with Commando (not Trojan), Victory Road, Athena, and Kaiketsu Yanchamaru 3, among other games. They improved somewhat by Kaiketsu Yanchamaru 3, but their lack of programming skill is evident in pretty much everything they made.

    It's a shame that the GBC port of Ghosts'n Goblins had to be based off of their terrible NES version. Yeech.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) CRV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sardius
    I believe it was confirmed awhile back that the company who developed these games is just an anonymous third-party developer, not Pony Canyon themselves.
    But again, we don't know who it is. Ultima: Exodus mentions being produced by Newtopia Planning. Could this be anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Smashy
    I can only assume that since Pony Canyon is shown right on the first screen, Pool of Radiance is something they "did" and possibly "worked on". If you are looking for games that were only developed by Pony Canyon, you may want to modify your first post.
    The screen says "presented by Pony Canyon," which can be done by simply publishing something.

    And by "worked on," I mean the company in question might not have been the sole developer. They could have been a co-developer with another company or a support developer (maybe they only did the graphics or music).

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    One possible name for the company that produced all these early ports and games is "micronics". BMF once noticed it was mentioned on the title screen of the Snes port of "Raiden Traid", and that game seems to have some of their trademark coding. Unfortunately it isn't 100% proof that it is their name, but I nevertheless have been going by it since.

    Not much else I can really add to this thread. Kaiketsu Yanchamaru 3 (aka Kid Niki 3) is by far their greatest Famicom game. Still a bit glitchy, but its actually pretty playable, making me think Irem was more strict and threatened beat downs if they didn't sit down and learn to code the Famicom properly.

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    They do something with anime too, I remember seeing in the credits of Steel Angel Kurumi their name.
    "If each mistake being made is a new one, then progress is being made."

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 6:17 pm Post subject:
    They do something with anime too
    Of course they do. And they have been for a long time. They are a broadly involved JP media publishing company. I don't know how they would avoid dealing with anime related stuff.

    I've seen them in loads of anime credits from the 80's forward. (I watch very little anime from before the late 70's or so).

    They aren't the only broad based media company like that either.

    A lot of people love Ghosts 'N' Goblins, and a lot of people don't think the first Mega Man is so great, so meh on that.
    People love the GnG port on NES? As if they couldn't just play one of the better versions? I admit I didn't hate some of the games listed above as much as some do though.

    FCI definitely published NES Ultima 4 here. You know that emblem with the red dot in the middle? All over the packaging. And I think they published 3 (Exodus) in both US and Japan.

    I personally suspect some funky third party developed NES U4, but I would guess it was a different dev than U3 (exodus).

    At the very least, I can assure you that NO ONE but Capcom and SNK made their respective games, like Capcom with Ghost 'n' Goblins and SNK with Ikari Warriors and Athena.
    Eh, none of us were there . Could Capcom and SNK have had a couple crappy dev teams making stuff of that kind?

    Of course.

    Could they have had someone else do it? I think that's more likely, but unless you can find someone who actually was directly involved and can remember dumb little crap after 20 years it's hard to see. I think I would remember, but I wan't there.

    they may have been responsible for the sound in the games
    Hmmm. I don't know, but there are instances of companies just doing the sound work for a game.

    I swear I have heard some of the music tracks in multiple (seemingly) unrelated RPGs. I can't remember where for instance, but I think the Meribia tune from Lunar:SSSC was used elsewhere..... Not that I am saying anyone did anything wrong necessarily. It may just be legit reuse.

    Somewhere (I can't remember where) someone claimed that Compile is only associated with Sylphia (PCE game) because a related company did something with the music, and thus technically it is included in the exhaustive JP release lists as a Compile work.

    Which brings me to another question.

    I care enough to bother, but maybe someone could check out complete JP release lists (you know, on JP language sites...) for the above mention PonyCanyon-ish feeling games.

    The general theory is that all these terribly coded games came from an independant development studio that Pony Canyon contracted to code most of their Famicom/NES games. This would explain why so many different companies had stuff developed by them early on.
    Seems likely.

    inefficient loading technique
    Doesn't necessarily mean they were the same dev company. Never underestimate the laziness of programmers. Often someone just goes with the first functional code that they write or come across.

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    ServBot (Level 11) GarrettCRW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FurinkanianFrood
    I care enough to bother, but maybe someone could check out complete JP release lists (you know, on JP language sites...) for the above mention PonyCanyon-ish feeling games.
    This needs to be done as a general rule with Japanese systems and/or games. Let's face it: we ugly Americans have next to no contact with gamers in Japan, even when it comes to those of us who know the language. It's a bit annoying to me that a really fascinating subject like this is relegated to mere speculation because there's next to no communication with our (potential) friends in Japan.
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    Strawberry (Level 2) CRV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrettCRW
    This needs to be done as a general rule with Japanese systems and/or games. Let's face it: we ugly Americans have next to no contact with gamers in Japan, even when it comes to those of us who know the language. It's a bit annoying to me that a really fascinating subject like this is relegated to mere speculation because there's next to no communication with our (potential) friends in Japan.
    Unfortunately, it probably is the language barrier that's the biggest problem. Also, there's the chance some just don't want to deal with foreigners.

    Developer Table is one Japanese site that should be translated. I've run a lot of it myself through the Animelab.com translator.

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