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Founded in 1980 by Yukio Tanaka (first as "Nihon Game Company", a.k.a. "Taiyo System"), Culture Brain is a small developer/publisher based in Tokyo that started with arcade games, then switched to the Famicom, Super Famicom, and then never found success after the 16-bit era. These days Culture Brain develops and publishes games targetted to children for Nintendo handhelds.

History

Culture Brain got its start in the arcade, and helped Nintendo with the original Donkey Kong.

Culture Brain's first release was Japanese hit arcade shooter Monster Zero in 1981, and according to an "Insider's Guide to the Nintendo World Championships" published in 1990 by Nintendo themselves, Culture Brain helped Nintendo develop the landmark original arcade game Donkey Kong.

Through the early 80s they continued to release titles for the arcade that did well, and once the Famicom was released, Culture Brain decided to adapt two of those games for the home console. The arcade's Chinese Hero became the 1986 Famicom release Kung-Fu Heroes, and Shanghai Kid became 1987's Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll.

Little Ninja Brothers (1990, NES) aka Super Chinese 2.

Following those domestic successes, Culture Brain USA was established for localization work. That company would end up making major changes to the Japanese games to adapt them, but they never really found much of an Western audience, despite all that work.

In both Japan and the US, Culture Brain gained a reputation for hybrid games that resisted genre categorization. They had three core franchises, two of which were known for hybrid gameplay: the Flying Dragon series combined platforming, exploration and arena fighting; and the Super Chinese series featured some of the first Action RPG hybrids. When Culture Brain experimented with third-party publishing, First Queen (1994 SNES with Kure Software Koubou), a sort of hybrid real-time squad-based tactical action RPG, it fit right in.

Culture Brain's third big series was Baseball Simulator, which did enjoy moderate success in North America. Baseball Simulator 1.000 for the NES won newly launched Electronic Gaming Monthly's 1989 Best Sports Game.

Through the 90s, the company churned out new entries to their core series, but they continued to be very familiar iterations of the old games even down to minor plot details, with most of the changes limited to tweaking fine details and giving the game a new coat of paint graphically. The newer games tended to reduce the hybrid gameplay, reducing themselves to retreads of the old games with the unique features removed. Few of their later releases made it to North America. They made one PlayStation release, Virtual Hiryu no Ken, in 1997, and that was it for their old core series.

Hamster Monogatari 64.

From 2000 on they have concentrated on three series targetted at children, almost solely for handheld Nintendo platforms: Hamster Monogatari, Konchuu Monster, and Oshare Princess.

Trivia

Many Culture Brain games are credited to "Yumenosuke Project" or "Yumenosuke Academy", instead of any specific person inside the company.

Until 2003(?), they had a vocational school, the Culture Brain Computer Art School.

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