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The Sega Mega Drive's Mega Drivers

If you haven't been following my blog series Mega Archive, which is going through every Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game in chronological order as I work on their GB Wiki pages, you might not know that I've been particularly interested in tracking the number of different developers that appeared on the console. Frequently contractors or companies that worked primarily with other systems that only briefly popped by for a port or two, there's nonetheless a rich tapestry of creators from all over the globe that helped give the Mega Drive the library and personality for which it was known and adored.

I'm going to keep updating this list as I produce future entries of the Mega Archive and dig up relevant info on the developers that appear. For what it's worth, I use Sega Retro, GameFAQs, Japanese and English Wikipedia, and GDRI (the Game Developers Research Institute) as my sources.

The Mega Archive entries referred to by each list entry are as follows:

Part I: 001-020 (Oct '88 - Dec '89) Part IX: 131-145 (May '91 - Jun '91)
Part II: 021-035 (Dec '89 - Mar '90) Part X: 146-160 (Jun '91 - Jul '91)
Part III: 036-050 (Apr '90 - Jul '90) Part XI: 161-175 (Jul '91 - Aug '91)
Part IV: 051-065 (Aug '90 - Oct '90) Part XII: 176-190 (Aug '91 - Sep '91)
Part V: 066-080 (Oct '90 - Dec '90) Part XIII: 191-205 (Oct '91 - Nov '91)
Part VI: 081-098 (Dec '90) Part XIV: 206-220 (Nov '91)
Part VII: 099-115 (Jan '91 - Mar '91) Part XV: 221-240 (Dec '91)
Part VIII: 116-130 (Mar '91 - Apr '91) Part XVI: 241-255 (Jan '92 - Feb '92)

List items

  • First Appearance: 001 (Space Harrier II), Mega Archive #1

    Surprising no-one, Sega developed the first game for the Sega Mega Drive. Actually, the first game was an arcade port - Space Harrier II, though that numeral isn't fooling anyone - and Sega's first real plan for their advanced 16-bit console was to convert their newer arcade games, especially the super-scaler series from which Space Harrier and a few others hailed, that wouldn't really fly on the weaker Master System. A majority of the releases during the Mega Drive's first couple of years were first-party games.

  • First Appearance: 008 (Super Daisenryaku), Mega Archive #1

    SystemSoft, also known as SystemSoft Alpha (the branch that focused on console games, created after a merger with developer Alpha Shock), was a computer game company that developed deeper strategy titles like the Daisenryaku and Master of Monsters franchises. The Mega Drive had a computer developer-friendly microprocessor in the Motorola 68000 - one used by various western home computers too, like the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST - which helped bring a lot of that sphere into the console's orbit. Only a few of SystemSoft's strategy sims were ever localized in the west: one issue was that they kept making WW2 games where the Nazis were the protagonists, which was only natural for a country that was also part of the Axis.

  • First Appearance: 009 (Thunder Force II), Mega Archive #1

    Technosoft, or TecnoSoft, decided to switch primarily to console development conveniently around the same time the Mega Drive launched in Japan, and would become the system's first third-party publisher (Sega published SystemSoft's first game, making them only the first third-party developer). TechnoSoft is responsible for the Thunder Force shoot 'em ups, a franchise closely associated with the Mega Drive. Its presence also supported Sega's early impetus to get the otherwise tricky-to-emulate speed of arcade shoot 'em ups to a home console with enough oomph to handle them. (If that wasn't enough, Technosoft also helped jumpstart the '90s RTS boom with Herzog Zwei.)

  • First Appearance: 012 (Ghouls N' Ghosts), Mega Archive #1

    Capcom's never met a console it didn't like, realizing early on with the NES that home versions of their arcade classics were big earners. It didn't take them long to join in on the 16-bit action either, with a Mega Drive port of their second devilishly difficult "spooky thing n' spooky thing" series of platformers. However, Capcom still held an allegiance of sorts to Nintendo, so their few Mega Drive ports were sporadic releases; they kinda defected back once the SNES made its debut, leaving the porting work to Sega or other third-party contractors. (It's probably common knowledge, but "Capcom" is a shortened version of "Capsule Computers," referring to the arcade redemption games it made while starting out.)

  • First Appearance: 015 (Super Hydlide), Mega Archive #1

    T&E Soft's another big name in the Japanese home computer market which is perhaps best known globally for its golfing sims and the Hydlide RPGs. T&E, incidentally, stands for "Technology and Entertainment." They only dabbled in the console market, porting over some of their better regarded games, but nothing more elaborate than that. Super Hydlide was the most effort they put into any of their Mega Drive ports, graphically remastering Hydlide 3 (first released two years prior on MSX, in 1987) for its 16-bit debut but leaving the gameplay otherwise untouched.

  • First Appearance: 017 (Zoom!), Mega Archive #1

    Cyclone System is the type of developer we'll see a few times in this list: a minor Japanese contractor that helped port games to the Mega Drive on behalf of other developers, who either couldn't afford to do it themselves or couldn't be bothered. Zoom! was originally an Amiga game developed by a small German company, Discovery Software, which also makes it the first Mega Drive game to have originated outside of Japan. Cyclone System would show up a few more times to port Taito games (of all the developers that needed an intermediary...) disappearing shortly after the last of these ports, Cadash, in 1992.

  • First Appearance: 021 (Truxton), Mega Archive #2

    Toaplan was an arcade shoot 'em up giant whose presence can be keenly felt in the shoot 'em up-heavy early Mega Drive library. Curiously enough, they rarely deigned to develop these ports themselves, letting Sega or third-party contrators do the work for them while they handled publishing. If they're known outside the shoot 'em up fanatic bubble for anything, it's probably Zero Wing and its meme-tastic intro cutscene concerning bases and the misappropriation thereof. Toaplan collapsed in 1994, though its demise led to the creation of still-active developers Cave (the inheritor of its shoot 'em up legacy), 8ing, Tamsoft, and several others.

  • First Appearance: 022 (Mahjong Cop Ryuu), Mega Archive #2

    Whiteboard proved to be a tricky group to track down because, like a mob informant on the run, they kept changing their name. Mahjong Cop Ryuu, which optimistically tried to make mahjong interesting with a crimefighting framing story, was their only game as Whiteboard before changing their name to Santos. As Santos, they're best known for the bizarre golf/RPG hybrid Battle Golfer Yui. After that they became Megasoft after being bought by Sega, and worked on the so-so ninja action sequel Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master and the sumo sim Aa Harimanada before being dissolved into Sega's other divisions. They developed five Mega Drive games total, averaging about 1.666* per company name.

  • First Appearance: 026 (Curse), Mega Archive #2

    Micronet's not a big name - their biggest Mega Drive games were the Warrior of Rome RTSes and Raiden Trad - but they made an effort to vary their projects. Curse was a shoot 'em up, while their next game Junction was more like a Pipe Dream puzzle game. They also made the weird mech fighting game Heavy Nova, a launch game for the Sega CD. None of these games were all that great, necessarily, but memorable at least. Micronet's still around today though now they only make 3D software.

  • First Appearance: 027 (Tetris), Mega Archive #2

    Though Sanritsu's Tetris port wasn't a big deal - it never left Japan - the company itself had been working closely with Sega for a long time. Former members of the studio and Sega later co-founded SIMS (Software Innovation Multi Success) which would be a major player in every Sega system's library until the end of the Dreamcast era. Sanritsu itself is probably best known over here for their Gain Ground and OutRun ports.

  • First Appearance: 028 (Shove It!...The Warehouse Game), Mega Archive #2

    Masaya was one of the first third-party developers to really leave their mark on the Mega Drive, creating a series of memorable games that were exclusive to the platform. As the video game development wing of megacorporation NCS (Nippon Computer Systems), they had more than enough resources to provide a host of eccentric games that helped define the system's personality early on, such as the tough mecha shooter Target Earth, the Sokoban clone Shove It!, and the fantasy SRPG Warsong/Langrisser. Masaya was one of the few mercenary companies to see itself heavily involved with the Mega Drive, SNES, and TurboGrafx-16 in equal measure.

  • First Appearance: 031 (The New Zealand Story), Mega Archive #2

    Sega's fellow coin-op rival Taito was another like Toaplan that saw a lot of its arcade games ported to the console, though rarely via their original developers. Taito needs no introduction, and games from many Taito franchises like Darius, QIX, NewZealand Story, Bubble Bobble/Rainbow Islands, and (of course) Space Invaders eventually made their way to the Mega Drive. Taito even helped publish a few arcade ports from smaller companies.

  • First Appearance: 032 (Air Diver), Mega Archive #2

    Copya was a moderately successful console game developer that produced just two games for the Mega Drive, the above Air Diver being the only one that saw a localization (the other was a joshi puroresu game, and lemme tell you how niche an audience that would've found in the US). They later re-emerged as Shangri-La, but they still predominantly produced games that never saw localizations.

  • First Appearance: 038 (Psy-O-Blade), Mega Archive #3

    Graphic Research largely made games under contract for other developers. If anyone in the US knows them for anything, it's probably in co-developing a few of the Monster Rancher games. Psy-O-Blade was the Mega Drive's first visual novel and one of only two games that Graphic Research developed on their own for the system, the other being Toaplan's Twin Cobra port. They were supposedly contracted to help the sound design with a few others though, according to GDRI.

  • First Appearance: 039 (DJ Boy), Mega Archive #3

    Inter State was the home development wing of arcade company Kaneko, and helped port a few of their games to the Mega Drive. DJ Boy was their first and most reviled, but they also ported Aero Blasters and something called Wani Wani World. Kaneko itself is perhaps more infamous for their endless Gals Panic games and helping System Vision bring Power Moves (the source of Warren) and the Chester Cheetah games to life.

  • First Appearance: 040 (Whip Rush), Mega Archive #3

    Vic Tokai sounds like a guy's name, but the VIC part is actually an acronym: Valuable Information & Communication. Tokai is, or was, basically Japan's version of AOL - a popular telecommunications branch of a larger conglomerate. As a video game developer, Vic created an eclectic assortment of semi-classics like The Krion Conquest and Clash at Demonhead for NES. Their best known Mega Drive game is Decap Attack: a reskin of a previous game of theirs with an inscrutable anime license, and Decap Attack carries enough cultural cachet that it continues to appear in Mega Drive compilations.

  • First Appearance: 041 (Tel Tel Mahjong), Mega Archive #3

    Chat Noir ("black cat" in French, though you probably didn't need me to tell you that) was a studio that usually made mahjong sims, and occasionally ones based on other parlor games. Their sole Mega Drive game, Tel Tel Mahjong, was one of the first to take advantage of the Sega Modem attachment, which could be used to play mahjong with anyone else in Japan. As far as their continued involvement with Sega went, they would eventually return for a number of Saturn games. All mahjong, of course.

  • First Appearance: 045 (Ghostbusters), Mega Archive #3

    Compile is a name that means different things to different audiences. For the diehards, Compile's shoot 'em ups were second-to-none in their time. Others, especially more recent fans, are drawn to their monolithic Puyo Puyo puzzle game franchise. Their first Mega Drive game was the typically strange Ghostbusters: a unique take on the Ivan Reitman movie that saw three Ghostbusters (sorry Winston) as big-headed platformer heroes, rightly regarded as the best Ghostbusters video game adaptation until the PS3/360 "sequel" came along almost two decades later. However their most famous Mega Drive game was (surprise, surprise) Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.

  • First Appearance: 046 (Budokan), Mega Archive #3

    It's taken this long for a western developer to emerge, and who better than frequent cartoon villains EA? Budokan, a Japanese-only fighter/sports game that resembles International Karate+, was a weird choice with which to dip their toes into the Mega Drive waters, but they soon became a pillar of the Mega Drive's success overseas with their annualized sports franchises Madden NFL, NHL, PGA Tour Golf, NBA Playoffs, and FIFA.

  • First Appearance: 048 (Phelios), Mega Archive #3

    Arcade giants and Pac-Man creators Namco were dragging their heels a little, only developing a port of their Ancient Greek-themed arcade shoot 'em up Phelios several years into the Mega Drive's lifespan. Namco would eventually develop or publish more than twenty games for the system, including two Mega Drive-exclusive Splatterhouse sequels, so no-one can say they didn't make up for their tardiness.

  • First Appearance: 049 (Batman), Mega Archive #3

    Following right behind Namco is SunSoft, one of the bigger NES third-party developers. When SunSoft acquired the license to create games based on the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie, they had the odd notion of creating a completely original game for each of the Mega Drive, NES, and TurboGrafx-16. The Mega Drive version is the middle child of the bunch, being a relatively no-frills brawler. Sunsoft would continue to produce multiplatform games for both SNES and Mega Drive, usually licensed, but also did Mega Drive owners the solid of publishing a Blaster Master sequel especially for them.

  • First Appearance: 050 (Cyberball), Mega Archive #3

    Tengen's history as a cheeky way for Atari Games to get around some licensing deals held by its other half Atari Corporation is well documented elsewhere on the internet. Suffice it to say, they were quick to release ports of all the classic Atari arcade games on any system that would have them - Sega proved more amicable in this process than Nintendo, at least. Cyberball was the first of many, though more famous examples might include Paperboy, Rampart, and Pit-Fighter. They even tried their hand at a few original games, including the super innovative concept of Awesome Possum Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt.

  • First Appearance: 052 (Rastan Saga II), Mega Archive #4

    Another contractor that worked alongside other companies in creating their console ports. For the Mega Drive, they worked with Taito (Rastan Saga II) and Asmik (Verytex), but are best known for their Data East collaborations Midnight Resistance, Two Crude Dudes, and Captain America and the Avengers. If you owned a Japanese home computer, it's likely you picked up one of the many western CRPGs they ported.

  • First Appearance: 055 (XDR: X-Dazedly Ray), Mega Archive #4

    The mysterious Unipacc created, released a game, and folded in quick succession. Given that game was the roundly detested shoot 'em up X-Dazedly Ray, released at a time when the system had many better shoot 'em ups coming out every month, I can understand why they didn't see a future in it. There's a great "Bad Game Hall of Fame" entry on XDR if you want all the sordid details of Unipacc's rise and fall.

  • First Appearance: 057 (Insector X), Mega Archive #4

    A company known (if it all) for its Black Bass NES fishing simulators, Hot-B made two shoot 'em ups of note for Mega Drive - the nominally apropos Insector X, above, and Steel Empire - and the sci-fi RPG Blue Almanac that only saw an official localization 20 years after the fact. Another wonderfully odd example of the menagerie that contributed to the Mega Drive's success. Hot-B folded in 1993 after their one and only SFC game, but Starfish was born from the ashes and kept its bass-hooking spirit alive for 25+ more years.

  • First Appearance: 061 (Rainbow Islands Extra), Mega Archive #4

    Another company mostly involved with contract work, Aisystem frequently worked with Taito on its Mega Drive ports: staff from Aisystem are connected to Rainbow Islands Extra, Hit the Ice, and Thunder Fox. This Taito partnership continued on into the Saturn era with ports of The Ninja Warriors and Darius Gaiden. One of the rarest Mega Drive carts, Go-Net (a multiplayer Go sim with online capabilities), was a joint effort between Aisystem and Sega.

  • First Appearance: 062 (Bimini Run), Mega Archive #4

    An American developer (I believe the third on this list?), Microsmiths was a small company run by a few ex-Activision people. Bimini Run was their best known Mega Drive game - they worked in the home computer market prior to that - which was followed by Jack Nicklaus' Power Challenge Golf on behalf of Accolade. They folded soon after, though one of its founders Rex Bradford would then go on to work with Looking Glass Studios on Terra Nova.

  • First Appearance: 063 (Final Zone), Mega Archive #4

    I always like seeing what Wolf Team were up to prior to the RPG that changed the course of the company forever. Sort of like finding out what Squaresoft were doing before Final Fantasy. Wolf Team eventually began working exclusively on Tales sequels after Tales of Phantasia was a hit, but before then made a lot of quirky (if not amazing) mech shooters and Sengoku strategy games. They're also the ones behind El Viento and Earnest Evans: two of the more surreal Mega Drive games to see a localization.

  • First Appearance: 064 (Slaughter Sport), Mega Archive #4

    Though it's run by a supervillain who looks like an enchanted Trolls doll these days, Activision was a relatively smaller company around this dark ages period between its golden era as the bad boys of the Atari 2600 to the workforce-culling juggernaut it is now. Their interaction with the Mega Drive was limited: after porting the terrible DOS fighter Slaughter Sport (a.k.a. Tongue of the Fatman), they only popped up again in 1994 - close to the end of the system's life - for a few multiplatform games like Shanghai III and the Pitfall reboot.

  • First Appearance: 065 (Burning Force), Mega Archive #4

    Nova's another contract developer, one frequently connected to Namco. They helped bring Burning Force to the Mega Drive - probably the system's best Namco port - and then worked on the licensed Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fighter before bowing out of Sega's orbit. More of a Nintendo bunch, these guys.

  • First Appearance: 067 (Dynamite Duke), Mega Archive #5

    A short-lived MSX CRPG developer turned contractor that worked with Sega and SIMS directly for a few of their Mega Drive ports. One of these was OutRun 2019, a game I feel like Jeff ought to have streamed himself playing at some point last year (which at time of writing was 2019, in case the joke no longer works). Hertz folded shortly after finishing the Krull-esque RPG "Vay" for the Sega CD in '93. That's gotta hertz.

  • First Appearance: 068 (John Madden Football), Mega Archive #5

    Park Place Productions was a western developer that helped EA build their EA Sports empire with the first Madden for Sega Genesis, growing in size and power as an independent developer from the success of that game until its sudden collapse in 1993. Can't say I was following the industry that closely at that time, but it was a surprise closure on par with THQ (as temporary as that was). They developed John Madden Football (for EA) and Joe Montana Football (for Sega) almost simultaneously, which must've been confusing. Especially if they only referred to the two games by their initials during development.

  • First Appearance: 076 (Battle Squadron), Mega Archive #5

    Innerprise was a company hired by EA to port a few Amiga games to the Mega Drive, in particular Battle Squadron and Sword of Sodan. I dunno how much EA paid them, but it was probably too much: both games were heavily compromised for their Mega Drive debuts, becoming far more difficult due to hitbox problems and other errors, and neither is rated all that well compared to their more acclaimed Amiga originals (the success of which was what prompted EA to hire folk to port them in the first place). Innerprise popped up once more to help Tengen drop Ms. Pac-Man on the Genesis before vanishing forever.

  • First Appearance: 078 (Populous), Mega Archive #5

    Bullfrog was an old favorite of mine and many other European kids growing up in the 1990s, with a string of hits starting with Peter Molyneux's Populous and going through the likes of Syndicate, Theme Park, Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper, and more. The first three of those saw Mega Drive ports (and SNES ports, it should also be said), and by all accounts Bullfrog developed them directly. Bullfrog were gobbled up by their publishing partner EA in 1995 and fully eliminated by 2001: an irksome practice that eventually became commonplace with companies EA has absorbed.

  • First Appearance: 079 (Zany Golf), Mega Archive #5

    Sandcastle is simply Will Harvey's alter-ego: the one-man development team created Zany Golf and The Immortal for EA, both of which ended up on the Mega Drive. Some versions of those games even carry a "Will Harvey Presents" as part of their titles. It's not clear how much involvement Harvey had with the Mega Drive ports for these two games, but I'm inclined to give him the credit.

  • First Appearance: 082 (Atomic Robo-Kid), Mega Archive #6

    Ah, Micronics. Another busy contract developer, though not one that has been fondly remembered in the years since. I tend to give video game companies the benefit of the doubt when it comes to bad games: much more likely the result of insufficient direction and/or resources from the moneyholders than incompetence of the staff, but if that's the case Micronics had one heck of a bad luck streak. Far more prominent on the NES, Micronics only had their hand in three Mega Drive ports: UPL's Atomic Robo-Kid, Video System's Super Volleyball, and F1 Circus MD for Nichibutsu.

  • First Appearance: 084 (Gambler Jiko Chuushinha), Mega Archive #6

    It's not clear what Yellow Horn was, but they created exactly one Mega Drive game and one Mega CD game (which was their Mega Drive game's sequel) for Game Arts of all people. Gambler Jiko Chuushinha is a mahjong game based on a manga license that had already seen a few NES outings, so maybe they thought it was easy money. Game Arts, incidentally, are the ones behind massive RPG franchises Lunar and Grandia. Why they were slumming it here with some mysterious contractor is anyone's guess. Gotta start somewhere I guess.

  • First Appearance: 086 (Dangerous Seed), Mega Archive #6

    The King of the Contract Developers, the mysterious TOSE has been involved with several thousand games over the years, their quality level fluctuating as wildly as the weather. Legend is that you get what you pay for when you hire TOSE: pay them enough and you'll have something half-decent, but skimp on the revenue and they'll give you the trash your parsimony deserves. They've only worked on five Mega Drive games according to GDRI, including a few Namco ports and a DBZ fighter, but who can really say for sure if that's all they did?

  • First Appearance: 087 (Arrow Flash), Mega Archive #6

    Imaginative Technology Land, which I like as a concept as well as a company name, is one of those contractors that have been quietly working in the background for many years. They still exist, in fact, putting the finishing touches on games like Project X Zone 2, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, Shin Megami Tensei IV, and a few Switch eShop originals. Their handful of Mega Drive games are all Sega and Taito ports.

  • First Appearance: 090 (Hard Drivin'), Mega Archive #6

    A western contract developer that focused on porting Tengen and EA games to the Mega Drive. They're behind all the Mega Drive EA Sports PGA Tour Golf games, for instance, as well as Pit-Fighter and Hard Drivin' for Atari Games's proxy. They later changed their name to Polygames after a similarly-titled studio threatened a lawsuit, which is the name attached to most of their Mega Drive games.

  • First Appearance: 092 (Star Cruiser), Mega Archive #6

    A one-hit wonder as far as the Mega Drive is concerned, Arsys created the incredibly ambitious Star Cruiser - a combination space trader sim/first-person shooter/RPG/adventure game - and brought it over to the Mega Drive. They were far busier on Japanese home computers, and eventually became involved with the first Gran Turismo due to their impressive tech knowledge.

  • First Appearance: 093 (Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair), Mega Archive #6

    Aicom, short for Akio Inoue COMputers, found themselves working on a few Sega projects, but various sites dealing with this info can't seem to get it straight which ones. It's likely they were involved with the Wonder Boy III port - original arcade devs Westone usually left it to Sega to sort those ports out - and would later help Sega with Pat Riley's Basketball. They were probably also involved in proto-fighter Fighting Masters. Not an impressive legacy, per se, but one worth accurately celebrating nonetheless.

  • First Appearance: 094 (Gaiares), Mega Archive #6

    Telenet Japan, or Nippon Telenet, was a company that came into their own during the CD era of 16-bit game development with their digital media subsidiary Laser Soft. They're best known for the Valis games, of which Valis III was the first to make it to the Mega Drive and was a franchise they eventually let hentai developers have their way with as a low point that precipitated the company's closure. All their stuff is owned by Sunsoft now, I think. GameFAQs inexplicably has Telenet Japan and Nippon Telenet as separate companies.

  • First Appearance: 095 (Heavy Unit), Mega Archive #6

    Funari appears to be either a short-lived development satellite created by Data East or a successor founded by former Data East staff. Their one Mega Drive credit is Heavy Unit, one of Kaneko's more recognizable arcade shooters. That port was published by Toho, the Godzilla movie people, so who even knows what was going on in the background during its development.

  • First Appearance: 096 (Ishido), Mega Archive #6

    Not for the first or last time, Accolade's sort of a dark spot on the history of the Mega Drive console. Largely because they tried to slip past Sega's draconian cart production fees and decided to make their own on the cheap to circumnavigate the additional cost. That meant Sega had to escalate by putting stronger security measures in their hardware, leading to an arms race of sorts between the two that culminated in litigation. As you might expect from Accolade, nothing they surreptitiously ported was ever worth the trouble. Even Bubsy. Sorry, no, I meant *especially* Bubsy.

  • First Appearance: 100 (Dick Tracy), Mega Archive #7

    The pride of Sega of America, the Sega Technical Institute was formed to help Sega's first-party efforts in the US and Europe. The well-regarded movie tie-in Dick Tracy was merely the first in what become a short list of high-profile games like Kid Chameleon, Comix Zone, and Sonic Spinball. STI (great initialism, guys) also helped develop Sonic the Hedgehog 2, joining their resources with the fledgling Sonic Team to get it made. The studio was eventually merged back into Sega of America once it had run out of steam.

  • First Appearance: 101 (Techno Cop), Mega Archive #7

    Punk Development is the development subsidiary of RazorSoft, an American company that worked on Amiga games and briefly tried porting a few of their games to the Mega Drive. Along with a generally low quality, their games were known for their "adult" content: brief nudity, gory violence, some harsh language (probably). Techno Cop, Death Duel, and Stormlord all courted controversy around their release. Punks indeed.

  • First Appearance: 107 (Super Volleyball), Mega Archive #7

    Video System started as a mid-tier arcade game developer and most of their early stuff was mahjong and volleyball games. A port of one their most popular volleyball games, Super Volleyball, is the sole game they developed (with support from Micronics) for the Mega Drive. Elsewhere, they're best known for the Aero Fighters/Sonic Wings series (the one that has a dolphin as a pilot) and the F1 World Grand Prix games for Dreamcast.

  • First Appearance: 116 (Mamono Hunter Yohko), Mega Archive #8

    The versatile Dual is a company that pops up in a lot of places, particularly the Game Boy, PC Engine (TurboGrafx), and PlayStation. Their Sega console output was relatively limited though, creating just one anime licensed game apiece for the Mega Drive and Sega CD. The Mega Drive game is Mamono Hunter Yohko, based on an anime fondly remembered by the earliest followers of American VHS anime localizations, while their Sega CD game was a Ranma 1/2 visual novel.

  • First Appearance: 117 (CrossFire), Mega Archive #8

    A.I was started by two former Sanritsu staffers (A. and I. are their surname initials) and has spent most of its long life helping Banpresto with their Super Robot Wars crossovers. Though it has hundreds of credits, their only known Mega Drive game was CrossFire: an Airwolf game that had to have its Airwolf content air-brushed out for its North American release due to licensing problems. A.I is still around as far as I can tell, getting paid to tell giant robots what to do.

  • First Appearance: 118 (Jantei Monogatari), Mega Archive #8

    Everyone knows Atlus (started by former Tecmo staff) for their original IPs these days, especially their enormous Megami Tensei franchise, but early on they chiefly worked with other publishers. Their collaborations with LJN on its licensed NES games still carry some notoriety. They only have a handful of mostly incidental encounters with the Mega Drive - Jantei Monogatari was originally theirs, but much of the porting work was handled by Telenet, and they're only the US localizers/publishers for Crusader of Centy and Tecmo World Cup - but they would become much more prominent on the Saturn through its many Devil Summoner games.

  • First Appearance: 120 (Shining in the Darkness), Mega Archive #8

    Climax only developed or co-developed three Mega Drive games, but they're all significant: Shining in the Darkness and Shining Force begat one of the longest-serving RPG franchises for Sega, while Landstalker was a well-regarded isometric RPG that still continues to see rereleases. Climax made a few more Stalker games for Saturn (Dark Savior) and Dreamcast (Timestalkers) and would continue to help Shining's new supervisors Sonic Co. with future entries of that franchise.

  • First Appearance: 122 (James Pond: Underwater Agent), Mega Archive #8

    Millennium's lengthy story only briefly intersects with the Mega Drive - they ported over three James Pond games, which they co-developed with Vectordean - but would become better known for their PlayStation games like the typically British MediEvil after they were purchased by Sony and became SCEE Cambridge. They ended their time on this Earth as recently as 2017, with the VR robot sports game RIGS being their last title.

  • First Appearance: 128 (Wardner), Mega Archive #8

    Dragnet's a minor contractor that was only around for two Mega Drive ports - Toaplan's platformer Wardner and Seta Corp shoot 'em up Cal .50 - as well as one for SNK's historical brawler Sengoku for the Sega CD. GDRI's entry on the company suggests they were involved with more games to some degree, but firm details are scarce. I guess you could say the Dragnet slipped us.

  • First Appearance: 134 (Fire Mustang), Mega Archive #9

    Nihon Micom Kaihatsu was primarily a developer of arcade shoot 'em ups that dabbled at best with the consoles of its era. Fire Mustang, a modified version of their arcade game USAAF Mustang, was brought to the Mega Drive via friendly rivals Taito and remains NMK's only Sega credit.

  • First Appearance: 138 (King's Bounty: The Conqueror's Quest), Mega Archive #9

    New World Computing is a household name for CRPG nerds as they created the popular Might and Magic series and continued developing sequels for it until 1996, when they became part of the 3DO Company (which then kept making them). They personally ported the second M&M game to Mega Drive and the third to Sega CD. They also brought over MicroIllusions' top-down CRPG The Faery Tale Adventure as well as their proto-Heroes of Might and Magic strategy game King's Bounty, the latter of which is perhaps better known to modern players via its Steam reboots.

  • First Appearance: 140 (Star Control), Mega Archive #9

    Another company that is still around, Toys for Bob became famous for their Skylanders "toys-to-life" games but another lifetime ago they were the custodians of one of the greatest strategy space sim franchises: Star Control. The first game lacks the scope and personality of Star Control II, one of my favorite DOS games, but its relative simplicity works well enough as a console game. Though Star Control was their only Mega Drive title, they later came back for The Horde and Pandemonium! for Saturn.

  • First Appearance: 141 (Street Smart), Mega Archive #9

    Treco was briefly a subsidiary of Sammy that published Japanese games in the North American market. They were eventually absorbed back into Sammy, possibly becoming part of American Sammy. The Mega Drive port of Street Smart, a brawler with fighter game aspirations originally made by SNK, was their only known developer credit: every other Mega Drive game they were attached to was as a publisher only.

  • First Appearance: 145 (Sonic the Hedgehog), Mega Archive #9

    Perhaps the most famous of Sega's internal studios is Sonic Team, though they weren't officially known by that name until a few years later with the debut of NiGHTS Into Dreams for Saturn. Nonetheless, the developers of Sonic the Hedgehog have been retroactively referred to as Sonic Team ever since. Sonic Team is famous for more than just Sonic, of course, but there's no understating the importance of that franchise to Sega's peak in the '90s.

  • First Appearance: 153 (Blockout), Mega Archive #10

    California Dreams is an odd one. A branch of a US-based publishing house (perhaps obviously enough), it was actually established to help sell Polish-developed games to an American audience, in a sort of mirror to how Polish immigrants landing on Ellis Island would be asked to changed their names to something more "American". The actual developer of the Mega Drive Blockout game is P.Z. Karen, the Polish developer behind the sobriquet.

  • First Appearance: 160 (Turrican), Mega Archive #10

    With such a self-effacing name, you might not be surprised to learn that The Code Monkeys was a UK outfit. Dabbling in multiple platforms, they worked with Accolade on two Genesis games: a port of Turrican, a popular home computer shooter, and a licensed game based on the Van Damme movie Universal Soldier, which was actually just a reskin of a different Turrican game. We'll also see more games from them for the Sega CD and 32X.

  • First Appearance: 161 (Raiden Trad), Mega Archive #11

    I'm not wholly convinced second-string arcade developers Seibu Kaihatsu ("Seibu" is a reverse anglicisation of "save", and Kaihatsu means "development") were behind Raiden Trad, the home version of the first game in their long-running shoot 'em up franchise, but it's not clear which contract developer they hired to make the game otherwise. Micronets is the likeliest bet, as they were the publishers and the developers of the SNES version.

  • First Appearance: 166 (Fantasia), Mega Archive #11

    Professional supervillains Infogrames, before driving Atari's name into the ground as holding company Atari SA, were at one time France's biggest game developer and publisher. As a European, I can't count how many times I've booted up a game and seen that little rainbow-colored armadillo mascot of theirs. It wasn't until 1992's Alone in the Dark, one of the earliest survival horror games, that they really exploded and thus were still a relatively modest developer by the time they put out (briefly, since it wasn't cleared with Roy Disney and he forced a recall) a terrible Fantasia game in 1991 based on the not-terrible 1940 movie. The rest of their Mega Drive output were games based on francophone comic book properties like The Smurfs, Spirou, and Tintin. After the 16-bit era, they decided to buy every company going and turn into an all-devouring conglomerate blob, but that's a tale for another time.

  • First Appearance: 169 (Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin), Mega Archive #11

    The Sega Genesis owes more to Technopop than just games; the California-based independent developers also helped develop a lot of the system's tech, including the (largely maligned) GEMS sound driver and a proprietary Network Link Cable. Unfortunately, as far as games go, it was just the above Spider-Man game and the ahead-of-its-time FPS Zero Tolerance.

  • First Appearance: 171 (Vapor Trail), Mega Archive #11

    Has it really taken this long for a Data East developed game to appear? Though not the most widely beloved arcade game developer around, you can't fault Data East for being lazy. They produced what felt like a hundred games across various platforms during their time from the late '70s to the end of the millennium, and the Mega Archive has already seen several of their games either published by them or licensed with their permission. Vapor Trail was the first for which I could find an online consensus on Data East developing themselves. Some other Mega Drive games of theirs include: Atomic Runner, Side Pocket, Dashin' Desperadoes, and High Seas Havoc.

  • First Appearance: 172 (Quad Challenge), Mega Archive #11

    Now Production, also known as Nowpro, was a regular collaborator with Namco, helping them port a lot of their arcade games and creating sequels in their console-specific franchises. They've worked with other companies also, including Sega, Hudson, Capcom, Konami, Taito, and others. They still exist today, primarily working in the mobile market. As far as the Mega Drive is concerned, in addition to Quad Challenge they were also the developers behind other Namco enterprises Splatterhouses 2 & 3, and Rolling Thunder 3. After that, their next Sega-related collaboration was with Sonic Team on 2006's Sonic Riders, that incoherent hoverboard racing game.

  • First Appearance: 178 (Back to the Future Part III), Mega Archive #12

    Probe was another UK studio sucked up by the enormous red giant that was Acclaim shortly before it supernova'd and scattered a lot of prominent developers to the winds. Prior to that, Probe would frequently work with their future owners on licensed games and other detritus, but they had a few hits mixed in there. Most famous would probably be the Mega Drive ports of Mortal Kombat I and II they made on behalf of Midway, and Smash TV on behalf of Williams. It was one of the more prominent western developers on the Mega Drive, especially in the system's latter years in the mid-90s.

  • First Appearance: 179 (F-22 Interceptor), Mega Archive #12

    Ned Lerner created Lerner Research to pursue 3D simulation tech in the late '80s when it was still in its nascency, producing along the way a handful of state-of-the-art polygonal flight simulation games. The only one of these to appear on the Mega Drive was the F-22 Interceptor based on an aircraft which, similarly to the tech behind the game, was still mostly in its theoretical phase in 1991. Lerner would eventually co-found Blue Sky Productions (later Looking Glass Studios): the developers behind System Shock and Ultima Underworld.

  • First Appearance: 180 (Pac-Mania), Mega Archive #12

    Another eventual victim of the Acclaim "blob," Utah-based Sculptured Software has a spotty history as the original developers behind many 16-bit WWE (then WWF) and Simpsons licensed games. They also had some pretty well-regarded ports in their time, including Mortal Kombat 3 for Genesis. Their most infamous games include a trilogy of "edutainment" titles for SNES that included Captain Novolin and Rex Ronan - fortunately, Sega owners were spared these and had to get their diabetes and emphysema facts from pamphlets at the doctor's office like the rest of us.

  • First Appearance: 182 (Galaxy Force II), Mega Archive #12

    So, between 1984-2003 Sega was owned by a larger IT company named SCSK or CSK. This company had its own game division distinct from Sega named CSK Research at first, then later CRI, through which CSK would eventually create games on their subsidiary's 16-bit platform and Sega ports for other platforms. CRI was sort of like a cousin to Sega, or maybe a stepbrother, and generally more focused on research than releasing software. Eventually, it leveraged its experience porting Sega games to CD-ROM computers towards the development of the Sega Saturn, and CRI was eventually sold to Sega and folded into one of Sega's major divisions, Sega AM2. These days, CRI's best known for their video game middleware; their blue and white cuboid logo being a familiar sight in many modern games.

  • First Appearance: 185 (Master of Weapon), Mega Archive #12

    KID Corp, or simply KID, stands for Kindle Imagine Develop. Though they only released two Mega Drive games - Master of Weapon and Mystical Fighter - they were prominent on many other systems like the NES, Game Boy, SNES, and TurboGrafx CD. As far as Sega platforms go they were much more invested in the Sega Saturn, for which they produced over a dozen games almost all (if not all) of which were visual novels, including one called "6 Inch My Darling". Yikes. (It's about micro-sized Borrower type people, don't worry.)

  • First Appearance: 191 (ToeJam & Earl), Mega Archive #13

    Though Johnson-Voorsanger Productions is the name they had when they developed and launched ToeJam & Earl, the success of the game and its sequel prompted them to change it to ToeJam & Earl Productions. Like The One Ring, the new company was destroyed by the very fires that created them: the poor sales of ToeJam & Earl III (the 3D one) caused the company to close. The Johnson half of the above stayed in the industry, though, and through his new studio HumaNature put out a funky fresh TJ&E reboot in 2019.

  • First Appearance: 193 (Fatal Rewind), Mega Archive #13

    Another UK developer, this one hailing from Liverpool, Bizarre Creations went by "Raising Hell Productions" until they entered Sega's orbit and the latter pressured them to choose a name that would be less problematic for the Christian moms buying their games. Though their time with the Mega Drive was brief with but a handful of Amiga ports, they would rise to greater heights with the Project Gotham Racing games for Xbox, and possibly even more for the Geometry Wars series of abstract shoot 'em ups that spun-off a mini-game featured in PGR2. Sadly, the studio was closed by its parent company Activision in early 2011.

  • First Appearance: 194 (M-1 Abrams Battle Tank), Mega Archive #13

    Yet another UK studio, this time based in Leeds, Realtime Games Software was an early pioneer of 3D graphics in games, similar to contemporaries Argonaut Software. In fact, they helped port Argonaut's trailblazing wireframe shooter Starglider to other systems, as well as David Braben and Ian Bell's genre-defining space trader Elite for IBM PCs. Their own games included Carrier Command, in which the goal is to quickly conquer and industrialize an archipelago before a faster rival can out-produce you, and M-1 Abrams Battle Tank, a military tank sim which would be their only Mega Drive title. In an unusual coincidence, one of their earlier games was Starfox: an '87 shoot 'em up that forced Nintendo's SNES anthro space shooter (co-created by Argonaut) to change its name to Star Wing for European distribution.

  • First Appearance: 196 (StarFlight), Mega Archive #13

    Starting with a port of Binary Systems's proto-Mass Effect spacefaring RPG StarFlight (the intercap was added to the Genesis version), Californian studio BlueSky would become one of the system's more prolific western third-party developers. Though they produced their fair share of middling licensed games, BlueSky would also create favorites like Vectorman 1 and 2, the latter Joe Montana football games, the Jurassic Park game which squared off Dr. Alan Grant with a particularly cunning raptor, and the cyberpunk RPG Shadowrun. Their last Genesis game, World Baseball '98, was also one of the last official releases for the console. Despite leaving Sega on a relative high note, various problems precipitated the studio's closure in 2001.

  • First Appearance: 199 (Wonder Boy in Monster World), Mega Archive #13

    Westone is sometimes erroneously spelled West One - their portmanteau name is actually derived from the English words "west" and "stone", the Japanese versions of which can be found in the surnames of the founders. Westone's main claims to fame are the Wonder Boy games, most of which started in the arcades and were published by Sega. Because of Sega's brand ownership, other console versions of Wonder Boy had to change their name and often their sprite designs, the most famous example of which is Hudson's Adventure Island for the NES. Westone was happy enough to let Sega itself handle most of the Wonder Boy home console ports, but they took over for Wonder Boy in Monster World, the fifth game in the series. They would also create Monster World IV, a non-Wonder Boy spin-off exclusive to Mega Drive. Westone would eventually close its doors in 2014.

  • First Appearance: 200 (Shogi no Hoshi), Mega Archive #13

    Japanese developer Magical Company was previously known as Home Data, at least around the time they created their first Mega Drive game Shogi no Hoshi. Not a close Sega collaborator, they would only produce the aforementioned shogi game and a port of Activision's Shanghai II (which Activision purportedly did not care for) before leaving for greener pastures. They were more prominent in the arcades, the Super Famicom, and the Sony PlayStation where they produced a large number of titles based on parlor games (shogi and mahjong being most prominent).

  • First Appearance: 201 (Battle Master), Mega Archive #13

    The tragic (though some might say cathartic) rise and sudden collapse of UK developers Mirrorsoft, the spawn of tabloid newspaper peddlers the Mirror Group, meant that the mediocre action-strategy port of Battle Master was their only Mega Drive product. Acclaim later bought all the studio's assets, including its two publishing labels Arena Entertainment and Image Works.

  • First Appearance: 202 (Dark Castle), Mega Archive #13

    American company Three-Sixty Pacific were well-known to a certain subset of grognards for their many wargaming sims for home computers. At some point they took a break from the Pacific Theater and Vietnam to publish Silicon Beach's Dark Castle for its native Macintosh, and then later helped them out by developing its Genesis port. In 1994, Three-Sixty was acquired by Intracorp - the luminaries behind the William Shatner's TekWar FPS - before they too would go defunct a couple years later.

  • First Appearance: 208 (Shadow of the Beast), Mega Archive #14

    WJS Design, not to be confused with WWJS (What Would Jesus Script?) Design, was a UK developer on a platform increasingly lousy with them. Founded by Wayne Smithson - those are his initials in the company name - WJS grew from Smithson's early successes working with Psygnosis, gathering enough capital and credentials to create a small development team of his own. That relationship with Psygnosis presumably lead to WJS helping with the Mega Drive port of their Amiga/Atari ST hit Shadow of the Beast, originally developed by Reflections. Their last game for the Mega Drive was The Adventures of Mighty Max: one of those auspicious cases of a game based on a cartoon based on a toy line.

  • First Appearance: 210 (Ys III: Wanderers of Ys), Mega Archive #14

    So, obviously this isn't the Riot everyone knows today. Weren't a whole lot of League of Legends ports for Sega Genesis going out. This Riot is instead a subsidiary of Telenet Japan, also known as Nihon Telenet, a Japanese developer we covered a little further up this list. Telenet also used the labels Laser Soft and Renovation (for US releases) but I guess you can't have too many publishing labels. Riot's games were focused on 16-bit consoles like the Mega Drive and Mega CD, and were either Telenet properties or properties Telenet licensed from friendly non-console developers like Nihon Falcom.

  • First Appearance: 215 (Ransei no Hasha), Mega Archive #14

    There isn't a whole lot out there on the English internet about Japanese developer SPS but from what I can tell they were a company set up to create games on Sharp's home computers, most notably their 16-bit platform the Sharp X68000. Japanese Wikipedia even suggests the initials stood for "Sharp Program Service." Because the Mega Drive used the same microprocessor (the Motorola 68000) Sega would work out licensing deals to allow SPS to port Sega games to the X68000. In time, SPS returned the favor with a Mega Drive adaptation of SystemSoft's Tenka Touitsu series, which Asmik published. SPS is also credited for the Mega Drive port of SNK's kaiju brawler King of the Monsters, but that's the only other credit I can find.

  • First Appearance: 219 (Art Alive), Mega Archive #14

    Western Technologies was one of two companies that created "Art Alive", the quasi-paint tool for Genesis that predated Mario Paint by a few months. I mean, it's also a lot worse and doesn't have a music mixer, but at least you can drop stamps of Sonic and Toejam & Earl all over your controller-scribbled masterpieces. Western Technologies, true to its name, was far more invested in the tech behind various Genesis products: they had a hand in the devkits US developers used for Genesis games, and also contributed to Sega's Menacer light-gun peripheral.

  • First Appearance: 219 (Art Alive), Mega Archive #14

    Of Western Technologies and FarSight Studios, FarSight was the lesser known developer when Art Alive was published as it was their first or second game. However, they've proven to be the more tenacious of the two as they are still around today putting out bowling and pinball games for any platforms that will have them. While Art Alive and the distastrous Action 52 were inauspicious starts to their time with the Sega Genesis, they'd eventually become involved with some of the later EA NHL games. Personally, I'll always remember them for their sterling work on Color a Dinosaur.

  • First Appearance: 220 (Mario Lemieux Hockey), Mega Archive #14

    Speaking of hockey, Ringler Studios (formerly Alpine Studios) came right out of the gate with Mario Lemieux Hockey - a hockey game to challenge EA's early dominance with NHL - and stuck around for Batman: Revenge of the Joker (a 16-bit enhanced adaptation of the Sunsoft NES Batman: Return of the Joker, which was a sequel to their great '89 movie tie-in game) and was involved in the Genesis port of ClayFighter. Ringler Studios vanished in the mid-90s, and its founder Ed Ringler went on to other pursuits.

  • First Appearance: 221 (Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday), Mega Archive #15

    So this was a surprising name to see. Not that we haven't had a few CRPGs already, but Strategic Simulations, Inc. (or simply SSI) was for a time the official developer of D&D licensed games and ruled the roost with their Gold Box series for most of the late '80s. Pools of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Champions of Krynn, Gateway to the Savage Frontier; though fairly interchangeable, these venerable turn-based RPGs would define a whole generation of CRPGs and go on to influence many more, notably BioWare's Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Their only Genesis port is, alas, one of the Buck Rogers games: a bold effort to turn the 1920s sci-fi franchise into a marketable RPG series that didn't quite fly off the shelves as quickly as their other games.

  • First Appearance: 222 (California Games), Mega Archive #15

    Novotrade, which eventually became Appaloosa Interactive, began its Sega tenure with a port of Epyx's ubiquitous hacky-sack sim California Games but would become far more renowned for the Ecco the Dolphin franchise: to this day considered one of the most recognizable Sega Genesis exclusives and frequently part of any Genesis compilation worth its salt(water). Curiously, Novotrade was established in Hungary by the country's own government back when it was still trapped behind the iron curtain and in desperate need of foreign capital to stay afloat. The USSR's collapse and the independence gained by the Eastern Bloc allowed Novotrade's owners to migrate to sunny California. Alas, while Novotrade survived the cold war, it did not survive a mediocre PS2 Jaws tie-in released some mere thirty years after the movie and was either closed down or sold off to Eidos.

  • First Appearance: 223 (Chuck Rock), Mega Archive #15

    Core Design's another studio like Novotrade that found success with a later IP, but in its case this IP appeared long after their time with the Sega Mega Drive had come to an end. Based in the city of Derby almost smack dab in the middle of England, Core Design is famous for Tomb Raider: one of the most enduring video game franchises, featuring one of the most recognizable video game heroines. Even prior to that PS1-era breakout though, Core Design had its share of hits including the jovial (but hard rockin') prehistoric platformer Chuck Rock, the isometric heavy metal shooter Skeleton Krew, and the cyberpunk lycanthrope action game Wolfchild. Turns out you don't need conical boobs to put together an adequate adolescent fantasy.

  • First Appearance: 224 (Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe), Mega Archive #15

    If Core Design only hit their stride after the 16-bit era, The Bitmap Brothers were the opposite. They were the hottest shit growing up as an Atari ST owner, as their games exuded slickness between the detailed pixel art and licensed pop music. You generally didn't hear contemporary Billboard Top 40 tunes in games at that time, not without some heavy bleep-bloop modifications at least. Of course, despite the rave reviews each of their games received the jury was and is still out on whether any of these games were actually any good. I had a fondness for Magic Pockets and Cadaver but I wouldn't go so far to say either were worth playing today. Their most well-known game and the only one to make any kind of headway overseas was the violent basketball/football future sport sim Speedball 2, which took on even more sport team management aspects for the sequel. It was a fine fit for the Mega Drive at least, since it would also be the home of the thematically similar Mutant League games. In time, they would also port over their shoot 'em up Xenon 2: Megablast (I didn't care for it, but it had a perfect title for that console), the tough platformer Gods, and their top-down steampunk shooter The Chaos Engine.

  • First Appearance: 225 (Ninja Burai Densetsu), Mega Archive #15

    Mentioned above under the Sanritsu entry, but SIMS was a company co-founded by former Sanritsu staff and Sega that lasted right up until the end of Sega's role as a console maker. They developed original games as well as many conversions of Mega Drive and '90s arcade games to Sega's weaker systems, like the Master System and Game Gear. Their best known releases to Genesis fans are a couple of tennis games (including ATP Tour) and that brawler based on the Power Rangers movie, though they were busier as publishers.

  • First Appearance: 226 (Exile), Mega Archive #15

    More of a side-note than a full entry here, Micro Factory was a Japanese software developer based in Tokyo that was briefly acquainted with Telenet Japan, helping them and their subsidiary studio Riot with the Mega Drive port of the ambitious historical RPG Exile. Their website suggests they might still be around in some capacity, possibly making circuit boards and electronics for cars, but Exile was the only involvement they ever had with a Sega console game.

  • First Appearance: 229 (NHK Taiga Drama: Taiheiki), Mega Archive #15

    It's debatable whether or not "NHK Software" is a real thing, let alone the developer of any Mega Drive games, but they do appear to have an in-game credit. NHK (Nippon Housou Kyoukai) is Japan's public television broadcaster, analogous to the UK's BBC, and is known best for their "Taiga dramas": high-production prestige dramas that air yearly, with each season/year based on a new novel or dramatized historical reenactment. 1991's Taiheiki is set in the war-torn Japan of the 14th century, so NHK commissioned a bunch of "Nobunaga's Ambition" style strategy wargames based on it. At any rate, this tie-in adaptation is the only Mega Drive game they appear to be attached to.

  • First Appearance: 231 (Dahna: Megami Tanjou), Mega Archive #15

    Information Global Service, which might be one of the more generic company names on this list, was a Japanese game publisher that may or may not have dabbled in game development. Sources online seem torn on whether they developed Dahna or simply published it: the game's credits list a bunch of ex-Taito folk, who may have formed a brief start-up developer whose name has been lost to time. At any rate, this was the only Mega Drive game they were attached to in any role. They were a bit more prominent on the Mega Drive's rivals, however.

  • First Appearance: 232 (Double Dragon II: The Revenge), Mega Archive #15

    Hard to dig up too much info on Japanese developers PalSoft because by most accounts they only lasted a couple of years. What we do know is that they had a relationship with Technos Japan, as either a subsidiary or an associate more attuned to 16-bit game development, as they would port a few of Technos's bigger arcade games to the Mega Drive including Double Dragon II.

  • First Appearance: 233 (F1 Circus MD), Mega Archive #15

    Nihon Bussan, also known as Nichibutsu (which, to get technical for a moment, was their primary video game label rather than an alias), was a prolific Japanese developer that began developing games for the arcades way back in the 1970s along with the likes of Namco, Taito, and Sega itself. They didn't have quite as many headliners as those and other contemporaries though, and kept themselves operational through the usual methods: consistent quality output and just a little bit of porn on the side. Recall when I said Nichibutsu was their primary video game label? They had another one called Sphinx just for H-games. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to stay solvent. The founder Sueharu Torii decided to sell the entire Nichibutsu IP library to Hamster Corp (the Arcade Archives guys) and retire in 2014, which is about as happy an ending as you're going to get for a video game business I guess. (Since we're supposed to be talking about the Mega Drive here, I'll just say that F1 Circus MD was their only MD game. Another F1 Circus entry, F1 Circus CD, was their only Mega-CD game too. They had a bit more history with the Saturn, but most of their home console games were Nintendo affiliated.)

  • First Appearance: 234 (Nakajima Satoru Kanshuu F1 Grand Prix), Mega Archive #15

    In an unusual coincidence, Varie was another company known primarily for F1 games who decided to try releasing something on the Mega Drive platform in December '91. They stuck around a little longer than Nihon Bussan, with three F1 games from the same F1 Hero series (only the middle of which was localized, as Ferrari Grand Prix Challenge), but decided to stick with the Super Famicom from there on out, where they would also go on to make the earliest Shin Nippon (New Japan) Pro Wrestling games. They were poised to continue developing for the Sony PlayStation, but mysteriously vanished in 1997. Not that they were carried into the underworld by dead F1 racers or anything, they probably just ran out of money and quietly folded. It's a shame only a handful of companies have ever ended because of ghost problems.

  • First Appearance: 235 (Nobunaga no Yabou: Bushou Fuuunroku), Mega Archive #15

    Koei's one of the few names on this list that probably needs no introduction. Renowned for their dense strategy franchises Nobunaga's Ambition (Nobunaga no Yabou), Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sangokushi), Uncharted Waters (Daikoukai Jidai), and Aerobiz, these days they're best known by the double-barreled moniker Koei Tecmo and produce leagues of anime license games, jiggle physics fighters, and Musou brawlers. A '91 port of the third Nobunaga's Ambition was them dipping their toes into the Mega Drive's warm waters, and it was quickly followed by many more ports from their various other simulation enterprises.

  • First Appearance: 236 (Task Force Harrier EX), Mega Archive #15

    A mid-tier Japanese developer who wasn't credited very often, but due to the diligent work of GDRI has been shown to have been behind a great number of games for various publishers. Not so much on the Mega Drive though: Task Force Harrier EX, an NMK shoot 'em up port, is their only MD credit. Like many developers on this list, they made way more Super Famicom games. Fortunately for MD owners, most of those games were garbage pachinko sims that the MD was probably better off without.

  • First Appearance: 242 (Rings of Power), Mega Archive #16

    One of my favorite factoids about Naughty Dog, the developer of very serious prestige drama The Last of Us, is that one of their earliest games had a blonde in their logo that you could undress with a special cheat code. That game is actually Rings of Power, an isometric RPG inspired (to put it mildly) by J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels and the first console game Naughty Dog ever produced. It is also the only Sega console game they ever developed: after this, they created the much derided Mortal Kombat knock-off Way of the Warrior for 3DO and then became partners with Sony, with which they produced most of the games anyone knows them for today.

  • First Appearance: 248 (Alisia Dragoon), Mega Archive #16

    Game Arts is another developer like Wolf Team or Squaresoft where they tried their hand at a bunch of different genres before eventually making it big with RPGs. For Game Arts that big break came with Lunar (one of the Sega CD's earliest hits) and later Grandia. We're only covering the Mega Drive with this list, but their first developed Sega game was actually for the Sega CD: Tenka Fubu, a strategy game, released in December 1991. Alisia Dragoon released the following April, and while it wasn't a rousing success at launch it garnered enough of a cult fanbase to be selected for the Sega Genesis Mini library. After Alisia, they would predominantly remain a Sega CD/Sega Saturn developer.