Panasonic Wondertainment Co., Ltd/Sega Enterprises Co., Ltd/Mebius

After the cancellation of the Panasonic M2 project a year later the in house Panasonic development team Team P Wonder announced their decision to develop titles for other platforms such as the Japanese computer market as well as providing content for internet networks. According to their archived official website Panasonic Wondertainment had stopped all game software development in June of 1999. Below is the remnants of their official site where they announce that Panasonic Wonder entainment will be closed. Copyright 1999 by Panasonic Wondertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved

https://web.archive.org/web/20000510040931/http://www.pwi.co.jp:80/top.html

The company transitioned into Panasonic Digital Networkserve in September 1999 and continued to develop MPEG software as well as other similar computer utilities. Below is their archive site where they acknowledge their customers from the old company Panasonic Wondertainment. (C) 2000,1999 Panasonic Digital NetworkServe Inc.

https://web.archive.org/web/20000709194639/http://www.networkserve.co.jp:80/mpeg/index.html

Panasonic Wondertainment developed one title on the Dreamcast and that was WEB MYSTERY 予知夢ヲ見ル猫 or WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO which was released on the 22nd of April 1999 and retailed for ¥5,800. Below i’ve linked to a Gamespot Japan article about the games announcement. Copyright (c) 1998 by SOFTBANK Corporation. All rights reserved.

http://web.archive.org/web/19990428100339/http://www.zdnet.co.jp:80/gamespot/news/9812/25/news02.html

The above announcement was made on the 25th of December 1998 and according to Panasonic Wondertainment they were looking to release WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO in March of 1999 on the Dreamcast. Web Mystery is a very hard title to get any concrete information on especially from officially confirmed sources.

Web Mystery YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO is a Full Motion Video title which was a very popular style of game in the early to mid nineties that rather unusually for these titles has a very high production value especially from as the genre was generally considered to be out of fashion by the turn of the millennium when Web Mystery was released. The cost of shooting the games video sequences must have been very expensive as the games video footage was filmed on location in three different countries Japan, Hong Kong & South Korea.

Before the titles release everything about the game listed Panasonic Wondertainment as the development studio & Sega Enterprises Co., Ltd as the games publisher. This is confirmed by the games announcement linked to above and a Dream Preview disc that features content relating to the game & the sample jacket that was printed for the title which notes the game being developed by Team P Wonder an in house Panasonic development team. Everything points to the game as being developed by Panasonic Wondertainment through the Team P Wonder development team and Sega as the publishing partner. The retail version of WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO is copyrighted to Mebius on all the games packaging and even the title screen simply shows © Mebius with no date and with nothing relating to either Team P Wonder or Panasonic Wondertainment or Sega. If i didn’t own the Dream Preview disc and sample cover i’d never know the game had such a strange development and publishing history.

Mebius themselves are an enigma they only seemed to have published two titles WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO & Goraku Ou Tango! on the Dreamcast and Wonderswan respectively. Interestingly both games were published in the same month with Goraku Ou Tango! being released on the 1st of April 1999 and WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO on the 22nd of April 1999.

I’ve searched fruitlessly in trying to locate Mebius that released WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO & Goraku Ou Tango! While i’ve unearthed plenty of Japanese development studios named Mebius none are responsible for publishing the two games its like they’ve simply vanished without a trace.

Panasonic Wondertainment were obviously a licensed Sega developer who due to unforeseen circumstances exited game software development during the time when WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO was nearing release. In a very short space of time all trace of Panasonic Wondertainment’s & Sega’s involvement in WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO was removed and replaced by Mebius. Even if Mebius stepped in to publish the game due to unforeseen circumstances the game would still be attributed to being developed by Panasonic Wondertainment which on the retail version of the game it isn’t.

Stranger still is games catalog code the sample cover lists it as T-38901 which is not attributed to any developer i suspect it was to be a Panasonic catalog code for comparison the retail release is T-39501M which is a new code that is reserved for Mebius.

The story in WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO is quite unusual especially for the time as it centres around an internet bar called Meisen. The game begins on november the 20th and you play as the protagonist Kei a newly freelance programer and you start the game by visiting Meisen and after meeting a bartender named Mio you set up a membership you gain access to the network terminals at the bar.  Soon afterwards you receive a strange email link from a nefarious individual called DOG and when you click the link it takes you to the Cat’s Eyes website where you get to watch DOG’S message which is someone being murdered. After you’ve watched the video you are shown some still pictures and you need to pick the one that relates to the video DOG has sent you.

The game is essentially a mix of watching the clips sent from DOG to using the virtual in-game internet that you use to advance the story. The game doesn’t actually use a real internet browser but rather one created for the game and made to represent you the protagonist using the terminal at Meisen. There are a vast range of subjects with multiple entries in different categories but the clues your given to continue the story are rather obvious in their nature.

Perhaps most surprisingly of all is the fact the game doesn’t look or feel dated as much as you’d think despite being nearly twenty years old. The game also features around fifty actors in its production which is a lot considering that FMV titles normally only have around five or so and this helps to give a sense of realism especially combined with the location shots.

With the game being set around the christmas holidays its atmosphere definitely makes it feel slightly surreal with the cheery background music playing in Meisen all the while you’re being sent grisly video’s of people being murdered. Web Mystery is definitely not a game that embodies the christmas holiday spirit.

Web Mystery has very high production values with some of the best FMV on the Dreamcast the game also has static images and these are again high quality. Overall WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO is linear and was fairly easy to complete. Once you’ve completed the game theres no real replay value to speak off the game doesn’t feature branching paths or different endings.

 

T-39501M WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO

 

Front

 

T-39501M Web Mystery: Yochi Yume o Kenru Neko Front

T-39501M WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO Front

Back

T-39501M Web Mystery: Yochi Yume o Kenru Neko back

T-39501MWEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO back

 

SAMPLE covers

 

Sample  T-38901 WEB MYSTERY

 

Front

 

SAMPLE T-39501M Web Mystery: Yochi Yume o Kenru Neko front

SAMPLE T-38901 Web Mystery front

 

The sample cover is not quite so cropped and omits the content warning logo. The Mebius logo is completely absent replaced by Team P wonder which is an in house Panasonic development team. Also of note is the catalog code T-38901 while the retail version is T39501M.

 

Back

SAMPLE T-39501M Web Mystery: Yochi Yume o Kenru Neko back

SAMPLE T-38901 Web Mystery back

Almost a completely different back cover. The sample has the same list of supported items but lists 50 VMU blocks by comparison to the retail versions 12 blocks. Notice the different screen shots and the Team P wonder logo. The copyright on the retail version is Mebius while the sample credits Panasonic Wondertainment inc./SEGA ENTERPRISES.LTD.

 

(NOT FOR SALE) 非売品 discs & other media

 

I personally don’t know of any individual 非売品 disc’s relating to WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO the only content i could find about the game was on one of the Dream Preview discs which lists it as being attributed to Panasonic Wondertainment inc & SEGA ENTERPRISES.LTD rather than Mebius. I’m not sure if the change in publisher affected the chance of a 非売品 disc being released for it or not.

The only other media i could find for Web Mystery was an official soundtrack.

 

WEB MYSTERY ~ Yochi Yume o Kenru Neko ~ Original Soundtrack

WEB MYSTERY Original Soundtrack (c) 1999 Rock Records.Ltd

 

WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO Original Soundtrack is a 1 disc 22 track audio CD enhanced with video files it was released by Rock Records (Rock Music Publishing Co., Ltd) on the 19th of June 1999 and retailed for a currently unknown amount. The CD’s catalog code is RCCX-1001 and its Jan code is 4516192110176.

Thanks for taking the time to read this entry on WEB MYSTERY YOCHIMU WO MIRU NEKO if you can add anything i’ve missed about either the history of how the game changed publishers or Mebius themselves please get in contact either through the site or on Twitter @dreamcastcollector.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s