This article is somewhat unusual in the fact that Culture Brain is among a large group of Japanese developers & publishers who had announced or officially confirmed titles in development for the Japanese Dreamcast. Realistically each individual developer had multiple complex reasons why they never managed to release any of their intended software for the system. This article will look at the four announced releases for the Dreamcast that Culture Brain had officially confirmed as in development for the system that ultimately went unreleased.
Culture Brain are a Japanese development & publishing studio that were established on the 5th of October ’80 and were initially based in the Sumida-Ku district of Tokyo, Japan. The early focus for the company was the importation & exportation of video game software as well as designing and publishing their own titles. Around the turn of the millennium the company seems to have been become somewhat defunct with no further software releases attributed to the company.
The company also operated a game development educational facility called the Culture Brain Art Institute which seems to have been in operation till sometime in 2003. Below you’ll find the official archived Culture Brain Art Institute which is still navigable and provides information about the available curriculum. © 2000 CULTURE BRAIN INC. All rights reserved.
After the closure of the Culture Brain Art Institute i cant find any trace of the company. I’ve been unable to find any software titles attributed to the company until ’16 where it was widely reported in the specialised media that the company had changed their name to Culture Brain Excel. Truthfully, i’m not convinced that the company hadn’t become defunct sometime before ’16 and another company bought the intellectual property rights to their catalogue. The last updated version of the former Culture Brain website has upcoming games removed from the listings as well as announced titles for the PlayStation 2 which were never released. The current incarnation of the company makes no mention of the previous history of Culture Brain just that the new version was established in 2016.
The current incarnation of the company does use some of the former Culture Brain titles updated for modern platforms. Culture Brain Excel is currently focused on developing & publishing software for Nintendo platforms such as the 3DS & Wii U systems mainly as downloadable titles for those systems. The current incarnation of the company is linked to below © Culture Brain Excel.
Personally, i’m completely unfamiliar with any of Culture Brain’s published output. Many of the company’s titles were erroneously reported to be Dreamcast bound by various media outlets of the time. For this article i’ll concentrate on the four announced titles that the company had in development for the Dreamcast. Culture Brain was already a licensed Sega developer as they had previously published プロ指南麻雀 ‘兵’ for Professional Mahjong: Tsuwamono for the Sega Saturn on the 8th of July ’99 which was a late release for the system. While there’s no official confirmed date or information about when Culture Brain became a licensed Dreamcast developer but i’d imagine it’ll have been sometime in early ’98. The first announced title from Culture Brain was scheduled to be published in April ’99 which would’ve meant the company was developing on two Sega hardware generations the Saturn & Dreamcast concurrently.
Culture Brain had the official Sega catalogue designation of T-3850- which like most other previous Sega publishers they would’ve probably kept that designation for the company’s intended Dreamcast titles.
The first of Culture Brain’s titles which were announced for the Dreamcast was フライングドラゴンフィストシーケンス (仮題) or Flying Dragon Fist Sequence (tentative title). The game was officially confirmed to be released on the Dreamcast at the Sega New Challenge Conference ’99 where it received a positive reception. Unfortunately, after the games reveal at the event the information about the game became sparse and the game missed its intended April ’99 release date. The only other information about the game was it’s genre which was ‘Fighting’ and its planned retail price of ¥4,800.
The next title that Culture Brain planned to release on the Dreamcast was seemingly a multi format port that was related to the previously mentioned フライングドラゴンフィストシーケンス (仮題) title. SD飛龍の拳伝説EX or SD Flying Dragon Fist Legend EX was to be a SD (Super Deformed) game based in the same universe as the aforementioned title. A title with the same name as the intended Dreamcast version was released on the Nintendo Gameboy. A Nintendo 64 game SD飛龍の拳伝説 which while not having the EX moniker seems to be a similar title to the planned Dreamcast version.
While the game was to be a multi format title only the Gameboy version was released but apparently, the game was in development for both the Sony PlayStation & Sega Dreamcast. With Culture Brain’s previous experience with developing on the Playstation hardware and the ease of converting from the PlayStation to the Dreamcast i’d imagine in all likelihood the PlayStation would’ve been the lead platform. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons the PlayStation iteration of the game was cancelled sometime during the titles development which had the knock on effect of the intended subsequent Dreamcast conversion being abandoned. I did try to research the planned PlayStation version to see if their was any information about how far along in development might have got but like the Dreamcast conversion apart from the games announcement there’s nothing else.
Unlike the company’s previous two earlier titles that were canceled sometime in the development process the last two titles were much nearer to release if not already completed. The last title to be announced was realistically intended to be the first of Culture Brain’s published titles for the Dreamcast. プロ指南麻雀「兵（つわもの) “DX” 通信対応 or Pro Mahjong Tsuwaono “Military” DX and according to Sega it was set to be released in the fall of ’00 and was provisionally set to retail for ¥4,800 & was to come with a 240 Dream Point voucher.
プロ指南麻雀「兵（つわもの) “DX” was to be part of the long running and successful pro Mahjong Tsuwaono series. Culture Brain had already released a previous instalment of the series on the Sega Saturn. Obviously with Mahjong in the title the game is unsurprisingly a Mahjong title i’m not sure what the ‘DX’ subtitle implied but i’m confident that the communication correspondence in the games title meant that the game was planned to take full advantage of the Dreamcast’s online connectivity. With the possibility of online multiplayer a first for the series i assume the game would’ve been quite a competitive Mahjong title for the Dreamcast.
With the amount of official information about the game from both Sega & Culture Brain i’m convinced that while not the earliest announced title it was set to be their first published game on the Dreamcast. It’s very likely if this was to be the case then it’s intended catalogue code would’ve almost certainly been T-38501M. Culture Brain’s site has luckily been partially archived and i’ve linked to their new & upcoming release list which includes the Dreamcast version of pro Mahjong Tsuwaono ‘DX’. © 2000 CULTURE BRAIN INC All Rights Reserved.
The forth and last title Culture Brain had in development for the Dreamcast was メルティースクール (仮題) or Renai Mahjong Melty School (temporary title). The official Sega site lists more information about the game with it’s genre listed as ‘Table’ which is unsurprising due to it being a Mahjong game. It was set to be published again in the Autumn of ’00 & retail for ¥4,800 and once again come with a 240 Dream Point voucher. Due to the fact Renai Mahjong Melty School is listed after Pro Mahjong Tsuwaono “Military” DX i personally believe that if it had been released its catalogue number would’ve been T-38502M. The games entry is archived below on the official Culture Brain website where its listed as an upcoming title. © CULTURE BRAIN INC
I can find no announcement of either プロ指南麻雀「兵 ‘DX’ or メルティースクール cancelation by Culture Brain or Sega. The fact that both titles were both Mahjong titles planned to be released around the same time doesn’t seem a particularity sound business strategy i’m sure one of the titles would’ve been postponed to allow the other to achieve maximum sales potential. Also the fact that upcoming PlayStation 2 titles were the last announced games by Culture Brain and were subsequently unreleased points to Culture Brain ceasing Software development until their reincarnation as Culture Brain Excel in 2016.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article on Culture Brain and their intended Dreamcast output. If you can provide any information about the company especially about the time frame in late ’00 to the renewal in 2016 i’d really appreciate it. As always you can contact me either direct through the site or on Twitter @dreamcastcollector.