RANDOM HOUSE Co., Ltd

RANDOM HOUSE logo © Random House

RANDOM HOUSE logo © Random House

Random House Co., Ltd are a recently defunct Japanese development and publishing studio that was superseded by Yuki Enterprise Co.,Ltd. The company was originally founded by Kazuro Morita on the 15th of April 1984. At the time of their Dreamcast releases Random House were based in Tsurugashima City in the Saitama district of Honshu, Japan. Kazuro Morita was well renowned in Japan for the Shogi titles that bear his name hence the ‘Morita’ in the titles of the Shogi software his company’s published. The first instance of which that bears his name was developed for early Japanese computer systems. Random House & later Yuki Enterprise continued to develop entries in the series for both the Japanese computer market and later home consoles starting with the release of 森田将棋 or Morita Shogi on the Nintendo Famicom. The series continued through successive hardware generations with the last major instalments being developed for the Dreamcast & PlayStation 2 systems respectively.

Yuki Enterprise logo Copyright (C) 2000 悠紀エンタ-プライズ All rights reserved.

Yuki Enterprise logo Copyright (C) 2000 悠紀エンタ-プライズ All rights reserved.

In ’98 Yuki Enterprise Co., Ltd was founded with the aim to transfer all of the intellectual rights of Random House to Yuki Enterprise and commercialise the former company’s published software. Random House’s founder Morita Kazuro and all it’s staff transferred over to the new company. Once this was achieved on the 10th of February ’99 Yuki Enterprise was established at the site of their former company offices.

While Random House’s site has only been partially archived a lot of information pertaining to the company has been lost to time. I’m uncertain when the company actually became a licensed Dreamcast developer but i’d assume in all likelihood would’ve been sometime around ’97-’98. Yuki Enterprise helpfully list on their archived site that they became licensed Dreamcast publishers on the 11th of June ’99. Below is the archived official Yuki Enterprise profile that provides this information. Copyright (C) 2000 悠紀エンタ-プライズ All rights reserved.

http://web.archive.org/web/20010311153200fw_/http://www.yuki-web.co.jp:80/plofile.htm

The reason i’ve included this is actually quite important although Yuki Enterprise owned the intellectual rights to publish Random House’s titles having previously transferred the rights from their previous company’s incarnation. At the time of Yuki Enterprise’s two Dreamcast titles they weren’t actually licensed Dreamcast developers so the two titles in question were published under the Random House moniker as Random House were still licensed Dreamcast publishers.

Helpfully Yuki Enterprise themselves provide an explanation of the transition from their previous incarnation of Random House to the new brand of Yuki Enterprise. They also outline the slight name change for the Morita Shogi series. Below i’ve reproduced the explanation. Copyright(C) 2000 All rights reserved.

悠紀エンタ-プライズ 今回より販売・営業を?ランダムハウスより派生した新会社 ?悠紀エンタープライズに移しました。このことと共に、過去の「森田将棋シリーズ」から新名称「森田和郎の最強将棋」と改めまして、以前よりまして強力でお客様にもお勧め易い商品にいたします。本商品はこの新シリーズの第1段となります。

Researching both Random House & Yuki Enterprise the later seems to have split with some employees forming a new company called EXAMU, Inc. EXAMU is primarily focused on developing fighting genre titles for the amusement industry. EXAMAU are still currently active and are currently attempting to crowdfund their latest title which is an instalment of the Arcana Heart franchise.

Unfortunately, Yuki Enterprise themselves appear to have recently ceased operation. The last published title attributed to the company was for the Android platform. For the last few years of the company’s existence Yuki Enterprise seemingly concentrated on titles for the mobile market. The company was still mainly developing ‘Table’ genre titles which included Mahjong & Reversi as well as the series that defined the company the long running Morita Shogi franchise.

Morita no Saikyou Shogi logo ©1999 RANDOMHOUSE

Morita no Saikyou Shogi logo ©1999 RANDOMHOUSE

The first title that Random House published on the Dreamcast was 森田の最強将棋 or Morita no Saikyou Shogi on the 15th of April ’99 & it retailed for ¥5,800. The game was unsurprising given its title was a Shogi game and it’s genre was listed as ‘Table’. Morita no Saikyou Shogi’s entry on the Dreamcast catalogue is linked to below. ©RANDOMHOUSE 1999

http://web.archive.org/web/20140806101301/http://sega.jp/dc/990202/

Morita no Saikyou Shogi as its name suggests is a Shogi title which is perhaps better known as Japanese Chess and at the time of the games release it would’ve been considered the definitive version of Morita’s Shogi. The game has numerous enhancements compared to the previous instalments of the series but the main selling point was the complex algorithm that the software used which learnt and adapted to your playing style. Unusually the game was subsequently ported to Japanese home computers running Windows 95/98 a month after the Dreamcast version was released. There were plenty of computer titles ported to the Dreamcast but not many ported from the Dreamcast especially so early in the systems lifespan to the computer platform so Morita no Saikyou Shogi is somewhat unusual in that respect. The game was again ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2000.

Honestly, I’m not familiar enough with Shogi in general to determine if the game is a good example of the genre. I’d expect with the reputation of Random House’s previous titles i would expect it to be a competent simulation of the genre. The first thing that stands out about Morita no Saikyou Shogi is the games audio & visual presentation. Rather than software released in ’99 for the most advanced console of the era Morita no Saikyou Shogi could easily pass for a game released a decade earlier in ’89. To Shogi genre enthusiasts i’m sure the titles graphical presentation really doesn’t matter but to newcomers to the genre it’s quite shocking just how basic it actually is. Random House tasked the power of the Dreamcast to develop algorithms allowing complex competitive computer opponent’s rather than flashy graphical tricks.

One aspect that is quite surprising about Morita no Saikyou Shogi is the fact the game doesn’t support any network features including online multiplayer. Which for a ‘Table’ genre title is somewhat unusual especially since the computer version of the game that was released a month later did feature full network support. Pure speculation on my part but the Japanese home computer was Random House’s staple market and the company was probably concerned that the Dreamcast iteration of the game might have cannibalised sales of the computer version. The Dreamcast version of Morita no Saikyou Shogi was significantly cheaper at ¥5,800 compared with ¥12,800 for the Windows version. Both versions were identical apart from network functions so perhaps the Dreamcast version’s network mode was omitted to justify the computer versions higher price point.

Yuki Enterprise also maintained an archived entry for Morita no Saikyou Shogi on the Dreamcast and that is presented below. Copyright (C) 2000 悠紀エンタ-プライズ All rights reserved

http://web.archive.org/web/20010317235124/http://www.yuki-web.co.jp:80/syohin/gazou/dc/shougi/DCSHO01.html

Morita no Saikyou Reversi ©1999 RANDOMHOUSE

Morita no Saikyou Reversi logo ©1999 RANDOMHOUSE

The second and final title published by Random House for the Dreamcast was 森田の最強 Reversi or Morita no Saikyou Reversi which was released on the same day as their previous title. Once again it was released on the 15th of April but unlike Morita no Saikyou Shogi, Morita no Saikyou Reversi was priced as a budget title at ¥2,800. Reversi is better known as ‘Othello’ so if your familiar and have an interest in the genre you’ll have no problems getting to grips with Morita no Saikyou Reversi. I’ve linked to the games entry on the Dreamcast catalogue below if you’d like more technical information. ©RANDOMHOUSE 1999

http://web.archive.org/web/20140806101313/http://sega.jp/dc/990201/

My impressions of the game echo my thoughts of Random House’s previous title. While Morita no Saikyou Reversi seems to be a competently made version of Othello it depends on your enthusiasm for the game. Personally, i haven’t played the physical version of the game since childhood so a digital representation of the game didn’t really appeal to me. Obviously, i acquired a copy of the game for completeness sake but you’ll have to make your own mind up if you need a Othello title for your Dreamcast collection.

Like the company’s previous release Morita no Saikyou Reversi was ported to Windows 95/98 computers exclusively for the Japanese market. Unlike Morita no Saikyou Shogi the computer version was released significantly after the Dreamcast incarnation being published in February 2000. I suspect that the transition from Random House to Yuki Enterprise probably adversely effected the intended release of the computer version. Random House’s official site for the Dreamcast version of the game is linked to below. (c) 1999 Random House Co., Ltd All rights reserved.

http://web.archive.org/web/20000919194552/http://www.randomhouse.co.jp:80/sub/seihin/reversi.htm

While Random House through their successor company Yuki Enterprise didn’t actually publish anymore software for the Dreamcast they continued developing software for the system. They were the development studio behind all six incarnations of the NET @ Versus series of games that were published by Atmark Corporation. This series of games were all of the ‘Table’ genre exactly Yuki Enterprise’s specialty. Yuki Enterprise were also involved in the development of Idea Factory’s RUN= DIM as Black Soul but I’m unaware in what capacity.

SEGA SMASHPACK Volume 1 @ 2000, 2001 SEGA Corporation

SEGA SMASHPACK Volume 1 © 2000, 2001 SEGA Corporation.

The last development duties that the company were accredited with on the Dreamcast is probably the most interesting. Kazuro Morita the company’s founder is credited as the programmer behind the Mega Drive emulator that the North  American Sega Smash Pack Volume 1 while the development  studio is listed as Yuki Enterprise. Below is a picture of the North American Sega Smash Pack Volume 1 manual’s credits page which lists both Kazuro Morita & Yuki Enterprise.

The North American only release of the Sega Smashpack volume 1 with its Mega Drive emulator as developed by Kazuro Morita and his studio Yuki Enterprise.

The North American only release of the Sega Smashpack volume 1 with its Mega Drive emulator as developed by Kazuro Morita and his studio Yuki Enterprise. © dreamcastcollector

According to the Sega Smash Pack Volume 1 manuals credits the entire emulator development team only consisted of just four people. I’m unaware how Yuki Enterprise came to be chosen to develop the Mega Drive emulator. Honestly, I don’t think the answer will ever be known due to the company becoming defunct and the general lack of information about the actual emulator itself.

 

T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi

 

Front

 

T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi front

T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi front

Back

T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi back

T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi back

 

T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi

 

Front

 

T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi front

T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi front

Back

T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi back

T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi back

 

SAMPLE covers

 

SAMPLE T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi

 

Front

 

SAMPLE T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi front

SAMPLE T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi completely different front cover which i think is much more appealing than the released version. front

Back

SAMPLE T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi back

SAMPLE T-39101M Morita no Saikyou Shogi back

 

SAMPLE T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi

 

Front

 

SAMPLE T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi front

SAMPLE T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi front

Back

SAMPLE T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi back

SAMPLE T-39102M Morita no Saikyou Reversi back

 

(NOT FOR SALE) 非売品 discs & other media

 

Honestly, i wouldn’t expect any individual 非売品 disc’s for either of Random House’s titles simply due to the fact the company was basically defunct and it’s successor Yuki Enterprise simply used the brand to enable it to publish their already developed titles. So its quite a shock to actually have a 非売品 disc for Morita no Saikyou Reversi which was the budget release of Random House’s two titles. If the company did want to promote their titles you’d expect if a ‘Not for Sale’ disc was to exist it’d be for the popular Morita no Saikyou Shogi rather than a budget title. While i don’t have a disc for Morita no Saikyou Shogi it just might exist. My copy of the Morita no Saikyou Reversi 非売品 disc is presented below.

610-7132 Morita no Saikyou Reversi

610-7132 Morita no Saikyou Reversi

I’ve been unable to track down any media whatsoever relating to Random House’s Dreamcast releases. I’m unsure what might exist if anything as the transfer of ownership between Random House & Yuki Enterprise probably put paid to merchandise being released under the Random House brand.

I appreciate you taking the time to read about Random House’s contribution to the Dreamcast library if i have missed anything you feel is important or can help with Yuki Enterprise’s involvement with the Megadrive emulator please contact me through the site or on Twitter @dreamcastcollector

 

 

 

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