General Entertainment were a Japanese multimedia studio who were primarily involved in the Japanese television & film industry but also developed and published game software as well as various computer applications exclusively for the Japanese market. According to the company’s archived site General Entertainment were established in March of ’94 and at the time of the company’s dreamcast releases they were based in the Roppongi Minato-Ku district of Tokyo, Japan.
General Entertainment wouldn’t be called a prolific developer or indeed publisher they did however release titles for both the Sega Saturn & the Sony PlayStation which were mainly predominantly cinematic FMV genre titles. Probably the best known title that the company developed would’ve been ‘Alive’ on the PlayStation which was released two months before General Entertainment’s first Dreamcast title. Sometime in ’03 General Entertainment changed focus and moved away from developing consumer software to concentrating on their television & film production and distribution business.
Sadly General Entertainment filed for bankruptcy on the 12th of August ’11 with debts amounting to nearly 200 million yen. Below you’ll find an article from JC-NET which covers General Entertainment’s impending demise. Copyright © 2009 JC-NET（ジェイシーネット)All Rights Reserved.
When researching companies for their respective articles for the site sometimes i uncover more questions than answers. General Entertainment fits neatly into this category as how did a relatively small development studio manage to end up developing half the Japanese Dreamcast’s launch titles?. It still seems a remarkable feat that Sega would entrust so much to one company at a pivotal time for the company.
One answer that might possibly at least explain why Sega thought that General Entertainment would make a good development studio to partner with was according to the company’s homepage some of its staff were former Sega employees. They had worked on prestigious titles like Sega Rally & Panzer Dragoon amongst others. Sega were undoubtedly looking for a familiar reliable partner to help develop the first iteration of Dreamcast software and a studio that was made up of predominantly former employees would understand the standard Sega were striving for.
While General Entertainment developed two of the four Japanese launch titles they only actually self published one of them. The other of their developed launch titles was ゴジラ ジェネレーションズ or Godzilla Generations which was actually published by Sega themselves. General Entertainment continued to develop on the Dreamcast and developed the sequel to their previous Sega published title Godzilla Generations entitled ゴジラジェネレーションズ マキシマムインパクト or Godzilla Generations Maximum Impact which was once again published by Sega of Japan
General Entertainment’s one and only self-published title for the Dreamcast was ペンペン トライアイスロン or Pen Pen Trilcelon which was released on the 27th of November ’98 & retailed for ¥5,800. The game was i believe the only title of General Entertainment’s published software catalogue that was released outside of Japan. It saw a release in both Europe & North America where it was published by Inforgrames in both territories. Linked to below is the games entry on the archived Dreamcast catalogue. © GE 1998 / SEGA
One unsubstantiated fact that cropped up during my research of General Entertainment & Pen Pen Trilcelon in general was that apparently to meet the Dreamcast’s launch date the development of Pen Pen Trilcelon was completed in just two months. I’d like to be able to confirm this either way but with the demise of General Entertainment it looks like it probably will never get resolved if this was actually the case or not.
Another strange twist of fate and one that is easily missed by most people who’ve actually played the game happens at random intervals during gameplay. Sometimes before your chosen mode you might get a screen that relates information about the various Pen Pen characters. While this in itself might not seem odd it does have something of an anomaly as it states Team Land-Ho! presents 1998 and has a familiar Land-Ho! logo.
Land-Ho! if your not aware is an active Japanese development and publishing studio that was formed by the former Sega employees who subsequently worked at General Entertainment. Possibly Land-Ho were the actual in-house development team behind Pen Pen Trilcelon at General Entertainment and a year after Pen Pen Trilcelon’s Japanese release in ’99 they departed to form their own company which ironically was called Land-Ho! Ironically Land-Ho! makes no mention of ever have been involved in the development of Pen Pen Trilcelon on their site.
The company continued development on the Dreamcast with ビつく ダービー馬をつくろう! better known as the Let’s Make a Derby Horse as well as its sequel. These were the company’s first titles under their own Land-Ho! brand name both of which were published by Sega exclusively in Japan. In fact, Land-Ho! remained as the franchises main developer with entries over multiple systems. Once i’ve written the article which covers their output i’ll include a link back to this entry for completeness sake.
Land-Ho (link not active)
Before i begin my thoughts on Pen Pen Trilcelon i have to gratefully thank some members of the Galaxy Sega Facebook page who without their help i wouldn’t have been able to play the game. Pen Pen Trilcelon is if not unique certainly is amongst a very small number of Japanese Dreamcast titles which fails to load if the console is connected by the official European SCART cable. I’ve never encountered this before but i do believe the Japanese version of Giga Wing suffers from the same problem however i’ve personally not experienced it for myself. The European version of Giga Wing does support SCART i don’t own the European version of Pen Pen Trilcelon so i’m unable to confirm if it supports the SCART cable or not. Once i’ve been able to confirm either way i’ll update this section.
Pen Pen Trilcelon takes place on the ‘Iced Planet’ where strange anamorphic penguin animal hybrid type creatures live. Once a year all the Pen Pen’s gather together to compete in the Trilcelon race hence the games title. The Trilcelon is an unusual race in which the three event’s competitors compete in feature waddling, sliding on their bellies & swimming all of which are second nature for a penguin but not normally found in a racing title.
Pen Pen Trilcelon is a very well presented game which even if the rumours of its development being completed in just two months is unsubstantiated the game features a level of polish that far exceeds most western first generation developed titles for the Dreamcast. The game makes use of a bright colourful palette with some nice environmental effects on the games courses.
The game can’t be considered a particularly long title and only features four courses. The courses themselves are just as strange as the rest of the games design and unusually have owners which is a somewhat odd design choice for a racing title. Sadly, while the course owners seem to be well designed characters you’re unable to unlock them or even play as them. Perhaps General Entertainment had thought about their inclusion but wasn’t able to implement them especially if the very short development schedule is to be believed.
The games four courses in chronological order are ‘Sweets’ which is owned by Mrs. Cream & ‘Jungle’ which is owned by Unga Pogo. The penultimate courses is ‘Toys’ and its owner is the slightly terrifyingly named ‘Bambi Mask’ and the final course is ‘Horror’ which is run by the similarly named Horror Man. Each of the four courses has initially three different event routes to race on which add more events and longer tracks which represent easy, medium & hard routes.
To counter the games brevity and add some longevity to Pen Pen Trilcelon General Entertainment added cosmetic rewards in the way of dress up items as an incentive for winning races. These range as separate individual items to outfits for your Pen Pen to wear. The unlockable items don’t offer any status bonuses but do provide a welcome incentive to keep playing the game.
The game also features a time trial mode which is exactly as its name suggests you might find it useful to practice certain routes but it’s not a mode i personally tend to use. This just leaves Pen Pen Trilcelon’s multiplayer mode which supports up to four participant’s. I’d describe this mode as chaotic fun although its rarely used. It’s probably best to let people experience the strangeness of the game for themselves as the initial confusion soon gives way to a scramble to adjust to the different control schemes for the events.
Realistically Pen Pen Trilcelon is a fun diversion which suffers from a lack of content. The game is strange in both its concept and execution and i can completely understand why the game doesn’t resonate with everyone. With a better in-game explanation of the different control options and more courses Pen Pen Trilclelon might’ve performed better. It’s by no means a bad game but its general oddness might be off-putting for potential purchasers. I’d describe the game as the very definition of a marmite game people either tend to love or hate it with not many in the middle.
T-17001M Pen Pen Trilcelon
Sample T-17001M Pen Pen Trilcelon (Pre-release)
Sample T-17001M Pen Pen Trilcelon (First release)
SAMPLE Pen Pen Trilcelon front ’99’ SOFTWARE CAMPAIGN
If you’d like to know more about the price reduction campaign i’ve covered it in an article and you’ll find that linked to below.
(NOT FOR SALE) 非売品 discs & other media
Most content relating to the game apart from the two individually known trial discs for Pen Pen Trilcelon are from before the game was actually released. The earliest known content relating to Pen Pen Trilcelon is featured on the Dreamcast Promotion Disk which has a catalogue code off 610-7027 and is a orange disc i’ll endeavour to upload a picture of my copy once i’ve gone through my ‘Not for Sale’ collection.
This disc isn’t to be confused with the much more common Dreamcast Promotion disc that was included with the Dreamcast Magazine and is blue in colour. The only other content i could uncover for the game was on the Dream Preview Vol :1 disc. I’m sure that i’ve probably missed something so if you can spot anything i’ve overlooked please get in contact.
Pen Pen Trilcelon has two individually known not for sale discs both of which you’ll find presented below. Both discs are fairly easy to acquire and provide an interesting look at the game before its launch. The first of the two ‘Not for Sale’ discs is 610-7038 Pen Pen Trilcelon which has a blue front and unique disc art. This 非売品 version is probably the harder of the two Pen Pen Trilcelon discs to find and was among the first discs with individual game content to be released with the 610- designation.
非売品 610-7038 Pen Pen Trilcelon
非売品 610-7102 Pen Pen Trilcelon
A nice variant with both unique disc art and cover. I actually really like the gold colour scheme they used for the disc.
Unfortunately i’ve been unable to locate any sort of guide book for Pen Pen Trilcelon which is slightly unusual considering how well the game was promoted by General Entertainment & Sega. I can only assume that the guides that were printed in various Dreamcast magazines of the time would suffice due in part to the limited longevity outside of the games multiplayer mode.
The only other media relating to the game i could find was an official soundtrack titled ペンペントライアイスロン サウンドトラック or Pen Pen Trilcelon Sound Tracks.
The soundtrack was published by Marvelous Entertainment it contains twenty eight tracks on one CD and it was released on the 18th of December ’98 & retailed for ¥2,500.Pen Pen Trilcelon’s soundtrack catalogue code is MJCA-00036 & its Jan code is :4535506000361
The last content relating to Pen Pen Trilcelon is the rather strange addition of four of the games Pen Pen characters featuring in fellow launch title Blue Stinger in which you can collect their respective stickers. Honestly, i haven’t found the reason why for their inclusion in Blue Stinger apart perhaps some form synergy between launch titles. It seems a very strange design choice that two separate company’s decided to collaborate together in such a strange way.
Personally, i always hoped that General Entertainment would port their previous title ‘Alive’ to the Dreamcast but i’m aware i’m in the minority with that particular view. General Entertainment were clearly very capable developers on the Dreamcast i do feel however that with Pen Pen Triclelon & certainly their two Godzilla titles on the Dreamcast they never achieved the recognition of their talents. With Pen Pen Trilcelon possibly having an amazing short development cycle & the two Godzilla games being licensed titles which were at best average the company never really got to showcase their potential on the system.
Thanks as always for taking the time to read this entry on General Entertainment and their only self published Dreamcast title Pen Pen Trilcelon. If you can provide any information i’ve missed please get in touch i’d appreciate it. You can contact me through the site or on Twitter @dreamcastcollector