SHOUEI System Co.,Ltd

SHOUEI SYSTEM logo © 1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM

SHOUEI SYSTEM Logo © 1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM

I suspect most readers of the site will like myself be completely unaware of SHOUEI System even through surprisingly they were a long-established studio. When researching the company, it seems that even in their native Japan the company was considered something of a relatively niche development & publishing label. SHOUEI SYSTEM was initially established on the 8th of May ’81 as similarly named Shouei Co.,Ltd and in November of the following year the company changed its name to the familiar moniker of SHOUEI System Co.,Ltd. While information especially relating to the early period of the company’s is practically non-existent at the time of the company’s Dreamcast development they were based in Bunkyo-Ku district of Tokyo, Japan.

As i’ve already mentioned SHOUEI system history proved to be a challenge to research so much so that from the period of their establishment to ’85 i was completely unable to document what the company actually worked on. From ’85 onwards things are slightly clearer as the company became a licensed Nintendo developer and officially started console development for the Nintendo Famicom system. Fortunately, this relationship was a profitable one for both companies as SHOUEI System developed licensed titles based on the popular Toei Animation anime Hokuto no Ken franchise to such an extent that the company continued developing titles based on the franchise for Nintendo’s next generation system the Super Famicom. This resulted in an impressive seven titles across both of Nintendo’s Famicom systems. While SHOUEI System could never be considered a prolific publisher after this relatively successful period for SHOUEI System their published output dwindled drastically during the mid to late ’90’s.

SHOUEI System’s core business of development and publishing of consumer software for home console systems seemingly stagnated towards the turn of the millennium and the company expanded into new markets. The first and closest to their core business model of console development was to expanded in to the Japanese home computer market with the Shoumalizer software.

Shoumalizer logo ©1998 Shouei System All Rights Reserved.

Shoumalizer logo ©1998 Shouei System All Rights Reserved.

Before i continue on i feel it’d be remiss of me not to disclose that i have no interest or indeed any real knowledge of the sport of Kings or equestrian pursuits in general. My opinion about their Shoumalizer Software and more importantly their later Dreamcast title is most definitely from a layman’s perspective.

Unlike the majority of the back catalogue which consisted of licensed titles their computer & Dreamcast software went in a completely different direction and both were online enabled horse racing prediction utility software. The Shoumalizer computer software had a subscription fee of ¥300 per day to access the softwares content. You were able to get access to any of that days sanctioned races and get detailed information on all most every aspect relating to the sport from the track, horses & jockeys. You could then adjust various parameters using information supplied by the JRA (Japan Racing Association). As my knowledge of the sport is lacking the best information would be the archived Shoumalizer softwares official site which i’ve linked to below. © 1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM.

https://web.archive.org/web/19980701160556/http://www.shouei-sys.co.jp:80/shouma/shouma.html

Premium Express logo ©1998 Shouei System All Rights Reserved.

Premium Express logo ©1998 Shouei System All Rights Reserved.

Not resting on their laurels SHOUEI System also sought to continue to diversify their business interests & designed, developed & distributed an online prize vending business known as Premium Express. This new venture consisted of online enabled terminals which were according to the archived Premium Express website installed in six Pachinko venues around Japan. The Premium Express service provided online prizes that after winning you could swap your winning Pachinko balls for goods online in which you could choose from films & music from the Shizendo chain or games from popular and well-known retailer Softmap

Premium Express store selection screen Shizendo or Softmap © 1998 Shouei System All Rights Reserved.

Premium Express store selection screen Shizendo or Softmap © 1998 Shouei System All Rights Reserved.

The Premium Express website has been archived and is still completely navigable and it contains a wealth of information of what the service consisted of as well as information about the locations of the six venues that hosted the Premium Express terminals. As it is arguably the best resource for information about the service i’ve linked to the archived official Premium Express site below. (c) 1998 Shouei System

https://web.archive.org/web/19980701160955/http://www.shouei-sys.co.jp:80/keihin/what.html

While SHOUEI System’s official homepage has been almost completely archived unfortunately the company seemingly struggled to keep their official site updated especially around the time of their Dreamcast release. Another factor was their catalogue of published works was never updated past the 22nd of July ’98 which was before their Dreamcast titles release. This is somewhat indicative of SHOUEI System’s official website in general as apart from a very basic site for their Dreamcast title their official site makes no other mention of their intended Dreamcast output.

Obviously, while SHOUEI System’s financial problems probably weren’t public knowledge the company was in something resembling an untenable situation during the ’98-’99 period due to their impending bankruptcy. This might be possibly the reason behind the sporadic updates to their official site during this time. What was officially confirmed through multiple sources including SEGA’s official release list was that SHOUEI System had two known titles in development for the Dreamcast both of which were set to take advantage of the systems online connectivity. Unfortunately, due to SHOUEI Systems subsequent bankruptcy only one of their two intended titles was actually released for the system.

マイトラックマン SHOUEI SYSTEM logo ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

マイトラックマン SHOUEI SYSTEM logo ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

SHOUEI System’s Dreamcast title also has the dubious distinction of being the final title to be released by the company before their subsequent bankruptcy. That final title was マイトラックマン or My TrackMan which was released on the 8th of May ’99 & it retailed for ¥6,800. The games official genre designation was Horseracing simulation and unsurprisingly the title was a Japanese region exclusive. The games archived entry on the Official Dreamcast catalogue is linked to below. ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / © SEGA

https://web.archive.org/web/20140804104138/http://sega.jp/dc/990105/

マイトラックマン title screen ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

マイトラックマン title screen ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

Unfortunately, as i’ve previously mentioned while SHOUEI System did have a very basic dedicated site for My TrackMan it’s hardly an exhaustive source of information considering the complexity of the My TrackMan software. To be completely fair to SHOUEI System a website that encompassed the width of information that My TrackMan contained would’ve been a major undertaking for the company. Perhaps SHOUEI System had once planned a more comprehensive site for the game as well as updating their official site in general but the company found itself preoccupied with the financial situation they found themselves in at the time. SHOUEI System’s archived official My TrackMan site is linked to below and considering the dearth of information for the title it’s at least worth a cursory look. ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI.

http://web.archive.org/web/19991006043004/http://www.shouei-sys.co.jp:80/mytrackman/track.html

マイトラックマン main menu ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

マイトラックマン main menu screen ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

My TrackMan is an online utility which is quite hard to describe as it was effectively a piece of software that allowed access to a dedicated portal which contained archived and updated information provided by the Japan Racing Association more commonly known as the (JRA). The game was also developed in association with the Kantou Keiba horse racing newspaper association who provided punditry from their experts from a selection of their six in-print horse racing newspapers. The Kantou Keiba horse racing newspaper associations logo’s feature prominently as background titles throughout the My TrackMan software’s menu screens.

マイトラックマン statistical archive menu ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

マイトラックマン The main offline menu in which you could chose to see data on horses, jockeys & trainers. ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

I suspect that My TrackMan could be described as being somewhat comparable to a traditional print media racing paper. But being digital the software had a number of enhancements over the traditional physical horse racing media of the time which included eliminating the need to constantly purchase physical papers and their associated cost. The main draw however i’d assume would’ve been the included comprehensive searchable database that provided a wealth of information & statistics on every aspect relating to the sport. This ranged from previous results to detailed information about the Jockeys & the horses themselves from their respective trainer, bloodline & overall performance. All of this was provided by the JRA and available at any time through the My TrackMan software.

マイトラックマン horse information menu ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

マイトラックマン Searchable horse database by clicking on any horse listed brings up very detailed information about the selected animal.©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

Again, my lack of understanding about the sport might impact my interpretation of the My TrackMan software but i assume while the prospect of being able to navigate a detailed archive provided by the JRA at any time from the comfort of your own home would’ve been an enticing prospect for proponents of the sport. However, as i understand it the main draw of the software was to be able to simulate races based on statistical analysis of the data that My TrackMan offered which included a high level of customisation to accurately predict upcoming races. This combined with exclusive punditry on upcoming racing events provided by the Kantou Keiba horse racing association would’ve made My TrackMan quite an impressive package & i’m sure it would’ve been appreciated by racing enthusiasts.

マイトラックマン various statistical information ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

マイトラックマン An example of the very in-depth information the software provided. ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

Unfortunately, for SHOUEI System and their My TrackMan software i’ll to assume while the software offered a number of obvious enhancements over traditional horse racing media the market for such a utility on the Dreamcast was probably in reality exceptionally small. I suspect that the cost to perspective users of both purchasing a Dreamcast system plus the cost of My TrackMan plus the network connection fees & an intended but not implemented subscription fee probably alienated potential buyers due to a high initial outlay to actually use the software. As for SEGA’s traditional Dreamcast audience accounting for something resembling a potential crossover market given the games announced sales figures which were sadly almost nonexistent this sadly for SHOUEI System never materialised into a new market for the company.

マイトラックマン online connecting screen logo ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

マイトラックマン Trying to connect online i did appreciate the little touch of the horse racing along the bottom of the screen as the software tries to dial the long since defunct server. This screen also relays how much time you have remaining with the included free year’s subscription. Also note the Kantou Keiba racing associations logos displayed on the background. ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

SHOUEI System while obviously confident in their My TrackMan software still needed to promote the title to a wider audience to generate much need pre-release interest and highlight the exclusive features the My TrackMan software offered. While trying to promote a title such as My Trackman i’d imagine due to the online nature of the software it would create a number of challenging obstacles for SHOUEI System to overcome to publicly showcase exactly what the software entailed.

The way that the company chose to address this issue was to organise a My TrackMan event which was held on the 2nd of April ’99 at the prestigious Plaza Equus Shibuya venue. At this event a panel of esteemed racing pundits gave their predictions about the upcoming 阪急杯 race and SHOUEI System used their My TrackMan software to see who could give the most accurate prediction about the upcoming race. SHOUEI System’s My TrackMan appears to have performed admirably proving the software’s credentials. This pre-release event was covered by Gamespot Japan in an online article which has been archived and is linked to below. Copyright (c) 1999 by SOFTBANK Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.itmedia.co.jp/games/news/9903/23/news01.html

Interestingly this archived article also lists an intended 8th of April ’99 release date for My Trackman which it would eventually miss with the software actually being delayed a further month till May of ’99. While it’s purely speculative on my part i suspect that the dire financial circumstances that SHOUEI System found themselves in undoubtably effected the titles intended release. Unfortunately, a mere six months after the release of their My TrackMan software SHOUEI System in November of ’99 was officially declared bankrupt with debts totalling 800 million yen. Copyright (c) 1999 by SOFTBANK Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

http://web.archive.org/web/20000201183711/http://www.zdnet.co.jp/gamespot/news/9911/12/news05.html

As the company became defunct due to bankruptcy the titles online service was still maintained after the end of SHOUEI System themselves which according to My TrackMan’s archived entry on the SEGA’s Dreamcast catalogue the softwares network service was terminated on the 1st of October ’00. The archived statement is reproduced below. ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©2000 SEGA.

株)ショウエイシステムの倒産に伴い、平成12年10月1日17時を持ちまして本サービスを終了いたしました

Also, this entry on the Dreamcast catalogue has a strange omission concerning My TrackMan’s technical specifications. The softwares entry erroneously states that My TrackMan doesn’t support any peripheral devices. The software obviously supports the Dreamcast’s analogue modem as well being able to take advantage of the Dreamcast’s VGA adaptor. Given that My TrackMan was an online enabled utility its really quite a strange omission for both SHOUEI System & SEGA to have made on the games official description. One cost that at the time i think many might’ve simply overlooked was the software’s mandatory requirement of 200 VMU blocks to use the software. This is a full standard size VMU unit so My TrackMan basically required its own dedicated VMU which would’ve been an unwelcome additional expense to simply use the software.

Warning screen stating the 200 VMS block requirement that My TrackMan mandated ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

Warning screen stating the 200 VMS block requirement that My TrackMan mandated or you can simply start without saving. ©1999 SHOUEI SYSTEM ©1999 KANTOU KEIBA SINBUN KYOUKAI / Image by dreamcastcollector ©2018

I’m actually quite intrigued as to how the software’s online service was handled after SHOUEI System’s demise as there appears to be no information about it was subsequently maintained. Originally the network service was intended to be provided for free with the cost of purchasing the software subsidising the cost than after a year it was planned to have implemented a subscription based service. I assume this was to cover the associated licensing costs to both the JRA & the Kantou Keiba racing association as well as general network infrastructure & maintenance.

Given that the network operated for a further five months after the intended free period of a year and six months after SHOUEI System themselves ceased operation i wonder who took responsibility for the maintenance of the titles network features. Realistically, i’m sure it was a combination of different parties with the initial period of a year already subsidised i’m sure both the JRA & Kantou Keiba racing association honoured and continued to support My TrackMan. Possibly SEGA might’ve been involved with the responsibility of network maintenance but this is speculative on my part they did however continue to maintain the dedicated dricas site for the game after SHOUEI System’s bankruptcy. Certainly, if the network mode was terminated with the end of SHOUEI System it could’ve caused a backlash from patrons who purchased the software.

Currently the My TrackMan software doesn’t have any real purpose due to the software’s reliance on its long since defunct internet functionality to actually access data. The only thing you can do is is view various tutorials relating to the features the software offered and browse a restricted library of largely obsolete data. I assume any historical data that you might’ve stored on a VMU could still be accessed but the fact My TrackMan needed 200 blocks or a full VMU probably means that there’s not many that still contain existing data relating to the software as i’m sure they’ve long since been overwritten.

To be honest formulating my personal opinion about SHOUEI System’s My TrackMan is a difficult prospect in that realistically i’d argue that its something of an impossible task given that most of the softwares content can’t be accessed anymore. It can only really be judged on the archived data that is contained on the disc itself. This lead’s on to another issue which i’ve already mentioned and thats my general apathetic nature towards all aspects of the sport of horse racing. This doesn’t however mean i think it didn’t have some merit just simply i’m not the titles target market. The only real flaw i can find relates to My TrackMan’s music which is extremely limited and while i can’t definitively state i do believe they are actually MIDI tracks. I’ll leave it to people more  knowledgeable than myself to confirm my suspicions.

To give My TrackMan credit it’s a very comprehensive & specialised piece of software that even a layman like myself can see by glancing over the encyclopedic content included. I can completely understand how enthusiasts would’ve appreciated the depth of the information it provided. The remaining content accessible on the disc would presently only be useful for historical information which it would be definitely more convenient & easier to simply to use google to search for the information.

SHOUEI System had another title in development which proceeded My TrackMan’s development by some margin. Warrz had a particularly protracted development with the game originally being developed for SEGA’s previous system the SEGA Saturn i’ll speculate that since it was set to be an intensive online title it would’ve been a late release title on the system probably sometime in late ’98. Obviously SHOUEI System realised the dwindling Saturn market wasn’t an ideal platform to continue development for so late in it’s commercial lifespan & SEGA’s upcoming Dreamcast with its in-built online connectivity represented a much better prospect for Warrz’s release.

While unfortunately, theres not an abundance of information about the game it was known to support a massive amount of players online. The game actually running on the Dreamcast was showcased at TGS and also multiple articles about the game were published in Dreamcast periodicals of the time. Below you’ll find a contemporary archived article by Gamespot which has some very basic information about the game. © 2000 Gamespot

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/shouei-declares-warrz-on-dreamcast/1100-2465359/

The reason why Warrz never saw a release is simply due to SHOUEI Systems impending bankruptcy. I imagine that development was realistically suspended in late ’98 if not even before. With continual subsequent delays to My TrackMan and the impending financial crisis the company found itself in probably meant that they diverted all available resources to ensuring My TrackMan was actually released. The reason behind this decision was probably the licensing agreements already in place with both the JRA & Kantou Keiba racing association that meant that My TrackMan took priority over Warrz. This is all completely speculative on my part but personally, i think it makes the most sense but if anyone can provide any officially confirmed information about the game that either supports or disproves my theory please get in contact.

Personally, i think Warrz seemed the most commercial title of the two that SHOUEI System had in development for the Dreamcast but it simply wasn’t to be. I’m quite convinced that had the company managed to negotiate their way out of the dire financial situation they found themselves in Warrz would been released probably sometime in late ’00 and would’ve had the catalogue code of T-37002M.

 

 

T-37001M My Trackman 

 

Front

 

T-37001M My Trackman front

T-37001M My Trackman front

Back

T-37001M My Trackman back

T-37001M My Trackman back

 

SAMPLE covers

 

SAMPLE T-37001M My Trackman

 

Front

 

SAMPLE T-37001M My Trackman front

SAMPLE T-37001M My Trackman front

Back

SAMPLE T-37001M My Trackman back

SAMPLE T-37001M My Trackman back

 

(NOT FOR SALE) 非売品 discs & other media 

 

I’ve never come across any individual Not for Sale disc for My TrackMan and due to the online connectivity required i personally, don’t think one will exist. I’ve also never encountered any other official media relating to the game at all. Again, due to the dire financial situation SHOUEI System found themselves in i very much doubt there was much pre or post release support for the title.

As for Warrz outside of the development environment i sincerely doubt anything exists. Possibly their might have been printed matter relating to the game at the TGS where it was showcased at but i’m not currently aware of any media for the game existing in private hands.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on SHOUEI System and their published & intended Dreamcast output. If you think i’ve missed any pertinent information relating to the company or either of their two titles please get in touch. If you have any media relating to SHOUEI Systems Dreamcast output again please get in contact i’d appreciate it. You can contact me directly 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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )

Connecting to %s