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History of Banpresto

Software catalog

Product catalog

Banpresto webpage (1997-1999?)

About this project

The history of Banpresto spans over the course of 40 years, beginning with the founding of Hoei International in 1997. This page documents the history of Banpresto, from its early beginnings as a coin-op manufacturer to its absorption into Namco Bandai in the late 2000s. All the information here is taken from a variety of sources, including the official Banpresto website, trade publications such as Replay, Game Machine, and GamePro, sales figures from Famitsu, and from original research. Sources for this info will be listed at the bottom of this page once this is complete, both to serve as verification and allow readers (that's you!) be able to further research specific topics. This page doesn't cover much of the history of the second Banpresto company that focused on figures and arcade prizes, since not only does it really have nothing to do with the original Banpresto, but there's really just a lack of actual history of this successor that there really isn't anything to cover anyway.


    April 30: Hoei International Co., Ltd. (Kabushiki gaisha Hoei Sangyo) is established in Nakano, Tokyo by Japanese businessman Yasushi Matsuda. Capital is 5 million yen (about US$45,600). Company begins as a manufacturer of video arcade games and electro-mechanical coin-pusher machines. Many of its games are derivatives of popular titles like Circus, Space Invaders, and Breakout.


    December: Hoei International releases its first original game, Jump Bug, for arcades. It is published by Rock-Ola Industries in North America and Sega Enterprises Inc. in Japan.


    April: Hoei International changes its corporate name to Coreland Technology Ltd. The company name is believed to have been change due to the negative reputation surrounding its former name, though this hasn't been confirmed. Becomes a contractor company for other video game companies across the country.
    September: Coreland develops the maze chase game Pengo, which is published by Sega. Pengo becomes a hit and establishes a firm relationship between the two companies.


    February 1: Coreland is majority-acquired by Bandai Co., Ltd. as part of Bandai's efforts in gaining a foothold in the coin-operated amusement business. Former president Kiyoshi Matsuda departs and is replaced with Yukimasa Suguira, a member of Bandai's board of directors. Arcade research and development department directors Norio Yasuda and Nobuyoshi Isomura retain their positions. The majority of Coreland's executive department leaves following the acquisition. Company is renamed to Banpresto Co., Ltd. and relocates to Bandai's head office in Taito, Tokyo.


    April 13: Banpresto releases its first two games: the puzzle game SD Lupin III: Safe Breaking Daisakusen for the Game Boy and the 2D fighter SD Battle: Grand Sumo Heisei Hero Tournament for the Family Computer.
    February 1: Banpresto releases the multi-directional shooter SD the Great Battle for the Super Famicom.


    April 20: Banpresto releases the tactical role-playing game Super Robot Wars for the Game Boy, which crosses over the Gundam, Mazinger Z, and Getter Robo franchises into a strategy-type gameplay scenario. Super Robot Wars sells 190,000 copies and becomes Banpresto's flagship and most successful intellectual property.
    April: Banpresto releases the 2D fighter Ultraman for arcades.


    February: A wholly owned subsidiary named Unifive Co., Ltd. is established as Banpresto's marketing and product sales division.
    April 20: Company revenue reaches 1.4 billion yen (or US$12 million).
    September: Banpresto releases the vertical shooter Super Spacefortress Macross for arcades, which is published by Fabtek in North America.


    December 10: Banpresto releases the falling tile puzzler Super Puyo Puyo, an adaptation of Compile Inc.'s Puyo Puyo series, for the Super Famicom. The game sells over one million copies by Q4 1994.


    February: A wholly owned subsidiary named Banpre Planning Co., Ltd. (Kabushiki gaisha Banpre Kikaku) is established as Banpresto's internal game development branch. Previously, Banpresto relied on external companies to develop its games.
    February: Banpresto releases the beat'em up Denjin Makai for arcades.
    February: Corporate office is moved to Kaminarimon, Taito.
    March: Banpresto releases the first-person 2D fighter Dragon Ball Z V.R. V.S. for arcades, through a partnership with Sega.
    May: In Hong Kong, the division Banpresto HK Limited is established with the purpose of importing and distributing Banpresto products for other Asian markets.


    July: Banpresto releases the prize machine Convenience Catcher, a derivative of the popular "UFO catcher" machines in Japan.
    November 28: Banpresto becomes a founding member of the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association (CESA), an organization dedicated to strengthening relationships between Japanese game developers and publishers.


    February: Banpresto releases the vertical shooter Aku Garret for arcades, through a partnership with Gazelle Co., Ltd.
    December 27: Banpresto the tactical role-playing game Shin Super Robot Wars for the PlayStation. A version containing a soundtrack CD and additional gamemodes is released around the same time.


    January 25: Bandai announces its intent to merge with Sega, creating a new toy and game company named Sega Bandai Co., Ltd. The deal is intended to be finalized in October of that year, creating a company worth over US$1 billion in capital revenue.
    March: Banpre Planning absorbs Banpresto's game planning department and changes its corporate name to Banpresoft Co., Ltd.
    May 27: Sega calls off its merger with Bandai before the finalization date, following strong opposition from Bandai's mid-level executives and board of directors. Bandai president Makoto Yamashina resigns from the company after feeling personally responsable for the merger failing.
    June?: Sugiura temporary leaves Banpresto to help aid Bandai admist its several structural difficulties from the merger attempt.
    September 25: Banpresto releases the tactical role-playing game Super Robot Wars F for the Sega Saturn. The game sells over 230,000 copies by Q4 1998.


    December: Banpresto acquires Artpresto Co., Ltd, a Japanese packaging and printing company, and makes it a wholly-owned subsidiary.


    April 28: Banpresto releases the tactical role-playing game Super Robot Wars Compact for the WonderSwan.
    April: Banpresto releases Convenience Catcher DX, an updated version of its successful Convenience Catcher prize machine.
    December: Bandai invests in Artpresto and makes it an affiliatrate of the Bandai Group.


    January 6: Banpresto releases the role-playing game Summon Night for the PlayStation, combining traditional RPG elements with visual novels and dating simulators.
    April 25: Banpresto releases the tactical role-playing game Super Robot Wars Alpha for the PlayStation and Dreamcast. It becomes the best-selling entry in the Super Robot Wars franchise, selling over 700,000 copies across both platforms by the end of 2001.
    October: Banpresto is listed in the second section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.


    March 29: Banpresto releases the tactical role-playing game Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden for the PlayStation.
    April 27: Banpresto releases the role-playing game One Piece: Yume no Lufy Kaizokudan Tanjou! for the Game Boy.
    June: Big Entertainment is created as a virtual amusement park on the internet, made available through Banpresto's official website.


    March 28: Banpresto releases the tactical role-playing game Super Robot Wars Impact for the PlayStation 2.
    June: Big Entertainment is created as a virtual amusement park on the internet, made available through Banpresto's official website.


    January 25: Banpresto releases the third-person shooter Another Century's Episode for the PlayStation 2, through a partnership with FromSoftware Inc. It became one of Japan's top-selling games of 2005, with sales of over 250,000 units.
    May 2: Bandai announces it has approved a merger deal with game publisher Namco Limited. The two will create a holding company by September of that year that will be worth ¥458 billion (or US$4.172 billion), combining Bandai's character licenses with Namco's game development resources.
    September 29: Namco Bandai Holdings Inc. is established in Shinagawa, Tokyo as the new parent company of Bandai and Namco.
    September 29: Banpresto becomes a member of the newly-formed Namco Bandai Group.


    January 26: Banpresto releases the action role-playing game Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia for the PlayStation 2.
    February 23: Namco Bandai Holdings acquires the remaining shares of Banpresto, making Banpresto a wholly-owned subsidiary.
    March 30: Banpresto releases the third-person shooter Another Century's Episode 2 for the PlayStation 2, through a partnership with FromSoftware.
    March 31: Namco is merged with the game publishing division of Bandai to form a new company, Namco Bandai Games Inc.
    March 31: Banpresto and its subsidiaries become subsidiaries of Namco Bandai Games.
    May 15: As a result of its acquisition from Namco Bandai Games, Banpresto is delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
    November 7: Banpresto releases the first-person shooter Mobile Suit Gundam: Bonds of the Battlefield for arcades, through a partnership with Namco Bandai Games. It is the first game to make use of Namco Bandai's "Panoramic Optical Display" (P.O.D.) arcade cabinet.


    September 6: Banpresto releases the third-person shooter Another Century's Episode 3: The Final for the PlayStation 2, through a partnership with FromSoftware.


    March 31: As part of a group restructuring, Banpresto is absorbed into Namco Bandai Games, officially ending the 40 year history of the original Banpresto company. The same day, a new Namco Bandai Group subsidiary is established that took on the name "Banpresto Co., Ltd", and focused on toys and prize machines for video arcades and amusement centers. Despite retaining the same name and logo, it has no relation to the original company. Namco Bandai Games continues to publish games under the Banpresto name.
    March 31: Pleasurecast and Hanayashiki become subsidiaries of a re-merged Namco Limited.


    April 1: Banpresoft merges with BEC Co., Ltd. (Bandai Entertainment Company) to form a new company, B.B. Studio Co., Ltd.


    April 1: Namco Bandai Games (now Bandai Namco Games Inc.) ceases using the Banpresto names on its games in favor of publishing them under the Bandai Namco brand.


    April 1: The second Banpresto company is absorbed into Bandai Spirits Co., Ltd. and dissolved. The Banpresto name remains as a brand for Bandai Spirits products for video arcades and prize machines.

© BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.

Long live Banpresto!