Japanese game maker Marvelous Entertainment is best known for games like No More Heroes, Harvest Moon and Little King's Story. And most of its produce flies West courtesy of subsidiary company Rising Star Games.
But now Marvelous AQL (Marvelous merged with AQ Interactive in 2011) has set up Marvelous Europe - a regional base and stepping stone to European expansion, seeking both developer and publisher partners.
The first game you'll see by Marvelous Europe is Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy. It's being released for PC on Steam and Playism on 27th September, for Ł6.50.
Half-Minute Hero is the brilliant RPG that gives you 30 seconds to finish the game. Every section is done against the clock, and you can claw time back here and there, but you're always rushing - it's always frantic and brilliant. "Half-Minute Hero is essentially an innovative arcade game dressed as a JRPG," declared Simon Parkin, a fan, in our Half-Minute Hero PSP review. Years later, the game was beefed up for Xbox Live Arcade, as Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax, and given a sexy new look for big screens. The PC game will be an extension of that.
But for Marvelous Europe, the release for HMH is but "a toe in the water", explained CEO Harry Holmwood to Eurogamer.
The next project to head West will be Logres of Swords and Sorcery, a colourful and successful browser MMO from Japan. It'll probably arrive here with a different name.
"Marvelous was a mid-tier Japanese publisher and they, quite rightly, looked at the AAA home console side and looked at the budgets and looked at the risks that's involved and, correctly, moved away from some of that."Harry Holmwood, CEO, Marvelous Europe
Marvelous is also working on a Japan Super Creators series of mobile games. These are made by Japanese superstar game designers. Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune is doing one game, as is Street Fighter 2 co-designer and lead planner, Noritaka Funamizu.
Then, as mentioned, Marvelous will look at establishing teams here, commissioning games and publishing other people's work. They won't be 'boxed' releases like No More Heroes, but digital games. And there's a lot of money backing Marvelous Europe, courtesy of a transformed parent company, Marvelous AQL.
"Marvelous has kind of changed over the last few years," Marvelous Europe CEO Harry Holmwood told Eurogamer. "In the West, we know them for things like No More Heroes on Wii and Little King's Story and those kind of things. But in Japan, the company's gone through quite a transition. And although we're still very active on some console formats, particularly the handheld console formats, increasingly the company has focused on social web, and social mobile gaming.
"And we're not getting to the stage where the company has completely transformed from being .... Marvelous was a mid-tier Japanese publisher and they, quite rightly, looked at the AAA home console side and looked at the budgets and looked at the risks that's involved and, correctly, moved away from some of that."
"The company's gone from, a few years ago, losing money, to the last results - they were hugely profitable, more profitable than anyone else you'd see in the Japanese console space. "