Random Ramblings Vol.17 : SHADE – A very underused game developer / studio

SHADE, a small game studio that was founded in February 8 1995, focusing on game engines and in 1997 they started game development as well, making some really memorable games in the process and genuinly getting better with each game. Sadly, they almost never had the chance to strike bigger.

Their first game was in 1997, where they not only developed it but also developed its game engine making the first 3D A-RPG on the PlayStation…The GranStream Saga.

The GranStream Saga

In the following year they started making more games and focused on anime and manga-based games down the line, like Sorcerous Stabber Orphen, Project ARMS, Raxephon Azure Fantasy, Busou Renkin, The Kateikiyo Hitman Reborn 3D fighting games, the To Aru Majutsu no Index fighter and Kingdom : Ikkitousen no Tsurugi being their most known while other games were more modest, like KOEI’s Mystic Heroes.

Despite these things, they never quite achieved that B-grade game status other companies had, like Capcom’s pre-PS3 games, Konami’s non-MGS games or in general Falcom’s games, mosly due to them not having a budget nor the power to unfortunately create their own publishing firm. Which is a shame since they have some really nice ideas and they have the know-how to make good game engines, especially for portables. And worst thing is that KONAMI didn’t hire them for more than one game, not to mention they didn’t use them and their game engines more due to being cheap as heck by that point.

SHADE clearly had the know how to make good games given a modest budget, just imagine how many things they could have done with other series KONAMI had aquired the licenses in the PSP era to make good games and not the semi-unplayable garbage we got most of the time…like Sunday Vs Magazine and the Fairy Tail games.

Take it all in people…take it all in. SHADE, with about the same amount of budget made this :

And that game was far more expansive, replayable and enjoyable that all those other licensed KONAMI titles combined. Such a shame. And what’s even worse is that KONAMI still holds Kingdom’s and perhaps Fairy Tail’s licenses as nobody else seems to be picking them up. Just imagine, SHADE wih a normal budget and the Fairy Tail license along with Kingdom license to finally make a Kingdom 2 game…the greatness that awaits. Or the apex of all, SHADE collaborating with Nudemaker to make a Senritsu no Stratus 2. That would be mind-numbingly amazing. Unless they were handed the Goemon franchise and had to make Goemon games…or get an actual budget and make games based on the Over Zenith license, perhaps with the help of the, at the time, remaining Castlevania members that made Over Zenith.

And given how good the ideas presented in Suikoden Hyakunen Tsumugareshi no Toki were, with the skill learning, mastering jobs and facing against monsters, it could make for a great Suikoden A-RPG, something that would be great for a side series of the Suikoden franchise, having the main games be that blend of Strategic RPGs with the side projects being anything else, spice the series up.

So much potential lost there due to KONAMI being cheap. And we know where money went at that time…pachinkos, Metal Gears that are way past due and gym equipent. For shame.

Speaking of Action RPGs, it’s too bad that SONY rarely hired them again for more games, a new GranStream Saga for the PSP to rival the Ys games and give more flavour to the PSP library, making it a true portable PS2 would be awesome.

But SONY doesn’t like games anymore, it’s been established the moment the Vita and the PS4 arrived at the scene, surprise. Not only that, how cool would it be for KOEI to hire them again for a Mystic Heroes 2 perhaps or better yet an A-RPG Saiyuki?

SHADE is one of those developers who understands why games are fun and they have a passion about them, making art through adversity like so many great developers did before them and that’s a feeling that’s sorely missing in this day and age. And one has to wonder what they could do if they decided to make an original game that one was willing to publish. For now though, they are doing fine with Bullet Girls and hope things continue to go swell for them.

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