Universal Entertainment Corporation
Universal Entertainment Corporation (formerly known as Aruze Corp. (アルゼ株式会社 Aruze Kabushiki-gaisha?, Japanese pronunciation: [aɽuze]) (JASDAQ: 6425)), is a Japanese manufacturer of pachinko, slot machines, arcade games and other gaming products, and a publisher of video games. Aruze possesses licenses to both manufacture and distribute casino machines in the American states of Nevada, Mississippi and New Jersey. The company's corporate headquarters are in Tokyo. Aruze are also the licence holder of the video game franchise Shadow Hearts. It owns 21% of Wynn Resorts. Aruze Corporation changed its company name to Universal Entertainment Corporation effective November 1, 2009.
Universal Lease Co., Ltd was established in December 1969. It later changed its name to Universal Distributing of Nevada (UDN). Universal's greatest hit game was Mr. Do! in 1982, which spawned four sequels. Lady Bug (1981) was also a successful game, as well as the platform game Space Panic (1980). Cashing-in on the success of laserdisc video games, Universal released Super Don Quix-ote in 1984, on a new standardized laserdisc video game system they called the Universal System 1. A new game was planned every six months for the Universal System 1, including a laserdisc adventure game based on Mr. Do!, but the company stopped producing arcade games in 1985, and Super Don Quix-ote ended up being the only game released for the system. In January 2005, the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Aruze. Aruze Corporation changed its company name to Universal Entertainment Corporation effective November 1, 2009.
Relationship with SNK
In 2000, Aruze bought out SNK Corporation, maker of the Neo-Geo. In exchange for the use of SNK's popular characters on their pachinko and slot machines, and a few games for the Neo-Geo, Aruze promised financial backing for the failing SNK. Instead Aruze instituted a program to liquidate SNK's assets and cut costs. This included licensing out popular IP to other companies (Metal Slug series, The King of Fighters series, Sengoku series), closing underperforming divisions, discontinuing distribution outside of Japan, ending support for the Neo Geo arcade platform and selling off warehoused inventory. By 2001 it was clear to many SNK's employees that Aruze was not planning to preserve SNK and was simply going to let the company implode after liquidating most of its useful assets. So Eikichi Kawasaki and many other executives from SNK left to form Playmore in August 2001. Over this period many rank and file employees left to join other arcade developers or form their own companies.
In October 2001 Aruze allowed SNK to file for bankruptcy and all of its assets went up for bidding. Kawasaki's Playmore stepped in and bought up most of the auctioned assets and set itself up to re-enter the video game market as the successor to SNK. Playmore also acquired some of the companies formed by ex-SNK employees, namely Brezzasoft and Noise Factory, to jumpstart development of more titles for the Neo Geo arcade system. Playmore quickly went about re-establishing themselves in the market; they opened new branches in North America and Europe, announced development of new titles for the Neo Geo arcade system, started developing games for console and portable systems for the first time in years and re-established distribution channels to sell inventory for the Neo Geo home and pocket systems. To further establish themselves as a reborn SNK they official changed their name to SNK Playmore in 2003.
In October 2002, Aruze was sued by SNK Playmore founder Eikichi Kawasaki for copyright infringement over SNK's intellectual properties, claiming their use was unauthorized by Playmore. In January 2004, a preliminary decision was handed down by the Osaka District Court favoring SNK Playmore and was awarded 5.64 billion yen (USD $57,627,468) in damages.
List of games published by Aruze
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku||June 3, 1999||Aruze||PlayStation|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku Pocket: Hanabi||October 21, 1999||Aruze||NeoGeo Pocket Color|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 2||November 25, 1999||Aruze||PlayStation|
|Azteca||February 10, 2000||NeoGeo Pocket Color|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 3||July 19, 2000||Aruze||PlayStation|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku Porcano 2||July 20, 2000||Aruze||NeoGeo Pocket Color|
|Pachisuro Aruze Oogoku Ohanabi||December 14, 2000||Aruze||NeoGeo Pocket Color|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 4||December 14, 2000||Aruze||PlayStation|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku Pocket: DH2||January 15, 2001||Aruze||NeoGeo Pocket Color|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 5||November 15, 2001||Aruze||PlayStation|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 6||December 13, 2001||Aruze||PlayStation 2|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 7||August 8, 2002||Aruze||PlayStation 2|
|Shadow Hearts||November 6, 2003||Sacnoth||PlayStation 2|
|Shadow Hearts: Covenant||February 19, 2004||Nautilus||PlayStation 2|
|Hanabi Hyakkei Advance||July 29, 2004||Game Boy Advance|
|Don-Chan Puzzle: Hanabi de Don! Advance||July 29, 2004||Game Boy Advance|
|Aleck Bordon Adventure: Tower & Shaft Advance||November 26, 2004||Game Boy Advance|
|Cool 104 Joker & Setline||December 2, 2004||DS|
|Type Tunes - Chase the Music!||2005||Arcade|
|Guts da!! Mori no Ishimatsu||March 31, 2005||PlayStation 2|
|Shadow Hearts: From the New World||July 28, 2005||Nautilus||PlayStation 2|
|Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 8||2005||Aruze||PlayStation 2|
|Aoi Don: Hanabi no Kiwami & Hanabi no Takumi||TBA 2010||Aruze||DS|
|Pachinko Aruze Oukoku||Cancelled||PlayStation|
|The Splizer||Cancelled||PlayStation 2|