Imagineer? What gives?

I‘m sitting here watching a run of Quest 64 from SGDQ from the other day and it’s got me thinking about Imagineer.

Imagineer was a very prolific publisher during the PS/SS/N64 gen. Like, really. And as far as I can remember, a mediocre one at best! I never actually played Quest 64 due to its bad rep and the fact that I had the other 2 consoles so I was hardly desperate for good RPGs (IIRC this came out around the same time as Xenogears, for example).

Looking at that [speedrun]( it's really a derpy-ass game that's got nostalgic charm that I would not have appreciated AT ALL at the time! Like zero percent!

The first Imagineer game I bought (also the first SS import I bought, in 1995) was Pretty Fighter X. Not a great game by any means, but I have a soft spot for it. A 2D fighter, it has a semi-sequel in FIST for the SS/PS which is 3D and kusoge as fuck. I bought the SS version but that's long gone from my collection!

Imagineer still exists! And recently put out Fitness Boxing, which was even localized and released in the US.
Official site (jp)

So, anybody else know or like Imagineer or its games? Or just remember them? I'm in the mood to hear about it!

I think we could make a whole thread of 16 bit to 32 bit remasters! It was a big thing at the time, specifically in Japan.

As for imagineer, the main thing I know them for is melty lancer, which had so many versions and variants that it's hard to keep track, but a couple versions were okay?? And they published the medalot series.

They also published a lot of western games in Japan, or did conversions of them, which wasn't that popular an idea at the time. They brought tons of European pc games to the fm towns and pc-98 for example. Populous! Lemmings! Megalomania! All the sim games from the era!

I feel like they occupy a larger space in some of our minds because their games are SO OFTEN in the 500 yen or junk bins, so it gives a disproportionate impression of their importance or reach, when really I think they made bad choices but has good distribution, so you'd get a thousands of copies of a game nobody wants traded in to book off or whatever.

It's kind of amazing they're still around! How did they do it!

I didn't know about this game! It has pretty nice art??


@gyozaleaf#5048 The first Imagineer game I bought (also the first SS import I bought, in 1995) was Pretty Fighter X.

We should feel fortunate that you are still among us playing video games today...

Imagineer is the textbook case of a company chasing trends. They were created by some giant real estate conglomerate because that new Famicom toy was quite the rage among kids. I think, like Seta, they grew in importance and status thanks to their faithful support of Nintendo 64 when all the big guys abandoned the hardware for the PlayStation boom. In terms of development, they followed the Enix model of hiring small developers to take care of development.

Then, Imagineer left the traditional game market fairly early on (around the turn of the millenium) to get on the gold rush of mobile, but had the foresight to create a small subsidiary called Rocket Company in the process. Rocket Company then struck gold with the DS boom by producing one of the most successful kanji training software series (if I remember correctly) and the original FitBoxing on the Wii (I think it was called Shape Boxing in the west).

Rocket Company have been coasting on this success ever since, and looked to be pretty much on their last knees by 2016, Medarot notably failing to find a new audience on 3DS, at which point Rocket Company merged back into Imagineer. Then the Switch happened and the new FitBoxing once again struck gold. They were at 500.000 units sold worldwide at the end of last year, i.e. before COVID19 and Ring Fit Adventure getting sold out everywhere, so the sales must be pretty, pretty, pretty good by this point. Rocket Company has stuck with Nintendo hardware through and through and so they strive whenever Nintendo hardware strives.

The Imagineer you see today, in terms of game development, is pretty much Rocket Company in all but name.

I think some racing games (MCR and GT 64) were imagineer ventures. They get props from me because when I ripped the models for a project all the UVs were lined up correctly.

Quest 64 is a very weird game! It's super generic but I think that's where some of it's charm comes from. We got a copy because someone left it behind at a birthday party, and we didn't get very far except once we had another birthday party and through the process someone damn near played the entire game in like 4 hours.

Wow, I didn't realize the rocket company connection at all (though I never looked into it) - that explains a lot!

The authentic Rocket Company dudes are all still there, too, and they continue to get involved with niche projects that hearken back to their doujin days, like BEEP's Cotton X68000 reissue.


@Syzygy#5050 The credited developer is Infinity, however they have longstanding ties with Imagineer and with the opaque nature of most Japanese companies it’s hard to know exactly how their collaboration works.

G.O.D. was one of those "we're going to attach a ton of famous peoples' name to our RPG and advertise the shit out of it and hope people care"-type game, of which there were a ton in the mid-'90s, and my understanding is that Infinity worked on it as a contractor but it wasn't their game per se. The SFC doesn't have a great rep, by the way, for mostly technical reasons.


@exodus#5064 They also published a lot of western games in Japan, or did conversions of them, which wasn’t that popular an idea at the time. They brought tons of European pc games to the fm towns and pc-98 for example. Populous! Lemmings! Megalomania! All the sim games from the era!

That was all Infinity—in those early days, Infinity was basically a husband & wife studio and they both played a lot of foreign games and were fairly proficient with PC dev, so they did a lot of domestic ports and localisation. They're still around, mostly doing contract work, middleware, etc. The just-released Mr. Driller GC remaster was their doing, to give a recent example of their work.

G.O.D. always seemed to me like a pale imitation of Mother. Can’t say I had a great time with it… My fondest memory of an Imagineer game is when they riffed on Zelda II instead.


@gsk#5081 one of those “we’re going to attach a ton of famous peoples’ name to our RPG and advertise the shit out of it and hope people care”-type game, of which there were a ton in the mid-'90s

My “favorite” one of these is Tokyo Dungeon (1995, PlayStation). It has probably the most amazing <pompous ass packaging> to <actual value> ratio.

Okay this is exactly the thread I'd hoped it would be!

I had forgotten Battle of Olympus was Imagineer! That's a true fun fact and a fascinating story in its own right. This interview about its development by Parish is a must read:

This is a fun article! Shame the very first quote from horimoto has a typo.

I‘ve defended Quest 64 before! Obviously it can’t stand against other rpgs of the time but it had a nice simplicity. It was perfect if the idea of another awkwardly written rpg with too much junk had you bored. As someone who actually complained that Dragon Warrior 2 had “too many dudes” compared to the first game, you can imagine how annoyed I was with rpgs of the time. Quest 64 was a pleasant genre reset for me.

You could manipulate stats in interesting ways. You can dodge attacks but getting hit levels up a semi-hidden defense stat. Maybe you focus on healing and getting hit purposefully to make yourself super tuff etc. You'd think all you can do is simply level up but you can take your character in a lot of weird directions.

From a "just let me play the game" perspective Quest 64 can even seem smart compared to contemporary games in the modern context. From a "but let's get real here" perspective obviously it sucks but that conversation has been had a million times. This thread seems to reinforce the idea that Imagineer never got it together but it looks like there are a few interesting things out there.

wow…I didn't know much about their work as a publisher, but just looking at their MobyGames is a trip. They got the publishing rights to some amazing PC games (Lemmings, Worms, Descent, Wolfenstein….)


@Syzygy#5091 The SFC version? I was speaking for my own enjoyment of the game, but if so it’s telling in a way: the whole canon of beloved 16-bit JRPGs are all buggy messes and everyone gives them a pass because the glitches are looked on with nostalgia.

Yeah, typo.

The specific complaints you hear over and over again aren't balance-related or whatever but more immediate stuff like "there's insane lag on every button press", which definitely isn't an issue with the PS version,

@brentporter I‘m curious now because the way you describe it it sounds more like a hangout game - which doesn’t sound very imagineer to me, but if it is, I‘d like to give it a try. I know people’s opinions are kind of split on Quest 64, which is a step up from the near-universal hate or mediocre ratings it got at the time (that's my impression anyway)

Oh man that Battle for Olympus boss fight where you‘re only able to see their shadow is some really impressive stuff for the time. You really didn’t see much like that back then.

@exodus It‘s not a hard game and there isn’t much to get in your way (like a story lol) so I‘d say it’s very hangoutable! The problem is if you want to spend any time at all in a place that might look like this (pulled from the video above):

with some baby-like and N64-smudged music. I can't exactly recommend it but I think charm potential is high especially compared to other classic PS1 or Saturn rpgs that are more of a known quantity.

Is it the iridescent metallic ice cream zone or is it the classic bad N64 graphics zone? Does the game get out of your way and let you play or did they just leave out all the stuff that makes rpgs of the time great? Is it for babies? Am I a baby?

hmm, I‘ll get to the bottom of it and figure out who’s a baby

I have to say that while I am precisely the kind of person who looked down my nose at this game at the time, it appeals to me in a lot of ways that have to do with the passage of time on both it and me. But I say that having not, you know, actually played it.

I played through Quest 64 two or three years ago. I couldn't have done it without the strategy guide (which I found at a Goodwill a while before I actually bought the game); I found it easy to get disoriented.

well, I'll play til I quit :3