Data East (DE) began its operations on the 20th of April, 1976 by engineer Tetsu Fukuda as an electronics company and became well known throughtout the world for its video game titles. In January 1978, DE released their first videogame, Super Break which sparked 27 years in the video game industry and the release of 18 coin-op video games within Japan and 275 games worldwide.

It was Fukudas engineering experienced that led DE to begin developing the DECO cassette system. This new system which would enable an arcade owner to continue using existing Data East game cabinets as DECO game cassette tapes could be removed and replaced thus eliminating the expense of replacing the entire cabinet. DE was promising a supply of over ten originial videogames per year with this new hardware.

In 1982, DE would develop the wildly successful titles Burgertime and Bump ‘N’ Jump in August and November respectively, games that would go on to rival the current videogame phenoms of the time; Ms Pac Man, Galaga and Donkey Kong. The same year DE would enter the consumer videogame market with the release Burgertime, Bump ‘N’ Jump and Lock ‘N’ Chase on the Atari 2600 amongst other computer and videogame platforms.

In 1983, DE was thriving shipping over 35,000 DECO Cassettes systems, boasting over 70 game developers, 4 DE office buildings including a 7 story facility in Tokyo, a R&D and administrative HQ and a new manufacturing plant already busy assembling DECO cassette systems.

Unfortunately for DE, in 1984 the DECO cassette system was being slowly phased out for the more basic arcade boards due to growing complaints about the systems vulnerability to erasure and corruption. DE also began receiving some criticism for some of their sub-par game releases.

Yet, between 1983 and 1985, DE would continue productions at a staggering rate, releasing 37 games including the highly revered Karate Champ, the first 1on1, hand to hand fighting game.

DE would sign a Licensing agreement with Nintendo and become one of the first third-party publishers for the then emerging Super Famicon/NES system. The Nintendo DE partnership proved extremely lucrative, beginning with the Tag Team Wrestling game release in October 1986. Due to the partnership, DE was now bringing in $100 million annualy, 10 times the subsidiarys prior total annual sales. The partnership brought later bestsellers such as Breakthru, the aforementioned Burgertime, Cobra Command, Karate Champ, Karnov, Slide Pocket and RIng King.

DE Japan began growing in popularity on both coin-op game centre based arcade games and on home-based platforms due largely to the talented and varying styles of their game design team. Makoto Kikuchi was one of these developers who spearheaded the development of instant classic side-scrolling beat em up Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja. Other notable titles from DEs late 80s push were Karnov, featuring the iconic russian muscleman of the same name and the ever popular and seemingly ageless billiards game classic Side Pocket.

DE also found success in licensing motion picture related games such as Ghostbusters, Captain America and Robocop.

Gamadelic was a team of musicians DE used to compose specific music for their games. The 7 member group was formed in 1985 and would release 31 CD soundtracks between 1998 and 2002 and even perform in front of video game lovers in their own concerts.

With the industry becoming more saturated and in turn competitive, DE began to slow by the mid 90s as new powerhouses such as Virgin and EA emerged. The ability of these new combatants in the gaming industry with a comparatively endless financial advantage compared to DE signalled alarm bells. Although still having released 37 titles including Two Crude Dudes, Atomic Runner and High Seas Havoc across the popular platforms - NES Super NES, SEGA Megadrive and Gameboy - DE found itself in a crises with the literal explosion in the industry that occurred with the arrival of the SEGA Saturn and the PSone in 1995.

Forced into using 3rd party developers for PSone and Saturn content releases, DE games began receiving poor reviews. DE began to show a weakness particularly in the development and ability to produce contemporary games and was quickly falling behind the market standard.

DE attempted to enter the Sports game market with a basketball game featuring popular NBA player Dennis Rodman but due to poor development and costs the game was scrapped. Plans to develop PSone and saturn versions of MVP Baseball 97 and MVP College Football 97 also had to be scrapped and sold to Psygnosis due to delays and missing the opportune marketing period.

Things continued to worsen and in 1996, DE closed their consumer software division and began focusing solely on coin-op products. The company relocated to a smaller office in Sunnyvale and changed their game audience to target young children with such games as Rescue the Guppy and Wacky Alligator.

The final closing order occurred in April 1998. 1999 marked the final year DE released games in the consumer market in Japan. Later, it was revealed that DE was in fact $28million in debt and on July 7, 2003 a Tokyo district court officially declared Data East Corporation bankrupt.

Following the verdict G-mode, a Tokyo-based cell phone game content provider would acquire the majority of over 100 DE titles. G-mode has already utilized their Data East games by licensing them to Turner Broadcasting for its GameTap service and has produced a mobile verison of Burgertime. Furthermore, Paon Corporation, a Tokyo game developer, acutally made up of some former DE employees have retained some titles such as the popular Karnov.

Yutaka Hashimoto, the head of G-mode overseas business development has indicated that the company is looking to bring the DE library to Xbox Live Arcade and the Nintendo Wii.

Data East Corporation helped pioneer the game industry and provided some of the most influential ideas to the gaming industry. G-mode and Paon and their future endeavours will help maintain the legacy of Data East on the current platforms and online services.