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The fall of the titans part 3: What once was shall be again


They say that you canít keep a good game company down. Actually, I donít know if anyone really says that, but the fact of the matter is that it supports my topic for today, so letís just go with it.

There are plenty of game companies from the past that just canít seem to die no matter how badly the companyís games, executives, or competitors try to kill it. Whether the company just lives on in name, in spirit, or in its entirety, there are plenty of companies that have fallen and, like that place in Arizona, have risen again from the ashes to give this whole ďvidja-game makinĒ thing one more try.

Letís take a look at one of these companies today, tracking its glory days, fall, and eventual rebirth.

Tradewest: All this has happened before and will happen again

Weíll have to go back in time a bit for this one. If you love games like Ikari Warriors, Battletoads, Double Dragon, and Battletoads/Double Dragon, then you likely know the name Tradewest, which originally published a few SNK arcade games in the States before switching to home consoles right around 1988.

In fact, Tradewestís ties with SNK were rather tight in the beginning. Tradewest was founded in 1986 by an ex-SNK executive by the name of John Rowe, along with a banker/rancher Leland Cook and his son Byron Cook. You canít make this stuff up. Tradewest was founded in part by a farmer. Man, Texas is awesome sometimes.

Anyway, the early days of arcade cabinet development for Tradewest wasnít particularly awesome. Sure, Ikari Warriors was a pretty great game, but the games that Tradewest made themselves werenít so awesome. There was Redline Racer, which Iím only about 65% sure is a real game, because I canít find any real information about it. Then there was Victory Road, the sequel to Ikari Warriors. Again, I donít know a ton about this game, nor is there a whole lot written about it out there, but hereís a choice nugget from Wikipedia: ďUpon starting the game the player would be greeted by a giant floating head who would exclaim, "Warriors! Show some guts! You can't escape me! Come get me if you can! Ha ha ha ha haa!" At this point the floating head would fly off screen and the gameplay commenced.Ē What I gather from this is that, basically, the game was awesome.

Tradewest really came into its own later in its life. It published the NES version of Double Dragon in the US in 1988, and later published the Game Boy version in 1990. They also formed the Leland Corporation, which made a few somewhat memorable games in its short days, including John Elway's Quarterback Challenge and Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off Road, both of which having a propensity toward showing up in old local pizza parlors that had two or three game cabinets in some dark corner. Tradewest later made home versions of both of these games.

Then there were, of course, the Battletoads games developed first by Rare and published by Tradewest, which led to a partnership that saw Tradewest publishing the US versions of many of their games, including future releases in the Battletoads series, and the RC Pro Am home versions. There are plenty of other notable games too, such as Plok and Troy Aikman NFL Football.

So, what happened to Tradewest? Like so many other dead gaming companies, Tradewest was dissolved as a company when it was purchased by another entity. In this case, it was a company by the name of WMS Industries, Inc., which you likely donít recognize. You will recognize both Williams (an earlier maker of nearly every pinball table in existence) and Midway (whose history could probably span three of these posts), both of which were parts of WMS.

Tradewest was purchased in 1994 by WMS and renamed Williams Entertainment, which essentially acted as the companyís ticket to get into console gaming. This turned out to be a really stupid purchase for the company, as it quickly decided that it wasnít really interested in home console gaming and transferred the division to Midway, where it became Midway Home Entertainment. Confused yet?

As an aside, remember John Rowe and Byron Cook, the two executives of Tradewest? Their future endeavors are nothing short of classic. Rowe stayed in the gaming industry until 2001, at which point he moved on to photography. He has turned into quite the respected photographer of indigenous cultures in Africa and Asia. And Byron Cook? Heís currently a Texas State Representative. From video games to politics, huh?

Anyway, hereís where it gets really crazy. Through all of this business insanity, Midway of course purchased the rights to Tradewestís name. When Midway began to go through bankruptcy a few years ago, the company dropped a bunch of executives, including one by the name of Martin Spiess. Well, just last month, Spiess purchased Midway Games Ltd., which was the UK-based publishing and development branch of Midway, which also, for some reason, owned the Tradewest name. The best part? Spiess decided to call the new company Tradewest Games. Indeed, Tradewest is back.

Itís hard to say at this point what the future of Tradewest is. Could there be new Battletoads in the future? Some entirely new IPs? Only time will tell, but itís great to know that Tradewest lives on. With any luck, the Tradewest name will once again grace the covers of some of our most beloved video game purchases. And, seriously: Give me more Battletoads.
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About Andrew Kauzone of us since 5:10 PM on 04.30.2009

In loving memory: PAX 2009 (thanks ZombiePlatypus! And WalkYourPath, of course)

I'm Kauza, which is pronounced like cause-uh. My real name's Andrew Kauz, if you'd rather go for that.

I like talking to Dtoid people, so please add me on your favorite social networking site:
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kauza
Gchat: santakauz[at]gmail.com.

Basics: I'm 25, and I write things.

Eternal thanks go out to Y0j1mb0 for the amazing header image you see above. So, thanks, sir!

Look at some of the things I've written.

Things on the Front Page:

Mass Effect, Metal Gear, Moon Unit, and more: An interview with Jennifer Hale
The Future: Demanding more from the voices of videogames
Love/Hate: A plea to play as a female Shepard
A warning: Regrets from a former life and experiences yet unlived
Top ten games for people who hate Thanksgiving
The wrong thing: Being evil should be more like sex
Staying dry in a sea of spoilers is a matter of building a boat
Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
Come, take your pilgrimage to gaming's one true mecca
Here's to you, random-JRPG-dialogue-writer-man
The forgotten: Crushing disappointment at the hands of Crash 'n the Boys
The people who have the power to change the world
Improving game communities: Enough with the negativity
The draw of exploration: Antarctica to Oblivion, Shackleton to Shadow Complex
I suck at games: BlazBlue and a slapdash attempt at fisticuffs
I, the Author: My Everest
Untapped Potential: The Gamer's Education
Other Worlds than These: Our World, Only Different

A series sort of thing about status effects
Toxic Megacolon and other fresh status effects
Curse you, status effects, stop confusing my heart
Status effects are poisons that turn my silent heart to stone
Also check out the related forum thread.

The Fall of the Titans (wherein I talk about dead or dying gaming companies)

The fall of the titans part 3: What once was shall be again
The fall of the titans: Sega died so that we might dream of the future
The fall of the titans: Why do the giants of gaming die?

Stories from the Past (a series about my experiences playing certain games):

Stories from the Past: Tobal 2, Tomba! 2, and console double-vision
Stories from the Past: Diablo and the Dark Ride
Stories from the Past: What the f*ck, mom?
Stories from the Past: Xexyz and the battle aboard Turtlestar Lobsterica
Stories from the Past: The One-Balled Man-Bear
Stories from the Past: The Battle of Olympus
Stories from the Past: Suikoden 2

Storytelling (a series about, well, storytelling):

Storytelling: The Problem of Genres
Storytelling: Mass Effect, Vonnegut, and the Fourth Rule
Storytelling: Doing Nothing in "The Darkness"
Storytelling: The Power of a Single Line (Yeah, it was my first post.)

Other stuff that is good:

Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
A consuming power: The demon and the borderlands
Can games transcend good and evil?
Nothing is sacred: We won't let you go alone, but we have made a tragic decision
How Destructoid single-handedly changed my motherís opinion of gaming
Why Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest sports game of all time
Seven reasons that I will end you in creative ways if you don't play Folklore
Mother Nature and the Impending Death of the Gaming Spirit
Times Games Forgot: The Dark Ages
The Sins and Successes of In-game Collectibles
The Lock is Broken
When Music Surpasses the Game
Truckasaurus Rex and the Humor of Games
I Want to Cry (storytelling related, but not part of the series)

I have others as well that you can check out on my blog. You'll enjoy them or your money back.

Since it seems like the cool thing to do, here a list of my favorite games that is coming straight out of my ass and onto your computer screen, and in no particular order.

Fallout 3
Uncharted 2
Suikoden 2
Mass Effect / ME2
Metal Gear Solid followed by any number you can think of
Tales of Somethingendinginia (OK, and the Abyss)
Battlefield: Bad Company
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PSN ID:santakauz
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