Welcome back to AFPH’s heated discussion with Robbie around the Koei Executive Series classic, Aerobiz!
We dive deeper in to the history of Koei and the series itself and somehow fill over and hour of content! 🙂
Aerobiz (エアーマネジメント 大空に賭ける?, “Air Management: Ōzora ni Kakeru”) is a business simulation video game for the Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis game consoles, released in 1992 by Koei. It was also released for the FM Towns, PC-9801 and X68000 computer platforms in Japan. (wiki)
Koei Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game publisher, developer, and distributor founded in 1978. The company is known for its historical simulation games based on the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as well as simulation games based on pseudo-historical events.
The company has also found mainstream success in a series of loosely historical action games, the flagship titles of which are the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series, also known as the Musou series. Koei also owned a division known as Ruby Party, which focused in dating sim games.
On April 1, 2009, Koei merged with Tecmo to form the Tecmo Koei Holdings holding company. Koei changed its name to Tecmo Koei Games on April 1, 2010 by absorbing Tecmo, and again on July 1, 2014 to Koei Tecmo Games. As of 2015, Koei Tecmo Games continues to use the Koei brand.
Company History (wiki)
Koei was established in July 1978 by Yōichi Erikawa (also known as Kou Shibusawa) and Keiko Erikawa. Yoichi was a student at Keio University, and when his family’s rural dyestuffs business failed he decided to pursue his interest in programming. The company to this day is located in the Hiyoshi area of Yokohama along with Erikawa’s alma mater.
The company initially focused on personal computer sales and made-to-order business software. In 1983 it released Nobunaga’s Ambition (信長の野望 Nobunaga no Yabō), a historical strategy game set during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. The game went on to receive numerous awards, and Koei produced several more such games set against the backdrop of world history, including Romance of the Three Kingdoms, set during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, and Uncharted Waters (大航海時代Dai Kōkai Jidai, lit. Great Navigation Era), set in Portugal during the Age of Exploration.
In 1988, Koei established a North American subsidiary, Koei America Corporation, in California. This subsidiary localized Koei games for export to all territories outside Japan, as well as producing original games and concepts with the leadership of designer Stieg Hedlund, like Liberty or Death, Celtic Tales: Balor of the Evil Eye, Gemfire and Saiyuki: Journey West. After Hedlund’s departure, this subsidiary ceased game development in 1995, focusing instead on localization, sales and marketing.
A Canadian subsidiary, Koei Canada, Inc. was established in early 2001, and a European subsidiary, Koei Limited was established in early 2003 in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Koei also maintains subsidiaries in mainland China, Korea, Taiwan and Lithuania. Recently, Koei created a Singapore branch for game development such as Sangokushi Online.
All Koei operations in English in turn ceased in 2012, with the previously unannounced closing of Koei’s North American support forums and website. They resumed in 2016, with the English language PC release of Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII.
Koei’s Ruby Party division specializes on games labeled as Neoromance: GxB dating sims, usually with extra side-quests. Out of the three Neoromance series, the best known is Angelique, which has been in production since 1994. Harukanaru Toki no Naka de is a newer Neoromance hit, with many sequels and an anime TV series based on it. The newest game in the series, Kin’iro no Corda, is gaining popularity partially because the manga series it was based on, has been recently licensed by Viz for English language publishing. It gaining more popularity though, and an anime television series based on it began airing in October 2006. A sequel was also released on the PlayStation 2 in March 2007.
On September 4, 2008, Koei announced that it was in talks to purchase ailing competitor Tecmo. They agreed in November 2008 to merge on April 1, 2009 to form Tecmo Koei Holdings. On January 26, 2009 the two companies approved the merger, the holding company formed on April 1, 2009 as planned.
On April 1, 2010, Koei absorbed Tecmo and renamed itself Tecmo Koei Games. Koei’s subsidiaries in the United States, Europe and Korea already had their names changed months before the Japanese parent. On March 15, 2010, the developing operations of Koei and Tecmo were spun off as new companies under the names of Koei Co, Ltd and Tecmo Co, Ltd respectively, but they were integrated into Tecmo Koei Games the following year, on April 1, 2011. Koei continues as a brand within Tecmo Koei Games.
Koei Games (wiki)
- Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War An action/strategy game based on the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. (For the PlayStation 3, Playstation 4 and Xbox 360).
- Croc series (Japanese version of all Croc games distributed by Koei) released for the PlayStation.
- Crimson Sea (initially released for Xbox in 2002, whereas its sequel was released for PlayStation 2 in 2004).
- Destrega A unique 1 vs 1 fighter produced for the PlayStation system.
- Dynasty Warriors 1–8 (as well as expansions ‘Xtreme Legends’ for 3–8, ‘Empires’ for 4–8, plus a Game Boy Advance, a Nintendo DS and three PlayStation Portable games) (真・三國無双 Shin-Sangoku Musō; spin-off of Romance of the Three Kingdoms).
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam For the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it is based on the mechanics of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, only using the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise as its base. (ガンダム無双 Gundam Musō).
- Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
- Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U
- Hyrule Warriors for Wii U, a Dynasty Warriors style game for The Legend of Zelda franchise.
- Mystic Heroes for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2.
- Ni-Oh for PlayStation 4
- One Piece: Pirate Warriors for the PlayStation 3.
- Prey the Stars exclusively released for the Nintendo DS.
- Samurai Warriors, Samurai Warriors 2, and Samurai Warriors 3 (as well as an Xtreme Legends expansion to both, and Empires expansion to 2, a PSP game, Samurai Warriors: State of War, and Samurai Warriors: Katana for the Wii.) (戦国無双 Sengoku Musō). Many spinoffs of this have been created including Derby Musou and Samurai Warriors Chronicles series.
- Stop That Roach! Action/Puzzle game released in 1994 for Game Boy.
- Warriors: Legends of Troy is a Koei Canada game which was announced at E3 2009.
- Warriors Orochi for the PlayStation 2, PSP, PC and Xbox 360, it is the first Koei crossover title, featuring characters from the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors games. (無双OROCHI).
- WinBack Third person shooter game for Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 2.
- Trinity: Zill O’ll Zero exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
- Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper exclusively for the Wii U
- Bandit Kings of Ancient China – Released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, MS-DOS, Amiga & Macintosh.
- Genghis Khan series.
- Liberty or Death – Based on the American Revolutionary war.
- Nobunaga’s Ambition series – published on various platforms.
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms I to XI released on the MSX, MSX2, NES, SNES, Genesis, Amiga, PC-Engine CD-ROM, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and PC – turn based strategy games
- Rise of the Phoenix – Based on the wars of the early Han and Chu dynasties in China, released on the SNES.
- BoBoiBoy Galactic Heroes – From In Association With Koei and Based on the BoBoiBoy go to Galaxy released in Google Play.
- AeroBiz Supersonic – Airline simulator
- Celtic Tales: Balor of the Evil Eye – Medieval fantasy simulator.
- Gemfire – Medieval fantasy simulator.
- Genghis Khan
- Kessen II
- Kessen III
- L’Empereur – Turn-based strategy game released on the Nintendo Entertainment System
- P.T.O.: Pacific Theater of Operations
- P.T.O. II: Pacific Theater of Operations
- P.T.O. IV: Pacific Theater of Operations
- Naval Ops: Warship Gunner 2
- Nobunaga’s Ambition series – published on various platforms
- Operation Europe: Path to Victory – A strategy game set in Europe during World War II
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms
- Teitoku no Ketsudan (PTO: Pacific Theater of Operations in North America) – Pacific War strategy games
- BoBoiBoy Galactic Heroes – From In Association With Koei and Based on the BoBoiBoy go to Galaxy released in Google Play
- Aerobiz and Aerobiz Supersonic – Airline business simulator series
- Top Management – Business simulator series
- Top Management II – Released on the Super Famicom, Microsoft Windows PC and NEC PC-9801
- Winning Post – Thoroughbred horse racing management and horse breeding simulator series
- Pop Cutie! Street Fashion Simulation – fashion design and business management simulation
- Leading Company – Video cassette recorder business simulator
- Bandit Kings of Ancient China
- Brandish (Super NES port)
- Danchi Zuma no Yuuwaku
- Inindo: Way of the Ninja (for Super NES) Also part of Rekoeition series
- Nobunaga’s Ambition
- Saiyuki: Journey West
- Sangokushi Eiketsuden, Sangokushi Koumeiden, Sangokushi Sousouden (as Tactical RPG)
- Soul Master
- Gitaroo Man (As well as a PlayStation Portable version called Gitaroo Man Lives!)
- Ishin no Arashi – First game of Rekoeition series.
- Inindo: Way of the Ninja 伊忍道 打倒信長
- Uncharted Waters (大航海時代 Dai Kōkai Jidai; lit. Great Navigation Era) – Based on the Age of Discovery.
- Taikō Risshiden （太閤立志伝）
- Saihai no Yukue (采配のゆくえ)
Aerobiz – 1992 SNES
Genre: Strategy/Simulator/Business Simulator
Ports: Sega Genesis, X68000, FM Towns, NEC PC-9801
As CEO of a budding international airline, the player has a limited amount of time to expand their business to become the industry leader against three other airlines (either AI-controlled or human opponents). The player has an amount of control over how their airline develops, such as the name, investments, what routes to fly, plane purchases, and other various aspects, while at the mercy of world events such as politics (for instance, if the player runs his or her airline out of Moscow, he or she can initially only buy Soviet planes and will have a harder time negotiating with Western nations) and natural disasters. The player can also get the company involved in peripheral businesses such as hotels and shuttle services. Once Perestroika is initiated, then the Cold War restrictions no longer apply in the game. (wiki)
Notable Releases in 1992:
- Dune II – Westwood Studios, PC
- Mega Man 4 (and 5)- Capcom, NES
- Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss – Blue Sky Productions, PC
- Kirby’s Dream Land – Nintendo, Gameboy
- Ecco the Dolphin – Sega, Genesis
- Super Mario Kart – Nintendo, SNES
- Championship Manager – Domark, Amiga
- Art of Fighting – SNK, Arcade
- Virtua Racing – Sega, Arcade
- Mortal Kombat – Midway Games, Arcade
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Sega, Genesis
- Alone in the Dark – Interplay, PC
Aerobiz features two timeframes to play the game through: 1963 to 1995, and 1983 to 2015. After selecting the timeframe, the players then choose a city for their airline’s headquarters. This allows a certain amount of handicapping: some cities, such as New York, London, and Tokyo, start the player with many airplanes and a large amount of money; others, such as Lima, Nairobi, and Honolulu, start the player with only a couple of airplanes and a small amount of money. The players then select a difficulty level, which affects the amount of passengers, world events (and the reactions of the passengers to those world events), and the win conditions. A charter system of independent airlines can have their shares bought or sold on the stock market; owning at least 51% of the company makes it eligible to be assimilated into the main airline.
The gameplay is superficially straightforward: players negotiate for access slots at each airport, buy airplanes, then open routes and start business. After each player has made their desired moves, the game shows any world events that affect the players (for instance, a labor strike will delay shipments of aircraft from that company, while the Olympic Games will boost traffic worldwide, particularly to the host city). The game then shows the results of direct competition between airlines flying the same routes, then the quarterly results of sales, expenses, profits, and passengers flown. After the January–March quarter of every year, it also shows annual results. There are elements of enhancing airline service, such as improving the convenience of arrivals/departures, along with reductions in fare, improving the quality of service along with advertising campaigns.
The game is won by the first player to achieve the win conditions: link all 22 cities and carry a certain number of passengers (between 2.5 million and 4.5 million, based on difficulty level), all while remaining profitable. If a player goes for four quarters with a negative balance, the company is declared bankrupt and offered reorganization. If the game goes for 32 years (128 turns) without any player meeting the win conditions, the game is called a loss. (wiki)
Aerobiz Supersonic – 1993 SNES
Genre: Strategy/Simulator/Business Simulator
See Aerobiz story section above.
Notable Releases in 1993:
- Star Fox – Nintendo, SNES
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – Nintendo, Gameboy
- Samurai Shodown – SNK, Arcade
- Secret of Mana – Square, SNES
- Sonic CD – Sega, Sega CD
- Doom – id Software, PC
- Virtua Fighter – Sega, Arcade
- SimCity 2000 – Maxis, PC
- Mortal Kombat II – Midway, Arcade
- Daytona USA – Sega, Arcade
- X-Wing – LucasArts, PC
- Myst – Broderbund, PC
- Disney’s Aladdin – Virgin Games, Genesis
- Mega Man X – Capcom, SNES
- Mega Man 6 – Capcom, NES
In the game, which is essentially the same as its predecessor, the player is the CEO of a start-up international airline. The player competes with three other such companies (either AI-controlled or other players) for dominance in the worldwide travel industry. Such dominance is obtained by purchasing slots in various airports around the world, and flying routes to and from those slots. Once a route is created, the player has control of what type of planes fly the route, the price of airfare, and numerous other variables.
The game includes numerous historical events that can help or hinder airline performance. Four different eras of play available for the player to choose. They include 1955–1975 (which depicts the dawn of jet airplanes), 1970–1990 (which depicts a period of instability, oil crises, and the end of the Cold War), 1985–2005 (which depicts the present day of economic prosperity and relative stable peace), and 2000–2020 (which depicts the replacement of jet planes with supersonic airplanes, the European Union extending to Russia, and countries trying to get airlines to fund alternative fuel research). This futuristic era was chosen by SG and Koei to be illustrated by San Francisco illustrator Marc Ericksen for the packaging art, showing two executives conferring over a holographic aircraft design in a futuristic airline terminal.
Airlines must be able to achieve the goals assigned to them within 20 years; only one airline can achieve this victory with no draws permitted. If none of the airlines can achieve the goal, then all airlines lose because stalemates are not permitted at the end of the game. Tiebreakers are also not permitted because games are not usually designed to be in ties at the end of the 20-year contest. In the rare instance that all airlines go bankrupt simultaneously, then all airlines would also lose. (wiki)
Air Management ‘96 – 1996 Playstation
Genre: Strategy/Simulator/Business Simulator
Ports: Sega Saturn
See Aerobiz story section above.
Notable Releases in 1996:
- Duke Nukem 3D – 3D Realms, PC
- Pokémon Red and Green – Nintendo, Game Boy
- Super Mario RPG – Nintendo, SNES
- Metal Slug – SNK, Neo Geo
- Quake – id Software, PC
- NiGHTS into Dreams – Sega, Saturn
- Tomb Raider – Eidos, PC/PS1/Saturn
- Diablo – Blizzard Ent, PC
- Super Mario 64 – Nintendo, N64
- Civilization II – MicroProse, PC
- Resident Evil – Capcom, PS1
- Time Crisis – Namco, Arcade
- Resident Evil – Capcom, Playstation
- Panzer Dragoon II Zwei – Sega, Saturn
- Tekken 2 – Namco, Playstation
- Virtua Fighter 3 – Sega, Arcade
- Jet Moto – SingleTrac, Playstation
- Crash Bandicoot – Naughty Dog, Playstation
- Street Fighter Alpha 2 – Capcom, Arcade
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert – Westwood Studios, PC
- Dead or Alive – Tecmo, Arcade
- Mega Man 8 – Capcom, Playstation
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – LucasArts, N64
- Virtua-On: Cyber Troopers – Sega, Arcade
- Virtua Cop 2 – Sega, Arcade
- Fighting Vipers – Sega, Arcade
Air Management ’96 is a sequel/remake to the other games in the Air Management series. Like previous titles, the game is an airline management simulation however graphics and interface have been updated to 3D. Players take control of an airline as it’s CEO, and must first select the name, tail logo and home airport of their airline. The game is turn-based between each airline. Each airline has four “board members” who can be assigned to perform various tasks, which take varying length to accomplish. These tasks include buying aircraft, bidding for slots at an airport, buying facilities at an airport and marketing a PR campaign in a region. Once the player has purchased aircraft, they must further make planning of the route between two airports with available slots. Once a route is setup, the player is able to manage how many planes fly the route daily and the number of passengers they carry, as well as ticket price.
The game is played over one of two scenarios, each representing a different era. The game is over when any airline reaches the target money amount. (mobygames)