The Franchise Report: Jaleco
Welcome to The Franchise Report, where we take a look at a 3rd party game publisher and see how their biggest franchises are doing these days.
Today we look at Jaleco, nobody’s favorite publisher. Their shovelware output has often been referred to as “Jaleco Junk” and for good reason. They were responsible for bringing a cavalcade of less than spectacular games to market. However, they also managed to have a hand in bringing a couple of fairly beloved franchises to the masses as well. Let’s see how a few of the more well liked Jaleco published series are doing.
This game wasn’t the biggest success in the world here in the US, but it was a pretty popular title in Japan, especially on the Famicom. That's not to say it didn't achieve any popularity over here, because it was a moderate success. It’s a game about a car trying to cover as much ground as it can while avoiding the cops and some pretty annoying cats. It’s a fun game, and it still has a cult following to this day.
Health rating: Great, but in a weird way
The last original City Connection game was City Connection: Rocket, which was a mobile game from 2004. That was ported to Switch in 2021, but that’s kind of it. I say “kind of” because while the game series itself isn’t exactly what I’d call active, the name is. The company who currently owns all of Jaleco’s assets actually named itself City Connection after the classic game series. They’re still around, too. So, I guess that’s something.
If there is one brand Jaleco is known for in the US, it's Bases Loaded. This one has a funny history as the first release in Japan was actually a Namco joint, and it’s considered hilariously bad. It sure as heck caught on in the US though, where it spawned an entire series that Jaleco continued to publish for years. The quality of the first game is indeed questionable, but it was still a pretty fun game, and quite revolutionary in terms of presentation.
Health rating: Not so great
Bases Loaded games were a regular occurrence until 1995 when they released both Super Bases Loaded 3: License to Steal for Super NES and Bases Loaded ‘96: Double Header for PlayStation and Saturn. After that the series went dormant all the way until 2015 when a company called Mindwave released Moero!! Pro Yakyū: Home Run Kyōsō SP for Japanese mobile devices. That was the last anyone’s heard of Bases Loaded though, which doesn’t bode well for the baseball classic. Still, if RBI can manage a comeback, maybe Bases Loaded will return someday too.
Jaleco tried to branch out to other sports games once Bases Loaded proved to be a massive success. Stuff like Racket Attack and Hoops managed to find an audience, but not the same way as their Baseball series did. One other brand did manage to catch on more than the others though, and that was their soccer series Goal! Goal! was a surprisingly fun soccer game that tried to take a more realistic approach to the sport than had been seen on the NES up to that point. It had some shockingly great music too.
Health rating: Basically dead
Goal! had a pretty decent run for a little while there. The first game got a Super NES conversion 4 years after the NES version hit store shelves, and the following year the NES game got a direct sequel in the aptly named game Goal! Two. Super Goal! Two showed up on Super NES a year after that in 1993, but that’s the last time the brand surfaced. Soccer continues to be the most popular sport on the planet though, and while other companies have a pretty tight stranglehold on the sport, I wouldn’t count the series out entirely. Perhaps a new retro-inspired soccer game could surface someday.
Shatter Hand is a Natsume-developed action game with some incredible box art. It was released in arcades, but most people who know this game know it because of the NES port, which Jaleco published. Memorable box art aside, Shatter Hand is a pretty awesome action game in its own right, and has earned a bit of a cult following over the years. You control a character that can punch all sorts of stuff, even bullets! So yeah, it’s kind of awesome.
Health rating: Very dead
Shatter Hand may be a fairly well loved game, but it was sadly a one and done release. It’s never even been ported to other platforms, which is a real shame. It surged in popularity once the internet became a thing thanks to its frankly ridiculous box art, and as such is one of the more expensive NES games out there these days, but sadly that doesn’t mean much for the game's actual living legacy. It’s possible this could still show up on Nintendo Switch Online or something, but I doubt it. Shatter Hand might just be gone for good.
The Peace Keepers
Unlike Shatter Hand, this game is a genuine Jaleco joint. They developed and released it. It's a Super NES beat em up along the same lines as Final Fight. 2-player simultaneous play, pretty decent character designs, and it reviewed pretty well when it came out. The Peace Keepers seemed like it had everything going for it, and it’s even become a pretty expensive SNES game thanks to its relative rarity. Of course just about EVERY Super NES game is expensive these days, but you get my meaning.
Health rating: Not quite dead
The Peace Keepers should have been a series. I’m not saying it was a masterpiece or anything, but it had promise. Sadly, it never saw a sequel, or even a port until 2020, and the original came out in 1993. That's a pretty long wait to see any sort of attention paid to a game, but it’s better than Shatter Hand, so I say it’s not completely dead. Will its clinging to life actually mean anything? Who knows? I suppose time will tell.
Man, that was kind of a depressing Franchise Report, eh? Jaleco doesn’t have a stellar reputation, but it was responsible for bringing some genuine classics our way, and it’s a bummer to see that none of their most memorable stuff is still properly alive today. Ah well, they can’t all live forever, right?
That wraps up this edition of The Franchise Report. Come back next time when we’ll have a look at good old Hudson Soft. The house that Bomberman built might be owned by Konami these days, but their brand is actually still more or less kicking. Should be a fun one, or at the very least it should be more uplifting than poor Jaleco. Until next time!