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Treasure's Gems: A History of Action Gaming
posted by: RJ Brooks
developer: Treasure
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date posted: 10:07 AM Mon Feb 20th, 2006
last revision: 05:37 PM Sat Feb 25th, 2006

Click to read.Note: This is the first of a six-part series. Scroll to the bottom of this article for links to the rest of the series.

To say Treasure is my favorite game developer would be an understatement. They are the reason I have not given up on gaming, and still own a Sega Genesis (Gunstar Heroes), Sega Saturn (Guardian Heroes), Dreamcast (Bangai-O), and prefer a Gameboy Advance (Astro Boy, Gunstar Super Heroes) over any current next generation system out now.

They are an independent game development company that has made games for other game companies (Wario World), as well as companies from other industries (Mc Donalds, and Astro Boy), however, the majority of their work is original.

The originality of their games comes from a number of design aesthetics that Treasure has stood by since the company\'s inception. For instance, Treasure prefers having small development teams work on projects instead of large ones because they want the creativity and personality of the game designers to be expressed in the games, and they feel a large development team would work against that.

They are masters of 2D gaming, and openly flaunt this in their titles. Even games that are placed in 3D environments are designed with 2D gameplay mechanics, a formula that Treasure\'s president has hinted they will continue on next generation systems.

Treasure\'s games often take a traditional genre-- typically action, platform, and puzzle style gaming-- and add a unique twist that has a major effect on the gameplay mechanics. No matter how chaotic the gameplay may become, there is always a sense of strategy that is required to successfully win and enjoy the experience. They are known for big and creative boss battles, and simple controls that make their games easy to pick up and play. Their games display a quirky sense of humor that is quintessentially Japanese, as is the music. The art direction traditionally has an anime look and is very colorful.

Treasure was created when a group of disgruntled Konami employees decided to quit the company and start their own because they wanted more creative freedom. While at Konami, Treasure team worked on the 16-bit classic games like Super Contra III and Super Castlevania for Super Nintendo. Both of those games are known for their intense action, huge boss battles, unique gameplay, and pushing the capabilities of the Super Nintendo\'s hardware. The game developers took these design traits with them to Treasure, and the company has established themselves to provide these same qualities in their various titles.

Their first game under the moniker Treasure was Gunstar Heroes for the Sega Genesis. Gunstar Heroes, more than anything, defined Treasure\'s image. It pushed the system hardware, presenting environments and capabilities that were once considered impossible on the Sega Genesis. Gunstar Heroes received massive praise from anyone who played it and has grown a cult following over the years. Over the lifespan of the system, Treasure would continue to create games exclusively for the Genesis, including Dynamite Heady, Alien Soldier, Light Crusader, and McDonald\'s Treasureland Adventure.

When the 32-bit systems emerged, Treasure once again aligned themselves with Sega to support the Sega Saturn, releasing Guardian Heroes, Radiant Silvergun, and Silhouette Mirage. With limited promotion, the games never took off in the United States like they should/could have, but ultimately built legacies similar to Gunstar Heroes (Guardian Heroes can now be purchased on ebay for $125+). They did not limit themselves strictly to Sega this time, also making games for the Sony Playstation (Silhouette Mirage-a port of a game they made for Sega Saturn and Rakugaki Showtime) and Nintendo 64 (Bangai-O and Mischief Makers)

When the Sega Dreamcast released, Treasure continued to support Sega, porting a revised version of Bangai- O to the system. They also had another game that was in production, Gunbeat, which was ultimately cancelled.

By the time the Sony Playstation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo Gamecube had all entered the market, Sega had bowed out of the console war and became strictly a game developer. Since then, Treasure has created games for the Playstation 2 (Stretch Panic) and Gamecube (Wario World). The system that has seen the most support from them, though, has been the Gameboy Advance. In the past 2 years, the GBA has been fortunate enough to receive the critically acclaimed Astro Boy (based on the classic anime and manga series by Osamu Tezuka), and the long awaited sequels to both Gunstar Heroes and Guardian Heroes.

As the next generation of systems have been promoted over the past two years, Treasure has stated they plan to work with all of them, though they have not confirmed exactly what the games they will be (with the exception of a game they released for Nintendo DS this past year called Bleech).

Treasure is one of the unsung heroes of the game development industry. With consistently high quality titles, Treasure has proven numerous times why they are one of the best game development companies in existence. It\'s no wonder why Treasure has become a fan-favorite development house, sure to make certain gamers pant in anticipation at the mere mention of a new Treasure title in the works.

To get a better idea of what I am talking about, I have written five reviews of games they have created to go along with this editorial. These will be posted over the next five days, so keep checking back for more retro reviews of these Treasure games.

Please note: The rest of this six-part series will be uploaded over the next week, and links to the other reviews in the series will be activated below.

Game Reviews:


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