(The series featured here is Alundra. The art seems to be official, even though I don’t have explicit confirmation or a proper source.)
Contrail, alongside Sugar & Rockets and Arc Entertainment, was one of the subsidiaries set up during the PS1 era to oversee external titles. Unlike its peers, which developed a number of titles themselves along with helping develop others, Contrail seems to have been purely a production company.
One of the major figures of Contrail was a person by the name of Takahiro Kaneko. Before Contrail’s formation in 1997, Kaneko was still involved with a number of titles, namely Elemental Gearbolt, Crime Crackers 2, Wild Arms 1 and Velldeselba Senki though we will be covering the titles he and his company worked on from 1997 to 2000. Kaneko was still involved last generation, working as Executive Producer in several Level-5 collaborations and Demon’s Souls, and also worked as Supervisor for title like Tokyo Jungle and Rain.
For this post I had to check with the English and Japanese Wikipedia’s as both Giant Bomb and GameFAQ’s have very few titles of theirs covered.
The combined total no. of titles that Contrail have had involvement in are
Legend of Legaia
Tamago De Puzzle
Ore no Shikabane wo Koete Yuke
Wild Arms 2
Boku no Natsuyasumi
Both sites had the same titles. The Japanese site did have Linda Cube Again, but it’s not actually a PlayStation IP anyway (I’ll explain this later). There has been a lot of confusing and conflicting information on this topic. In fact this may have been the first time where PSX Data Center has been incorrect for my uses, as they only listed Alfa System as the developers (when in fact, Mars Corporation and Contrail appear at the very beginning of the game alongside Alfa System)
While not all of the information has been completely incorrect, for this post I’ve had to basically look at in-game footage to verify Contrail’s involvement in these titles. While it was a bit annoying, it was the most accurate way of verifying Contrail titles.
There are a few notes
-Alundra 1 released before Contrail was formed (it would not be formed until several months later in the same year). Despite this, the head of Contrail, Takahiro Kaneko, did indeed work on Alundra 1 and acted as Producer
-I could not find a decent video of Tamago De Puzzle that had the Contrail logo. All of them skipped straight to gameplay. I may try to verify this quickly by emulator or I might try Nico Nico video, but there don’t seem to be enough videos of the title on Youtube, even when using Japanese kanji.
-We mentioned Linda Cube Again earlier, well this title did NOT have a Contrail logo. This, however is fine as it is not a PlayStation series by any means; Linda Cube Again is a PC-Engine remake of the original Alfa/Mars title, Linda Cube, and a copyrighted image of the title showed the game was licensed to Sony, with ownership going to Alfa System, Mars Corporation and NEC BIGLOBE, Ltd.
For once, the English Wikipedia was strangely the most accurate source of information, which is a bit of a first. Getting on track, these are the titles that we will be looking at today:
Alundra 1 and Alundra 2
Legend of Legaia and Legaia: Duel Saga
In regards to the other titles, this is not an issue with ownership. I have verified most of the other titles and confirmed that they are PlayStation series. The only reason I’m not covering them now is that they’re noteworthy enough to get their own individual posts:
- OreShika, Wild Arms and Boku no Natsuyasumi are all series that aren’t really *Contrail* titles.
- Wild Arms existed before Contrail was even formed and can be covered in a general Media.Vision post alongside other related titles like the Crime Crackers games and Rapid Reload / Gunners Heaven
- The same principle applies with the OreShika games and other Alfa System titles like the Gunparade series. Elemental Gearbolt and Project Horned Owl can also be covered in an Alfa System post (if they are PS-related; I haven’t confirmed those two)
- Boku no Natsuyasumi is/was also a big enough series that Contrail’s involvement is more of a footnote than anything.
The Alundra series and Tiny Bullets on the other hand, didn’t really get any extra titles after Contrail and while this isn’t to say that Contrail’s involvement was necessary, it does make more sense to feature titles that only really lasted under Contrail’s tenure as opposed to series that would long after the production company’s reintegration in SCEI.
As for Legaia Duel Saga, that’s not strictly a Contrail title (as a sequel was created even after Contrail) but Takahiro Kaneko did work on the title. Additionally, not only is Legaia not that notable as a PlayStation series, there is also no information on Prokion that it wouldn’t be worth doing a solo Prokion post. So it makes more sense to me to cover it now.
(We also basically covered Hermie Hopperhead: Scrap Panic and, by extension, Tamago de Puzzle anyway in a previous post, so we’re going to gloss over that.)
The Alundra Series
Developed by Matrix Software, Alundra is a 2D Zelda-esque RPG. While I have not personally played the series, the first Alundra title seems to be fairly well liked among the hardcore. The music, the relatively dark story and the gameplay are all reasons I’ve seen the game get praise, though the sequel is not nearly as well liked (seemingly resembling Alundra in name only).
I do know that the developers previously worked on Landstalker, with the titular character Alundra resembling the main character of that title. Alundra (the game) also seems to have its share of spiritual ties to those titles (an aspect similar to another title I will be covering in the Arc Entertainment post, the Granstream Saga)
Matrix Software also worked on Tamago de Puzzle under Contrail. Tamago de Puzzle was a puzzle spinoff to the title Hermie Hopperhead by Yuke’s, another PlayStation series.
–Here is a copyrighted screenshot
–There are copyrighted wallpapers
–It was one of the Xperia’s launch titles in Japan
-Alundra 2’s main theme was featured in Game Music Collection, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan the Best
The title I am the least familiar with, Tiny Bullets was developed by Kuusou Kagaku. I don’t have all that much to say about it since it is really obscure compared to other titles here. The only other thing I know about Tiny Bullets is that it was one of Xperia’s 25 Launch Titles in Japan (of all those games, I only know Crash Bandicoot is not owned by PlayStation; for more details, check the first link below)
The Legaia Series
Developed by Prokion, the Legaia series is one of many traditional RPG’s in the PlayStation stable that came about due to the genre’s renaissance in the 90’s. Another cult classic, though not as highly regarded compared to Alundra, Legaia had it’s own thing going on much like all of the first party RPG’s from that time. I haven’t played the title myself, but there is a unique input system for attacks (not unlike a fighting game).
Moving on to the developers, there is nothing on Prokion. Nothing. There’s nothing about them on the Japanese Wikipedia and a Japanese search brings up a variety of results, most of which have nothing to do with Legaia or game development.
One of the most confusing results is the musical studio Procyon, which was founded by Yasunori Mitsuda. While I was initially led to believe that this was the same Procyon, this is just not possible, as the studio was founded in 2001 (and the first Legaia was made in 1998)
Adding more confusion to the entire ordeal is the fact that Yasunori Mitsuda DID work on Legaia 2, and I’ve seen some sites saying that Procyon DID work on Legaia 2, but this does not seem to be true after checking places like the VGMDB and the actual Procyon website
Regardless of the enigma that is Legaia’s developers, the Legaia games seem to be a PlayStation owned IP and series.