While doing research for my previous post about Idol Janshi Suchie-Pai Special I did a little digging into the company that made it, Jaleco. While I didn’t find anything too crazy, I did find a small connection with another game I have, Janguru Project (雀ぐるプロジェクト), which was developed by PCCW Japan.
Jaleco was founded in 1974 as Japan Leisure Co., Ltd., and produced “amusement equipment”. I haven’t been able to find exactly what they made, but I’m guessing it was electro-mechanical games, similar to early Nintendo games. In 1982 they would enter the arcade game business, changing their name to Jaleco, then Jaleco Ltd. the following year.
Jaleco developed a number of popular games, both in Japan and North America, such as Bases Loaded, and published other games such as R-Type III. What’s relevant here is their Idol Janshi games. The first game in the series I’ve been able to find is Bishoujo Janshi Suchie-Pai (美少女雀士スーチーパイ), released for the Super Famicom on July 30th, 1993. 1Giant Bomb “Bishoujo” means “pretty girl” 2Jisho.org, and “Janshi” means “mahjong player/enthusiast”.3Translation from Jisho.org After this, they would rename the series to Idol Janshi Suchie-Pai, with releases on PC, various consoles and handhelds, as well as in the arcade.
In 2000, Jaleco was purchased by Hong Kong telecom company PCCW (Pacific Century CyberWorks, Ltd.) to establish a Japanese branch. In an effort to make the company more profitable, PCCW Japan closed it’s arcade division to focus exclusively on console and PC games. In 2004 they would rename PCCW Japan back to Jaleco Ltd, and in 2006 would become Jaleco Holdings, Ltd, spinning off Jaleco Ltd. as a game development subsidiary, eventually selling the rights to all their gaming properties to City Connection in 2014 who would then license Jaleco properties to other companies. That same year Jaleco would declare bankruptcy, and as by May 21st, could cease to exist.
For nearly 20 years, from 1993 to 2010, Jaleco and PCCW would continue creating Idol Janshi games, OVAs, radio dramas, figurines, art books, and countless other memorabilia. Not all of the products were directly relating to Suchie-Pai, the series mascot, but there was one in particular that took quite a change in direction: Idol Janshi R: Janguru Project (アイドル雀士R 雀グルプロジェクト), released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2. All the characters from the past decade of Idol Janshi have been replaced with… I’m not actually sure. I have the game, but as of this writing, it’s still sealed in its original plastic. What I can tell you is that I found this commercial (below), and the version of the game I have comes with a clock and “collectible” cards.
I’ve had this game on my shelf for a couple months now, having no clue it was part of this long-running Idol Janshi series, or that it was a Jaleco game. I’ll be posting an article about this game soon, along with photos of the included clock and scans of all the cards it came with. In the mean time, if you’d like to learn more about the Idol Janshi series, the Idol Janshi Suchie-Pai Museum had a ton of photos, screenshots, and interesting information about the games and other items that were released.