Compile Co., Ltd. (株式会社コンパイル Kabushiki-gaisha Konpairu) was a video game software developer founded on April 7, 1982. The company, originally known as Programmers-3, was founded by Masamitsu "Moo" Niitani.
- Before Compile
Niitani bought an Apple II for 500,000 yen back in 1978. It came with 16 kilobytes of RAM, but he had it upgraded to 64KB. Niitani wanted to use microcomputers, and the only options at the time were the PET, the TRS-80 and the Apple II. He ultimately got an Apple II because it had color. Niitani got his start in programming by writing assembly code and assembling by hand, using pen and paper. Niitani recalls his first game being a bowling game for the Apple II written in BASIC with parts coded in assembly.
- Relationship with Broderbund
Compile's first game was AE, released by Broderbund in 1982 for the Apple II, Atari 8-bit, and Commodore 64 platforms. Compile later ported the game to the PC-8801, FM-7, and MSX - Toshiba EMI published the ports in 1984. Compile went on to port three games published by Broderbund - Lode Runner, Championship Lode Runner, and Choplifter. Their ports of Lode Runner and Choplifter were published by Sony for the MSX, while their port Championship Lode Runner was published by Sega for the SG-1000. In addition to this, Compile developed a licensed MSX sequel to Lode Runner in 1985, Lode Runner II. It was also published by Sony. In 1989, Broderbund would localize two games Compile developed - Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family (as Legacy of the Wizard) and Guardic Gaiden (as The Guardian Legend). Drasle Family was originally published by Namco while Guardic Gaiden was originally published by Irem.
- Relationship with Sega
Compile's relationship with Sega goes back to the launch of the SG-1000. Compile developed three arcade ports serving as launch titles for the system.
- Disc Station
Compile also ran a disk magazine named Disc Station, which included MSX2 games and other software. It was in the Christmas '89 edition of Disc Station that Compile published Madou Monogatari Episode 2: Carbuncle, the first entry in the Madou Monogatari series.
Puyo Puyo's success
In 1991, Compile developed Puyo Puyo. They personally published the game for the MSX2, while a Famicom Disk System version was published by Tokuma Shoten as a pack-in for the Famimaga magazine. Compile and Sega then teamed up to convert Puyo Puyo into a multiplayer arcade game.
Following the success of Puyo Puyo in arcades, Compile published Puyo Puyo Tsu themselves in 1994, with Sega handling distribution. It became an arcade phenomenon.
With Tsu and related merchandise being a massive success, Compile sought to expand. In 1996-1997, Compile rapidly increased their workforce, moved to a larger office building, established a Korean branch, and attempted to enter the business software field with a collaborative software named "Power Acty." This proved to be a costly mistake; Puyo Puyo was the only consistent seller for Compile, and was nowhere near profitable enough to cover the massive expenses incurred. The failure of Power Acty and the delay of Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon from its intended release in 1997 to spring of the following year contributed to a reported debt of 7.5 billion yen (roughly $57.5m USD) on March 18, 1998, the day that they filed for government assistance.
As part of Compile's restructure, the Puyo Puyo franchise was sold to Sega; an agreement was established that allowed Compile continued use of the franchise until August 2002. According to Niitani, the plan was for Compile to earn enough to repurchase the rights to the series. However, despite Niitani's best efforts (including taking out money under his own name), Compile did not recover. With a tarnished reputation and ever-shrinking staff, later releases like Guru Logi Champ failed to improve Compile's fortune, and the August 2002 deadline passed without a significant intellectual property to replace Puyo Puyo. Their final game was Pochi and Nyaa, a Puyo Puyo-like falling block game. Plans to release the game on the NAOMI arcade hardware allegedly fell through due to Compile's bankruptcy in late 2003, and successor Aiky would port the game to the Neo Geo MVS and PlayStation 2.
Compile's legacy was carried on through several companies:
- Aiky: A developer and publisher.
- MileStone: The co-developer of Puyo Puyo Fever and the developer of the PS2 port of Tsu. They remained active until Hiroshi Kimura (木村 拓史), MileStone's president, was arrested for violating Japan's Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.
- D4 Enterprise: D4 initially owned all of Compile's previous IPs and collaborated with Nintendo to make a sequel to Guru Logi Champ named Guruguru Logic (Snapdots) for DSiWare.
- Compile Heart: The brand successor who bought most of Compile's properties from D4 and created a new Madou Monogatari game named Sei Madou Monogatari (Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God) for the PlayStation Vita.
- CompileO: A company established by Niitani who developed a puzzle game titled Nyoki Nyoki for the Nintendo 3DS.