Takumi (along with Cave) was one of two Japanese video game companies born in the mid-1990's out of the bankruptcy of arcade shoot-em-up (or shmup) legends Toaplan. And while Cave took an immediate groundbreaking direction with their lineup (as witnessed in DonPachi and its' sequels), Takumi lingered for a couple of years with a leftover from their previous company as well as non-game curios before really coming into their own and becoming an aggressive rival to their former co-workers.

Takumi's body of work began with 1996's Kyukyoku Tiger II, the sequel to what's known in North America and Europe as Twin Cobra. The helicopter-based shmup was released by Taito on their much-heralded F3 arcade hardware system. It served as little more than a big loud version of the predecessor, but still did respectively well in the arcades. At least, it did well enough for Naxat Soft to port both it and an enhanced version of part 1 to the Sega Saturn as Kyukyoku Tiger Plus in 1997.

After spending a couple of years creating prize and medal redemption machines, Takumi went back to the game world in 1999 with the more-than-decent GigaWing. This was their first to fall into the manic shmup genre their contemporaries at Cave had spent the past few years perfecting. And this game seemed to handle itself pretty well, with a medal-based secondary scoring system and something else new: shot reflect. Just like the Cave games there was a barrage of bullets headed your way, but this time players could do something with the bullets other than dodge or get hit. It was distributed in the arcades through Capcom, who also handled the Sega Dreamcast port of the game.

The next year Takumi and Capcom unleashed a game that not only surpassed GigaWing but also trumped Cave's entire catalog to date: Mars Matrix. There was slick-looking parallax scrolling, a better soundtrack than GigaWing, and the return of shot reflect. Now, despite the new feature, in the previous game there was a seemingly simple pattern to getting through the levels. Not so with Mars Matrix, where every level had a different strategy for not only surviving, but maximizing your points. The secondary scoring system (through gold chips) came into play heavily, espescially in the Dreamcast version, where you used the chips picked up as a currency to buy new options, features, and cheats.

Also in 2000 a sequel to GigaWing was released, unsurprisingly known as GigaWing 2. Graphically it looked flashier than Mars Matrix, with scrolling and scaling 3-D polygonal backgrounds. It also had the quite fun Tag Team and Squadron modes. But it suffered from some of the same pattern gameplay problems of the original GigaWing, and thus ended up feeling more shallow than Mars Matrix. Actually this pattern was seemingly increased by the reflect laser, which served as a sort of easy mode mechanism for some players. By any other standards though it was still a mighty impressive game, with a just as impressive Dreamcast port as well.

In 2001, the company released Night Raid on Taito's G-Net arcade hardware. The game was a bit more of the same in respects to falling somewhere between Kyukyoku Tiger II and GigaWing, but not enough variety to keep up with the previous 2 releases. For that, the game ended up a minor bust, as it just didn't have the staying power in the arcades that Mars Matrix and even GigaWing 2 were still enjoying. Later that year they also released the puzzle game Otenki Kororin (aka Weather Tales). Both 2001 arcade releases arrived on the Sony Playstation 2 in 2002. It's of note that both games haven't made as much in the arcades as Takumi's latest interesting experiment: a tug-of-war simulator.


Gameography:
  • Kyukyoku Tiger II, 1996, Taito/Takumi, Arcade
  • Kyukyoku Tiger Plus, 1997, Naxat Soft/Takumi, Saturn
  • GigaWing, 1999, Capcom/Takumi, Arcade/Dreamcast
  • Mars Matrix, 2000, Capcom/Takumi, Arcade/Dreamcast
  • GigaWing 2, 2000, Capcom/Takumi, Arcade/Dreamcast
  • Night Raid, 2001, Takumi, Arcade/Playstation 2
  • Otenki Kororin, 2001, Takumi, Arcade/Playstation 2
  • Tunahiki, 2002, Takumi, Arcade

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