note: this page is quite old and some of it is wrong, it really needs an update
Many people, if they think of Taiwanese, Chinese or Hong Kong video games, will think of piracy or blatant disregard for copyright; 573-in-1 cartridges and shoddy ports of popular fighting games to the NES, with names like "Super King of Street Fighter VII: 98 Peoples". But beyond the knockoffs and clones, there was a whole world (or a whole continent, at least) of original titles. These games were always unlicensed by their respective console manufacturers (with the exception of home-grown efforts like the Watara Supervision or Super A'can) and while many stayed in Asia, some were distributed in other parts of the world by similarly unlicensed, but far more documented, companies like AVE and Color Dreams. Unfortunately, it could never last - with the advent of the Playstation, Saturn and N64 it became close to impossible to produce and sell a game without the support of the console manufacturers, and while some hung on to the GBC and what was left of the Famicom and Mega Drive markets, most have now disappeared. A few now develop for the all-in-one NES based joypad thingys, but its very much a niche market and nothing of what it once was.
Note - everything on this page is entirely preliminary and unfinished. Even the colour scheme. Hopefully things will be expanded a lot more in the future, but you know how laziness goes.
Developers and Publishers!
Sachen (Joy Van/Commin)
Probably the most famous, if only because recent developments have led to pretty much all of their NES back catalogue being unearthed and the ROMs dumped - they also made a bit of a name for themselves in the US from licensing games to AVE and Color Dreams. Not a good name, maybe, but a name nonetheless. Their last original NES games seem to have been released in 1992-3, by which point they were (at least presentation-wise) reaching the levels of late-gen licensed NES titles, although the gameplay was rarely up there. They also produced a number of Game Boy titles, many of which were slightly tarted up and compiled into GBC multicarts in the late 90s, and ported three of their NES games to the GBC (although I have reason to suspect at least one of them was outsourced) and
had another original GBC game planned, although it was never released dredged up some shitty old mono game and pretended it was something new to sell it to gullible fools like me. Now they just seem to be selling off their remaining stock. Oh, and they were one of the few third-party supporters of the Watara Supervision.
Megadrive developers, also supported the Super A-can and possibly had an arcade game or two out. Admittedly haven't looked into these very much.
Involved with the Gamate, covered in more detail here. Most prolific on the Atari 2600 but also have a few NES games under their collective belt, including a couple of slot machine games, Othello, the reasonably well-done Penguin Land clone "Duck" and the lightgun game "Crime Busters", which I haven't played but it could prove to be one of their more interesting releases. Or, on the other hand, it might not.
Micro Genius (TXC)
Quite apart from having a reputation for excellent Famicom clones, Micro Genius also had an interest in games development for a while - they have been associated with piracy, but as far as I can tell it's pretty much unfounded, possibly based on international distributors labelling pirate Famicom carts as "Micro Genius" games in areas where their consoles were popular. These days the Micro Genius brand can still be found on cheap electronics, although not made by TXC, so presumably this is either unauthorised or they sold the trademark to someone else.
NTDEC (Mega Soft)/Asder
Now this lot were more or less entirely a pirate concern until 1991 or so, and probably the most famous Famicom pirates around (mainly because they were one of the few who were actually stupid enough to put the company name on their carts) but they also had a hand in original game development. The US even saw some of them in 1992, on the semi-infamous "Caltron 6 in 1" cartridge, Caltron almost certainly being a front for NTDEC. Many of the rest were distributed in South America and Europe by various companies, also. In 1993 NTDEC hit some minor financial troubles, that is to say a massive lawsuit from Nintendo, and appeared to go tits-up - their remaining Caltron carts were distributed by Myriad, and there's no sign of game development for a while after that. That is, until Asder came along, which seems to be NTDEC under a new name - they released a few more games as Asder, and now seem to mainly focus on children's educational "notebook" things, although they do still make some direct-to-TV joypad and keyboard systems featuring NTDEC's old games.
Idea-Tek (Super Mega)
Made a few things licensed to AVE in the US, like Rad Racket, Venice Beach Volley and Stakk'm (aka Poke Block). Outside of that, there was a horse racing game ("Enjoyable Horse Racing"), and I assume Rad Racket being "Deluxe Tennis II" indicates the existence of a Deluxe Tennis I. All of their games bar the strip poker one were re-released by TXC/Micro Genius.
These are a bit more piratey than the rest - as far as I can tell, Hwang Shinwei is the coder and RCM the manufacturer. Some of Hwang's more notable developments are "Magic Jewelry", a Columns clone that became the staple of multicarts the world over, and Crush Roller clone "Brush Roller" which became NTDEC's Bookyman, through legitimate means or otherwise. Of course, Hwang and RCM were hardly legitimate themselves, producing a couple of pirate multicarts (including a 260-in-1 multicart which contained pretty much all of Hwang's previously released works and a few random bits of things that never became full-fledged games).
C&E (Computer & Entertainment)
Recently the focus of a bit of attention, thanks to the translated re-release of New Beggar Prince for the Megadrive. In the NES days they seem to have been responsible for a few of Hacker's porno titles, several of which were released by themselves and AVE in non-pornographic form, an RPG or two and some other stuff.
A developer of Gameboy games, which lasted into the early 2000's - most of their games were available in Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and English, although the English versions seem to be damn near impossible to find, since the games were mainly sold in Asia. Some of them seem to be genuinely pretty good games, and it's a damn shame they didn't get more recognition while they were still around.
Okay, this one's Japanese, but worth mentioning. Many of their games were developed by the likes of C&E and Sachen (one was even licensed from Color Dreams), and those that weren't are still very much interesting. Plus they're full of tits, if you like that sort of thing.
Not so long ago I had no idea this one existed (despite having played two of their games) until I found this excellent site, which goes some way towards making all my efforts on this page redundant. um. yeah. Balls. Anyway, this is another company involved with the Gamate, but they also produced NES games including "Fire Dragon" (a Snake clone) and "Wisdom Boy" (a puzzle game, somehow associated with Sun Team), both of which had the copyright info removed when I played them, and a whole shitload of Mega Drive stuff.
Ramar International (Rinco)/Tony Tech
Seemingly only responsible for one Bruceploitation game by the name of "The Dragon". It wasn't very good. Now they do stuff like GPS systems and electronic Qurans.
A handheld console released by a few different companies around the world, but the software mainly came from Taiwan. When the biggest name you have developing for your console is Sachen, you might be in trouble. The only other two named developers I'm aware of are "Bon Treasure", maker of low-quality clones of Gameboy titles, and the Western developer "B.I.T.S." - many Supervision games just didn't credit any company.
A Taiwanese 16-bit console, only had about ten games released for it - much rarer than the Supervision, and never saw distribution outside its home country. Chances of it being emulated in the near future are pretty slim (obviously, since I wrote that, it has been), and I doubt I'll ever own a real one, so there's not much I can say that hasn't already been said elsewhere. Some more info here, mostly translated from Chinese sources.
Seemingly a Game Boy clone (or at least very closely based on it), but not directly compatible - most of Sachen's Game Boy games were released for this system individually before being compiled into standard GB multicarts. A computer-ish thing based on the Mega Duck hardware was also released, which is apparently compatible with existing Mega Duck games as well as its own educational software.
oh just go here.
The Mysteries of Korea
However patchy knowledge of these early Taiwanese games may be,their Korean equivalents are even less known - it may well be the case that there just weren't that many of them, but the tiny bits of information that crop up from time to time just fascinate the shit out of me. An American company whose name escaped me planned to release several Korean games in the US, although their plans never came to fruition - one of them was "Buzz and Waldog" which has since found its way onto the internet via Lost Levels, and is quite an excellent game. There was also a Street Fighter clone, and some other stuff. As I type this, my internet connection is down (<3 NTL) so I can't research things any further, but I swear I saw screenshots of the Korean version of B&W (Koko Adventure?) on a Japanese site once.
Possible Pirate Companies
JY Company, Taiwan Shin-Shin Electronics (K), "NT" company, Waixing/ESC etc.
All companies that tended to develop games based on other peoples property. Maybe I'll look into them at some point. But not yet.