The Fall of Pentavision, One of the Most Talented Rhythm Game Developers

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DJMAX is a music rhythm series that has always been vastly under-appreciated in the Western hemisphere. I’ve been a fan of it for a while now, although, truth be told, I never gave the series a chance until recently.

How I wish I had played it earlier. The games are simply addicting, fun, rewarding and incredibly deep. The core development team behind the series have always been the folks at Pentavision, and that’s who I’m here to honor today.

Despite their last outing, DJMAX Technika TUNE, being an absolute must-buy for music and rhythm game fans (read our review here), the release made exclusive on Playstation Vita seems to have put the final nail in the coffin that was Pentavision Global.

Pentavision released nineteen game releases across PC, Playstation Portable, Arcade, iOS, Android, and Playstation Vita, eighteen of which are DJMAX releases and one that was a spin-off, although the developer never seemed to be able to break into the global market.

In 2008, the DJMAX series came under fire from Konami, who filed an intellectual property infringement against Pentavision, due to the series’ likeness to their existing Beatmania series. DJMAX launched in 2004, and Beatmania predated it by seven years with its original, which hit arcades in 1997.

While both games were highly popular in Korean and Japanese arcades, Konami’s lawsuit ultimately ended in their favor in an out-of-court settlement. Konami ended up with exclusive distribution rights to DJMAX in Japan, and Pentavision was required to pay a fee for any future DJMAX games they released.

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Between the Konami lawsuit in 2008, and their eventual acquisition and dissolution by Neowiz Mobile in 2012, there were a total of seven games released, including the spin-off, Tap Sonic. Despite the lawsuit, it seemed that the core development team behind DJMAX were coming into their own, crafting another excellent music rhythm game. The ultimate showcase of the extra oomph that was put into the series post-merger was DJMAX Technika Tune, a bold and overwhelming re-imagining of the original arcade release.

Technika Tune featured an absolutely staggering track list, exemplary use of both front and back touch on the Vita, and crazily addictive gameplay that the series is known for. Despite the game being excellent, it was published on the Playstation Vita, a platform that is already somewhat of a niche market, so the potential market was a niche of a niche. Sales woes weren’t the only thing worrying at the DJMAX team. Restructuring had put several members out of work, while the remaining staff were separated on to the BEX and Technika Tune teams.

The following information has not been made public, and due to its personal nature we are obliged to keep the identity of our informant, who is close to the series’ development, private:

Neowiz took many of the members of both teams and assigned them to multiple positions, overworking them and driving them to their wit’s end. After this unfortunate turn of events, many of the remaining staff quit their jobs due to stress from overworking. This appeared to be the breaking point for the staff at Pentavision, but the creative spirit behind the series still had some steam left. At this time several members from the original DJMAX team reunited under Planetboom, a producer on several of the games in the series.

They formed a new team called Planet Team, and put out DJMAX Technika Q for iOS and Android devices. Unfortunately, shortly after the game released in October of last year, Planetboom left Planet Team. Things progressively worsened, as in December of last year the Platinum Crew service, the user ID card system that would let players have a personal account tied to the game, access regional rankings, and play against other DJMAX players, was shut down.

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After this, the DJMAX Gate website was shut down, making the only remaining active websites for the series the DJMAX China website and the Pentavision website. At this point, the fate of the series is bleak, most especially with the game’s official Facebook page being totally abandoned, only to now be administrated by dedicated fans who were once made administrators of the page. Despite the slow, quiet disappearance of the series, these fans have been trying to spread the word of the franchise and keep fans informed of the last remaining online properties, such as Technika Q.

We’ve reached out to Neowiz Mobile for comment on this information brought to us.

Brandon Orselli

About

Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.