Back in early 2000, there was gambit of developers and publishers. So many hits and commercial successes came to each platform and gaming was just a wealth of experiences. No matter what company you rooted for, you were guaranteed something to knock your socks off. Even before that, the mid-’90s and up led to some big things for it to happen.
Even with all these fruitful moments, there were still some hush products that was forming unexpected movements for those companies and the series they have to this very day. No matter how niche they were, them being under the radar kept them thriving and worth the collecting. Two of the biggest companies that have their expansive recognition of now could only be Atlus and From Software.
Starting out small, Atlus and From Software niche games created some communities you wouldn’t expect. Atlus had a market from JRPG’s that weren’t Square related and From Software, was known more for their mecha series, Armored Core. The surprising fact, both companies started in 1986. Atlus in April and From Software in November. Each being in Japan only and bringing many games to America.
We in America know robot anime or mecha if you prefer that term, with shows like Gundam, Transformers, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and more in that big robot style fighting. When PlayStation 1 came around, From Software produce Armored Core and with mild success, it had a following. Over 15 games, some worldwide and some only here, kept a step flow of income from them. With average reviews, Armored Core seemed to satisfy enough that some people truly wish it came back. They were the only company feeding that niche.
Same for Atlus. With a bigger history of games being released, the Megami and Shin Megami Tensei games have a long line of games. Atlus also have games like Contact and the Trauma Center games, which even created their communities. Revolution Persona and future games was a series that began to take in a certain base of players. Atlus gaining their recognition with Persona 3 FES with Persona 4 and Golden solidifying it. Of course, their Shin Megami Tensei titles continue to play a role and the DS and 3DS systems help.
Once From Software came with Dark Souls and Atlus came with Persona 5, they were met with high praise and the community grew with them. Two small companies that worked hard to deliver entertainment to the world. That’s one of the great things about niche companies and games. You tend to don’t think of their importance but with due time and great products and recommendations, gems can come forward and expand their base. Atlus and From Software is now on the plain of Bandai Namco, Nintendo, Bioware, and other greats who created for a small base but grew their series into something bigger.
With Daemon X Machina coming to Switch, the mecha community might have a resurgence. Kenichiro Tsukada and Kawamori worked on Armored Core and former From Software developers. Yusuke Kozaki, whose doing the character design, worked on Fire Emblem Awakening, Fates, and No More Heroes. Junichi Nakatsuru and Rio Hamamoto worked on Soul Caliber and they’re doing the music composition (and that trailer soundtrack rocks hard). Ken Kawata may be unfamiliar at the moment but Ken Karube worked on Panzer Dragoon on the Xbox. Those two being directors has formed a team with the right people.
With Joker coming to Smash Ultimate, Atlus has gotten even more praise and Shin Megami Tensai V coming to Switch is a big title many are looking forward too. Atlus is in a better position now than it was in past. They don’t have to rely on limit copies being distributed. With digital and bigger fan base, Atlus seems to have a longer stay in the gaming industry.
Nobody knows what can happen to a company and their games. Starting out small and niche can pay off in the end. It might take a couple of tries but if it can create a big community, you can see them thriving for a long period of time. Just look at Yacht Club as a perfect example.