Mario & Luigi RPG Studio, AlphaDream, Has Filed For Bankruptcy
The Mario games, every now and then, have dabbled into the realm of the role-playing game genre. Games like the Paper Mario series, as well as Super Mario RPG, live on in our memories as fun, entertaining, and unique spinoffs for what was originally a platformer. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Mario RPG series more beloved than the Mario & Luigi games, a series of RPG titles brought about by Japanese studio AlphaDream. Unfortunately, it's AlphaDream that the news is shining a spotlight on today. Just the other day, the studio officially declared bankruptcy, closing a chapter on gaming that I'm sure we're all going to miss. The news comes by way of a Yahoo!Japan story, which reveals the fact that AlphaDream has been hit by hard times in recent years. How bad? The report says it all.
According to it, the company had accrued a total debt of around 400 million yen (3.7 million USD) by March of 2018, which can only lead one to wonder how they're doing nowadays. The story mentions that these massive debts came about due to a combination of factors. Most notably, these factors include high development costs, in conjunction with less-than-average revenue. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it wouldn't be the first time we've seen high development costs topple a studio down. AlphaDream got its start in the year 2000, notably being founded by former Square president Tetsuo Mizuno. Back then, they went by the name Alpha Star. Over the course of its life, AlphaDream was a relatively small company, numbering in just under 50 employees. Despite this, their Mario & Luigi RPG games saw high sales numbers and a very positive critical reception.
The Mario & Luigi games first kicked off with Superstar Saga in 2003, introducing the team's unique RPG gameplay on the Game Boy Advance. Over the years, all of the Mario & Luigi RPGs centralized around Nintendo's handheld market, releasing subsequent titles on Nintendo DS and 3DS. The second game in the series, Partners in Time, saw the main duo teaming up with their younger selves in a time travel story. The third game, Bowser's Inside Story, centered more on the titular villain and his relationship with the heroes. Dream Team, the fourth game, was one of Nintendo's many pushes for Luigi during the "Year of Luigi", seeing him take a much larger role in that outing. The fifth and final game was Paper Jam, which was a neat little love letter to the Paper Mario RPG games, mixing the two series together for another wild adventure. While that was technically the last game in the series, AlphaDream continued on by remaking Superstar Saga and Bowser's Inside Story, releasing Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions and Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey two years apart. The latter released early this year and serves as the last official project the studio put out before bankruptcy.
One thing's for sure: It's going to be sad to see them go. Development costs behind games are a rocky tide, and can swell up out of control if not careful. Let's hope whatever happens to the members of the team, they at least go on to contribute their skills to other well-known companies. The Mario & Luigi games will always be remembered for their quirky sense of humor, innovative battle systems, and a unique look at the universe of Mario and Luigi as a whole. Both remakes mentioned above released on the 3DS, and are a good jumping point for the series (unless you'd rather hunt down the originals). For the full story behind AlphaDream's bankruptcy, visit Yahoo! Japan, keeping in mind that the article is in Japanese. An auto-translation in your browser will be needed if you can't read it! Best of luck to AlphaDream and the team going forward. I, for one, think I'm going to go play these games again.