Solomon's Key for the NES was released in Japan on this day in 1986.

Factor 5 GmbH

Overview

Based in San Rafael, California, originally founded in Cologne (Germany) in 1987 and privately held, Factor 5 LLC is a developer of interactive entertainment software and technology for a variety of console and computer platforms.

The team members come from the hacker scene and demo programming. They originally called themselves Light Circle, but then changed their name to avoid associations with their not-so-legal past, and since there were 5 members it became Factor 5. The first project was the Amiga game Katakis (1988), an R-Type clone. They were sued by Activision Europe for copying the concept, and were only allowed to hold on to the right to sell the game if they did the Amiga conversion for R-Type. They complied, and after that, they programming the scrolling 2D shoot-em-up Turrican for the Amiga, inspired by Metroid and Contra. The game did remarkably well, so they created a sequel and then pondered porting it to other systems and consoles.

In 1991, the team members decided to give up their studies and officially open the company. Another reason was they needed to have the status of an official company to receive a development system fro Nintendo. They went on to create many sequels to and conversions of Turrican, for consoles such as the Genesis and the SNES as well. In those years, they received financial backing from Softgold (Europe).

They ended up in San Rafael when they met a new Lucasfilm Games producer in 1989: Kalani Streicher. At the time, Factor 5 did the German localization of Lucasfilm Games, of which Softgold was the distributor, and they visited the Skywalker Ranch in the US to sort out localization issues. They met again at the CES in 1992, where Kalani told the members he was impressed with Super Turrican on the SNES, and offered them a project at the company.

There were six to choose from, and they picked Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures (SNES). It was the first time they worked with a big license and a strict schedule. Next, Sony's PlayStation was launched and because they were quite tech-savvy, they were offered to do a PSX game for LucasArts. They made a modern version of BallBlazer: Ballblazer Champions, but had a hard time developing the game, because they had never done 3D before. The next project was the PSX conversion of Star Wars: Rebel Assault II - The Hidden Empire.

In 1998, they turned to the Nintendo 64 console, as they preferred working with cartridges. They created Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D, Star Wars: Episode I - Battle for Naboo and the N64 port of Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. At that time, they were also working on a modern version of Turrican: Thornado, similar to One, but the game was first moved to the GameCube, and later cancelled. They couldn't name the game Turrican as Softgold still held the rights.

Factor 5 has also created the multi-platform MusyX’ sound tool technology which pioneered 5-channel Dolby Surround Pro-Logic II sound for games in close collaboration with Dolby, the DivX’ video toolset for multiple game platforms, and, as a Nintendo technology partner, was involved in the creation of the Nintendo GameCube hardware.

For the GameCube, they continued with the Star Wars license, creating Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II - Rogue Leader and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III - Rebel Strike.

In 2004, Factor 5 announced to start developing for next-gen consoles. In 2005, Factor 5 announced it would move away from producing franchise games and start developing their own IP.

They have become an exclusive partner of Sony Computer Entertainment of America and held up their reputation of stretching the limits of any new system with the release of a title for the PlayStation 3: Lair in September of 2007.

Recently, Factor 5 has incorporated in the State of California and is now going under the name of Factor 5, Inc.

Trivia

The "Pegasus system", a development system consisting of custom built hardware and custom assemblers and tools, which they started to work on in 1987, is later adapted to the Atari ST and in 1992 implemented on Super Famicom/Super Nintendo and Mega Drive.

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