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Gaelco, S.A.

Overview

Gaelco, S.A., the trading name of Gabinete Electrónico Consultivo, S.A., was a game studio based in Barcelona, Spain. It was founded in October 1985 by Josep Quinglés, Luis Jonama and Javier Valero. The company started in electronics with a coin-operated car Coche Fantástico for kids for the company Falgás. The studio's first game was the Arcade trivia title Master Boy, first announced in June 1986 and released in 1987. Entirely text-based, it was later remade with graphics with the same title Master Boy in 1991.

The company then started to complement their technological knowledge with creative elements, when people like Toni López Yeste and Xavi Arrebola G. joined in 1988 and 1989 respectively, to form a team of programmers, designers, artists and musicians. This led to the studio's release of Big Karnak in 1991 as a first fully realized game. The company also actively recruited new talent such as Xavier Fradera from the Escola de Cómic Joso in Barcelona. Gaelco was known to design its own hardware and software internally. They published several games by other Spanish developers, handling the hardware side and the cabinet. From 1996 onwards the company moved away from standard standing cabinets to full body motion experiences such as a rally cockpit, motorcycle, quad, luge board and even football games where a real football needs to be kicked to pass and shoot.

The studio released a second Arcade action platformer Thunder Hoop in 1992, the first project where designer Xavier Fradera was involved with after joining in October 1991. It received a sequel TH Strikes Back in 1994. In 1993 Gaelco launched the Arcade racer World Rally Championship developed by Zigurat Software S.L. to international acclaim, and a sequel World Rally 2: Twin Racing was released in 1995. The company would release two more 2D titles before transitioning to 3D: Alligator Hunt (1994) and Biomechanical Toy (1995 - designed by Zeus Software).

In the world of 3D the studio rivalled Arcade stars Namco and SEGA. They released the Ridge Racer-inspired racing game Speed Up in 1996 and their Radikal Bikers (1998) provided the inspiration for SEGA's Crazy Taxi series. With a PlayStation port Radikal Bikers was also the first home version of a Gaelco game, courtesy of Bit Managers. The arcade racing gameplay was continued in ROLLing eX.tre.me (1999), Smashing Drive (2000), ATV Track (2002), Tokyo Cop: Special Police Reinforcement (2003) and Ring Riders (2004). The studio's last Arcade title was Gaelco Tuning Race Championship (2005). Namco was closely involved, publishing and distributing its titles in the USA.

Other early titles by Gaelco are Xor World (prototype - unreleased), Splash! (1992 - developed by OMK), Squash (1992), Glass (1993 - developed by OMK), Target Hits (1994 - developed by Zigurat Software), Last KM (1995 - an unreleased 2D side-scrolling cycling game with Giorgio Moroder's The Chase as an unlicensed soundtrack - developed by Zeus Software. In 2017 the board was donated by the original programmer to be dumped for Arcade emulation), Touch and Go (1995), Maniac Square (1996, based on a 1992 prototype), Snow Board Championship (1996 - developed by OMK), Surf Planet (1997 - developed by Zigurat Software), Bang! (1998 - developed by Bit Managers), Football Power (2000 - developed by Zigurat Software) and Gaelco Football (2002 - developed by Zigurat Software). In the nineties they worked on the untitled concept of an action puzzle game inspired by Tetris with complex mathematical deduction, but it was never completed. The company was also involved with the fitness machines Salter Cardioline Pro Cycle (1997) and Salter Cardioline Pro Stepper (1998) developed by OMK on behalf of Salter.

In 1998 Gaelco attempted to break further into the console market through the acquisition of the studio Bit Managers they previously worked with, but they were used to handling every aspect of the process themselves and couldn't adapt to the technology owners and publishers in the console market, so they did not pursue it further. They sold the company back to the original owner in 2001.

In 2005 the development of new titles was no longer sustainable due to new consumer habits, saturation in certain genres and the growing popularity of consoles. This took the studio in different directions with three separate and independent companies.

A part of the studio moved on to PC titles. Following the success of Football Power and Gaelco Football they picked up creating games for the PC Fútbol series that was started by Dinamic Software in 1992 with titles such as PC Fútbol 2005, PC Fútbol 2006 and PC Fútbol 2007, as well as Controcampo 2006: il videogioco (2006).

After 2007 no further games were released and the company started to develop electronic dart machines under the name of Gaelco Darts as another part of the studio had remained with its Arcade origins, for instance developing the electronic darts machine Radikal Darts (2005).

Finally the Gaelco name also lived on in the studio Gaelco Móviles S.L. based in Madrid and established in October 2001. It was a partnership between Gaelco and Zigurat Software led by Pere Torrents. Gaelco Móviles developed games internally, but also acted as a publisher and distributor of games by other developers such as Abylight, S.L. using the TopGam label. Gaelco Móviles was acquired by Player X in July 2008.

Internal developmentExternal development


Contributed by Sciere (567503) on Jul 10, 2019. [revised by : Sciere (567503)].