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Universal Entertainment

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Universal Entertainment Corporation
Native name
Kabushiki-gaisha Yunibāsaru Entāteimmento
  • Universal Lease Co., Ltd.
  • Universal Ltd.
  • Aruze Corporation
Company typePublic
TYO: 6425
Video game
FoundedDecember 2, 1969 (1969-12-02)
FounderKazuo Okada
HeadquartersKōtō, ,
Area served
Key people
Jun Fujimoto
Slot machines
Video games
Revenue¥124 billion
Number of employees
988[1] (2019)

Universal Entertainment Corporation,[a] formerly known as Aruze Corporation (Japanese: アルゼ株式会社, Hepburn: Aruze Kabushiki-gaisha) and Universal, is a Japanese manufacturer of pachinko, slot machines, arcade games and other gaming products, and a publisher of video games. Aruze possesses licenses to both manufacture and distribute casino machines in the American states of Nevada, Mississippi and New Jersey. The company's corporate headquarters are in Tokyo. Aruze is also the licence holder of the video game franchise Shadow Hearts. Up until February 18, 2012, the company owned approximately 21% of Wynn Resorts. On November 1, 2009, Aruze Corporation changed its name to Universal Entertainment Corporation due to financial difficulties.



Universal Lease Co., Ltd was established in December 1969. It later changed its name to Universal Ltd in Japan. Universal Distributing Company opened as an american subsidiary to sell video games direct to operators, and was later named Universal USA.

They initially earned success with arcade video games that cloned popular arcade games. Scratch (1977) was a Breakout clone that became the third highest-earning arcade video game of 1977 in Japan, just below Speed Race DX and Breakout.[2] Scratch was again Japan's fourth highest-earning arcade video game of 1978. Cosmic Monsters (1978) was a Space Invaders clone that became Japan's sixth highest-earning arcade video game the same year.[3]

Universal eventually moved away from clones and began producing original arcade games. Get A Way[b] (1978)[3] was a sit-down arcade racing game that used a 16-bit central processing unit (CPU),[4] for which it was advertised as the world's first 16-bit game;[5][6] it was among Japan's top twenty highest-earning arcade video games of 1978.[3]

Universal followed with the hugely influential platform game Space Panic (1980) and the maze game Lady Bug (1981). Universal's greatest hit game was Mr. Do! (1982), which spawned three sequels in the eventual Mr. Do series: Mr. Do's Castle, Mr. Do's Wild Ride and Do Run Run. Cashing-in on the success of laserdisc video games, Universal released Super Don Quix-ote in 1984, on a new standardized laserdisc video game system they called the Universal System 1. A new game was planned every six months for the Universal System 1, including an unreleased laserdisc adventure game based on Mr. Do!, but the company stopped producing arcade games in 1985, and Super Don Quix-ote ended up being the only game released for the system. Universal Distributing of Nevada (UDN) was established to begin selling Universal's first slot machines direct to the gaming industry.

Several Universal titles were designed by Kazutoshi Ueda, most notably Mr. Do! (1982). He later left Universal and went on to work at Tehkan (now Tecmo), then became a co-founder of Atlus, where he worked on the Megami Tensei series. Ueda's work at Universal inspired the game design style of Tehkan's Michitaka Tsuruta, who went on to create Guzzler (1983), Bomb Jack (1984), Solomon's Key (1986), and the Captain Tsubasa game series.[7]

In January 2005, the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Aruze. Aruze Corporation changed its company name to Universal Entertainment Corporation effective November 1, 2009.

On February 2, 2023, Aruze announced that they had officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States.[8]

Relationship with SNK


In 2000, Aruze bought out SNK Corporation, maker of the Neo Geo. In exchange for the use of SNK's popular characters on their pachinko and slot machines, and a few games for the Neo-Geo, Aruze promised financial backing for the failing SNK. Instead Aruze instituted a program to liquidate SNK's assets and cut costs. This included licensing out popular IP to other companies (such as Metal Slug series, The King of Fighters series and Sengoku series), closing underperforming divisions, discontinuing distribution outside Japan, ending support for the Neo Geo arcade platform and selling off warehoused inventory. By 2001 it was clear to many SNK's employees that Aruze was not planning to preserve SNK and was simply going to let the company implode after liquidating most of its useful assets. So Eikichi Kawasaki and many other executives from SNK left to form Playmore in August 1, 2001. Over this period many rank and file employees left to join other arcade developers or form their own companies.

In November 1, 2001, Aruze announced that its subsidiary, SNK to file for bankruptcy by the Osaka District Court on October 30, 2001 and all of its assets went up for bidding.[9][10] Kawasaki's Playmore stepped in and bought up most of the auctioned assets and set itself up to re-enter the video game market as the successor to SNK. Playmore also acquired some of the companies formed by ex-SNK employees, namely Brezzasoft and Noise Factory, to jumpstart development of more titles for the Neo Geo arcade system. Playmore quickly went about re-establishing themselves in the market; they opened new branches in North America and Europe, announced development of new titles for the Neo Geo arcade system, started developing games for console and portable systems for the first time in years and re-established distribution channels to sell inventory for the Neo Geo home and pocket systems. To further establish themselves as a reborn SNK they officially changed their name to SNK Playmore in 2003.

In October 2002, Aruze was sued by Playmore founder Eikichi Kawasaki for copyright infringement over SNK's intellectual properties, claiming their use was unauthorized by Playmore. In January 2004, a preliminary decision was handed down by the Osaka District Court favoring SNK Playmore and was awarded 5.64 billion yen (US$57,627,468) in damages.

Notable games released by Universal


List of games published by Aruze

Title First release Developer(s) Console
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku June 3, 1999 Aruze PlayStation
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku Pocket: Hanabi October 21, 1999 Aruze NeoGeo Pocket Color
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 2 November 25, 1999 Aruze PlayStation
Azteca February 10, 2000 NeoGeo Pocket Color
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 3 July 19, 2000 Aruze PlayStation
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku Porcano 2 July 20, 2000 Aruze NeoGeo Pocket Color
Pachisuro Aruze Oogoku Ohanabi December 14, 2000 Aruze NeoGeo Pocket Color
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 4 December 14, 2000 Aruze PlayStation
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku Pocket: DH2 January 15, 2001 Aruze NeoGeo Pocket Color
Shadow Hearts June 28, 2001 Sacnoth PlayStation 2
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 5 November 15, 2001 Aruze PlayStation
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 6 December 13, 2001 Aruze PlayStation 2
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 7 August 8, 2002 Aruze PlayStation 2
Shadow Hearts: Covenant February 19, 2004 Nautilus PlayStation 2
Hanabi Hyakkei Advance July 29, 2004 Game Boy Advance
Don-Chan Puzzle: Hanabi de Don! Advance July 29, 2004 Game Boy Advance
Aleck Bordon Adventure: Tower & Shaft Advance November 26, 2004 Game Boy Advance
Cool 104 Joker & Setline December 2, 2004 DS
Type Tunes - Chase the Music! 2005 Arcade
Guts da!! Mori no Ishimatsu March 31, 2005 PlayStation 2
Shadow Hearts: From the New World July 28, 2005 Nautilus PlayStation 2
Pachi-Slot Aruze Oukoku 8 Cancelled Aruze PlayStation 2
Aoi Don: Hanabi no Kiwami & Hanabi no Takumi 2010 Commseed DS
Pachinko Aruze Oukoku Cancelled PlayStation
The Splizer Cancelled PlayStation 2


  1. ^ Japanese: 株式会社ユニバーサルエンターテインメント, Hepburn: Kabushiki-gaisha Yunibāsaru Entāteimmento
  2. ^ Japanese: ゲッタウェイ


  1. ^ "Corporate Profile".
  2. ^ "結果ベスト3" [Best 3 Results] (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 90. Amusement Press, Inc. 15 February 1978. pp. 2–3.
  3. ^ a b c d "人気マシン・ベスト3" [Popular Machines: Best 3] (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 113. Amusement Press, Inc. February 1979. pp. 2–3.
  4. ^ Forster, Winnie (2008). Computer- und Video-Spielmacher (in German). Gameplan. p. 341. ISBN 978-3-00-021584-1. Sit-Down-Rennspiel Get A Way (1978) mit 16-bit-CPU. [Sit-down racing game Get A Way (1978) with 16-bit-CPU.]
  5. ^ "Video Game Flyers: Get A Way, Universal (USA)". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  6. ^ "Video Game Flyers: Get A Way, Universal (Germany)". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  7. ^ Szczepaniak, John (June 10, 2015). "Michitaka Tsuruta - a history of Tecmo and classic platform-puzzlers". Gamasutra. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Aruze Gaming files for bankruptcy". February 2, 2023. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  9. ^ "SNKが大阪地裁から破産宣告". ZDNet JAPAN (in Japanese). 2001-11-02. Archived from the original on November 19, 2001. Retrieved 2024-03-17.
  10. ^ "アルゼがSNK株主より損害賠償請求". Gpara.com (in Japanese). 2001-11-02. Archived from the original on December 24, 2001. Retrieved 2024-03-17.
  11. ^ "結果ベスト3" [Best 3 Results] (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 90. Amusement Press, Inc. 15 February 1978. pp. 2–3.
  12. ^ Lewin, Gene (January 15, 1984). "Gene's Judgements: Critiquing AMOA Show Conversions, Dedicated Games". Play Meter. Vol. 10, no. 2. pp. 60–2, 78.
  13. ^ Edgeley, Clare (16 December 1985). "Arcade Action". Computer and Video Games. No. 51 (January 1986). pp. 54–5.