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Irem (アイレム, Airemu?) is a Japanese video game console developer and publisher, and formerly a developer and manufacturer of arcade games as well. The company has its headquarters in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture.

The company is probably best known for Moon Patrol, the famous scrolling shooter R-Type and the earliest beat 'em up, Kung-Fu Master. They have been a popular developer in Japan with games like Photoboy for the TurboGrafx-16 and In the Hunt for the arcades, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and PC. Irem is also known for making their arcade games extremely difficult, and most of them feature a dip switch that allows you to play a "no death mode" as a result, in order to allow gamers to be able to complete their tough games.

Irem was founded in 1974 under the name IPM, an abbreviation for International Playing Machine. Its purpose was to manufacture, sell, and rent arcade hardware cabinets. IPM released its first video arcade games in 1978, starting with their first arcade game, IPM Invader. In 1979, IPM changed its name to Irem Corporation. Originally an abbreviation for "International Rental Electronics Machines", the meaning of Irem's acronym was changed to "Innovations in Recreational Electronic Media" in the first half of the 1980s.

As Irem entered the 1990s, their logo included a dragonfly because in Japan, dragonflies symbolize "martial success," due to similarity in the sound of the word "dragonfly" and "victory" in Japanese. However, shortly after that, the corporation began to decline. Sales were so poor that in 1994, Irem completely ceased development of video games. The company's original wholesale division, which was in charge of manufacturing and renting/selling arcade cabinets, spun off from Irem to form its own company called Apies (アピエス, Abiesu?); leaving Irem with only the video game division. Then a group of employees, tired of the company's inactivity, left Irem to form their own company under the name Nazca Corporation, which became best known for developing SNK's Metal Slug franchise.

On April 15, 1997, Nanao (now Eizo Nanao) founded Irem Software Engineering Inc. Shortly after in July 1997, Irem Software Engineering took over the development department of Irem Corporation and absorbed it. The publishing department of Irem Corporation, on the other hand, became under the direct control of Nanao who then sold it to none other than Apies in 1998.

Irem now develops and publishes games in Japan exclusively for the PlayStation 2, the PlayStation 3 and the PSP. Overall, the video game development department is the only remnant of the former Irem Corporation which is still associated with the brand. Irem is currently working on Bumpy Trot 2, a sequel to the first Bumpy Trot (or as it's known in the west; Steambot Chronicles).

Irem Software Engineering is headquartered in Hakusan. It is a wholly owned subsdiary of Eizo Nanao Corporation.

PCSX2 compatibility

Currently, earlier PS2 games developed by Irem are easy and quick to emulate. However, newer games by the company utilize a new graphics engine which is hard to run smoothly on PCSX2.


The list of Irem games developed inhouse (both old and present company).

Arcade (1978-1994)

  • 1978
    • Mahjong / Block Mahjong
    • Nyankoro
  • 1979
    • Piccolo
    • Power Block
    • Andromeda (Andromeda 55?) M-10 Hardware
    • Commander
    • IPM Invader M-10
    • Mahjong DX
    • New Block X / New Block Z
    • Space Beam (1979?) M-15
    • Space Command
    • Head On (1979?) M-15
  • 1980
    • Panther
    • Sky Chuter M-15?
    • UniWar S (Ginga Teikoku No Gyakushu, or "The Galaxy Empire Strikes Back"); Galaxian Hardware
  • 1981

Demoneye-X M-27 (4 PCB's)/+ M-42-S Red Alert (with GDI) M-27 Oli-Boo-Chu (with GDI) / Punching Kid M-47

  • 1982

Moon Patrol (licensed to Williams) M-52

  • 1983

10-Yard Fight M-52 Traverse USA / Zippy Race / MotoRace USA (licensed to Williams) M-52 Tropical Angel M-52

  • 1984
    • The Battle Road M-62
    • Kung-Fu Master (licensed to Data East)(Spartan X in Japan) M-62
    • Lode Runner (licensed from Brøderbund) M-62
    • Lode Runner II: The Bungeling Strikes Back (licensed from Brøderbund) M-62
    • Wily Tower M-63
  • 1985
    • Atomic Boy (licensed to Memetron) (variant of Wily Tower) M-63
    • Horizon M-62
    • Kung Fu (PlayChoice-10) (licensed to Nintendo) Playchoice
    • Lode Runner III: The Golden Labyrinth (licensed from Brøderbund) M-62
    • Lot Lot M-62
    • Spelunker (licensed from Brøderbund) M-62
  • 1986
    • Kid Niki: Radical Ninja / Kaiketsu Yanchamaru M-62
    • Lode Runner IV - Teikoku Kara no Dasshutsu) M-62
    • Spelunker II (licensed from Brøderbund) M-62
    • Youjyuden M-62
  • 1987
    • Battle Chopper / Mr. HELI no Dai-Bouken M-72
    • R-Type (licensed to Nintendo of America) M-72
  • 1988
    • Image Fight M-72
    • Meikyuujima (developed by Nanao)
    • Ninja Spirit/Saigo no Nindou M-72
    • Vigilante (licensed to Data East) M-75
  • 1989
    • Dragon Breed M-81
    • Legend of Hero Tonma M-72
    • R-Type II M-82/ 84 (jap)
    • Mahou Keibitai Gun Hoki
    • X-Multiply M-72
  • 1990
    • Air Duel M-72?
    • Hammerin' Harry / Daiku no Gensan M-82/72 different versions
    • Major Title M-84
    • Pound for Pound (Irem US) M-85
  • 1991
    • Blade Master M-92?
    • Cosmic Cop / Gallop - Armed Police Unit M-84/73?
    • Dynablaster / Bomber Man / Atomic Punk (licensed from Hudson Soft)
    • Gunforce - Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island M-92 A
    • Hasamu M-90
    • Ken-Go M-72?
    • Lethal Thunder / Thunder Blaster M-92
  • 1992
    • Bomber Man World / New Dyna Blaster - Global Quest / New Atomic Punk - Global Quest
    • Hook M-99 A
    • Major Title 2 - Tournament Leader / The Irem Skins Game M-92 F
    • Mystic Riders / Gun Hohki M-92
    • Quiz F-1 1,2finish M-97
    • R-Type Leo M-92
    • Undercover Cops M-92
  • 1993
    • Fire Barrel M-107
    • In The Hunt / Kaitei Daisensou M-92 E
    • Ninja Baseball Bat Man (野球格闘リーグマン, Yakyū Kakutō Rīgu Man?) M-92
    • Risky Challenge M-97
    • Perfect Soldiers / Superior Soldiers (US) M-92 G
    • Gussun Oyoyo M-97
  • 1994
    • Dream Soccer '94 (licensed to Data East) M92 G(Irem),M-107 Data East
    • Gunforce 2 / Geostorm M-92 G

MSX / MSX2 (1982-1987)

  • 1982
    • Moon Patrol (1982/1984) (Produced by Dempa) DP-3912011 (GenMSX entry)

(Released in Brazil as Patrulha Lunar (product-id J07) by Sharp-Epcom)

  • 1985
    • Kung-Fu Acho (聖拳アチョー) also known as Seiken Acho, produced by Irem and ASCII. (GenMSX entry)
  • 1986
    • Spelunker (licensed from Brøderbund) IM-01 (GenMSX entry)
    • 10 Yard Fight IM-02 (GenMSX entry)
    • Panther (GenMSX entry)


    • Super Lode Runner (licensed from Brøderbund) IM-03 (MSX & MSX2) (GenMSX entry)
    • R-Type (1987,1988) IM-04 (MSX & MSX2) (GenMSX entry)

===Famicon/NES (1986-1993) 1986

    • Deadly Towers
    • Sqoon


    • Spelunker II: Yuushahe no Chousen


    • Holy Diver


    • Kickle Cubicle


    • Hammerin' Harry/Daiku No Gen-San
    • Metal Storm


    • Ai Sensei no Oshiete: Watashi no Hoshi
    • Daiku no Gen-san 2: Akage no Dan no Gyakushuu

Game Boy (1991-1994)

  • 1991
    • Racing Damashii
    • Ganso!! Yancha Maru
    • Kung Fu Master
    • Racing Kon
    • R-Type
    • Taiyou no Yuusha Firebird
  • 1992
    • Hammerin' Harry: Ghost Breeding Company/Daiku no Gen-san
    • Kizuchida Quiz Da Gen-San Da!
    • Nu~Bo~
    • R-Type II
  • 1993
    • Saigo No Ninmichi
    • Shuyaku Sentai Irem Fighter
    • Undercover Cops
  • 1994
    • Daiku No Gen-San: Robot Teikoku No Yabou (1994)

Game Boy Color (2000)

  • 2000
    • Daiku no Gensan - Kachikachi no Tonkachi ga Kachi

Super NES (1991-(1993/1995))

  • 1991
    • Super R-Type
  • 1992
    • Irem Skins Game, The (known as Major Title in Japan and Europe)
    • DinoCity
  • 1993
    • R-Type III: The Third Lightning (Super NES version published by Jaleco in 1994.)
    • Street Combat (it is NCS' first Super Famicom Ranma 1/2 fighting game, with the license removed)
    • Rocky Rodent (Nitro Punks Mightheads in Japan)
    • Ganbare! Daiku no Gen-san
    • Undercover Cops (Super NES version unreleased. Super Famicom version published by Varie in 1995.)

Sega Saturn (1995)

  • 1995
    • In the Hunt

PlayStation (1995-1999)

  • 1995
    • In the Hunt
  • 1998
    • R-Types
  • 1999
    • R-Type Delta

PlayStation 2 (2001-2007)

PlayStation 3 (2009-?)

  • 2009
    • Minna de Spelunker; downloadable from the PSN Store.
    • Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 4: Summer Memories; Scheduled to be released Winter 2010, but was delayed to the summer of 2011. Apparently definitely canceled in Japan, but there is no word on the NTSC-U version.

PlayStation Portable (2009-?)

  • 2009
    • Hammerin' Hero
    • Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3: Kowareyuku Machi no Kanojo no Uta'

Xbox 360

  • 2008
    • R-Type Dimensions

This article has been partly taken from Wikipedia