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Factor 5

Factor 5 was an independent software and video game developer co-founded by five former Rainbow Arts employees in 1987 in Cologne, Germany. While the five founders were still in University, Factor 5 started out in game development as a part-time activity under partnership with Rainbow Arts for the Amiga computer.

Factor 5’s first game was an R-Type clone called “Katakis” released in 1988 for the Amiga. The game had moderate success due to its impressive technical performance. Katakis was extremely similar in nature to R-Type, so much so that it drew the attention of rights holder Activision Europe. The representatives at Activision were so impressed with the technical performance of Katakis on the Amiga that they gave Factor 5 an ultimatum, either accept a contract to develop the official R-Type port for the Amiga computer or they would file a lawsuit against Factor 5 for copyright infringement. The decision came easy for the team and in 1989 they developed an official R-Type for the Amiga.

Even though both Katakis and R-Type were moderately successful it wasn’t until the release of Turrican in 1990 before Factor 5 was seen as a major developer. Turrican was designed by Rainbow Arts designer Manfred Rrenz however Factor 5 handled the Amiga and Atari ST versions of the game which became a major hit across Europe in 1990. The success of Turrican proved that there was a demand for this style of game play at the time and the team immediately started the development of a sequel. Turrican II: The Final Fight released for the Amiga and Atari ST in 1991.

After the release of Turrican II: The Final Fight, Factor 5 decided to move their focus to the growing home video game market opposed to continuing to focus only on the personal computer market. They created their own development kits and game engines for the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive/Genesis, codenamed Pegasus SNES and Pegasus Mega Drive. While focusing their efforts towards console game development in 1992 with several projects for the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive/Genesis, including new Turrican games, they spun up a subdivision of the company devoted to making small, quick games on a limited budget and tight timeline. This new division was called “New Bits on the RAM” and instead of releasing games which would be sold at retail, they were designed to be distributed in video game magazines. In the early 1990’s, many PC gaming magazines included floppy disks and later optical disc that contained a couple of free games or game demos.

Factor 5 Logo

Factor 5

TypePrivately Owned
LocationCologne, Germany
San Rafael, CA
United States
DeveloperFactor 5
Founded1987
1996 (US branch)
DefunctMay, 2009 (US Branch)
January 2011
FoundersJulian Eggebrecht
Achim Moller
Website factor5.com/

In 1994, Factor 5 formed a partnership with LucasArts for the development of an Indian Jones game for the Super Nintendo. The development of “Indiana Jones: Greatest Adventures” marked the start of a decade long collaboration with LucasArts. When work finished on the 1996 PlayStation game “Star Wars: Rebel Assault II” it became clear that the development team was too far away from their publisher, LucasArts. During the development of the game the personnel located in Germany experienced communication difficulties in working with LucasArt based in North America due to the distance between both countries and the Internet speeds of the time being insufficient for the requirements of console development.

This resulted in Factor 5 opening a new branch in California so that they could work more closely with North American publishers. A significant portion of the German studio moved to California and continued to develop games for LucasArts. For a long time, the North American branch was an exclusive game development partner with LucasArts and provided exclusive middleware tools for Nintendo. During that time, the studio gained considerable critical and commercial praise for its technical proficiency, producing what are often cited as some of the most visually advanced titles on the Nintendo 64 and the Nintendo GameCube, all based on LucasArts properties. Two high-profile middleware tools were also developed by the company for Nintendo. MusyX, a sound system produced in cooperation with Dolby Laboratories and the DivX For Games SDK, integrating the functionality of the popular video codec into Nintendo’s development tools.

Factor 5’s sound compression technology has been leveraged for many Nintendo games, one such example being the port of Resident Evil 2 for the Nintendo 64. The audio is perhaps the most impressive feat when it comes to this very ambitious port. Resident Evil 2 uses voice acting for each of its cutscenes and features a wealth of original music with a vast array of voice samples all designed for PlayStation’s dedicated audio chip. The Nintendo 64 lacked such a chip and Angel Studios struggled to find a solution, leading to collaborating with Factor 5 and utilizing their MusyX sound tool technology to accomplish the feat. The involvement of their sound technology in many Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Advance games lead to a partnership with Nintendo leading to their involvement with the creation of the Nintendo GameCube hardware.

MusyX, in close collaboration with Dolby Labs, brought high-quality 7.1 surround sound to a variety of Nintendo gaming platforms, while with the introduction of DivX Factor 5 brought the ultimate video-playback solution to the Nintendo GameCube. These were a direct result of a more than decade-long close collaboration between Factor 5’s founders and Nintendo in hardware, OS, and tool development, starting with the Nintendo 64 and continuing with the GameCube, Wii, and 3DS.

In 2005, Factor 5 formed an exclusive relationship with Sony Computer Entertainment and started development on their first PlayStation 3 title, Lair. During development, Lair gained attention due to its graphical presentation coupled with the developer’s reputation with critically acclaimed Star Wars games for the Nintendo 64 and GameCube. However, upon release Lair was a commercial failure resulting in Sony terminating their existing contract with Factor 5.

Due to losing the contract with Sony Computer Entertainment which resulted in numerous games that were in development to be placed in limbo along with the closure of Brash Entertainment who was the next publisher they signed a contract with, caused Factor 5 to close in May 2009.

Known For:

Factor 5 Star Wars Retrospect

 

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Factor 5: Forgotten Heroes - Technical Retroperspective the Star Wars Factor | N64-GameCube & more
  • Games Developed by Factor 5
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YearBoxTitlePlatformPublisherGenre
1988

Katakis Box

KatakisAmigaRainbow ArtsScrolling Shooter
1989

R-Type Box

R-TypeAmigaIremScrolling Shooter
1990

Turrican Box

TurricanAmiga
Atari ST
Rainbow ArtsRun and Gun
1990

Masterblazer Box

Masterblazer (Intro Only)AmigaLucasfilm GamesAction
1991

Turrican II - The Final Fight Box

Turrican II: The Final FightAmiga
Atari ST
Factor 5Run and Gun
1991

The Adventures of Quik and Silva Box

The Adventures of Quik & SilvaAmiga
Atari ST
Amiga FunPlatformer
1992

Metal Law Temporary Box

Metal LawAmigaNew Bits on the RAMAction
1992

BC Kid Box

BC KidAmigaNEC Home ElectronicsPlatformer
1993

Turrican III - Payment Day Box

Turrican 3AmigaRainbow Arts
Renegade Software
Run and Gun
Platformer
1993

Super Turrican Box

Super TurricanSuper NintendoSeika Corp
Hudson Soft
Tonkin House
Factor 5
Action
1994

Tony and Friends in Kellogg's Land Box

Tony & Friends in Kellogg's LandAmiga CD32
PC
Rauser AdvertainmentPlatformer
1994

Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures Box

Indiana Jones' Greatest AdventuresSuper NintendoJVC
LucasArts
Platformer
1994

Mega Turrican Box

Mega TurricanSega Mega Drive
Sega Genesis
Data East (NA)
Sony Imagesoft (EU)
Run and Gun
Platformer
1994

Contra - The Alien Wars Box

Contra: The Alien WarsGame BoyKonamiRun and Gun
1995

Super Turrican II Box

Super Turrican 2Super NintendoOcean SoftwareAction
1995

Animaniacs Box

AnimaniacsGame BoyKonamiPlatformer
1996

International Superstar Soccer Deluxe Box

International Superstar Soccer DeluxeSega Mega Drive
Sega Genesis
KonamiSports
1996

Star Wars - Rebel Assault II - The Hidden Empire Box

Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden EmpirePlayStationLucasArtsAction
Rail Shooter
1997

Ballblazer Champions Box

Ballblazer ChampionsPlayStationLucasArts(NA)
CTO SpA (EU)
Action
Sports
1998

Star Wars - Rogue Squadron Box

Star Wars: Rogue SquadronNintendo 64
PC
LucasArts (NA)
Nintendo (EU)
Action
Shooter
1999

Resident Evil 2 N64 Box

Resident Evil 2 (Sound Compression Technology)Nintendo 64CapcomSurvival Horror
1999

Elmo's Letter Adventure Box

Elmo's Letter Adventure (Sound Compression Technology)Nintendo 64NewKidCoEducational
2000

San Francisco Rush 2049 Box

San Francisco Rush 2049 (Sound Compression Technology)Nintendo 64MidwayRacing
2000

Star Wars - Episode I - Battle for Naboo Box

Star Wars - Episode I: Battle for NabooNintendo 64
PC
LucasArtsAction
Shooter
2000

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine Box

Indiana Jones and the Infernal MachineNintendo 64LucasArtsAction-Adventure
2000

Pokémon Stadium Box

Pokémon Stadium (Sound Compression Technology)Nintendo 64NintendoTurn Based Fighting
2001

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II - Rogue Leader Box

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue LeaderGameCubeLucasArts (NA)
Activision (EU)
Action
Shooter
2003

Star Wars Rogue Squadron III - Rebel Strike Box

Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel StrikeGameCubeLucasArtsAction
2007

Lair Box

LairPlayStation 3Sony Computer EntertainmentAction-Adventure
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

Mega Bomberman 8-player (Tech demo)Sega Mega Drive
Sega Genesis
UnreleasedAction
Maze
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

Animal WarsPlayStation 3Sony Computer EntertainmentTactical RPG
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

Icarus reboot of Kid IcarusWiiNintendoAction
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

Untitled Pilotwings projectGameCubeNintendoFlight Simulator
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

Star Wars Rogue Squadron: Rogue LeadersWiiUnreleasedAction
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

Blue SteelPlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Wii
Brash EntertainmentAction-Adventure
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

ThornadoN64
GameCube
UnreleasedAction
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

Turrican CyclonePlayStation 3Sony Computer EntertainmentAction
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

VirusPlayStation 3Sony Computer EntertainmentShoot 'em up
Cancelled

Unreleased Cancelled Game Box

WeFlyWiiUnreleasedFlight Simulator

ProfileNameRoleTenure
Achim MollerAchim MollerCo-Founder
Lead Software Architect
Technical Director
CEO
1987-1998
2003-2010
Profile PlaceholderDarius ZendehComposer1987-1989
Holger SchmidtHolger SchmidtProgrammer
Director of Development
1987-2008
Profile PlaceholderJens PetersamProgrammer1992-2008
Julian EggebrechtJulian EggebrechtCo-Founder
Creative Director
President
1987-2010
Lutz OsterkornLutz OsterdornDesigner1987-1996
Rudolf StemberRudolf StemberComposer
Sound Designer
1992-2008
Profile PlaceholderStefan TsouparidisArtist1987-1990
Thomas EngelThomas EngelProgrammer1990-2008
Willi BackerWilli BäckerDesigner1987-1996