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Founded 1987
Closed 1994
Headquarters Miltipas, California, USA
Other Names テンゲン (Japanese localization)

Tengen (the g is pronounced like in the word gain) was a subsidiary of Atari founded by Randy Broweleit. The company was founded to target the console market, specifically to port existing Atari and Namco games. Tengen sought discount rates from Nintendo explaining that they would be publishing highly successful arcade games to the NES, but at the same time, worked to reverse-engineer Nintendo's lockout chip. Negotiation attempts failed with Nintendo, and the engineers at Tengen were unsuccessful at reverse engineering the Nintendo's lockout chip. Not wanting to pay full price, and with the release date of the NES games drawing near, Tengen used the patent documents of the NES lockout chip to safely bypass the chip and produce unlicensed games. However, Nintendo successfully sued Tengen for illegally using their patent documents to reverse-engineer their patented lockout chip. Now, forced to play by the rules, Tengen had to pay the same high-prices for publication on the NES as other companies. In the April of 1994, Atari Games settled a lawsuit against Nintendo, thus making it a Nintendo license again. When Time Warner purchased Atari in 1994, all the talent from Tengen was absorbed, and the company was dissolved. Eastridge Technology also handled a lot of contract work from them, developing games such as Paperboy, Paperboy 2, and Klax.


Music Development


Lisa Ching converted Atari's RPM sound engine to the Genesis and retitled it LSD (Lisa's Sound Driver). The music was written in Music Macro Language.


The composers wrote the music in Music Macro Language using a sound engine which was converted from Atari's RPM music software. It is unknown who coded the NES sound engine, but it was probably David O'Riva or Lisa Ching.

Audio Personnel

Fortunately, Tengen, like their other departments, used their original sound staff from Atari. This was a wise choice, as composers of the arcade versions could arrange their own music to the NES and other consoles, ensuring faithful renditions and arrangements of their original arcade scores.