Back in 2004 I had a little crush going for tiny third-party publisher, Mastiff Games. While NiS and Atlus scooped up Nippon Ichi’s premiere JRPGs like Disgaea and Phantom Brave, Mastiff brought over La Pucelle Tactics. I think I grabbed it at the time because it was only $20 and I probably assumed that any JRPG would only appreciate in value. I was wrong of course, it goes for about $8 Complete in Box these days, but I enjoyed it and kept my eye on Mastiff’s releases after that.
That same year they brought over Technic Beat, Arika’s oddball rhythm game that featured a bunch of music from Namco titles. I was in my hardcore rhythm game period so I happily grabbed it. Seeing Mastiff’s name next appear on the home version of Pump it Up, my absolute favorite dance game of all time, completely pushed me over the edge. I loved these guys!
Unfortunately, that’s also when things started to take a turn for the worse. Their output slowed down and the games they did release (like Gurumin on PSP) weren’t that exciting to me. By 2009 they had contracted the Wii Itch like so many other publishers anxious to capitalize on Nintendo’s unexpected hit console. They did a licensing deal with Remington and put out several hunting games and then spun that shooting gallery gameplay into the Reload and Heavy Fire franchises. Shortly after, their output slowed but they managed to eek by, porting Gurumin to PC and 3DS and hinting at their rhythm roots with Bandfuse, one of those games that hooks up to a real guitar.
Even though my admiration fell off pretty quickly I’ve kept a little flame burning for Mastiff all this time and it may soon be rekindled. The company announced new branding for their 15th anniversary and, most importantly, a “diverse new lineup of games”, according to president and CEO, Bill Swartz.
“Exactly fifteen years have passed since we founded Mastiff. It was fun then, and it’s still fun now”, declares Swartz. “While the fun has remained consistent, we’re marking our fifteenth year as a game publisher with a slate of exciting new games, a new attitude, and a brand-new logo to mark it all.”
The logo is here now — goodbye you lovably derpy old mastiff dog — but the games won’t be announced until this Fall. All I can say right now is that it better not be a “diverse new lineup” of hunting games. Bandfuse was a sign that there’s still love for rhythm gaming at the company and I hope they continue in that direction. More as I hear it.