Chances are you've never heard of either one. If you've heard of one of them, congrats, if you've heard of both, consider yourself elite.
Koei made great strategy games for the original 8-bit NES. It's most prominent games were Nobunaga's Ambition, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Genghis Khan. If you're a strategy fan you might be frothing at the mouth just at the titles. Each of these games was based on a period in history in a particular civilization. Nobunaga's Ambition was 15thcentury Japan. ROTTK was during the Dynasties in China. I know that's a long period. Genghis Khan, well, you can figure that one out.
What made these games great was not necessarily the time period or the characters, although it helped, because they were factual, and you could in fact learn about history playing these games, but rather it was the amazing balance between war strategy and managing an empire.
In a time where games like Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and Tecmo Bowl were all the rave, Koei was quietly making the best quality games ever. Unfortunately you had to know what to look for or just accidentally stumble upon them. That's what I did. And I still have the fondest memories of those games. When I wasn't playing Nobunaga's Ambition, I was thinking about it. I was making notes. Developing strategies for the next time I got to play it.
So what happened?
PlayStation, (with Koei's introduction of Kessen) and every modern console since then, that's what happened. And to be fair, Koei sold out. Today, you might know them by their Dynasty Warrior series. Pure crap. Please someone challenge me on that.
Kairosoft makes mobile games. They are incredibly addicting, with a mix of simulation, strategy, and just pure fun. The best way to kill time is to buy anyone of their games (Grand Prix Story is the best to start out). Heck, you could find just as much entertainment by playing their lite versions. The replay-ability is incredible. Just like Koei, they stick to the basic formula but change it enough so that every game is a different experience. Just like Koei, they are in Japan. Just like Koei, you probably haven't heard of them. And finally, just like Koei, they make games for the fastest growing platform.
So is Kairosoft the new Koei? I think nothing will ever replace the Koei of old. But, if Kairosoft grew large enough, stuck to their core competencies and formula, and jumped into the console market with Xbox 360 and PS3, it would be a golden era for me and those that see the world as I do.
So how do I see the world? That's another article entirely.
Nobunaga's Ambition on NES by Koei