At long last, we finally come to the last member of the Nintendo Ultra 64 Dream Team, Mindscape.
In 1983, Mindscape was founded in Northbrook, Illinois as a developer of titles for various types of home computer, beginning with the PC and Commodore 64 before expanding their range to the Macintosh, Apple II, Atari ST, Amiga, and others. They would go on to publish titles for other developers, including renowned point-and-click adventure games (also known collectively as the “MacVenture” series) from ICOM Simulations, such as Shadowgate, Déjà Vu, and Uninvited.
It was in 1988 that Mindscape came on board as a third-party publisher for the Nintendo Entertainment System, beginning their home console career with ports of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Paperboy. In a bit if a hullabaloo surrounding Nintendo’s adversarial relationship with Tengen, Mindscape’s version of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom would be the second port of the arcade game to arrive on the 8-bit platform, but the first to be officially licensed by Nintendo. Despite this, the software is reportedly the same between the two versions, leaving only the cartridge and accompanying packaging/literature to distinguish the two.
The company would go on to release many more titles across many platforms, including the NES, Game Boy, and Super NES. Along with a various mix of licensed titles and ports of PC and Atari arcade games, perhaps one of the most notable releases came in the form of the Miracle Piano Teaching System.
All throughout its history, Mindscape would see itself passed around between various owners, most especially throughout the course of the 90’s. While Nintendo seemed keen during this period to bring more PC publishers and developers into the fold to help create content for its 64-bit hardware, the company would only release one title over the course of the Nintendo 64’s lifespan. It would be in its waning years, at that, as Rat Attack! was brought to the platform in late 2000, over a year after it had already been released on the rival PlayStation. Probably not the type of situation Nintendo dreamed of when they signed the company on.
Mindscape would manage to get its house in order in 2001, when it returned to being its own company, rather than the subsidiary of another. With that, it began making some purchases of its own, such as Montparnasse Multimedia and Coktel Vision, and for the most part opted to sit out the sixth generation of home consoles, focusing its strengths on the PC industry where it began. In 2007, they began releasing software for Nintendo platforms again, bringing to the Nintendo DS and Wii a variety of licensed fare and other titles which might generously be referred to as “shovelware.”
In 2011, they would close down their last internal studio, Punchers Impact, and exit the video game industry following the failure of their PC multiplayer online battle arena game titled Crasher. In lieu of video games, they did give the toy business the good ol’ college try with a line of “house robots” called Karotz. Suffice to say, they don’t seem to have taken off.
Despite leaving the video game business, though, they might yet still find their way back. In 2016, their name was featured on the European release of the Rollercoaster Tycoon Mega Pack, so who can say for certain if we’ve truly seen the last of this brand?