Well, screw all that. I liked Working Designs. I liked the humorous dialogue changes. I liked the way they made pushover Japanese games harder and therefore more interesting for North America, though it’s a shame about Exile II. I liked Popful Mail, Thunder Force V, and Elemental Gearbolt just as well as the more popular Working Designs staples of Dragon Force and the Lunar games. And I liked watching the arguments between Ireland and everyone from GameFan magazine editors to Sega bigwigs. Right or wrong, Working Designs was damned entertaining. Atlus, Xseed, and other contemporary publishers of Japanese RPGs may be more professional, but they’re just not as marvelously dramatic.
Working Designs didn’t survive to see this age, but the company struck a 1990s vein of Japanese-RPG fans that other publishers ignored entirely. If those fans weren’t a significant force in the industry, they were at least devoted. They bought games, strategy guides, and, most importantly, all sorts of merchandise based on the games they liked. Working Designs figured this out early.
If you picked up a Working Designs game for the Sega CD or Sega Saturn, you probably found one of these brochures inside that needlessly oversized jewel case. It shills wares with a downright precious candor, inviting kids everywhere to cover their rooms and concern their parents with posters and pins and mousepads. Game companies of the 1990s sometimes offered a token t-shirt or two with their products, but that simply wasn’t good enough for Working Designs. Their games were important, and they deserved to be all over walls and backpacks.