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Tengen (テンゲン) was a division of Atari Games responsible for developing and publishing console games as well as licensing games made by other companies that contain Atari Games' properties. Some of Tengen's console games were ports of Atari Games' arcade titles, including Klax, Hard Drivin', and Paperboy.


Atari had been split into two distinct companies; Atari Corporation was responsible for computer and console games and hardware and owned the rights to the Atari brand for these domains. Atari Games was formed from Atari's arcade division, and were able to use the Atari name on arcade releases but not on console or computer games. When Atari Games wanted to enter the console-game market, it needed to create a new label that did not use the Atari name. The new subsidiary was dubbed Tengen, which in the Chinese game Go refers to the central point of the board (the word "Atari" comes from the same game). Tengen started off as a group of testers, but later expanded to include its own development team.[4]

Tengen published NES ports of four of Sega's arcade games: After Burner II, Alien Syndrome, Shinobi, and Fantasy Zone; they had been released in North America without any approval from Nintendo due to the latter's strict third party publishing policies. Tengen had also sub-licensed the Japanese arcade rights and illegitimate Mega Drive rights to Tetris to Sega after Atari Games acquired the arcade rights and illegitimate console rights to the game from Mirrorsoft. Tengen's unapproved NES games and their development of an NES port of Tetris would result in a series of legal battles between Atari Games and Nintendo that Atari Games would ultimately lose.

Tengen went on to produce games for the Mega Drive, the Master System, the Game Gear, and the Mega-CD. Tengen also stepped in as a publisher where other publishers did not have licenses, including Domark for Japanese releases and Virgin Interactive for American releases. Time Warner, which had become the majority owner of Atari Games in 1993, merged Tengen with Atari Games and Time Warner Interactive (TWI) brand.

Domark and Tengen entered into an agreement where Domark would distribute each other's games in Europe and North America, respectively.


System 16

Master System

Mega Drive

Game Gear



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