Sega AM5

From Sega Retro

Sega AM5
Division of Sega of Japan
Founded: 1989[1]
Defunct: 1999

Sega Amusement Machine Research and Development Department #5, commonly known as Sega AM R&D #5 or Sega AM5, was a research and development division within Sega. Specialising in the development of indoor theme park attractions, planning of large amusement facilities, and initially children's amusement machines, it existed for around a decade, becoming Mirai R&D in 1999 after the other Sega AM and CS teams were reformed.



AM5, then likely known as R&D5, was reportedly created in 1989[1] and was split from the arcade hardware design department of Sega AM4, at that time still known as R&D4. Opened with the specific aim of creating amusement machines for families to be placed in suburban facilities such as Sega's own Japanese game centers,[1] it initially focused on creating small childrens' arcade machines like the Waku Waku line of kiddie rides, whilst also undertaking more complex work on a number of early large simulators, including the AS-1.[1] These were originally showcased at industry trade shows and expos; some saw more permanent use at a few of the larger amusement venues open around the world at that time, like Sega's own Sega World Cospal, which housed a CCD Cart installation when opened in 1991.[2][3] The team's name change to AM5 occurred alongside the separation of Sega's R&D teams to use the CS and AM names in 1991.[4][5]

Eventually, much of AM5's work became devoted to creating the vast majority of the various mid-size and large attractions that populated Sega's Amusement Theme Park centers in Japan during the 1990s, including (but not limited to) Joypolis.[6][4] Prominent development personnel included Tokinori Kaneyasu, Hiroshi Uemura, and Hironao Takeda; some members of the team, such as Hiroshi Nakanishi, also carried out design and planning work on the centers themselves.[7] Unlike AM4, which frequently provided hardware for the largely software focused departments AM1, AM2 and AM3, AM5 appears to have designed, developed, and programmed most of its hardware/software by itself; however, its two most notable works, the AS-1 and VR-1 simulators, were given software assistance by AM3, as well as overseas collaborators Douglas Trumbull and Virtuality, respectively.[8][9][10]

AM5 was most active from 1993 to 1998, when it was officially deemed the "Joypolis Attraction R&D Department"[11] and Sega's theme park operations were still being continually expanded, requiring the constant development of new showpiece attractions. Initially exclusive to Japan, some of its large-scale produce eventually became available outside of the country in SegaWorld London and Sega World Sydney, however due to financial pressures and managerial problems, the majority of these theme parks were either closed permanently or scaled back, with only the flagship Tokyo Joypolis receiving frequent updates thereafter.[10] In 1999, AM5, like all the AM and CS teams at Sega, was renamed, and ceased to exist. Mirai R&D took its place, which diversified its amusement interests and eventually returned the team to its roots by focusing on arcade machines for small children again.

Sega has continued to develop attractions for the remaining theme park venues they are affiliated with, however, it was only during the 1990s that a specific internal division was promoted for these tasks and largely dedicated to them.


List of staff

Magazine articles

Main article: Sega AM5/Magazine articles.


Timeline of Sega of Japan research and development divisions