Band-kun バンドくん musician simulator (1990, KOEI)

I’ve been playing an old (1990, KOEI Co Ltd) Japanese NEC PC-9801 game バンドくん [Band-kun; Mr. Band; Band Man] where you start a band and have to recruit members, make some recordings and live a life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It was also available for the Fujitsu FM Towns and Sharp X68000 Japanese personal computers.


Band-kun is a hybrid simulation/adventure/rhythm game. You explore a fictional city taking to various inhabitants, learning about the music and the music industry, recruiting band members and performing and recording music. You perform the music using mouse gestures, so it’s possible to ad-lib and receive better/worse results a little like playing a musical instrument. After recording you need mix the song in a studio, then get your friend Bob Marley to sell your CDs on the street corner, or figure out how to get the music played on the local radio station which is, of course, broadcasting from a zeppelin riding high above the city.

You need to work dead-end jobs to pay your way, and repeat the recording/gigging process to work your way up through soul-destroying small club gigs to a big arena gig, and allegedly you can even die from the excess partying.

Playdate version?

It’s originally B&W so I figured it would look great on Playdate, so I made a little proof of concept.


Band-kun required a MIDI-capable sound card PLUS an external MIDI sound module - a very expensive 30,000JPY piece of equipment back in 1990. So it wasn’t a success and was forgotten about. But it eventually led to Guitaroo Man and the birth of the music game genre on PlayStation.

Anyway! I’d love to licence Band-kun and re-release it on a modern device that can do the original concept justice. The Playdate crank and accelerometer could be used to perform the music!

I wondered if anybody knows KOEI founder Youichi Erikawa (aka “Kou Shibusawa”)? Hook a brother up! バンドを組んでメンバーを集め、レコーディングをして、セックスとドラッグとロックンロールの生活を送るという昔(1990年、KOEI)のPC-9801のゲーム「バンドくん」をプレイしています。@koeitecmogames からライセンスしたいので、襟川 陽一 に協力をお願いします。

Edit: since I originally wrote this twitter thread and blog post, contact has been made with KOEI’s licensing department. 🤞

Period reviews

Detailed review from the 1991-01 issue of #マイコンBASIC micomBASIC

Courtesy of a scan at Internet Archive.


Super Soft Hot Information: Band-kun #バンドくん in #micomBASIC1990/12

Courtesy of a scan at Internet Archive.

“SLG in which you form a band, gain experience through practice and live house performances, and aim to win a contest. After winning, the game turns into a highly flexible session software. MIDI compatible.”


Review of Band-kun #バンドくん in Technopolis #テクノポリス 1991/01

Courtesy of a scan at Internet Archive.

“We borrowed a studio and practiced hard with our friends to win the contest. Hone your skills!”

“In the city, you’ll try to win a fight against a band member. It’s hard to get them to play with you at first.”


Translation (WIP)

I’ve been poking around in the Band-kun game files.

Everything is stored uncompressed in very simple structures across a few files. I’ve not figured them all out, yet, but can see graphics (done), dialogue (partial), music (to-do). Band-kun ships with Scenario 1 “ZAP CITY 1991” and is able to play additional scenarios, but none were released.

Regardless: it should be easy to create a translated version of the included scenario. And maybe even create a new scenario (varying difficulty depending on changes).

User Manual

A scanned PDF for Band-kun #バンドくん is available with thanks to the Neo Kobe project


Promotional leaflet



Download the game

Get the disk image at Internet Arcchive for PC-9801 or FM-Towns

All the faces

Here are all 120 “famous” faces, extracted from PC-9801 Band-kun, thanks to @fukui_keeekn on Twitter.


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Comments: @gingerbeardman