Game Market 1983 - Chapter 2
“A young man like you looks like you’re on your death’s bed? What’s the problem?”
“I’m just tired because of work-related stuff. How did Senior collect all these retro games? This could almost be considered a museum?”
The tiny little store was filled with all kinds of game-related stuff. None of the games were modern. Instead, the items were popular retro game titles from the 80s and 90s. However, seeing this display, a quiet excitement welled up within me as if I had gone back to my childhood.
Especially the games that made me stay up all night to beat. From ‘Trial of the Ninja’ to ‘Final Frontier’, ‘Dragon Warrior’, etc… were all displayed without a speck of dust; it was as if they had just come out of the production line.
“Hehehe~ What do you think? Are you tempted?”
“You’re selling this right?”
“Of course, I put them here to sell them. The person who buys them will be the new owner~”
“How much are they?”
“Just give me two dollars per game.”
“Tw-two dollars!? Senior, these types of vintage items go on sale on the internet for hundreds of dollars. Especially this one!!”
I grabbed a shining golden case from the game cartridges and held it out. ‘Muscleman’, once called the destroyer of friendships; this golden case was an ultra rare item in Japan where only 8 copies were made. This item was recently sold for 30,000 Yen in an auction in Japan.
However, that was not all. A mini car game that was handed out at a Mintendo summer camp that was rumored to have only 100 copies in the entire world was being openly displayed here.
Each and every game here were items that could be sold for unbelievably high prices.
“Young man, I can tell you like these games.”
“Of course. That’s why I’m making games at this age~”
“Young man, you make games? Wow~ That’s amazing.”
That was only until yesterday. I swallowed these words and smiled sheepishly at the old man. He must have liked that so he gave a hearty chuckle with deep wrinkles paved on his face.
“Ah, I miss this. The games from this period were truly good…”
I picked up one of the cartridges on the side and gave a bitter smile. The now-deceased past president of Mintendo, Kawata Satoshi’s masterpiece that he made in his younger days, Balloon Fight.
Using 3 balloons to fly around the air and pop the opponent’s balloons, this was one of the games that I used to pull all nighters with when my friend came over. One time, I fought with my friend over this game so much that I didn’t talk to him for a month…
Balloon Fight was the first game that used the effect of “Inertia due to acceleration”. This concept was such an interesting concept that it was used in the running motion of Super Marigee.
“Balloon Fight~ that is truly a masterpiece. You have an eye for these things.”
“Is it alright if I look around a little more, Senior?”
“Go ahead, there are no customers anyway so take your time.”
I started to look around the tiny store when one game console caught my eye.
“Could… this be?”
To my reaction, the old man who was resting both his arms on the glass display looked at me with a peculiar smile. The item I picked up was called Game & Watch.
“Wow… to think that I would see this again…”
I carefully opened the Game & Watch like a treasure.
This device was the pioneer of handheld gaming devices and the role model for the current Mintendo.
“Haha~ Is that to your liking?”
“Of course, Senior. By the way, I’ve never seen this model of the Game & Watch before. When I was little, I remember begging my parents and collected the entire series; but, this is the first time I’m seeing this model.”
“That’s a given… That model is the only one in the entire world.”
“What? The only one? How is something as rare as this in a place like this… No, I’m not disrespecting Senior’s store, but a unique model like this should be in the Mintendo headquarters as a commemoration.”
“Who said anything? A young man like you got all worked up~ Haha~”
“Ahaha… But this is really cool. A unique model of Game & Watch… can I try this out?”
“The batteries are in there so you can try it out right away. Go ahead.”
“Ah, thank you.”
With Senior’s permission, I immediately opened the lid and turned the game on.
-Ding Ding Ding Ding~~
The system started up along with the theme music. I walked towards the headlamps to see the screen better because the Game & Watch had the stop animation technology; it did not have a backlight function, so it was impossible to see the screen in a dark place.
-The Employee’s Game-
That was the name of this Game & Watch model. The Game & Watch was created by the developer, Gunpei Yokoi, who passed away in a car accident. At that time period, games were geared towards little children, so titles like Donkey Kom, Legend of Karin, and DragonBall were popular; however, a name like that was strange for a game geared towards children.
“Do you know how play it?”
“I can figure it out with my instincts.”
The Game & Watch was made for 5~6 year olds so the controls were not hard at all. There were the right and left arrow keys and a confirm button.
The main character of the game was an employee of a company who met with clients and placed a report on his desk, and tried to get the approval of the boss; every action was displayed through the stop animation effect.
The point of the game was to move rapidly from left to right and connect the clients with the boss. The interesting thing was that the time you had to meet the client was delayed or, suddenly, the boss switched his spot, so the MC couldn’t obtain the approval that controlled the tempo of the game.
‘This was pretty well made.’
“You have a great sense for gaming ~”
“I played this a lot when I was a kid, and I already understood the system… By the way, this game character is a lot like me.”
“Employees are all the same. Haha…”
“That’s right. It’s depressing that I’m overworked even in a game.”
“Is that right? Haha~”
After playing the game for awhile, I closed the lid and returned the device to the old man. As I did that, the old man intently stared at the Game & Watch in my hand.
“You said that you make games? What type of games are you making?”
“The games that I made until now were online PC games, but there are so many mobile games out there; thus, it’s hard to make a big hit compared to the past. It must be enjoyable in under 5 minutes, emphasizing almost no effort on the player’s part.”
“Isn’t that a part of the passage of time? You have to give the players what they’re looking for.”
“I don’t think that’s true. The games that were popular when I was little are still popular with plenty of players playing it on consoles all around the world. A game won’t be popular because it’s free. The most important thing is the quality of the game.”
What am I saying to an old man? However, I couldn’t stop the discharge of thoughts that I harbored in my mind for the past few months.
“I can’t deny that in our country, the most popular types of games that our country’s young people enjoy are mobile games. However, we, at least, have to give the players a variety of choices. Spewing out similar games and saying, “try it because it’s free”; however, there’s no such thing as an ending. Additionally, if you don’t want to put any effort into the game, then pay money. Is it right to operate like this? There has to be an end to every start. However, today… garbage games that have no ending are flooding this world. Starting a story and, if the money isn’t flowing in, they discontinue the server, say sorry and that’s the end of it. How does this make sense?”
“Hm… you speak well young man…”
“Huff… Huff… I was too worked up. I apologize, Senior.”
“No, no. Your words feel like a breath of fresh air. Yes, a game developer should at least have this opinion.”
“I feel better after venting my thoughts to you.”
“Is that right? Haha~ Look here young man; if you could travel to the past, what period would you go back to.”
“What? Ah, I don’t know. This is not a thought invoking question, but I’m engrossed by this idea. If I could go back to the past, then 1983 would be good.”
“Why is that?”
“The reasoning behind this is that was the period after the Atari Shock and the 2nd generation Mintendo consoles were released. This period also had an overflow of ambitious young game developers.”
“Really? Haha~ that’s right. The 1980s was a lot of fun. That time period was also when the definition of the term ‘Video Game’ was being developed. If you could really go back to that time period, what would you do? Would you develop games like you are now?”
I thought deeply about the question of the old man for a moment. As if we were playing chess, the old man was watching me think with a sincere smile on his face.
“No. I wouldn’t be a developer.”
“Hmm? Why not? Do you hate games now?”
“No. I don’t think I would be able to make the games that I truly want to make as a game developer.”
“Hmm? What do you mean by that?”
“If I could bring the knowledge I have right now to that period, I would want to make a gaming console. I want to make a gaming company that would rival the current Mintendo and Soni.”
“Aha~ You want to be your own boss and create the games that you want to make? That’s a good idea.~ Incredible.”
“Is that so? Haha… I’m excited just thinking about this. It was enjoyable talking to you, Senior. I feel like a huge knot in my chest just got untangled.”
“Why? Leaving so soon?”
“I have to go to work tomorrow. Don’t all workers have to be on time?”
“Yeah, should I close up too? The time is too late.”
“Are you planning on closing the shop? Then I’ll help you clean the shop.”
“Really? You have good manners young man. Then can you bring in the sign post outside?”
“Yes, of course.”
As I left the store, I stared at the Game & Watch console that I unconsciously brought outside with me. Oh no, I should put it back right now, so he doesn’t suspect me of stealing. How precious must it be that it is the only one in the world.
As I turned my head around thinking that…
The view of a tightly closed shutter door was in front of my eyes.
“What is this? Senior? Senior~!!”
It felt as if I was dreaming. A brightly lit store moments ago suddenly changed into a dark building.
Am I dreaming right now?
I pinched my cheeks, but I definitely felt the pain. It’s not like I was tricked by a ghost so how is this possible? But… in my right hand…
I turned my head to look at the Game & Watch console that was still in my hands.
“What is… happening right now?”