Game Market 1983 - Chapter 27
Afterwards, I hurriedly worked on the completion of Final Frontier with Kawaguchi. Of course, I couldn’t visit every day as the office was located in Tokyo; however, I made sure to visit at least once on my business trips there.
After Kawaguchi played the Dragon Warrior that I lent to him, he seemed to make a breakthrough.
In this era, game developers didn’t pay much attention to BGM (Background Music), but Mr. Kawaguchi realized that the BGM played a vital role to dramatize and increase the enjoyability of the game.
Just like how the BGM of Dragon Warrior gave off a majestic atmosphere as soon as the game was turned on, Final Frontier also wanted to exude a dream-like feeling to the players.
And the music that flowed out of the field scenes wanted to provide an atmosphere where one would be indirectly put on an epic worldwide adventure.
In the midst of everything, Mr. Kawaguchi hired a professional music composer from a fantasy movie, and shockingly, that composer was a classic; a piano major on top of that.
Toriyama Akira, who had gained massive popularity with the children, had appointed the popular ‘The Five Eagle Brothers” to be use as the illustration.
“I can guess the age group you’re aiming at, Mr. Kawaguchi.”
I, who was inspecting the blueprints of Final Frontier, looked toward Mr. Kawaguchi, and I gave a slight smile.
“Is it too obvious that we’re copying elements from Dragon Warrior?”
“It’s not a bad tactic. If Dragon Warrior was a pure story that conveyed hopes and dreams to children, the target age group should be a little higher with around high school to adult preferences.”
“That is exactly correct. I fleshed out the battle scenes with the intent to convey the feeling of fighting against an actual enemy; what do you think? I was watching NFL (American Football), and the sheer amount of tension felt from the players, before the quarterback passed the ball, was tremendous.”
“Tension… Simply making the character face off against an enemy wouldn’t necessarily maximize the tension of battle…”
“That’s why I planned out the battle system like this.”
The battle between monsters, that Mr. Kawaguchi showed, utilized a system called the Active Battle System.
A gauge was implemented to take turns between the actions of the monster and the player. Then, following the order that each of the gauges were filled up, the monster and the player would take turns attacking each other; this would set the foundation for the miraculous battle system for Final Frontier.
“Mr. Junhyuk, I was curious about this before, but you seem to posses an incredibly profound knowledge of game planning and programming. Thanks to you, the production of Final Frontier went very smoothly.”
“Really? It’s a relief that I was able to be of assistance to you.”
“With a skill level like yours, it can be comparable to Mr. Shigeru of Mintendo. Why haven’t you developed a game yourself?”
“Mmm… Actually, I’m currently making a game as a hobby.”
“Developing a game as a hobby? Just what type of game is it?”
“It’s a secret for now, so it would be difficult for me to say. Haha.”
I flashed a smile towards Mr. Kawaguchi, and I avoided giving the answer. The game that I had been developing ever seen I came back from the States early last year was nearing completion.
However, the thing that was clear to me was that I had no intention of releasing this game under Mintendo’s name.
One day, in the spring of 1987…
The game called Final Frontier was released without any media attention.
At first, no one had paid any attention to the story of a warrior defeating darkness with the support of the crystal.
One week after the release of the game, with the help of Yamano Yoshitaka’s illustrations, 3000 copies of Final Frontier were sold. Of course, this was a satisfying result compared to the sales of the previous title, ‘King’s Quest’. However, Mr. Kawaguchi’s heart did not seem to feel that way.
A somber voice could be heard from the other side of the telephone. I was also busy at the headquarters, so I couldn’t make frequent business trips to Tokyo; I was speaking with Mr. Kawaguchi over the phone in my dormitory, after work.
“Only one week has passed, I don’t think there is any reason for you to be depressed like that. There will be a review on the FamiTong magazine this month, so please wait a little bit more.”
“Thank you for supporting me all the way through to the end with this final game that I prepared. Mr. Kang, I will never forget this debt.”
“You’ve been through a lot while you were preparing for the game’s release. Please take a good rest for the next few days and relax your mind.”
“I was planning on going fishing at a beach for a few days anyways.”
“That’s a great idea. You might be able to hear the good news after you come back from a faraway beach~”
“I wouldn’t have any more wishes if that came true. Then, I will contact you again after I return.”
As soon as Mr. Kawaguchi hung up the call, I contacted the FamiTong reporter, Junpei.
Due to me giving him the information about the golden cartridge beforehand, he became one of my closest friends.
In this period with no internet, the only source of information about games were through magazines. On top of that, the marketing methods for games had to be done through the same method. A while later, a voice of a man, along with the sound of a punching bag being hit, could be heard on the receiving end of the telephone.
“Thank you. This is FamiTong’s Ishimoto Junpei.”
“Is that you Junpei? So you haven’t got off work yet?”
Junpei, who was the same age as me, had a habit of speaking rapidly, as if he was being chased. Due to this, there were many occasions where you would not understand his words very well if you didn’t give him your full attention.
“The deadline will be the end of me. There is a mountain of games to play; how am I supposed to review everything? I’m about to go insane.”
“You’re really busy. By the way, did the review for Final Frontier — that was released ten days ago — come out yet?”
“Final Frontier? Hmm… I’m not the only one that writes reviews. Wouldn’t another person have written a review?”
“What do you mean by ‘wouldn’t another person have written a review?’… What kind of answer is that?”
“Did you know? The recent games that are coming out for the Family number in twos or threes. Even if there were three clones of me, I would still be short handed. I’m telling you, I’m at a point where I’m desperate enough to borrow a cat’s paws.”
“It doesn’t matter if a cat or a dog writes the review, can you check if the review for Final Frontier started the publication process?”
“Hey, hey. Please let me off~ Mn? I haven’t went home for the past two days~”
“Oh, oh… So quickly check it for me, then go home and rest after~”
“Thanks for the compliment.”
A moment later, the sound of Junpei shouting to the other employees about whether anyone started writing a review for Final Frontier was heard. A brief moment later:
“No. No one said they were writing it? There were a ton of games released this time so the review for Final Frontier will have to be pushed to next month.”
“What!? Hey, if you push a review for a new title released this month to the next, what kind of a game magazine are you?”
“If only there were one or two newly released games. Thankfully, I’m a reviewer. However, the kids at the game marketing team are no different than half corpses. They haven’t gone home for two weeks, and they were stuck playing games.”
“Then you should write the review for Final Frontier yourself. Also, do everything you can to release that review for this month’s edition.”
“Oing? What did you say!?”
“You owe me one from that The Legend of Karin’s limited edition article being a massive hit, right? Just think of it as you repaying the debt.”
“Hey Junhyuk, no matter how… That’s a little…”
“I’m pleading with you, Junpei. We’re friends~ Mn?”
“Ah~ I was determined to go home today, but…?”
“Just try playing the game. It should be enjoyable since I’m the one recommending it.”
“I will give it a go right now because you’re asking me. If it’s a trash game, just know that you will die by my hands~!!”
“I’ll buy the drinks after your deadline is over; give it your best~!!?”
“G-Great? Yeah, alright. You have to keep that promise~!!”
“Got that, bastard~? Break a leg.”
One week had passed. I visited a big book store in Osaka. In the magazine section, male students wearing school uniforms made a line as they read the FamiTong Magazine.
“Wow~ Tons of new titles also came out this time around. I’ve used up my allowance, but what should I buy?”
“Buy something that you can play for a long time. Like an RPG~”
“I’ve already beat Dragon Warrior 2 last week, and it was definitely enjoyable… But the plot was a bit immature… Is there something from the newly released titles?”
In response, one student, who was reading the review article beside him, answered:
“Final Frontier… This seems quite good? Reviewer Junpei, the RPG professional, had given it 36 out of 40.”
“Really? Dragon Warrior was 38 points.”
As the interest of the students were perked, the male student started reading the review article out loud to them.
“Final Frontier — the first project from the new company, Pentagon Soft. The plot is about the main character, a warrior of light, who received support from a crystal, and he defeats the forces of darkness alone. The game gives off a similar impression to Dragon Warrior 1 with its beautiful BGM and the illustrations of Yoshitaka, but a unique battle system specific to Final Frontier gets introduced. I could feel a new type of attraction from the fantasy genre that was different from what Dragon Warrior exudes.”
“It’s strange? Is it saying Final Frontier is a subtype of Dragon Warrior?”
“They’re saying the battle system is interesting. The review score is good, so I think it’s worth a shot?”
“Mmm~ This is making me think. First of all, I’ll have to go to a game shop owner and ask if it is an entertaining game.”
At that moment, one student, who was listening to the other students speak, opened his mouth with a cautious expression.
“You guys… Do you know a game called Dragon Emblem?”
At that instant, my hands, that were browsing the bookshelves next to them, also froze.
“Dragon Emblem? What’s that, it’s the first time I’ve heard of it.”
“Yeah, who made it? Is it also an RPG game?”
The student was overwhelmed by the barrage of questions from his friends and made a slight expression of contemplation. He took his time to decide on the potential words that were circling behind his lips. Then, he opened his mouth with a lack of self confidence:
“N-No. It’s fine if you don’t know about it.”
“What~ You’re keeping secrets? Just what type of game is it?”
“Yeah~ If it’s entertaining, tell us so we can play together~”
A human could not control himself if he was curious. The student who said something, stopped in the middle of saying it, since he couldn’t withstand the barrage of questions from his friends. Finally, he gave in and opened his mouth:
“Actually, I heard this from my older cousin. I got the call yesterday, but he bragged a lot, claiming he got a hold of an incredible game. Aside from that, I don’t know much either…”
“If a game has been released, it would be in the magazine. When did it come out?”
“I don’t know… It’s a rumour that’s floating around like an urban legend, but apparently, that game does not have a release date…”