Game Market 1983 - Chapter 29
Junpei had been so deeply moved that tears started to well up in his eyes. He carefully held onto the Dragon Emblem that I had given him. With a child-like curiosity, Junpei intently studied the outer appearance of the family cartridge even though there was nothing different about it, when it was compared to regular cartridges.
“You’ll burn a hole through the cartridge with that stare of yours, you rascal. Enough, let’s drink.”
“I simply asked you on a whim, and I didn’t have any hope. And now, I’m just ecstatic because I get to see it in person!!”
“It’s fine. You’ll probably hate me for it in around three days…”
“They say there hasn’t been a single person to have cleared that game yet. Or rather, it’s more accurate to say that, as of yet, there hasn’t been such a person. Your temper really flares up when you can’t clear a game after all.”
“You’re saying that the rumors about losing all of your data after your character dies is actually true?”
“It’s even worse. Once you hit ‘Game Over’, it becomes an un-playable game. So, do your best and try playing it seriously.”
Truthfully, Dragon Emblem had a secret that no one but myself knew.
Well, I’m sure it would be discovered sooner or later but, as of now, the only person who knew of this was myself. Wanting to observe and enjoy the reactions of the players even more, I filled the glass up to the brim with alcohol, and I made a grin on my face.
“Who exactly sold the cartridges without our permission?!”
President Yamauchi growled out loudly in anger during this weekly meeting.
“We shouldn’t jump to conclusions. After all, I’ve heard that recently, China’s been rampant with cases of illegal reproduction operations.”
“Of game cartridges?! Are you even listening to yourself??”
And Mr. Shige, who had been staring blankly into space for a while now, suddenly spoke up.
“He’s right. To go through the trouble of illegally producing something like game cartridges… Even if it was to create an excellent game, it just doesn’t make sense. Ah~ my Katrina…”
“Shige… Why has that bastard been acting that way?”
President Yamauchi looked at Mr. Shige, who had been uncomfortably courting a hazy and forlorn expression for a while now.
I, who had been sitting beside Mr. Shige, jabbed him in the ribs, and I answered President Yamauchi for him.
“Ah, that’s… the princess of the ‘Dragon Emblem’ game that Mr. Shige had been playing, died.”
“I placed her in the rear to protect here until the end, but to think that the army would flank me like that… What kind of a demon-like director made such a cruel design…”
As if remembering yesterday’s events, Mr. Shige mumbled quietly in a depressed manner.
Hah~ please come to your senses, won’t you? However, it still gave me a satisfying feeling to see a famous director like Mr. Shige being deeply engrossed in the game play…
“However, because Dragon Emblem had been established through illegal means, there was no way of knowing or tracking who built it. Although, I’m guessing that an amature didn’t make this game… ”
“I don’t want to know who made Dragon Emblem. What I want to know is how a game is being distributed in the market without paying royalties to us!”
President Yamauchi shouted as if he had truly gone senile from the anger.
In the office, aside from Mr. Gunpei, Mr. Shige, and myself, the manager of the cartridge production factory and the head of the security team were also currently present.
‘But, as the head of the next generation game console development department, why do I even need to be here…?’
It had been two months since I had first introduced ‘Dragon Emblem’ to various second-hand game stores.
At first, Mr. Shige and Mr. Gunpei, who had heard of the rumor for the first time, passed it off as an urban legend. However, as the increasing number of players began inquiring Mintendo about who the developer was, market inspections were initiated. After inspecting several second-hand game stores, they were able to draw a conclusion; they were finally able to believe in the existence of Dragon Emblem.
As of now, the one deemed as the best in Japan’s game development was Mr. Shige. The same Mr. Shige who, having had his interest moved, searched over the span of many days to eventually have the game, Dragon Emblem, fall into his hands.
However, upon reaching the 5th stage, the atrocious difficulty had annihilated all of the characters. The Dragon Emblem game, which he barely managed to find, was only played for a day before it became an impossibility to complete, and it was thrown away.
“But this game has a peculiarity about it.”
Eventually, as Mr. Shige snapped out of his contemplative stupor and opened his mouth, the gazes of all the employees in the office were directed towards him.
“The Dragon Emblem that I’ve experienced… it was like a survival game where the players were almost being driven into a corner. Once you reach ‘Game Over’, the game is unplayable. However, after the game is finished and you re-insert the cartridge, a message will appear.”
“[email protected] — what exactly could this mean? Also, there was a message that popped up that said to never throw the game away. It was also displayed at the end. In other words, it’s implying that there’s more to come. In any case, the alphabet code seems like a type of password to use in the sequel. The clues made it so that if you were to throw it away, you’d still easily be able to sell it to second-hand stores. Although we don’t know who it is, this developer gives off the feeling of an incredible marketing genius who is also well-versed in the game industry.”
At that moment, Mr. Gunpei muttered the series of letters that Mr. Shige presented, and he opened his mouth.
“That… seems like an email address?”
As expected of Mintendo’s most elite. Having the knowledge of what the form of an Email address looked like in 1987… Just thinking about that was sending shivers down my spine. As of yet, the internet, which was still being referred to as a ‘communication network’ exclusive to the army, was something that nobody, who was a civilian in this time, should have the knowledge of… Or so I had thought. Was it possible that Mr. Gunpei had come from the future as well…?
“Email? Does Mr. Gunpei know what this alphabet code means?”
“No… I don’t understand it to that extent. All I know is that it’s a form of communication, an identifier that works roughly the same as a house address. However, it would be difficult — in any case — to understand the underlying message by just knowing what it is, wouldn’t you agree?”
Kaah~ Look at that comparison. I can’t stop complimenting him… It was enough for me to spit out a compliment inside my mind, but no one in this meeting was able to understand Mr. Gunpei’s words.
“Communication? House address? Mr. Gunpei… I wouldn’t understand it because I only make games. Can you please explain it in a way that will make sense…?”
Mmm… Was it possible to explain it any simpler than that? With an impatient expression, I responded to Mr. Shige in place of Mr. Gunpei.
“Mr. Shige, you have a phone in your house, right?”
“Of course. Is there anyone in this day and age that doesn’t?”
“A telephone is a communication device. One that allows you to have a conversation with a person over a long distance, right?”
“What Mr. Gunpei is trying to say is that the series of alphabet letters are similar to a phone number. We can send an electronic mail to a faraway person through the computer.”
“That’s right!! Kang-kun!! That’s what I have been trying to say~! As expected of Kang-kun, I had a feeling that he’d be able to explain~”
In my perspective, you, who already had the knowledge of what an Email was, should be considered a far scarier ‘monster’ than me… At that moment, President Yamauchi closed his eyes and, after Mr. Shige’s comment, asked:
“Grunt… Anyways, the conclusion is that a sequel could come out for this game, yes? It’s terrifying to even think about that. Shigeru-kun, how much did you say that game cost?”
“Um… the price began at 1000 Yen in the beginning, but now it has soared to almost 15,000 Yen, which makes sense given the quality of the game and the demand there is for it. Also, the fact that the game has yet to be cleared gives the users a sense of excitement. The reason for that seems to be the shocking rarity of the game.”
“We don’t know where this guy came from, but, if I meet him just a single time, I’m willing to spend a million dollars, if necessary. A producer who can utilise such psychological tactics on the masses…”
Even though this was only the beginning… President Yamauchi seemed to be sporting a strange emotion as Mr. Gunpei opened his mouth to speak again.
“I don’t know as much about games compared to Mr. Shigeru or Kang-kun, but, upon hearing Mr. Shigeru speak, I couldn’t help but notice a very strange point.”
“Strange you say?”
“Yes. The cartridges we make are called ROM packs. Ah, President Yamauchi, a ROM pack is…”
Wearing an impatient expression, President Yamauchi quickly interrupted Mr. Gunpei before he could go any further in his explanation.
“Hey, skip past that over-explaining habit of yours and just tell me the main point.”
“I can’t, even if I wanted to. This is one of those things where you need to hear the long explanation to understand properly. ROM stands for Read-Only-Memory — a type of memory that is only able to be read from. To my knowledge, the ROM makes it so that, if you were to ever use a different set of data, it would become unusable.”
The second Mr. Gunpei said those words, the pencil I had been twirling about in my hand paused. Hm…?
“Shigeru-kun. By any chance, do you have that Dragon Emblem game on you right now?”
“Yes, it’s sitting at the development office. Actually, I had wanted to crack open the game, but there’s an absurdly strong lock on the system…”
“Is that so. In that case, can you show it to me for a bit after the conference ends? It seems like I’ll need to see the cartridge.”
In the end, the conference meeting ended without any of us having found a solution to the problem. At the end, President Yamauchi imparted onto us one last sentence.
-Make a game similar to that of Dragon Emblem and formally circulate it-
This was basically an order telling us to create a charming, marketable SRPG genre game in the shortest term possible.
However, a game like Dragon Emblem, with the acclaim it got, would — in my opinion — only be rivaled by something Mr. Shige could produce. So, with President Yamauchi’s development instructions, he set off to work. As for myself… Lately, I’ve been too busy with the production of a brand new console, so it has been hard for me to find any time to continue my company outsourcing tangents.
In the end, we at Mintendo had to partner up with one of our most loyal firms, Intelilic, and they took the helm for the new Emblem series.
A game idea that I originally had hadn’t been used by my previous company… Now, the story is flowing in an… interesting way?
A moment later, Mr. Shige, Mr. Gunpei, and I were sitting at the office, and we were looking at the game cartridge of Dragon Emblem. Listening to Mr. Gunpei, it seemed like the secret of Dragon Emblem, that only I had known for a while, would be released to the public.
Taking out the ROM card from the game cartridge and revealing its appearance, Mr. Shige tilted his head in confusion, asking Mr. Gunpei.
“Is there something peculiar about it?”
Going as far as to break into a cold sweat, Mr. Gunpei grumbled.
“Shigeru-kun. You said that this game cost 1000 Yen at the second hand shop?”
“Mmm… the rumours are going around saying so. Although, a premium price tag is now put on it…”
“Now, which crazy bastard would hand over an item like this for a measly 1000 Yen for the second-hand stores to sell?”
“Why? Is there something special about it?”
“With other games, you would make the game cartridge and insert a different chip. However, Dragon Emblem’s cartridge is made entirely exclusive for it!”
“Hah~ So you’re saying that there’s a game inside the game? But according to Mr. Gunpei, isn’t it impossible to delete data inside a ROM cartridge?”
“It was changed to be able to cleverly read data. It’s limited to not only the basic games, but the data on the custom chip as well.”