Game Market 1983 - Chapter 46





On an article from FamiTong Magazine this month was the date & location for the first public experimental game trials for Psychic Battle.

Mr. Gunpei gave an eager yes to my proposal for the event in anticipation for the audience it would attract.

Due to that, the gathering of people in the event plaza were extremely polarized with one group gathered on one side at Mr. Gunpei’s Gamboy… While my Psychic Battle was attracting the second group.

A magnificent scene was unfolding on the Psychic Battle game screen such that passersby would stop in their tracks and fixedly stare at the screen.

“Ah~!! You missed your chance!!”

As the player lowered his head after being KO’d by the first stage boss who barely had any health left, another challenger swept into take his place.

“So there isn’t anyone that was able to receive the experimental cartridge as the prize yet?”

“A few were able to clear the first boss, but the exponentially rising difficulty from thereon out had… However, the line is ever increasing as if more and more players became stimulated.”

“As long as these players develop a sense for the game by watching, a few winners should appear. Today is the first day of the event after all; It wouldn’t be fun if clearing the second stage were that easy.”

“Right? The situation has become a bit chaotic as some people are trying over and over again to collect each of the four illustrations from the game magazine covers.”

 

“If it becomes too excessive, make sure to step in and manage the situation, Mr. Kashiwaba. We prepared this event so that plenty of people would be able to experience it.”

“Yes.”

‘I’m interested to see just how many experimental cartridges will be given away in this event…”

I swallowed a chuckle and looked at my surroundings.

&

The initial stock for the mobile Gamboy units were completely exchaused by day four following the successful launch. This outcome was six days earlier than we predicted.

Since it was christmas season, many devices must’ve been purchased for children; The funny thing was the 300,000 sales we’ve made during these past four days eclipsed the combined sales of Mintendo’s Family and the NEGA Disk.

Word had it, the executives who predicted that the Gamboy would be too expensive to be considered as a children’s toy couldn’t hide their astonishment.

Factories immediately went into manufacturing the devices again, but it seemed the supply wouldn’t be able to meet the demand for now.

One company that had benefited tremendously from the popularity of the mobile Gamboy was Sharp, who exported the black and white frames to Mintendo. As they were the sole manufacturers of the Gamboy frames, their massive economic weight could instantly revive the currently waning economy.

The CEO of Sharp, Mr. Machida and our very own President Yamauchi had a great business relationship; hence they were able to work out a win-win solution to supplying the frames.

The mobile Gamboy incorporated the reflective black-and-white STN screen to match its massive power consumption; Even then, the maximum (continuous) play time was only around five hours with four AA batteries.

On top of that, the STN screen was a reflective surface for light; One would not be able to see the screen at all due to the reflected rays of the sun. There weren’t any backlights either making it impossible to play the device at night with the lights turned off.

However, the merit of being able to play a game without a TV overshadowed all these disadvantages. Device sales were on fire.

As the 8 bit console market was drawing to a close, our mobile Gamboy became the new heir of the console industry.

“Hey!! Let me try it once~ Yeah?”

“No~ If you’re desperate, you can beg your mom to buy it for you like I did~”

“Petty bastard.”

I was walking on the road to the subway station to a personal meeting when I saw two arguing twerps who were coming home from school arguing.

Looking at the clothes of the chubby twerp, he seemed to be from a relatively well-off family. If you’re friend wants to play a round, you should let him do so. How greedy.

It’s exactly like a scene of the chubby boy and the skinny boy from Doraemon. I let out a smirk and passed the arguing pair.

Today was Christmas eve, the day when the promotion event for Gamboy had come to a close. Mr. Gunpei, along with all the other employees, had dashed back to Kyoto as soon as the event was over, but I still remained in Tokyo.

Why? I still had business here.

I hurriedly boarded the subway and headed to the Raitex factory situated on the outskirts of Tokyo. I was on my way to meet the indian native on the night that was said to be the most romantic night of the year.

“Chandra!!”

“Oh~!! It’s Kang Junhyuk.”

Chandra and his buddies were having dinner when they immediately began waving and smiling as soon as they saw me.

“You guys are looking much healthier nowadays~!!”

“This is all thanks to Kang Junhyuk. Money I send to Pumala’s home is huge. Pumala can marry now.” (TL Note: Pumala is referring to himself in 3rd person here, remember, these indians aren’t the best at speaking Japanese!)

Pumala flashed a grinned with a spoon in his mouth. As a result, his friends started teasing him in their mother tongue. Pumala definitely had a silly personality from what I could tell.

“But Kang Junhyuk, what’s the occurrence? Weren’t we supposed to operate in secret? Even though all the other employees went home for today.”

“It’s not exactly a secret operation. I can just say I came here to check up on the specialty chip. More importantly, were you able to find what I requested?”

“Of course!”

“Then I’m sorry to disturb you in the middle of your meal, but can I  see you outside for a second?”

“I already ate. There’s no problem.”

A moment later.

Chandra led me to the research lab inside the Raitex factory. This lab contained state-of-the-art equipment and plenty of room, leagues better than his previous cramped workshop in Akiba. And in this place, I finally met the CPU chip that would be used for the new generation Super Family console.

“So this is the new Riko 5A22 16-bit CPU that will be used in the Super Family…”

“This CPU was modified to fit our needs from Apple II’s high performance GS WDC65816 CPU. It’s a 2 year old model, but there is nothing else that can beat its performance for the price.”

“I agree with that, but wouldn’t the graphic rendering speed be too slow?”

“There’s no way around that. It was originally designed to quickly run tasks. By using the 16-bit chip, the overall quality would rise, but there will be restrictions on the speed.”

To the gamers who’ve had similar childhood experiences as me comparing the Super Family and NEGA’s Drive, there should have been some differences. Why were there no games like NEGA’s headlining game ‘Sonic’, that enabled the player experience an exhilarating graphic speed, in Super Family consoles?

It was clearly a console that came out later than the NEGA Drive, and the price was more expensive; This lead to some feelings of frustration.

As my neighborhood friend had NEGA’s ‘Sonic’ which induced a different kind of entertainment from Super Marigee, we sometimes traded our consoles and played on them.

‘Now I know the reason why the Super Family was slower than the NEGA Drive.’

Mintendo couldn’t stand being at the 2nd place.

They would strain themselves to do everything they could to surpass the highest performing device with a new innovation and take control of the market for the next 5~6 years using that very device.

If that wasn’t the case, they would have to put out a new console every 1~2 years in order to stay on top of the ever-changing Game industry. Factoring in the development and marketing costs, each console would have to last at least five years.

Sales of these expensive new devices would incur losses for the firm early on. Of course, as the market price settled down, profits would start to roll in.

The raw production cost for one unit totaled to 17,000 Yens, but to match the economic situation of the customers, the sales price was lowered to 14,800 Yen. Each sale would result in a net loss of 2,200 Yen for the firm, which they would try to make up with Game Cartridge sales.

However, Mintendo was different.

They would do everything they can do lower the production costs of the hardware by using cheaper parts. This “hole” would be sewn by the quality of games.

The very CPU in front of my eyes was a result of this logic.

‘I’ve been receiving frequent proposals for various chips so I asked Chandra to search for an appropriate chip; but it’s trash after all. The NEGA Drive had better capabilities around this time period as well…’

At that time, Chandra spoke to me.

“But some deficiencies can be covered to some extent by a skilled programmer.”

“That’s true, but it’s not possible to overcome the limitations of hardware.”

“The limitations of hardware… Keke, great timing. I have something I must show to Kang Junhyuk.”

“Something you must how me? What’s that?”

“You will find out if you follow me.”

Wearing a meaningful smile on his face, Chandra led me to the employee’s recreation room this time. It might seem obvious, but the recreation area at Raitex contained Mintendo’s Family console.

“Everyone is enjoying Kang Junhyuk’s Psychic Battle. The provocative scenes are too..., but the plot is very entertaining.”

“I’m glad to hear that you guys like it. But what’s the thing you wanted to show me?”

“Psychic Battle. It had some points that could be improved., so I modified it a little.”

“What…? You know how to program?”

In response, Pumala had caught up to us and answered with a bright grin.

“There’s nothing Chandra can’t do. He’s a genius.”

Chandra looked happy at Pumala’s compliment as he inserted a blank cartridge with no labels into the Family console. A brief moment later, Psychic Battle’s logo popped up on the screen, and the character selection screen appeared.

‘Mmm… I don’t see any difference up until this point, did he make changes to the game content?”

Chandra tactfully looked at my reaction and slanted the corners of his mouth upwards before selecting the main character Azesha Ren. And with the first stage of the game that soon followed…

“What is this!?”

I involuntarily muttered as soon as I saw the screen.

‘The game became much faster.’

The Psychic Battle that Chandra was playing was approximately 1.5 times faster than what I’d originally made. Additionally, the projectiles that were targeting the character also became faster than normal, and a lot smoother.

“This is? How did you do this?”

In response, Chandra lightly snorted and stood a little taller.

“The original code was clean and organized, but it was needlessly complicated, so Chandra reorganized the code his way. That’s why the load on the CPU noticeably decreased. The original Psychic Battle was great, but I felt the joy of being able to fly around was lacking so I increased the background scrolling by 1.5 times. What do you think? Do you like it?”

The arrangement was too complicated? Psychic Battle was  developed by the top coders in Mintendo, Hiyashi and me. But this Chandra, he managed to upgrade it by another level. He’s more incredible than I thought!!



 





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