Game Market 1983 - Chapter 5

[1] So each Game & Watch device can only play one game that came with it -_-
[2] The periods in Japan basically correspond to current Japanese Emperors – Heisei period and Showa period
[3] The Family is a gaming console like a reeealllly old version of an xbox

While I was intimidated by the pixel bricks flying towards me; I crouched my body down until I  resembled a tight ball. A few moments later, I heard an all too familiar sound.

-Ding ding ding ding

[…expected to arrive soon. A train headed to Ueno is expected to arrive soon]


When I looked around at my surroundings, I was standing in a subway station. People around me were giving me strange glances because of my shout that came out of nowhere.

“Haha… Did I really just come like this? To the year 1983…?”

The train, coming in from quite a distance away, felt as if it were the mirror images of those shabby trains from old Korean movies. The train, that was designed without any style and was made solely for the purpose of transportation, stopped in front of me and opened its doors.

Although there was previously a moment of awkwardness earlier, the Japanese people in my surroundings quickly ignored me and started boarding the train. Their clothes and hairstyles emanated a bumpkin-like feeling and were vastly different from the 2015 year style, so it was quite difficult to jolt myself back into reality; however, I hurriedly boarded the train along with them.

Narita International Airport… There was a Narita International Airport even in 1983. As I looked around the place in wonder, the stares of the Japanese people that looked at me suspiciously from before grew even more suspicious.

“Hmm… Hmm…”

I should try not to stand out too much. I sat down in an empty seat as nonchalantly as I could. Now that I have sat down, I noticed that I was wearing a backpack. I opened the zippers to the backpack that was on my back, in hope that I could find something useful.

There was a stamped Japanese passport along with a JBC Tokyo bank book. Yes, money is important. I opened the bank book to verify how much wealth I have. After seeing the signified amount, I flashed a bright grin. The entire 20 billion that I had from 2015 was seamlessly transferred to this period.

“I’m loaded from the start? I could start a company with this much.”

However, I quickly changed my train of thought. It was because rashly setting up a company in this time period could be catastrophic. First, I must stack up some experience; enough so no one would be able to question me in the future…

I put my passport and the bank book back into my backpack and looked further inside. As I felt around, I grabbed onto a heavy-feeling plastic device. That was exactly the Game & Watch that traveled through time with me.

“At least I feel reassured with you.”

I slipped a slight smile and took the Game & Watch out of my backpack. At that moment, the gazes of people who were focused on me was turned to the little device in my hands and diverted their attention away from me. In reality, there were several people inside the train holding similar devices like me.

They were playing the newly released game from 1980 called the Game & Watch BALL. BALL was also a game that had an extremely self explanatory game play that simply used the left and right hands to move a designated ball across the screen. However, for the people who were living in this period, this was already an incredible game.

Of course the Employee’s Game that I carried utilized a much more sophisticated system, but on the outside, it didn’t seem that their Game & Watch was much different than mine; thus, they quickly lost interest in me.[1]


First, I had to check the exact year I was in, so I opened up the Game & Watch. Like the name of the device implied, it obviously had a watch function.

-June 15th, 1983-

It was exactly one month before the Family became released in Japan…  This was the perfect opportunity. The bumpy train came out of the dark tunnel and rushed with vigor into the sunshine-filled outdoors. A smile was unknowingly drawn on my face as I looked outside the window at the scenery. After living in 2015, seeing this classic scenery doesn’t feel bad at all…

Now that I think about it, it’s 1983 right now, and I was born in 82. This should have been the year after my birth, but to think that I’m 23 years old… I felt like I was slightly getting the shorter end of the stick here; I’m 11 years younger than I was yesterday, so I decided to ignore this fact and meet my new life in a foreign environment. Let’s live life more enjoyably this time~!!

After that, for a month, I lived in Japan like a visiting tourist. Tokyo’s scenery was a lot more similar to Seoul in the 1990s. Of course, it was said that at that time, their technology was 10 years faster than ours so having a similar feeling might have been a matter of fact…

“Hm~ I admit that I’m a little bored without a smartphone…”

Ah, now that I think about it, the current Japan is not in the Heisei period but it’s still in the Showa period… Now that I’ve realized this fact, I’m getting a vastly different sensation? I arrived at the Akihabara Station with an ice cream in my mouth that was sold on the streets.[2]

Maybe, because the Otaku Culture had yet to develop, there were no Maid Cafes or Cosplay in the Electronic market, so I felt a strange sense of heterogeneity. I had once visited Akihabara in 2013 and everywhere I went, there were game posters and animation characters drawn all over buildings. And for every several steps, it was a place packed with stores that sold games or mangas. However, the current Akihabara had stores that sold PC related items (Personal Computers at that), “small radios” (that were the size of a human head), and a fist sized Walkman device where you could run a tape through.

“Has the Family release event not started yet? I remembered that it was today for sure?”[3]

I wandered around the jam-packed weekend Akihabara and looked around. The game industry had yet to mature, so I couldn’t find a professional game stores like the 2000s. Should I just start a game store? I don’t think that’s a bad idea?

No? What would the game store senior think of me if I travelled through time and came all this way just to sell rip offs of Mintendo?

I thought about it and wondered if that senior was an existence like ‘God’? To revive the rotting game industry… Wouldn’t I, who knew the future trends, have the possibility to be able make more amazing games for the future players than the me of 2015?

What should I do now to accomplish that? First, I opened the Game & Watch to obtain information for Family release event.

-Mintendo’s Family. Release date: July 15th, 1983…-

I flipped through the pages with my fingers and ate the ice cream when an unknown music beat rang out from somewhere.

“What? Just now…?”

-Pew… Pew…

I found it!! I threw the ice cream into the trash can and quickly hastened my footsteps. The direction where the sound was coming from was where the future second-hand electronics retailer ‘SoftMap’ would place itself. Small shops filled the streets now, but in the late 90s, buildings would take the place of the shops.

This is how I met the incredible gaming console that would give the other gaming consoles a run for their money after Atari in 1980. However, if there was one fault to find it, it was the fact that the incredible console was first sold through street vendors.

“Come in~ Come in~”

I could clearly see that the sellers, who were enthusiastically promoting their products, were Mintendo headquarters employees and not professional retailers. However, in contrast to their enthusiasm, the reaction of the public was incredibly lackluster. I thought Mintendo, who released the Game & Watch would, at least get some sort of reaction from the public, but this is completely opposite to my expectations…

This was how much of an impact the Atari Shock had on the gaming industry? Of course, when Atari released the open source tool so anyone could make games, everyone welcomed it. However, that was only for a brief moment as incomplete games were the only ones that flooded the market, and this was a major turn-off for players. However, to think that the aftermath would cross the pacific to reach Japan this quickly…

“Welcome~ This is the 8 beat gaming device that we invented here at Mintendo. Everyone try it out and enjoy it~”

I approached one of the employees who was soliciting customers and asked with a smile. Of course, there was a tacky red and white colored Family model placed in front of me.

“Are they selling well?”

“What? Ah, welcome customer. Would you like to first try it out? This is the latest 8 beat gaming console that we invented at Mintendo.”

Why is the term 8 beat so hilarious to me? I received the controller that the employee handed to me. Wow…The cord was way too short!!

The gaming consoles of 2015 had the wireless bluetooth feature so there were no problems enjoying the game from a far-away sofa, but the first ever Family console had fixed 1P and a 2P controllers. In the end, you could only play the game close to the TV.

I have no idea which idiot configured the controls like this.

Although they would never have expected this monster of a machine to sell for almost 70 million worldwide. It was simply that when the Game & Watch began to sell; they hopped on the bandwagon and created this product for the sole purpose of generating profit, so even Mintendo did not have high hopes for this device from the beginning.

The Family launched with a total of three games; this included Popeye and two series of Donkey Kom. Even in this period, many companies, like NEGA or CAMCO that made games, existed. However, they were focused on creating games for gaming arcades, so they weren’t paying attention to making games for the first ever Family console.

“How many units have been sold so far?”

“Ah. That’s, we haven’t sold even 1 model yet…”

‘Huh~ It’s nearing 1 pm and they’re saying they haven’t sold a single model yet?’

“How much is this?”

“Yes. It’s 14,800 Yen.”

That was expensive. 14,800 Yen, in 1983… it was pretty ridiculous to buy a brand new model for that much; especially one that hasn’t been verified yet.

First, I sat down in front of the Television that displayed an outdoor beach on the screen. As I sat down, the people that were passing by took hidden glances at me.

“Can you turn on Donkey Kom for me?”

“Yes, I will.”

The employee put the Donkey Kom cartridge into the cartridge spot and turned on the power button.

-Pupupupu~ Pupu~ Piko Piko

On the bottom of the screen, an Italian Marigi wearing a red hat was climbing up a hill with a metal bat. The game play was that you had to dodge or break the logs that KingKong threw at you and arrive at the top to defeat KingKong.

I flashed a smile and maneuvered Marigi left and right and tried jumping. Every time I passed a log, the people that crowded around me cheered.


-Pew Pew. Piong~ Piong~

The jumping sound effects put a bright smile on my face.


As I cleared the first stage of the game without a hitch, the employee tilted his head and asked me.

“Your skills are extremely good?”

“I played a lot at arcades, so I must have adjusted easily. I would like to purchase a Family unit along with Popeye and Donkey Kom.”

“Our Mintendo Family’s first customer. Thank you very much~!!”

To think that I’m the first customer of this legendary console… My mood is extremely unusual. Soon after, an employee came over with a camera and asked me.

“Is it okay if we take a picture of you?”

A historical commemoration photo~ Not bad? At that moment, I heard the voice of a little kid.

“Mommy~!! Buy me that too~!!”

“No way. Takashi, you promised mommy you would only look around?”

“But… I can do better than that guy~!!”

Huh? This little kid sure is spirited. I flashed an amused grin and ask the kid.

“Little Kid, what’s your name?”

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