Game Market 1983 - Chapter 55
“The leader of the idol group SMEP, Sakai Miharo, has disregarded his performance schedule and is currently standing next to the Akihabara station offering an extremely high price for a particular game cartridge. The game he is looking for is called Psychic Battle, an action game selling for 6980, yet he is holding up a poster board offering 50,000 yen for a copy. Reporter Kachurai Misato is in the location and will investigate this exact situation.”
As I was coming out from a shower, Mr. Shige who was drinking a can of beer from the motel was staring at the news with a blank expression. On the screen was Ms. Misato who was relentlessly interviewing Sakai while shouting his name.
“Sakai-kun? You’re Sakai Masahiro-kun from SMEP, right? Please answer me!!”
Wow, Ms. Misato is incredible. She was successful in revealing his true identity after running after Sakai-kun who had abandoned his disguise and ran off. And she was also successful in scoring an interview with him until his manager would arrive.
“I haven’t had time to play video games because of my broadcasting schedule, but I really wanted to buy a copy of Psychic Battle.”
Because Sakai-kun had offered 50,000 for a copy of Psychic Battle and an astronomical 200,000 for the golden ticket, the news station broadcasted my morning interview with Ms. Misato right after a footage of Sakai-kun holding up his poster as additional info. She was berating me for shameless advertisement, yet they still showed my full interview without any edits?
Mr. Shige who had been watching the news stared at me with a disbelieving look before asking me a question.
“So the “crazy bastard” that we saw next to the station was Sakai-kun?”
“You didn’t know? I recognized him instantly. He was covering his face up because he was a celebrity.”
“Ah, I should’ve asked for an autograph.”
“What will you do with a teen idol’s autograph?”
“Uh? I can exchange it for a female celebrity’s autograph later…”
He...He’s a genius?
As I was admiring Mr. Shige’s extraordinary ratiocination, the telephone rang in the motel.
“Who could it be at this hour?”
I tilted my sideways and picked up the receiver, and a thunderous laughter greeted me.
“Is this Kang-kun!? Yahahahaha~!! I’m Yamauchi! Are you watching the news right now?”
“Of course, Mr. Shige and I are watching it together. President Yamauchi, you’ve drank at least a bottle, right?”
“Indeed I did~!! Why would I not drink on a day like this~!!”
“We’re drinking canned beer in our motel as well, haha.”
“What!? Canned beer? Hey!! Go out and drink expensive alcohol immediately ; and send me the receipt!!”
“I’m fine. Mr. Shige and I are exhausted after walking all day, so we want to rest now. We have to head back to the HQ tomorrow too. By the way, you sure are ecstatic. Is it because of the news?”
“Hey!! Your pre-order idea or whatever is causing our entire nation to throw their money at us.”
“Ah… so the orders are coming in already? How many came in so far?”
“10,000 orders, just from today. But the number isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, you lovely bastard!”
Hoh… 10,000 orders on the first day!? I thought it would be 3~4,000 orders at the most; it’s higher than I expected. Could this all be due to Ms. Misato’s quick actions?
“Anyways, my lovely bastard, you’ve stumbled upon a tremendous lucky chance.”
“President Yamauchi, do you really think this is all because of luck?”
“What? What are you saying.”
“There was a slight bit of lucky factor involved, but I was the one who informed the reporter about Sakai-kun.”
“What!? Really? Then you…”
“Meeting the news reporter and Sakai-kun was definitely a coincidence, but following that; arranging for them to meet was my doing.”
“You really.. Are…”
“Since it came to this President Yamauchi, let’s use Sakai-kun again.”
“He’s the leader of a fast-growing idol group; let’s give the SMEP members our golden tickets for free.”
“Hum… And then?”
“What do you think Sakai-kun will do when he receives a Psychic Battle cartridge and golden ticket that he coveted.”
“You’re not planning…”
“That’s right. The SMEP members will come to our summer Psychic Battle event. Even if they didn’t come, the point where we hand over our gifts to them will be plenty of advertising already.”
“Right. You’re absolutely right. Go ahead and do that.”
“Then I’ll stop by the Janice Entertainment office before heading back to the HQ.”
“Alright, rest well. Tell Shige he did an excellent job too.”
The next day.
Mr. Shige and I visited the Janice office and handed the Psychic Battle cartridges and the golden ticket to the SMEP members after barely convincing their manager to meet with them.
As expected, Sakai-kun was incredibly happy at our surprise gifts. Of course, his manager had refused us from meeting the SMEP members at first, but after I explained the benefits of receiving these gifts, he nodded his head and let us in.
And my prediction was right on the money.
After the incident was featured on the news, even people who were not familiar with the video game culture recognized the name Psychic Battle. Moreover, Sakai-kun was able to plea for forgiveness from his management company and the issue was settled.
However, Sakai’s actions from that day would come up time and time again in the future during good-humored conversations. Sakai’s reckless actions where he ditched a live broadcast to buy a video game in Akihabara would be remembered as a legend in the entertainment world.
The sales of Psychic Battle cartridges were going smoothly after it’s initial launch. In particular, due to Chandra’s efficient reorganization of the code in the official cartridge, various articles were madly raving about the game’s graphics. Amidst the frenzied responses of the people who’d been able to buy the cartridge, keeping up with the ever-growing demand was still an issue. Despite the expensive price of Psychic Battle’s cartridge, Pre-ordering was proving to be a massive success to which President Yamauchi expressed extreme euphoria.
But where there were smiling people, it was inevitable that some would find dissatisfaction…
“Hey, I’m not joking anymore. Hand over the cheat key already.”
“Even the great Junpei is throwing the towel in?”
“Hey~ You lunatic, there should be a way to beat the game!! Is beating this game even possible?”
“Of course. That’s why there is an option to play the boss characters after you beat the game.”
“Arghhh!! Who could ever be as cruel as you. I wanted to play Ryu Hwa-ryung!!!!”
Ryu Hwa-ryung. As the final boss of Psychic Battle, she had garnered the most popularity amongst Psychic Battle players; yet she had been deemed as almost impossible to beat because of her scamming cheat skills.
The ability to teleport, telekinesis, a barrier that reflected all enemy attacks, and shooting laser beams that filled the entire screen.
And most notably, or with the most notoriety, her ability to instantly kill a character with an energy-imbued kick had garnered much attention amongst players.
“Has there been any news of someone who cleared the game yet?”
“I’ve only seen proposals from players requesting strategies to beat the game? That’s why you have to give us the code now!! Do you want to see me getting eaten alive by our readers, huh?”
This is a disappointment. I expected at least one or two dedicated players to clear the game. I swallowed a grin and tried appealing to Junpei.
“Ok, ok. I’ll give you a hint instead.”
“Really? What is it?”
“It’s not possible to win in during the early Ryu Hwa-ryung stages.
“You have to survive no matter what. Do not attack recklessly for the first 10 minutes and try to preserve as much health as possible. Then you’ll understand what I’m saying.”
“Hmm… does a new scene result from that?”
This is why perceptive reporters are a pain…
“Yeah. Just try your best to make it to that point.”
“You devil… Okay. I’ll contact you again after I clear the game.”
Junpei hung up the phone without asking about the new scene again. He must’ve wanted to confirm what it was by himself.
Video games during the 80s and 90s were… truly unkind.
After the 2000s, Games had well-developed tutorials that explained what each button did, and marked exactly where to go on the map. But the games of this era simply did not make gaming easy for players. There was an unspoken belief amongst game developers that players would find beating the game on their own without any outside help that much more refreshing.
Anyways, what would happen when one was able to hold out for 10 minutes on the Ryu Hwa-rang stage?
An event where the two other main characters aside from the current character would appear as reinforcements. During the initial development stages, this scenario was impossible to support with the current hardware; however, Chandra’s coding skills made it possible.
Morita who had developed Psychic Battle with me, had cried tears of joy when we completed the debugging and saw the scenario play out for the first time.
As the development of Psychic Battle, one of the biggest projects that I’d ever undertaken was finished, Morita and Hayashi who had been on the development team each returned to their respective departments again.
On one day…
After I finished my lunch and was heading back to my office, I chanced upon Morita who was staring out the window with a vacant look in the staff-recreation room.
“Ah… Director Kang. Hello.”
“Why are you in the recreation room at this hour? Have you eaten yet?”
“No, I didn’t have much of an appetite…”
Morita and I shared a weak laugh as he brought a can of coffee from the vending machine to his lips. I stepped into the recreation room and pushed coins into the vending machine as I asked Morita.
“How is it going nowadays? Is your department treating you well?”
In response, Morita shook his head side-to-side and replied.
“Working with you was the best. Our department is planning out a new project, but I don’t think it’s my style after all. Our new game is set on releasing exclusively for the mobile Gamboy…”
The mobile Gamboy… It was unsuitable for Morita who liked to see graphic images of beautiful girls on the screen. His skills were on the precipice in regards to designing beautiful girls, but it was limited to that only. As Mintendo tended to focus our game themes around cute characters instead of sexy or beautiful ones, Morita took great delight in designing the sexy characters of Psychic Battle. He even took the character’s body designs a little too far during the initial design mockups that I had to hold him back.
“We’re still in the middle of discussing our plans right now, but it’s highly likely that we’ll be diving into developing an exclusive Donkey Kom game for the Gamboy/”
Oh oh… Psychic Battle’s revered number one graphic designer was tasked with drawing mere plants… Does this make any sense?