Game Market 1983 - Chapter 6
“My name is Tokiyushi Takashi.”
I think I’ve heard of this name before? I briefly glanced at the Game & Watch that was hidden inside my backpack and looked up the information about Tokiyushi.
Ah!! That’s right. So this lass over here would become the first ever pro-gamer who would be the renowned ‘Master Takashi’?
A super player who would speed clear the game called ‘Wonder Boy’ that would be released in 1994. I curiously stared at the boy and asked him.
“Do you like games?”
“Yes!! I l totally love them.”
“Yeah? Then I’ll give you a gift. Add another one for the kid too, please.”
“You don’t have to do that for us…”
“It’s fine, I’m doing it because I want to. There’s no problem so please accept it.”
I took the game console that the Mintendo employee brought over and gave it to Takashi while ruffling his hair.
“Have fun with it.”
“Thanks hyung. I’m really, really thankful~!!”
“Excuse me, but your picture?”
“Please take the first purchase commemoration picture with the kid. You guys at Mintendo will be more thankful to this kid in the future.”
“What? I don’t know what you mean by that…”
“Just know that something will happen.”
I spent the rest of that day buying more things from the Mintendo shop and returned to the hotel that I was staying at. The next day, I received the daily morning papers from the hotel and, in a small picture, saw the smiling kid posing with the Family console box.
A few days after the Family launch event.
I was preparing myself to board the train to Tokyo. In my stuffed bag, there were several models of the Game & Watch devices.
“I still have about 30 minutes left…”
I was hungry after missing my breakfast to catch the train. In 2015, missing my breakfast was commonplace because I had to leave for work. However, I wonder, did it become a habit after not missing my breakfasts at the hotel? Others might think that living in a hotel for a month was wasteful, but this was 1983. Prices were incredibly deflated, and even the 4 star hotel that I was currently staying in was cheaper than the price of any one-night motels from 2015.
“Now, I would have to slowly start finding a house in Kyoto, but leaving the hotel is a little…”
I was currently roaming the Tokyo subway substation with a light-hearted mind knowing that I already reserved a hotel in Kyoto. At that moment, a delicious smell wafted over to my nose. As I turned my head, I saw rows of food stands selling packed lunches in a street corner.
‘Now that I think about it, I’m able to eat inside the train. Great~ I should buy one of those packed lunches while I still have some time left.’
After I finished thinking, I slowly started moving my feet toward the food stands. The passersby were all exuding a vibrant energy due to the currently booming economy. Their pride of being the 2nd most developed country in the world could be felt but for me, I felt that their country was a pitiful victim of war.
The feeling grew stronger when I tuned into the news. I was disgusted every time I turned on the TV, and it showed Japan essentially begging the world for pity after the Hiroshima bombing during World War 2. Then there was the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima as well… Now that I think about it, Japan really does have a deep relationship with nuclear radiation. It’s about time that they become best buds.
“Welcome~ What type of packed lunch does customer want?”
“What is the most popular item here?”
“The shrimp and the chicken lunches are the most popular here~”
Shrimp and Chicken. The holy duo’s popularity was the same in the 1980s.
I shoved a 300 Yen coin to the nice-looking lady and ordered the chicken meal. As I finished ordering, a man behind me spoke to the lady.
“Give me a chicken lunch too please.”
“Ah, dear customer, we’re sorry but that last customer bought the last one so we’ll quickly make another one for you.”
“Ah, how long would that take?”
“It would take about 10~ minutes, is that okay?”
The man made a perplexed expression while tapping his watch. Huh? This person…
“Ah, then I would be tight for the train’s arrival…”
Is the chicken lunch of this stand that famous? But aside from that, I was more interested in the young man in front of me.
I knew I would encounter him once I boarded the train, but to meet him outside… This was an unexpected surprise?
“If it’s okay, I’ll give mine to you.”
“What? No~ No thank you. You don’t have to do that.”
“It’s fine. Actually, I was deeply contemplating between shrimp and chicken. Excuse me, can you give my order to this person and give me the shrimp.”
“Ah, thank you for conceding. Dear customer~ our shrimp meal is really delicious too. I’ll add one more shrimp as a bonus for you~”
In the end, it was a WIN-WIN situation, and we paid the bill for the lunch.
“Ah, thank you for the favor.”
The man slightly bowed to me and quickly ran to the top. I realized that I didn’t have much time either? I should hasten my pace too!! And a short while after, I arrived at the train boarding platform.
“A-17, A-17. It’s here.”
After I confirmed my boarding ticket, I calmed my slightly quivering heart and stepped onto the train. The business seat had a clean interior that I could comfortably sleep in for 3 and a half hours on the way to Kyoto. As I walked towards my seat, I saw that, in the window seat, a familiar man was seated.
“Excuse me, I’ll be sitting here.”
“Ah, go ahea- Hmm?”
“Ah, hello. We found each other again.”
“This is an interesting coincidence.”
“Here, take a seat.”
The man that was offering me the seat was Mr. Niseko Gunpei… The father of the portable gaming device, Game & Watch, and also the figurehead that lead the portable devices of Mintendo up until 2015; he also made the Game Boy. I gave a small greeting of thanks and sat down on the seat next to him.
This was actually a plan made by me using the Game & Watch that I brought from the future to locate Mr. Gunpei and reserved the seat next to him. The meeting at the food stand was really a coincidence, but my first meeting with him wasn’t bad at all.
“I was really thankful back at the food stand.”
He really was a Japanese for saying thanks multiple times after one favor. A while later, the train started rolling and we were happily eating lunch together. I almost got a coughing fit from how we nodded and greeted each other every time we made eye contact while we were eating. After finishing the green tea that I brought from a vending machine, I had nothing else in particular to do so I decided to slowly initiate my plan.
That was by taking out the Game & Watch in my backpack. The first game that I took out was the model with BALL installed.
As I did that, Mr. Gunpei cheerfully looked at the gaming device in my hands like the creator himself of the Game & Watch would.
He would be pleased because the whole country was loving his device, which was like a child to him.
The beat music reverberated in the compartment as the tiny ball moved around the screen.
“I’m sorry, it’s loud for you, right?”
I swiftly turned down the volume key and apologized to Mr. Gunpei.
“There’s no problem. I’m fine. You can continue.”
Maybe because I was playing the device that he invented, Mr. Gunpei looked at me with a pleasant smile.
However, I started pouring criticism to his Game & Watch on purpose.
“Since they already made this device portable, it would have been good if they at least installed a headphone jack… don’t you think so?”
“What? Ah, you’re right. If you wanted to enjoy it in a public place, it seems like you would need a headphone jack.”
“Right? No matter how the game is played on the screen, sound is an important experience as well.”
Mr. Gunpei nodded to my complaints and subsequently took out a small handbook and starting scribbling things down.
“Excuse me, did you have any other problems from using the device?”
“There are a lot.”
Mr. Gunpei, who was staring at me, suddenly wrinkled.
“The device itself is inefficient, incompetent even.”
Mr. Gunpei’s face suddenly wrinkled.
“I said that this device itself is incompetent.”
“I like games from Mintendo. I purchased every single model of Game & Watch that ever came out and a while ago, I went to Akihabara and bought the Family console on its opening release day.”
“Really? Thank you very much.”
“Hmm? Why are you saying thank you?”
“Ah? It, it’s nothing. I misspoke, please keep talking.”
Mr. Gunpei gazed at me with incredibly infatuated eyes. I took the 3 models of Game & Watch out of my backpack; of course, the Game & Watch that I brought from 2015 wasn’t included.
“You really have it all.”
“Yes, but even the latest released GUNMAN model doesn’t have an earphone jack. As important it is as the main character being a cowboy, I think the sound effect of gun fire is equally as important; have you ever played this without the sound?”
“Try playing it.”
Mr. Gunpei received the GUNMAN from me and played it without the sound. And after a while, he handed the device back to me and nodded.
“This is clearly less immersive without the sound unlike BALL.”
“Right? What were they smoking when they made this…”
As I enthusiastically made fun of his device that he regarded as his child, Mr. Gunpei’s face started to harden a bit. However, I didn’t stop there.
“And on top of that, the most fatal issue is that each device can only play one game.”
“The cartridge system was invented in the 70s with Atari so it’s a fairly old technology, but the Game & Watch series has been released for over 3 years and they still haven’t utilized the cartridge system. I see this as nothing more than a manipulative plot to raise the sales.”
“Ma… Manipulative plot? However, it’s impossible to display a surplus of movements on the Stop Animation Technology so…”
“That right there is the last problem. That’s why every game feels similar. Stop Animation games emphasize fast learning on the player’s part. That’s why this game has no end. It’s just over when the player dies. Simply put, it’s good for dying but the immersive quality gets a zero.”
“So you’re saying it’s not fun…?”
Mr. Gunpei’s skin tone was already pale white. Hoho… did I whip him too much? Then should I slowly start giving him the carrot? Mr. Gunpei was wiping cold sweat off of his face with a handkerchief and tried to forcefully smile back at me.
He, who was born in 1941, started working at Mintendo in 1965 and invented a plethora of finished products.
Mintendo first started making the popular Korean playing cards; even the company ‘Trump Cards’ was the first one to import the cards from them, so they were popular as a card company.
Mr. Gunpei, who was a new recruit back then, was inspecting the machine that cut the cards, but the work was too simple so in his free time, he used the parts of others and made toys that were a hot item in souvenir toy stores to this day.
A steel handle toy that was in the shape of a zig-zag stretched when you grabbed the handle part, could easily be found in little toy stores. The person that invented it was exactly this man right here. And I was ~30 years old when I found that out.
The Game & Watch that he made was not exactly a game, but a toy that had a screen attached to it for kids. It was thought that rather than the immersion quality or the specs of the game, it was made for little kids to enjoy, but the user base unexpectedly grew beyond its intended audience and now, it became the toy for the entire nation.
Due to the Game & Watch’s success, he must have gotten endless amounts of commendation from his company, and everywhere he went, he must have seen people that were enjoying his device.
But now, when he met me, who roasted the device that he made to dust, he was wearing an embarrassed expression on his face. Then I should stop my teasing here and…
“However, if the few problems are dealt with, this could become an unbelievable item.”