Game Market 1983 - Chapter 7
“Really? What parts do you think need fixing?”
“First, you need to get rid of this Stop Animation technology from this LCD screen. Also, in order to enjoy a variety of games, you have to utilize a more flexible display that could handle movement, and you need to implement a cartridge system. For example…”
I took a notebook out of my backpack and started sketching with a pencil. It was exactly the design for the GamBoy that would be released by Mintendo in 1989. Mr. Gunpei’s mouth gaped wider and wider as he saw my sketch for the GamBoy.
“W-Wait… What’s this huge space behind the LCD display for?”
“It’s for the cartridges.”
“Ah, then this bottom part would have the power button and the speakers. The controllers are similar to the Family console released last week… Ah? Why are the buttons not flat and diagonal?”
“This is what I felt when I was playing the Game & Watch. I noticed that it would be easier to use a diagonal arrangement rather than a levelled one. I often had many experiences with pressing the wrong buttons.”
“So that was the case…”
“For the new model, after the Game & Watch, I think this shape would do well.”
“So it’s a ratio of 4:3 between the LCD display and the game cartridge… Do you think many games would come out for this? Mintendo isn’t that big of a company. Not all employees can be hung up on game development… If they made this device, wouldn’t they have to consistently produce new games for a few years, at the very least?”
“Mintendo would only have to produce a few iconic games like Donkey Kom. When this device gets as many sales as the Game & Watch, other companies would rush in to make the games.”
“Ah, so what you’re thinking is…”
“Of course, they should collect the royalties from these companies. They should take about half of the software sales…”
Mr. Gunpei exclaimed in astonishment and slapped his knees. He could not close his mouth. He was analyzing my sketch while stealthily wiping cold sweat off of his face. It was expected because the idea from the sketch was no different from seeing the exact invention that he would invent in the future.
Getting half of the sales revenue from the companies that made games were not that much different from direct profit. Additionally, since no one was in the mobile game making industry, any price that the company called for would be the market price.
Preempting before the competition developed for the market was that important. From the 90s onwards, NEGA and Banzai started competing with mobile devices. Additionally, judging from today, the birth of the device that originally would have been released in 89 could come out faster?
As we were heading to Kyoto, we talked a lot about the new mobile console and grew pretty close. Mr. Gunpei was greatly shocked by the fact that I was Korean. He must have thought that I was Japanese because of my impeccable accent.
-Our next terminal is Shin Osaka. We will be arriving at the Shin Osaka station soon.
As the train was nearing the destination, Mr. Gunpei looked at me with a greatly reluctant expression and asked me.
“Kang-kun, if you’re staying at Kyoto, where would you be?”
“I don’t know. I plan to temporarily stay at a hotel and go sight-seeing for a bit. There was nothing in particular to see at Tokyo; however, I heard there were a lot of eateries in Osaka, so I’m excited by the idea of visiting those eateries.”
“Really? The people in Osaka are friendly, and there are a lot of delicious things to eat for sure. By the way… When you find a hotel, can you give a call to this number?”
I received the business card that Mr. Gunpei handed to me and blankly stared at his face. Yes, there has to be a bit of pretending from me here as well. Mr. Gunpei was brightly grinning as he saw my reaction.
“Actually, I’m the the inventor of that Game & Watch, Niseko Gunpei. I’ve realized a lot of points while talking with you today. I want to absolutely meet with Kang-kun again. Our company is located in Kyoto so please contact me when you feel comfortable.”
“Ah, I couldn’t recognize Mr. Niseko himself; I don’t know if I made a grave mistake.”
“Not at all. In contrast, it was a big stroke of luck for me to meet Kang-kun. I ate the delicious chicken lunch too~ haha.”
“Then I will contact you in the near future.”
“I’ll wait for you.”
We gave farewells to each other, and we walked away towards our own destination. I escaped the hot afternoon sun that was shining down upon the Osaka station by riding a taxi and moved to the hotel that I’ve already sent my luggage to.
I’ve lived here for over a month, yet my bank account of 20 billion Yen haven’t decreased at all. Just the interest from the deposit in the bank was like a stream of money that was keeping my account from ever drying up.
Ah~ I can’t wait until credit cards are invented.
I’m tired as hell carrying this raw cash around.
-Wang~ Wang~ Wang~ Wang~
‘Aish… so noisy. Let me sleep…’
-Wang~~ Wang Wang~ Wang~
These damned cicada bastards.
I, who was lying on my bed, subsequently woke up and kicked the blankets.
This was one summer in August 17th, 1983.
This season was truly the apex out of the temperatures of the year. Thankfully, the hotel that I was staying in was built not long ago so ACs were installed in every room.
I, who thoroughly enjoyed sightseeing the Nara, Kobe, and Kyoto districts, in the meantime, took out the business card of a certain person from my wallet and looked at it.
“I enjoyed everything that need to be enjoyed for the past month. Now, should I start off by giving a call?”
I held, in my hands, the business card that I received from Mr. Gunpei, and I turned the dials on the telephone. Along with the ‘Dudududu’ sound, the numbers that were written on the dial returned to its original position. After a bit of waiting, a polite voice of a woman picked up the phone.
“Thank you for calling, this is Mintendo’s mobile game development department.”
“Ah, excuse me. Is Mr. Niseko Gunpei available?”
“Yes Mr. Niseko is currently here, who should I say this is?”
“He’ll recognize me if you say a Korean student Kang Junhyuk is on the line for him.”
“Okay, please wait for a moment…”
As I tapped the wooden table out of boredom, a satisfying noise rung in the room. And, after a while, I heard the fired up voice of Mr. Gunpei. His tone was full of excitement.
“Kang-kun!? Is that you? This guy, why are you calling now? Do you know how much I’ve waited for you?”
I mean, that was my decision. I would lack the weight if I called in the day after meeting.
“Have you been well? I contacted you a little late because I was sightseeing.”
“Where are you right now?”
“I’m currently staying at a Rikuten hotel near the Nihonbashi Osaka district.”
“That’s great. I was planning to travel to Osaka tomorrow for work anyways; can you meet me tomorrow?”
“Let’s do that. Where do you want to meet?”
“Can you tell me the contact information of your hotel? I’ll contact you before I arrive.”
Next morning, as I finished my breakfast and returned to my room, a call from the front desk was waiting for me. It was from Mr. Niseko Gunpei.
“Kang-kun, I plan to arrive in an hour. Is the time alright?”
“Yes, where do you want to meet?”
“You don’t have to worry about the place. I’m going to your hotel right now.”
“After I received the call from you yesterday, I couldn’t sleep at all. I was anticipating what would happen when two geniuses meet today.”
Two geniuses? Is someone coming with him? An hour later, I sat down in the hotel lobby and waited for Mr. Gunpei. Like the punctual people they were, a little later, two men came out of the taxi that stopped in front of the hotel. One was Mr. Gunpei, who I was already familiar with, and following him, was a man that looked to be in his early 30s who came in to the hotel with Mr. Gunpei.
“Mr. Niseko~ Have you been well?”
“It’s a relief that you look healthy. So, did you have fun sightseeing in Osaka?”
“Yes, as expected there were more things to see than in Tokyo. Who is the person next to you?”
“Ah, that’s right. Yo, Kumamoto, say hello. This is the youth from the train that I’ve been telling you about.”
“How are you? My name is Kumamoto Shigeru.”
“Mr. Kumamoto Shigeru!?”
As I unconsciously yelled his name out, Mr. Kumamoto asked me with a puzzled expression.
“Do you perhaps know me?”
“Ah, I’m sorry. This is the first time seeing you, but aren’t you the creator of Donkey Kom?”
“Yes, that’s right. So you enjoyed Donkey Kom? Thank you very much.”
I lightly shook the hand that Mr. Kumamoto offered. I didn’t know that I would meet the legendary world famous director this fast? I thought it would be hard to meet him until I at least got into Mintendo; however, to think that Mr. Gunpei would bring him here to meet me.
Kumamoto Shigeru; even a person who isn’t familiar with games would still know the plumber Super Marigee with the mustache. On top of that, works like Karin’s Legend, Animal town, Fox Star, etc… would all be born by this person in the future.
“I’m called Kang Junhyuk. Nice to meet you, Mr. Kumamoto.”
“Gunpei told me that I HAD to see you, so I followed him; I don’t know if we’re disturbing you by suddenly meeting like this, though.”
Mr. Kumamoto Shigeru was 62 year old in 2015, where I was living before, and he had a rather hardened image; however, meeting him in 1983, he was a fiery young man in his 20s.
“Now~let’s not talk here and move somewhere else. It’s a bit early, but how does dinner together sound?”
“Yes, let’s do that.”
We exited the hotel and went into another nearby hotel. After ordering a simple meal, I started a conversation with Mr. Kumamoto with a smile.
“I heard that Donkey Kom was incredibly popular in the american arcade market, congratulations.”
“I didn’t know that my game would be successful to that extent. The American Mintendo branch requested a Rom Board that they would use in their game centers. I had nothing to do at the time, so I made the game…”
That story, I knew it too.
In 1983, Mintendo was going to debouch in the american gaming industry, and they needed a new Rom file to be used in the game center. However, the ‘We should not invest man-power into something that may or may not make profit’ mentality led Kumamoto, in the game development department, to not have much work.
He majored in engineering, which was completely different from programming, and he was able to make a character and implement DOTs by himself. Thus, he developed the theme of a King Kong saving a damsel in distress with simple levels.
That game instantly caught on fire as soon as it entered the american market, and it sparked a new hope in the arcade market that was beginning to decline. And, from that, the character Marigee, who was in the Donkey Kom game, developed into the Marigee brothers.
And the year 1985… When Super Marigee was introduced to the Family console, they moved on from the arcade industry and started focusing solely on consoles to play at home.
Mintendo started their business with the belief that one genius was better than 100 crooks, and that genius was the young man standing in front me.