Game Market 1983 - Chapter 30
“Custom chip? What’s that?”
“It’s an apparatus that can read and write data… It can also freely manipulate up to 24 kb of storage at will. Yes, with this method, it’s possible to delete data as a result of the game play. However, I can’t comprehend what the intent was for implementing this setting to a perfected game…”
Mr. Gunpei was making a depressed expression while he stared at the internal chip.
Mmm… Actually, I didn’t have any particular intentions? If he had to ask about the intent, then I guess it would be that I wanted to convey the realism of losing a character to the gamers. (This was confirmed by the reaction of Mr. Shigeru losing Katrina.) I also wanted to provide a competitive spirit for gamers attempting to clear a game with an extremely high difficulty?
With the current ROM technology, it was currently impossible to make this kind of game; a game that would delete characters or game data depending on the gameplay. After contemplating for a while, I suddenly thought of the ROM pack that I had seen once at Yongsan district.
This oftenly dubbed ‘UFO’ was a device that could make copies of game cartridges.
By plugging a custom game disk inside the UFO device and the game you would like to copy in the back, the data inside the game would be copied onto the custom game disk. This could be seen as the beginning of illegal ROM pack copies.
The interesting thing was, I wanted to know if it was currently possible to move multiple games onto the disk, so I met one man through the Game & Watch system. An indian man called Chand…
In one alleyway, on the crowded streets of Akihabara, he was selling PC accessories in a computer store, but this was just a cover. In reality, inside the store, he was selling illegal copies of Family games.
I hovered around his surroundings for a few days while I waited for the perfect opportunity to step on his tail. Then, I finally caught him in the critical moment of an illegal sale. I successfully got a hold of his weakness by threatening him that I would report him to the police.
What happened next? Well that’s obvious… I made the indian native, who was in charge of providing the initial custom chip cartridges, work for me.
Chand and his buddies were uncooperative in the beginning, but, after I showed them that more money could be made by helping me, instead of selling illegal copies, things worked out easily. Due to that, the initial start-up capital was quite high; the profits finally started trickling in after the price of the item rose even more, thanks to its rarity.
“I can finally understand why Dragon Emblem introduced itself through the cracks of the unofficial second-hand market.”
Mr. Gunpei made a satisfied face, as if he was relieved of his curiosity. Now, Mr. Shigeru was wearing a strange expression, one that was different from when he was developing Super Marigee.
“I don’t understand at all. Why is a game of this caliber not going through the official route, Mr. Gunpei?”
“Because Dragon Emblem would lose its uniqueness if it officially debuted like every other game. Think about it, wouldn’t the official price be fixed if it were to be subsidized by us? Just the custom chip alone is worth 8,000 Yen.
Our Mintendo is setting the maximum price per game at 6,000 Yen per cartridge in order to protect our consumers. We would have experienced an enormous deficit if it was sold with this custom chip installed…
Also, it would’ve been difficult for it to experience the current rarity value. They must’ve aimed for the price-malleable black market for this reason. Dragon Emblem is a game that perfectly drilled through the holes of our Mintendo’s cartridge production system…”
There was a very interesting thing that happened in this month’s FamiTong magazine.
It gathered the gamers that had already played Dragon Emblem to launch an attack. What was the name of the event? That… Was it called ‘Final round’? As a memorandum was opened for strategies on how to clear all 25 stages of Dragon Emblem, the players expressed interest in joining this event. Also, to analyze the reactions of these players, Mr. Shige and I went out as the representatives of Mintendo.
“I’ve been in game development for five years already, but this is the first time I’m seeing a strange event such as this.”
Mr. Shige muttered as his breakfast was replaced by the convenience store’s bread and milk. Beside him, I was wearing a proud smile as I looked around.
Each of the players who came sat down in front of a prepared monitor with contemplative looks on their faces. FamiTong had prepared 100 copies of Dragon Emblem for this event… This was the ultimate event that was made possible by wiping the entire nation’s black market clean; it was in order for the 100 players, including Mr. Shige and I, to try and clear Dragon Emblem together.
The players gathered were mostly male, but there were a sparse number of female players here and there. Would the ratio be about 9:1? But in this day and age, female gamers were a national treasure, so it was normal for the gazes of many men to be focused on one female body.
“Hello and welcome~ to all of the players. I’m FamiTong’s reporter, Ishimoto Junpei, and I will be the host for today’s beehive convention.”
A beehive convention… The naming sure was creative…
“All of you are considered the warriors amongst warriors for having tried your hands in defeating Dragon Emblem, but we will announce some information about the game — just in case — before we get started. First~!! Look over here!!”
As Junpei pointed at the wall inside the convention auditorium, basic information about the game popped up.
“The company that developed Dragon Emblem is still shrouded in mystery. It’s highly probable that they would reveal themselves should someone clear this game, so we will be able to solve the puzzle behind the makers of this game~!!”
The morale of the soldiers, who were determined to defeat the Demon King known as ‘Dragon Emblem’, was incredibly high. The scene of the few female players shouting at the top of their lungs was truly a sight to behold. It made one wonder if they had sold their souls to the devil.
Of course, by initially buying a copy at 1000 Yen; then, later buying it for 20,000 Yen, yet they are still not being able to clear it… This would be the precursor to selling one’s soul to the devil. I smirked, and I joined in with the roaring.
Junpei looked around and floated a satisfied grin on his face before he continued explaining.
“Everyone, imagine this in your head… I’ve purchased 5 copies of this game. The furthest I’ve gotten was stage 19 before I was forced on my knees by the Black Earth Dragon. The first copy out of the 5 was given to me by a friend, which I then started playing. However, the 4 copies after that were purchased for a total of 70,000 Yen by me. And I believe you’ve all spent a similar amount as well.”
“I’ve spent 200,000!!!”
As one player earnestly burst out with a frustrated voice, Junpei smirked, replying.
“Then I don’t think there is much of a gaming talent on your side?”
The red-faced player firmly closed his mouth, but the atmosphere turned into a sea of laughter.
Taking a look at Japanese people performing TV shows based on arts, backstabbing the guest performers and just mocking people in general was the norm. I was wondering if mocking people was a unique culture of the Japanese.
“Now~ everyone calm down. Like the person that spoke a moment ago, there are a few who don’t have any in-depth knowledge of the game, so I’ll give an overview. Everyone here must at least know a character that dies in-game will be deleted from the data forever, so I’ll skip this part, explaining the relationships between the class systems.
Spearmen are effective against the swordsmen, and the swordsmen are effective against the knights. In turn, the knights are effective against the spearmen, so it’s referencing the rock paper scissor game. Archers are able to attack at a range of 2 units away, and they are effective against Dragon Warriors. However, be careful, because their defense is low.
Dragon Warriors are able to make super effective attacks on all classes, but they are extremely vulnerable to arrows. I’ll stop explaining now; just remember this, and everyone try their best! We can definitely see the end of this game together~!!”
“Also, to the player that manages to clear the game, we’ve prepared a 100,000 Yen reward to trade in the cartridge for the prize money from our FamiTong. We sincerely hope that the first clear of this game would happen right here. Then~!! Let the game begin!!”
A shout that greatly resembled the spartans in the movie ‘300’ rung out, and the prologue to the start of the game flowed out from the various locations of the event.
“Kurgh~ I will finally see an end to this game, today.”
I swallowed a smile after seeing Mr. Shige’s burning passion, that ignited from earlier. I clicked on the start button, along with everyone else. Now… should I start clearing the game?
1 hour had passed since the start of the event, and 20 people were eliminated by around stage 5. The point of stage 5 was to not lose a single character to the behemoth boss and to safely move to stage 6. Thus, I also focused my concentration as I maneuvered the main character to the front of the party. This was so that he would get focused on while I inflicted damage with my archer from the back. This allowed me to safely pass the first gate.
However, the players that lost even one of their characters slowly gave in to the momentum of the enemy troops, and, at around stage 10, 30 more players were eliminated.
“Ah~ everyone. Please give a little more effort. This game is similar to chess. If you don’t carefully consider the moves of each and every character, your flow will be restricted. The moment that you start to lose your characters one by one, clearing the game will be made impossible. If there is anyone that made it through stage 10 without losing a single character, please raise your hand.”
In response, Mr. Shige and I, as well as 20 other player, quietly raised our hands.
“Great!! There’s still a possibility. We can do it!! Everyone, please give a motivational round of applause to these players!!”
“Go Go Go~!!! Wooahhh!!”
Amongst the cheering players, there were students who I saw from the book store. So those rascals had also purchased a game.
From stage 10 and onwards, Dragon Emblem’s plot developed into the Demon King waking up from his slumber, and the difficulty spiked exponentially, like an exploding cannonball. If points were not correctly distributed, then facing the enemy hordes will get increasingly more difficult.
Mr. Shige, who was beside me, had nothing to say as he was intently focused on the game. Against the massive wave of the enemy, he was executing a blood bath by grouping them together as best as he could, launching an offensive with the backline mage.
Then we arrived at stage 15. On this stage, that started a quest to look for the sword that would defeat the Demon King, Mr. Shige made a huge mistake. He forgot to buy reserves of the recovery staff from the start before beginning the stage. Dragon Emblem utilizes a feature that overwrites the current data with an auto-save method, so returning to a checkpoint was impossible.
“AAHHHH!!! I’ve made a mistake!!”
Mr. Shige’s scream reverberated in the auditorium. He had tried to minimize the damage to his characters as best he could, but…
“Katrina… My Katrina!!!!!! Ahhhh~!!”
He ended up losing the female lead character once again.