Pokemon Go: The Perfect Hybrid of Japanese Anime and Video Games (II)

Pokemon Go: The Perfect Hybrid of Japanese Anime and Video Games (II)

Do you still play the killer app of 2016? The AR game, Pokemon Go, blew the market away once it was released. With millions of players and billions of dollars in revenue, it can be said to be one of the most famous video games in the world. Its success can be attributed to its established pop culture phenomenon. Pokemon is a multimedia franchise in a true sense of the concept of "multi-", because Pokemon includes video games, card games, TV series, movies, and TV shows. Originally, Pokemon was just a video game developed for the Game Boy in 1996. A year later, it was adapted into a televised anime. As of today, there are 90 Pokemon games and over a thousand episodes of the Pokemon anime. It can be said that Pokemon is the perfect hybrid of the two most famous of Japanese subcultures: anime and games.

In our first article, we focused on a brief history of Japanese anime. Now, let's focus on a brief history of Japanese video games.

History of Japanese Video Games

Nintendo Famicom

Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, Smash Bros...These classic games are the shared memory of millennials. Though the first video game was created in 1962 in America, Japan began to dominate the game market from the 1980s. The development of Japanese games accompanies technical iteration. From arcade machines all the way to portable consoles, no other country has had a bigger influence on electronic video games.

Japan’s first electronic game was Periscope designed by Sega in 1966. It cost a quarter per play in the US and this later became the standard price for arcade games. From then on, Japan’s arcade games constantly brought new genres onto the scene, such as fighting games, shooting games, and stealth games. In 1978, Taito released a blockbuster, Space Invaders, which was the starting point for Japanese games to invade the global video game industry. In Japan, the game was so popular that it caused a shortage of 100-yen coins nationwide. Two years later, another classic game, Pac-Man, appeared and became a hit with its fresh new game principle: navigating a maze.

Nintendo Switch

The creation of the home console brought the place of gaming from arcades to people's homes. Nintendo released the Famicom (known as the NES in western countries) in 1983, which enlarged the worldwide influence of Japan’s electronic games. Many iconic games, such as Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda can be played on the NES. To compete with Nintendo, the other two companies of the Big Three at the time, Sega and Sony, released the Mega Drive (known as the Genesis in North America) in the late 80s and the Sony PlayStation in the mid 90s. With the development of technology, the Big Three began to explore the world of computer games and portable consoles. Therefore, games with finer pictures and richer content appeared.

Japanese Game Arcades

Japanese Arcade Game

If you are interested in console games and computer games, it’s easy to get them from the Internet nowadays, without having to buy physical media. However, if arcade games are your cup of tea, there is no other place in the world that has bigger game rooms and more types of amusement machines than those in Japan! Here are 4 types of amusement machines you shouldn’t miss!

UFO Catcher: It’s the most common and popular type of game in an arcade. It's the Japanese version of the classic crane game. As you can imagine, instead of looking at a TV screen, players look inside a glass machine to see which prizes are available. There are various kinds of prizes, such as toys, food, cushions, and sometimes even kitchenware. If you are a fan of anime/manga culture, you can find so many UFO catchers with merchandise of anime and comics.

Rhythm/Music Games: With games of this genre, you can experience the fun of playing an instrument or dancing whether you are an amateur or a specialist. The song selections includes Japanese pop, American pop, European pop, classical music, rock songs, and anime songs.

Racing Games: It’s an iconic genre of games in Japanese arcades. You can be a racer even though you don’t know how to drive. Nowadays, you can have a more real-life experience using VR glasses.

Retro Games: You can play classic games like Pac-Man and Street Fighter in these vintage machines. They are rare to see outside Japan.

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