Latest Sakurai column discusses childhood and games that shaped him

The latest Masahiro Sakurai column is here, and Sephazon has a translation prepared for us to enjoy. The new opinion piece discusses Sakurai's childhood as well as games that shaped him. The translation, once again, is courtesy of Sephazon...

Kirby recently turned 28, and I’ve now been creating games for over 30 years. It’s recently made want to try and write about how games touched me as a child.

The Invader Boom [Space Invaders critical success in Japan] was in 1978-1979. At the time, I was 8. Sometime between then and when I was 12, the Famicom was released. I was in elementary school at the time.

There was a local supermarket called ‘Chujitsuya’ – the Higashi Yamato branch. On Sundays, my family and I would go shopping there. Although it is unthinkable now, when I was a child, I was free to wander away from my parents. Even though we didn’t have cell phones, I was able to be left alone. Being on time was crucial.

First, my parents would give me 200 yen. While they shopped, schoolboy Sakurai would go straight to the game corner. At the time, the Chujitsuya game corner was always bringing out the latest games. I could enjoy a variety of things to play.

Table cabinets were the main feature, but larger arcade cabinets and eventually a laser disc system were also introduced. I think there were many Taito games. It cost 50 yen to play one game, so I had four chances to play. I carefully considered my options.

When I ran out of money, I went to a hobby shop on another floor, with demos of the newest games. The Famicom is seen as a founder, but many consoles preceded it – TV Vader, Atari, Intellivision, Arkadia, Vectrex. The first console I ever had was the Nintendo TV Color Game 15.

I also tried LSI games, such as the Game & Watch. I played around with PCs at the Pancon (Maicon at the time) counter. It was a time where boundries were nebulous, so programmable models were sometimes available in store, with keyboards such as the M5, Tomy Tutor and MSX.

But of course, while fully immersed in playing, my parents would finish shopping and come pick me up. A story of a time long passed...

I often visited Tachikawa, which was pretty close to my house and has long been a busy shopping district. There were often video game and radio-controlled competitions. Sometimes I’d participate, and sometimes I’d go home, hands full of prizes. My skills seemed pretty good.

I was playing arcade games and consumer electronics before they were called that. Of course, I regularly went to the Game Center, and would rent Famicom games. By the time I was 10 years old, it was too late for me to learn the culture of hanging out at the candy store.

These days, one game is large enough be played for a long time. Back then, however, games were developed by small teams, and they were quickly released.

Every time I went to the game corner, I would see something new. Arcades were strong, and the ability to play those arcade games at home on consumer electronics [video game consoles, computers, et cetera] was quite attractive.

Every game and piece of technology glimmered in my eyes. It was blinding. It might be childish to look back on it now, but there were many surprises and I was always having fun. I will never forget these games that touched me when I was just a kid!

Categories: Media, Consoles
Tags: retro


Heh, those experiences at the arcade (well, department store with an arcade in it) reming me of my father's approach. He'd just put me at the arcade at a local shopping mall while he went to buy things at Sears and such, and I'd be given either 4 quarters or no money at all.

Though with him, it was more that he didn't derive pleasure from games, so he didn't see why one would play a game when one could just as easily watch, the latter being free.

What games are his favorites? He seems to ignore that one thing that could give him a reason why he entered the industry.


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