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by John Szczepaniak - March 2014

The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers DVD

Review by Unseen 64 - "All those memories about previously unknown, lost videogames from the golden age of Japanese gaming made me love what I saw on this DVD."

Review by Lovedelic Life - "If you're interested in all aspects of Japanese videogames and want to see an eclectic peek into its world, then I can't recommend the DVD enough."

Review by Ludoscience - "A passionate and deeply entertaining journey inside the Japanese game industry. Despite a high price, highly recommended to any game history enthusiast. "

Between September and November 2013 I travelled around Japan interviewing video game developers for a book on the subject. This is the accompanying DVD, with segments of interview footage, game footage, and other visually interesting material. Scroll down for a detailed look at the DVD's contents. A lot of people asked about buying the DVD, so I'm allowing pre-orders. Once I have sent DVDs to the backers, I will then commence sending out the pre-orders.



Please allow at least 4 weeks for delivery, possibly more depending on the country of delivery. Due to the Christmas posting period, any items ordered now and until the end of December may take longer to arrive than normal. Please be patient when waiting for delivery. If you're concerned about your order, please email me.

PRICE: £20 (British Pounds)

This includes international postage. When the Kickstarter was running I considered the DVD as an interesting bonus for the dedicated book fans. Ironically the way I set up the tiers, this ended up more expensive than the book itself. As such I increased the number of discs from one to two, and from single- to double-layer. There's just under 4 hours of footage in total.


PayPal will keep track of my inventory. When it runs out you will not be able to order.


DISC 1: Roy Ozaki of Mitchell Corp / Kouichi Yotsui of Strider / Westone offices / Ryuichi Nishizawa of Wonderboy / Cannon Dancer director's commentary / TGS 2013 tour / Yusaku Yamamoto of GameSide / BEEP Shop with Takayuki Komabayashi / Keigo Matsubara and his 14,000 books / Data East's Deco Cassette / unseen footage of Flash Boy & Ninja, the rarest Deco games / Michitaka Tsuruta of Solomon's Key / Sony Indies Stream / Yuzo Koshiro of Sega / Bare Knuckle 4 / Professor Yoshihiro Kishimoto of Pac-Land / BONUS: photo slideshows

DISC 2: Hifumi Kouno, Masaki Higuchi, and Masatoshi Mitori on Human Entertainment / Toru Hidaka, legendary Enix programmer / Yutaka Isokawa of Catrap / dissecting Namco's neGcon controller / visiting Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka / unreleased MSX game by Yuichi Toyama / PCE vs FC audio with Takayuki Hirono / design documents for Guardian Legend, MUSHA, and Aleste 2 / Masayuki Suzuki explains Taito pixel art / parallax scrolling on PCE / artist Satoshi Nakai / flying to Hokkaido / composer Yasuhito Saito / Sapporo by night / capsule hotel / Hudson's abandoned R&D laboratory / The Game Preservation Society / the rarest PCE game / OutRun tapes with Yoji Ishii / Famicom programming with Manabu Yamana / Yoshiro Kimura / unreleased CBM game / Hiroshi Suzuki / Masakuni Mitsuhashi / prototype MSX / Akira Takiguchi / rock, paper, scissors with Kotaro Hayashida of Alex Kidd / Akihabara / Nakano Broadway / Night photography / BONUS: photo slideshows



Disc times are rounded, so there might be some slight discrepancy. The end of Disc 2 is being trimmed to make room for a second photo gallery.

00:00 - Roy Ozaki & Kouichi Yotsui
An introduction, gift giving, plus various awards received by Mitchell Corp. I show Mr Yotsui some photos an anonymous source at Capcom lent me, and he shows various design documents for games which he created (like Suzuki Bakuhatsu), including some which were never developed.

00:21 - A look around the mountain ryokan I stayed in.

00:23 - Visiting Westone
The walk up to the company office, a look inside at various items, plus interview introductions and gift giving with Ryuichi Nishizawa and Kouichi Yotsui.

00:31 - Cannon Dancer director's commentary
Strider creator Kouichi Yotsui plays through the first level of Cannon Dancer, giving a director's commentary as he goes. You might be surprised by the Ghouls 'n Ghosts trivia he mentions.

00:38 - Tour of TGS 2013
I would describe TGS as too many queues and not enough time. Here's a whirlwind tour, if you've never been before.

00:41 - Interview with Yusaku Yamamoto of GameSide magazine, who I met at TGS.

00:43 - BEEP Shop with Takayuki Komabayashi
A visit to a high-end retro store located in Saitama, which is more like a museum. We talk about rare Enix games, an obscure adventure title, Japan's first ever RPGs, with a look at Panorama Toh, by Yoshio Kiya, the man behind Legacy of the Wizard. There's a quick tour of the store's mind blowing rarities, a brief section covering adult-only games, finishing with a play on several oddities such as Hudson's bizarre Mario Bros. adaptation and Space Harrier for PC-88. It is a glimpse unto an unimaginable realm.

01:06 - Visiting Keigo Matsubara
Still in Saitama, I visit a collector with nearly 14,000 video game related books in his collection. After a quick tour of his house, including a library of game-based choose-your-own-adventure books, we look at the most important books in his collection.

01:25 - Deco Cassette in action
Data East's Deco Cassette arcade system is an almost forgotten relic. I visit a tiny arcade in Akihabara to play the last known working unit available to the public - includes a history of the unit and its significance, plus a look inside it!

01:34 - Flash Boy and Ninja
Gameplay footage of two of the rarest Deco Cassette games - possibly two of the rarest games in the world. Both are unemulated. This is direct video capture after the two games were saved from destruction by Japan's Game Preservation Society. Flash Boy in particular is important, because it sets several arcade precedents. You'll never guess the date it came out.

01:36 - Michitaka Tsuruta
The creator of Bombjack explains the development of Solomon's Key, with original concept artwork!

01:40 - Sony's Indies Stream Party

01:42 - Yuzo Koshiro
A visit to the legendary composer, who kindly gave permission for his music to be used on this DVD. We check out his studio and also a couple of doujin games he worked on - one of which was never made public.

01:46 - Bare Knuckle 4
A concept video for the never developed Bare Knuckle 4 on Dreamcast, with a voice-over explaining what happened to it.

01:49 - Professor Yoshihiro Kishimoto
A montage of the interview I did with Professor Kishimoto, developer of Pac-Land for arcades, and programmer on Namco's Star Wars game for Famicom.

01:55:22 - END

All music on the DVD is by Yuzo Koshiro, predominantly from his game The Scheme. When I interviewed him in Japan, he very kindly gave me permission to use his older music on my DVD. Check out the trailer at the top for a sample. This photo was taken by my professional photographer Nicolas Datiche while we were at Mr Koshiro's studio. We all had lunch there - his mom brought us sandwiches. It was a great day.


00:00 - Human Entertainment
Hifumi Kouno (Clock Tower), Masaki Higuchi (Virtual Boy), and Masatoshi Mitori (Septentrion) reminisce about their days at Human Entertainment.

00:05 - Toru Hidaka
A chat with a legendary Enix programmer, and the important graphics, map, and audio utilities he created, which in combination with his programming facilitated the creation of games. If you ever wondered how pixel art was made in the early 1980s, or how music by traditional composers ended up in games, this is for you.

00:13 - Yutaka Isokawa
An introduction to the man behind the original Pitman, which became Catrap on the Game Boy. He was part of the neGcon development team at Namco, and we dissect a controller with his commentary. He also reveals a fascinating game developed for the neGcon, which was never released. It's not what you'd expect!

00:28 - Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka
I visited the Kansai region several times for interviews. Here's some brief footage and tongue-in-cheek photos from my trip.

00:30 - Unreleased MSX game
Yuichi Toyama of Raizing/8ing sketches an unreleased MSX game he developed prior to joining TecnoSoft, called Grand Slam. It was based on the Area 88 manga and influenced by Choplifter, and it would go on to influence his creation of Herzog.

00:32 - PC-Engine VS Famicom audio
Takayuki Hirono of Compile explains the differences between the sound capabilities of the PC-Engine and Famicom, with some amusing and convincing sound effects.

00:33 ~ 00:35
* Full design documents for Guardian Legend
* Full design documents for MUSHA
* Full design documents for Aleste 2

00:35 - Taito's pixel tools
Masayuki Suzuki of Masaya/NCS draws a whiteboard sketch and describes a very unorthodox method of producing pixel art, from his days at Taito.

00:40 - Satoshi Nakai
A look at some truly fantastic game art, including an enormous amount from Assault Suits Valken, and Resident Evil: Code Veronica.

00:42 - PC-Engine parallax
A detailed explanation by Masayuki Suzuki on how they achieved parallax scrolling on the PC-Engine, using Shubibinman 3 as an example. This is followed by a technical explanation on how they achieved pseudo-transparencies. Truly this is a lost form of artistry.

00:48 - Flying to Hokkaido - buy the ticket, take the ride!

00:50 - Yasuhito Saito projects his music on to a wall

00:50:30 - Night driving around Sapporo!

00:52 - Night in a capsule hotel

00:53 - Hudson R&D
I visit the abandoned Hudson laboratory on the outskirts of Sapporo. Contains detailed information on the lab and Hudson, a sneak peak inside the building, and finishes off with a steamy chase.

01:00 - The Game Preservation Society's laboratory
The stuff these guys get up to is incredible. Thousands of games in storage, almost a hundred computers on hand, and more tech gear than you even knew existed. The work of this non-profit organisation is vital if we are to preserve Japan's history of games.

01:14 - The rarest PC-Engine game on earth?
A world exclusive. You were never meant to see this. No one was. Developed at the Hudson Computer Designers School, it allows players to meet and speak with Hudson staff. This is the only known copy to exist.

01:16 - OutRun tapes
Before making OutRun, Yu Suzuki and Yoji Ishii went on a legendary cross-continent road trip with a video camera, for research. We didn't have a player to view the footage, but I shot video of the tapes themselves. Someday, hopefully, they will be digitally archived. You'll never guess how fast these guys went...

01:20 - Famicom programming environment
Manabu Yamana, programmer on multiple Dragon Quest games, describes in detail the development environment at Chunsoft.

01:22 - Yoshiro Kimura
A mention of his next game, a walkthrough of the Love-de-lic offices (with diagram), the bespoke board game Potato Quest, and an exclusive viewing of Mr Kimura's personal artwork.

01:29 - unreleased CBM game
A detailed look at an unreleased game by Hiroshi Suzuki, titled Dojin, with added commentary by Masakuni Mitsuhashi of Game Arts. The game was never released, though Taito paid to view it.

01:34 - prototype model of MSX

01:38 - Rock, paper, scissors
I play janken with the creator of Alex Kidd, Kotaro Hayashida. Can you guess who won?

01:40 - Akihabara

01:45 - Nakano Broadway

01:55 - Night photography

BONUS: there are also slideshows of photographs I took, backed by music from Yuzo Koshiro, on both DVDs!


The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers BOOK

Gold Cover

The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers reveals more information and secrets about the history of Japanese videogames than ever before. There's first-hand accounts of Konami's secret games console, the pre-history and origin of Game Arts, some unusual events at Telenet, and never before heard stories from inside Falcom. The secret politics behind Enix's game programming contests are revealed. There's a tour of the Love-de-Lic and WARP offices, and layout sketches of many other developers. Every interviewee is asked about unreleased games. There's detailed insight into the culture of computer, console and arcade games, including interviews with high profile collectors and preservationists. From the dawn of games until after the millennium, there are recollections you won't find anywhere else, with exclusive archive photos (printing is black & white).

36 interviewees! Over 500 pages!

With foreword by GAMESIDE magazine's editor-in-chief, Yusaku Yamamoto

Regarding the SILVER and GOLD editions, there is no difference apart from the cover art. All content inside is identical between versions.


US Amazon (paperback) - $29.99
US Amazon (Kindle) - $9.99

UK Amazon (paperback) - £19.99
UK Amazon (Kindle) - £7.93

Also available on all other Amazon sites. Please search for them directly.

CreateSpace e-Store - $39.99


US Amazon (paperback) - $39.99
US Amazon (Kindle) - $9.99

UK Amazon (paperback) - £24.99
UK Amazon (Kindle) - £7.93

Also available on all other Amazon sites. Please search for them directly.

CreateSpace e-Store - $49.99


Hitoshi YONEDA
Japanese cover artist, first hired by Falcom, company's early days, Sega, Phantasy Star II cover, changes for the West, influenced by English water colour painters, other non-game work

Google software engineer, April Fool's jokes, 8-bit Maps explanation, Google Treasure Hunt, Pokemon joke, behind the scenes of Google, working with Square-Enix, Dragon Quest

Katsutoshi EGUCHI
Former punk musician discusses the life of Kenji Eno, creating Real Sound for the Sega Saturn, working with the Bitmap Brothers, bringing Gods and Xenon 2 to Japan, dealing with CESA and ratings in Japan, Eno-san's creation of the Dreamcast logo, Michael Nyman in a hotel, map of WARP offices

Enix programmer, history of the company, how royalties worked, game design and programming schools, Kouichi Nakamura, self-taught programming, development tools, detailed explanations on PC-88 development (graphics, map creation, music), Haunted Cave, Magic Garden, JESUS I&II, converting Ultima, Prajator, differences between tapes and disks, illegal games, the changing nature of the industry

Professor Akinori NAKAMURA
The work of Ritsumeikan University in preserving Famicom games

Game Preservation Society
Detailed look at the Japanese Game Preservation Society, scanning floppies, copy protection, unreleased games, rarest PC Engine game on Earth, optimal conditions for preserving games, technical explanations

Matsubara KEIGO
Interview with a preservationist with 14'000+ game books, choose-your-own-adv books based on games, music CDs, magazines, Earthbound guides, and the most important book: Denshi Yuugi Taizen TV Games

Japanese gaming and arcade culture, old magazines, hi-score players, the world of the SCORELER, a TV series called No Continue Kid which examines this culture

Roy OZAKI & Kouichi YOTSUI
Mitchell Corporation and Capcom (with rare photos!), Pang and its similarities to Bubble Buster / Cannon Ball on Japanese computers, arcade games Strider, Cannon Dancer, The Karate Tournament, Lady Killer, Gamshara, Puzz Loop and Zuma, dealing with gangsters, Polarium, Suzuki Bakuhatsu, Nostalgia 1907, secrets of Namco's System 10 board, visiting Nintendo, PC-98 dev, Data East, Toki, unreleased games

Masaaki KUKINO
Konami and SNK arcade games, map of SNK office, unreleased games, Haunted Castle (aka: Castlevania), Asterix, Crime Fighters, Silent Scope, meeting Noel Gallagher of Oasis, King of Fighters

Suikoden Chapter
Yoshitaka Murayama, Harry Inaba, Jeremy Blaustein, Casey Loe, world exclusive secrets about Konami's unreleased games console/handheld, lots of Suikoden trivia, difficulties of localisation

Visual Novels introduction

Japanese visual novels, nakige, eroge, darkige, doujin vs commercial, Comiket, differences between Japanese/English story techniques, Umineko, Higurashi When They Cry, Rose Gun Days, dealing with fans, Otogirisou, Key, Jun Maeda, an unreleased game, otaku culture, Otogorisou and Kamaitachi no Yoru

Visual novels, working at KID, Pepsiman, VANTAN videogame vocational school, Memories Off, Otogorisou and Kamaitachi no Yoru, Never 7, Ever 17, Remember 11, EVE, the pressures of making erotic games, Steins;Gate, 999, Virtue's Last Reward, Danganronpa, PlayStation 4

Touhou shooters, PC-98 versus Windows, office sketches, working at Taito, Bujingai, PS2 bench-marking, Taito's karaoke games machine, Comiket over the years, doujin, indie, female characters, beer, trivia

Yoshiro KIMURA
Square Soft, Doug Smith, Lode Runner, old Japanese computers, Romancing SaGa, Rule of Rose, Chulip, Little King's Story, indie, doujin, detailed life history, board game with potatoes, Love-de-Lic (with office sketches), Moon on PlayStation, Lack of Love, Kenichi Nishi, outdoor theatre, Grasshopper, rare artwork

Telenet, Falcom, Game Arts, Quintet (with rare photos!), Exile on Japanese computers, PC-88, Megami Tensei differences between Famicom and MSX, ActRaiser, Illusion of Gaia, Robotrek, censorship, Gaiares, Sega Mega CD, Lunar: Eternal Blue, removed characters, Valis, creating pixel art, graphics techniques, the story behind Ys III, what happened to Masaki Hashimoto and Tomoyoshi Miyazaki, Granstream Saga

Jun Nagashima
Falcom (incl. office sketch), Shade, creation of Popful Mail, alternate names, Ys V on SFC, Studio Alex

Falcom, Sega, Quintet, Ancient as a family-run business, The Black Onyx, sister joining industry by creating art for The Fire Crystal, what happened to Masaki Hashimoto and Tomoyoshi Miyazaki, making doujin games, history of The Scheme on PC-88, writing a music column for magazines, tour of the studio, Joe Hisaishi, origin of Sonic the Hedgehog on 8-bit systems, Bare Knuckle 4 details, influencing dubstep

Masamoto MORITA
Sega, arcade divisions and rivalry with console divisions, Saturn, Dreamcast, different arcade boards and their uses, end of Sega hardware, sketch of company layout, meeting Steven Spielberg, Dororo on PS2, the manga being censored, influenced by Halo, Isao Okawa, Die Hard Arcade

AX series and Game Arts introduction

ASCII, AX series, Game Arts, Taito deals, history of Japanese computers, Olion, lots of unreleased games, Theseus & influence on Thexder, Illegus, MSX prototype, writing books on games and the MSX, Apple II in Japan, PC-6001 Commodore Business Machine (PET), programming languages, Kouichi Nakamura

ASCII (with map), AX series, Game Arts, Theseus, Illegus, Silpheed on both PC-88 and Sega Mega CD, rendered backgrounds on Sega, cut content, secret minigames, Lunar: Eternal Blue debugging and game balance, Japanese magazines, DEA game school and course specifics (photos), Star Trek

AX series, Game Arts co-founder, creator of Thexder, early days at the company, office maps, Cuby Panic, PC-6001, new model of PC-88, shift to consoles, some incredible Game Arts trivia

Hiroshi SUZUKI
First ever stealth game, Manbiki Shounen, signing a deal with Taito, Lupin III (arcade game), flight sims, Japanese computers, BASIC Master Level 3, PC-98, creating custom hardware boards for computers, flight controller, sound board, lots of unreleased games, early culture of computer games

Vanguard, Enix, unreleased Sega Saturn hardware allowing online shopping, The Black Onyx, Axiom on PC-88, games on PC-98, working with Game Arts and Falcom, future of mobile phone games, working on Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar: Eternal Blue, for both Sega Mega CD and later Sega Saturn, Grandia

Namco (and its desire to launch a console), Enix, Vanguard, origin of Pitman and Catrap, updating Catrap for Game Boy, copyright discussion, magazine type-ins, early computers, creating the NeGcon controller, unreleased NeGcon games, programming on Lunar, PC-98, Reichsritter, Gunyuu Sangokushi

Hokkaido trip & Hudson lab

Yasuhito SAITO
Musician, dB-SOFT, Data West (with office maps), programming Volguard and 177, Macadam Soft, the mystery behind Bounty Arms on PlayStation, Layla on Famicom, Sharp X1, the Data West Active Picture System for streaming on FM-Towns, Rayxanber shmups, Cross Blaim's connection to Metroid

Takaki KOBAYASHI & Keite ABE
dB-SOFT, Agenda, SmileBoom, Woody Poko, Melroon, Studio P on PlayStation, PC-88 and PC Engine technicalities, 177 controversy, Riot City, Prince of Persia, BASIC for the NDS and 3DS, computer history, gifts to fans, mahjong, working with SNK, life in Hokkaido, copy protection on floppies

Mega Man, Mighty No.9, Capcom, Comcept, Akira Kitamura, origin of characters, Zero as a red Han Solo, Kickstarter and crowdfunding, kids sending postcards with boss designs, Japan and Western games and what they can teach each other, limitations of the Famicom hardware

Stephen & William ROZNER
Mega Man for DOS, Capcom USA, Street Fighter for the C64, and an unreleased version on NES!

Makoto GOTO
Shubibinman 2, Don Quixote for laserdisc (MEGA LD), Sega Pico, Vixen 357, Winds development house as an outsource company, Japanese middlewear, Phil Fish, Star Trek, PC Engine magazine scan


Osman / Cannon Dancer

Maps of the office layouts

Exclusive Quintet photos

Haunted Castle

A look at the Japanese Game Preservation Society

A collector with over 14'000 books

Creation of Suikoden

Top secret photos from inside Capcom

How graphics were made (click for larger)

A visit to the abandoned Hudson laboratory in Hokkaido

Stories from the development of the Lunar series


Interior Preview

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