Japan and video games go together like Mario and Luigi. You can’t think of modern video games and imagine what they would be like without Japan’s influence and contribution to the gaming world. What is it about Japan that makes gamers love it so much?
Nintendo has a huge part to play in Japan being a headliner in every gamer’s travel guide, owning some of the most household names in the gaming world it’s no shock that even your dear old Grandma can identify a Pikachu. Then companies such as Capcom and Square Enix create the games that aren’t just aimed at a family consumer.
With the WiiU being one of the least favored consoles, and handheld consoles being overwhelmed by the dominance of their less portable rivals, Japan holds onto its crown not by flashy graphics and hardware supremacy but by the vivid characters and rich stories which are loved universally.
Browsing around some of the geek capitals, such as Den Den Town in Osaka or Akihabara in Tokyo, what strikes you about the technology, especially gaming related, is that a lot of it is old. It’s effortless to find shops filled with heaps of consoles that you haven’t seen since you were young. It’s so easy to get carried away and as excited as a small child as you browse shelves upon shelves of games you loved, and titles you never saw released in your home country. All of this for a price that makes you scoff at recent console releases, a copy of Pokemon Red and a Gameboy to play it on will set you back as little as $50 so there’s no wonder many people are green with envy at the lack of these re-sell shops in their own hometowns. A Japanese copy of your favourite childhood game can make a great souvenir, but don’t get too carried away if you haven’t taken into consideration compatibility between both your current television and the power supply wattage, not just the language barrier.
The key to Japan maintaining its hold on its title in the gaming world? Nostalgia. Being the home of huge franchises that have welcomed in now a second generation of gamers, it’s obvious to see why these lovable characters are known across the globe. This is evident in Nintendo’s business model of rehashing the same games with slightly improved graphics or depth of story. Capcom’s game history shows a pretty similar trend, I can’t even count how many versions of Chun Li I’ve played over the years. Can nostalgia keep our favorite stories alive for the next generations to see? I certainly hope so.
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