The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers DVD – Reviewed
By Marcus Estrada
Last year The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers was Kickstarted to the tune of around 70,000 British pounds (nearly $120,000). This project promised a book filled with interviews with Japanese developers. Why Japanese developers? Simply, there’s not nearly enough information about companies such as Hudson, Love-de-Lic, and others available in English. Without projects such as these many stories, secrets, and unreleased games may never be documented.
At certain tiers of the Kickstarter, backers were promised a complimentary DVD. This two-disc set includes around four hours of video footage that was taken while working on collecting interviews for the book. As such, The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers DVD serves as both a documentary of the book’s creation as well as a sample of what’s to come. Because a love for Japanese games and game developers is not restricted to any one region the discs are region free.
Since The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers book isn’t out yet this was the first real opportunity to see some of the included content. It was incredibly exciting to get an “inside look” at the travel, troubles, and fun involved. Of course, as the Kickstarter was for a book and not a film, the video quality is not particularly stunning. Audio also spikes and dips with no real apparent attempt at balancing it. With that said, the content shown is undeniably excellent and includes never before seen games as well as amazing artwork and stories. Deaf and hearing impaired gamers will have a hard time fully enjoying the discs as they include no subtitle support (beyond a few sections that have hardcoded subtitles).
It was wonderful getting a taste of Japanese game development, preservation, and collecting through the DVDs. Anyone who loves classic video games will see familiar titles mentioned. Most impressive though is a devotion to showcasing far more obscure games that even an avid niche gamer might be stumped by. There are snippets of interviews that will be included in the book and some of them make the wait for its publication even harder. That product manager John Szczepaniak was able to secure interviews with this amount of important developers is incredible and something gaming fans should be thankful for.
Then there are all the other highlights showcased that make collectors such as myself simply giddy. For one, the team visited the home of a game manual collector who had over 6,000 of such books. A tour of the Game Preservation Society was also a great highlight. It is tremendously important for video games preservation to exist as the games of the past 40 years deteriorate. Despite my own interest in preservation, I’ve certainly never seen the inner workings of Japan’s Game Preservation Society before. Basically, there is something for everyone in this DVD set.
Although it was initially granted as a bonus in the Kickstarter tiers, The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers DVD can now be purchased separately. However, this run of discs is apparently capped at 500 so they will not be available forever. People who will likely get the most out of the DVD set are megafans of Japanese games. For most, the book should be enough. The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers book should be available later this year.