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Basic Information

Warning: Display title "Japan" overrides earlier display title "<abbr title="Display Title of Article changed due to technical limitations or for cosmetic reasons">Japan</abbr>".

Japan is a country in Asia. It has had a profound impact on video gaming history. Its capital is Tokyo, and the country itself is home to a number of companies and corporations related to gaming and video gaming, such as Sony CorporationKonami, and Nintendo.

Japan uses CERO to rate its console video game content, and EOCS for personal computer game content and software.


See also: Video games in Japan

Prior to producing video games, Japanese companies like SEGA, Taito, Namco and Nintendo were producers of electro-mechanical arcade games. Soon after the video game industry began in the early 1970s, many of these companies turned their attention to producing arcade video games. Japan eventually became a major exporter of video games during the golden age of arcade video games, an era that began with the release of Taito's Space Invaders in 1978 and ended around the mid-1980s.[1][2][3]

In 1967 Taito released an electro-mechanical arcade game of their own, Crown Soccer Special, a two-player sports game that simulated association football, using various electronic components, including electronic versions of pinball flippers.[4]

Sega produced gun games which resemble first-person shooter video games, but which were in fact electro-mechanical games that used rear image projection in a manner similar to the ancient zoetrope to produce moving animations on a screen.[5] The first of these, the light-gun game Duck Hunt,[6] appeared in 1969;[7] it featured animated moving targets on a screen, printed out the player's score on a ticket, and had volume-controllable sound-effects.[6] That same year, Sega released an electro-mechanical arcade racing game, Grand Prix, which had a first-person view, electronic sound, a dashboard with a racing wheel and accelerator,[8] and a forward-scrolling road projected on a screen.[9] Another Sega 1969 release, Missile, a shooter and vehicle-combat simulation, featured electronic sound and a moving film strip to represent the targets on a projection screen. It was the earliest known arcade game to feature a joystick with a fire button, which formed part of an early dual-control scheme, where two directional buttons are used to move the player's tank and a two-way joystick is used to shoot and steer the missile onto oncoming planes displayed on the screen; when a plane is hit, an animated explosion appears on screen, accompanied by the sound of an explosion.[10]

1970's–early 1980's[]

In 1970, Sega released Jet Rocket, a combat flight-simulator featuring cockpit controls that could move the player aircraft around a landscape displayed on a screen and shoot missiles onto targets that explode when hit.[11] It featured shooting and flight movement in a 3D environment from a first-person perspective, a precursor to first-person vehicle combat video games such as Battlezone (1980) and Hovertank 3D (1991), and the first-person shooter genre.[12]

Japan's involvement in video games dates back to as early as 1971. According to video game historian Martin Picard:

In 1971, Nintendo had -- even before the marketing of the first home console in the United States -- an alliance with the American pioneer Magnavox to develop and produce optoelectronic guns for the Odyssey (released in 1972), since it was similar to what Nintendo was able to offer in the Japanese toy market in 1970s.
~ Martin Picard

The first handheld electronic game was Electro Tic-Tac-Toe, released by Japanese manufacturer Waco in 1972.[13][14][15][16][17][18] The first color video game was the 1973 arcade game Playtron, developed by Japanese company Kasco, which only manufactured two cabinets of the game.[19]

The first Japanese arcade video games were released in 1973, Pong clones produced by Taito and SEGA, soon followed by original titles, such as Speed Race (1974) and Gun Fight (1975) from Taito's Tomohiro Nishikado; these games were localized by Midway for the North American market. Japan's first home video game console was Epoch's TV Tennis Electrotennis, a wireless home console version of Pong released in September 1975, several months before Atari's own Home Pong. It was followed by the first successful console, Nintendo's Color TV Game, in 1977. Japan's first personal computers for gaming soon appeared, the Sord M200 in 1977 and the Sharp MZ-80K in 1978. Eventually, the 1978 arcade release of Space Invaders would mark the first major mainstream breakthrough for video games, both in Japan and North America.[20]

Full motion video (FMV) games originated in Japanese arcades. The first FMV game was Nintendo's Wild Gunman, a 1974 electro-mechanical arcade game that used film reel projection to present live-action FMV footage.[21] The quick time event mechanic also has origins in Wild Gunman, which used film projection to display live-action footage of cowboys. Alternate film footage was played depending on the player's quick draw reaction. It paved the way for later QTE laserdisc video games.[22] The first FMV video game was Sega's laserdisc game Astron Belt, released in early 1983.

Japan's first home video game console was Epoch's TV Tennis Electrotennis, a wireless home console version of Pong released in September 1975, several months before Atari's own Home Pong. It was followed by the first successful Japanese console, Nintendo's Color TV Game, in 1977. The Color TV Game sold 3 million units, the highest for a first generation console.[23]

The first microprocessor-driven video game was the arcade game Western Gun, known as Gun Fight in North America, from Taito and Midway Games in 1975. The first tile-based video game was Namco's arcade game Galaxian (1979).[24]

Early 1980s[]

Hardware sprite graphics was introduced by Namco's Pac-Man (1980), with the Namco Pac-Man hardware.[25]

Xevious, released in 1982, is frequently cited as the first vertical scrolling shooter and, although it was in fact preceded by several other games of that type, it is considered one of the most influential.[26] Xevious is also the first to convincingly portray realistic landscapes as opposed to purely science fiction settings.[27]

The earliest game to be retroactively described as survival horror was Nostromo, developed by Tokyo University student Akira Takiguchi for the PET 2001, with a PC-6001 port published in 1981.[28]

While the Japanese video game industry has long been viewed as console-centric in the Western world, due to the worldwide success of Japanese consoles beginning with the Nintendo Entertainment System, the country had in fact produced thousands of commercial personal computer games from the late 1970s until the mid-1990s, in addition to dōjin soft independent games.[29]

Early Japanese RPGs were also influenced by visual novel adventure games, which were developed by companies such as Enix, Square, Nihon Falcom and Koei before they moved onto developing RPGs.[29][30] In the 1980s, Japanese developers produced a diverse array of creative, experimental computer RPGs, like a Cambrian explosion, prior to mainstream titles such as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy eventually cementing genre tropes by the 1990s.[31]

An important early Japanese RPG was Bokosuka Wars,[32] originally released for the Sharp X1 computer in 1983[33] and later ported to the NES in 1985.[32] The game's success in Japan was responsible for laying the foundations for the tactical role-playing game subgenre, or the "simulation RPG" as it is known in Japan, with its blend of role-playing and strategy video game elements. The game revolves around a leader who must lead his army against overwhelming enemy forces, while recruiting soldiers along the way and with each unit able to gain experience and level up through battle.[32] The game is also considered to be an early example of a real-time,[34] action RPG.[35][36] Another important title released in 1982 was Koei's Nobunaga's Ambition for Japanese computers in 1983. It was an early attempt at combining role-playing, turn-based grand strategy and management simulation elements, setting the standard for future simulation RPGs. This trend continued with its sequels and other Koei games such as 1989's Bandit Kings of Ancient China as well as the Capcom game Destiny of an Emperor released that same year.[37]

The 1983 first-person adventure game, The Portopia Serial Murder Case, featured a non-linear open world,[38][39] which is considered ahead of its time.[39]

Nihon Falcom's Dragon Slayer, released in 1984, is a historically significant title that helped lay the foundations for the Japanese role-playing game industry.[40] Hydlide, an action RPG released for the PC-8801 in 1984 and the Famicom in 1986, was an early open world game,[41] rewarding exploration in an open world environment.[42] It also added several innovations to the action RPG subgenre, including the ability to switch between attack mode and defense mode, quick save and load options which can be done at any moment of the game through the use of passwords as the primary back-up, and the introduction of a health regeneration mechanic where health and magic slowly regenerate when standing still, a feature also used in Falcom's Ys series from 1987 onwards.[43]


Following the North American video game crash of 1983, Japan went on become the most dominant country within the global video game industry, since the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the third-generation of consoles. Japan's dominance within the industry would continue for the next two decades, up until Microsoft's Xbox consoles began challenging Sony and Nintendo in the 2000s.[44][45][46]

A notable Japanese computer RPG from around this time was WiBArm, the earliest known RPG to feature 3D polygonal graphics. It was a 1986 role-playing shooter released by Arsys Software for the PC-88 in Japan and ported to MS-DOS for Western release by Brøderbund. In WiBArm, the player controls a transformable mecha robot, switching between a 2D side-scrolling view during outdoor exploration to a fully 3D polygonal third-person perspective inside buildings, while bosses are fought in an arena-style 2D shoot 'em up battle. The game featured a variety of weapons and equipment as well as an automap, and the player could upgrade equipment and earn experience to raise stats.[47][48]

Another 1986 release was Falcom's Xanadu Scenario II, an early example of an expansion pack.[49] The game was non-linear, allowing the eleven levels to be explored in any order.[50] That same year also saw the arcade release of the sequel to The Tower of Druaga, The Return of Ishtar,[51] an early action RPG[52] to feature two-player cooperative gameplay,[51] dual-stick control in single player, a female protagonist, the first heroic couple in gaming, and the first password save system in an arcade game.[53]

In October 30, 1987, the PC Engine made its debut in the Japanese market and it was a tremendous success. By 1988 it outsold the Famicom year-on-year, putting NEC and Hudson Soft ahead of Nintendo in the market, and far ahead of Sega. The console had an elegant, "eye-catching" design, and it was very small compared to its rivals.[54] This, coupled with a strong software lineup and strong third-party support from high-profile developers such as Namco and Konami gave NEC the lead in the Japanese market.[55]

In 1987, Square's 3-D WorldRunner was an early stereoscopic 3-D shooter played from a third-person perspective,[56] followed later that year by its sequel JJ,[57] and the following year by Space Harrier 3-D which used the SegaScope 3-D shutter glasses.[58] That same year, Sega's Thunder Blade switched between both a top-down view and a third-person view, and introduced the use of force feedback, where the joystick vibrates.[59] Also in 1987, Konami created Contra as an coin-op arcade game that was particularly acclaimed for its multi-directional aiming and two player cooperative gameplay. However, by the early 1990s and the popularity of 16-bit consoles, the scrolling shooter genre was overcrowded, with developers struggling to make their games stand out (one exception being the inventive Gunstar Heroes, by Treasure).[60]

In 1987, Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family (Legacy of the Wizard) returned to the deeper action-RPG mechanics of Xanadu while maintaining the fully side-scrolling view of Romancia.[61] It also featured an open world and nonlinear gameplay similar to "Metroidvania" platform-adventures, making Drasle Family an early example of a non-linear, open-world action RPG.[62] Another "Metroidvania" style open-world action RPG released that year was System Sacom's Sharp X1 computer game Euphory, which was possibly the only Metroidvania-style multiplayer action RPG produced, allowing two-player cooperative gameplay.[47] Falcom also released the first installment of its popular, long-running Ys series in the same year.[40][43] Ys was a precursor to RPGs that emphasize storytelling[63] The game also had what is considered to be one of the best and most influential video game music soundtracks of all time, composed by Yuzo Koshiro and Mieko Ishikawa.[64][65][66] In terms of the number of game releases, Ys is second only to Final Fantasy as the largest Eastern role-playing game franchise.[64]

Sega's original Phantasy Star for the Master System combined sci-fi & fantasy setting that set it apart from the D&D staple.[67] It also featured pre-defined player characters with their own backstories, which would later become common in console RPGs.[68] It was also one of the first games to feature a female protagonist and animated monster encounters,[67] and allowed inter-planetary travel between three planets.[69] Boys' Life magazine in 1988 predicted that Phantasy Star as well as the Zelda games may represent the future of home video games, combining the qualities of both arcade and computer games.[70]

Phantasy Star II for the Genesis established many conventions of the RPG genre, including an epic, dramatic, character-driven storyline dealing with serious themes and subject matter, and a strategy-based battle system.[67][71] Its purely science fiction setting was also a major departure for RPGs, which had previously been largely restricted to fantasy or science fantasy settings.[72] The game's strong characterization, and use of self-discovery as a motivating factor for the characters and the player, was a major departure from previous RPGs and had a major influence on subsequent RPGs such as the Final Fantasy series.[72] It also made a bold attempt at social commentary years before the Final Fantasy series started doing the same.[73] The game's science fiction story was also unique, reversing the common alien invasion scenario by instead presenting Earthlings as the invading antagonists rather than the defending protagonists.[67][71]

The ‘golden age’ of console RPGs is often dated from the 1990s[74][75] to the early 2000s.[76]

Japanese console RPGs were generally more faster-paced and action-adventure-oriented than their American computer counterparts.[77][78] The console RPG market became more profitable, which led to several American manufacturers releasing console ports of traditional computer RPGs such as Ultima, though they received mixed reviews due to console gamers at the time considering them to be not "as exciting as the Japanese imports."[77] During the 1990s, console RPGs had become increasingly dominant.[79] Console RPGs had eclipsed computer RPGs for some time, though computer RPGs began making a comeback towards the end of the decade.[80]

In 1990, Dragon Quest IV introduced a new method of storytelling: segmenting the plot into segregated chapters.[81] While this made the game more linear than its predecessor,[82] it allowed for greater characterization, with each chapter dedicated to a particular character's background story. Its "Tactics" system is seen as a precursor to Final Fantasy XII's "Gambits" system.[83]

[Technology and Entertainment Software|T&E Soft]] released the PC-98 game Sword World PC in 1992 and a console version Sword World SFC for the Super Famicom in 1993.[84] It was officially based on Sword World RPG, a popular Japanese table-top role-playing game. The video game versions were multiplayer titles and early attempts at recreating an open-ended, table-top role-playing experience on video game platforms, being set in the same world as Sword World and implementing the same rules and scenarios.[85] Wolf Team's Dark Kingdom, released for the PC-98 in 1992 and ported to the SNES console in 1994, featured a unique storyline that revolved around the players conquering the world as a villain instead of saving the world.[86]

1994 saw the release of the 3DO console port of the 1991 PC RPG Knights of Xentar,[87] which had introduced a unique pausable real-time battle system,[88][citation needed] where characters automatically attack based on a list of different AI scripts chosen by the player.[88]

In 1995, Square's Chrono Trigger raised the standards for the genre, with certain aspects that were considered revolutionary in its time, including its nonlinear gameplay, branching plot,[89] the "Active Time Event Logic" system,[90] more than a dozen different endings,[91] plot-related sidequests, a unique battle system with innovations such as combo attacks, and lack of random encounters.[89] It also introduced the concept of New Game+,[92] though this game mode has its origins in the original Legend of Zelda.[93] Chrono Trigger is frequently listed as one of the greatest video games of all time.[94][95][96][97] That same year, the first installment of the Story of Seasons series introduced a new form of gameplay: a role-playing simulation centred around managing a farm. The series would later inspire popular social network games such as FarmVille in the late 2000s.[98]

From the mid-1990s, the Japanese computer game industry began declining. This was partly due to the death of the NEC PC-9801 computer format, as the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation became increasingly powerful in the console market while the computer market became increasingly dominated by the IBM Personal Computer and Microsoft Windows 95. This led to many Japanese PC manufacturers either continuing to develop for Windows 95 or moving over to the more lucrative console market. While most developers turned their attention to the console market, some developers dedicated to content unsuitable for consoles (such as eroge and complex military strategy games) continued their focus on the PC market.[29]

Final Fantasy VII (1997) introduced a materia system similar to, but more sophisticated than, the slotted item system in Diablo II (2000).[99]

In 2000, Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast introduced online gaming to consoles and was responsible for pushing console gamers "to dial up with the Dreamcast to play online and to experience a new style of play."[100] That year also saw the release of the PlayStation 2, which would become the best-selling game console of all time, due in large part to its large variety of Japanese RPGs (including franchises such as Final Fantasy, Grandia, and Tales) that established its dominance over the RPG market.[101]

In the early 2000s, mobile games had gained mainstream popularity in Japan, years before the United States and Europe. By 2003, a wide variety of mobile games were available on Japanese phones, ranging from puzzle games and virtual pet titles that utilize camera phone technology to 3D games with PlayStation-quality graphics. Older arcade-style games became particularly popular on mobile phones, which was an ideal platform for arcade-style games designed for shorter play sessions.[102] By 2003, Japan had 8.3 million mobile gamers. That same year, 77.8% of Japan’s general public (and 69.2% of women) owned a games machine in their home. [1]

Late 2000's–early 2010's[]

Although Japanese video games often sell well in Western markets, the reverse is not so in Japan.[103][104][105][106] Foreign games often sell more poorly in Japanese markets due to differences in escapism.[107] However, as detailed below, Japanese games have been becoming much less successful in recent years even in their own country.[108][109][110]

In 2002, the Japanese video game industry made up about 50% of the global retail game market; that share has since shrunk to around 10% by 2010.[111] The shrinkage in retail game market share has been attributed to a growing difference of taste between Japanese and Western audiences,[111][112] and the country's economic recession.[113] Despite declining home console game sales, the overall Japanese gaming industry, as of 2009, is still valued at $20 billion, the largest sector of which are arcade games, which generated more revenue than console games and mobile games combined.[114] The Japanese arcade industry has also been steadily declining, however.[113][115] The domestic arcade market's decline has also been attributed to the country's economic recession.[113]

The shrinkage in market share has been attributed to a difference of taste between Japanese and Western audiences,[111][116] and the country's economic recession.[117] Yoichi Wada stated: "The US games industry was not good in the past but it has now attracted people from the computer [industry] and from Hollywood, which has led to strong growth."[118] Despite declining home console game sales, the overall Japanese gaming industry, as of 2009, is still valued at $20 billion, the largest sector of which are arcade games at $6 billion, in comparison to home console game sales of $3.5 billion and mobile game sales of $2 billion.[119]

Today, the Japanese game market is largely dominated by mobile games. Japan has had the world's largest mobile game market for the past decade, with mobile games now making up the largest share of the domestic Japanese market, followed by arcade games, then handheld console games, and then home console games.

The country's traditional console gaming market itself is today largely dominated by handheld game consoles rather than home consoles.[120] In 2014, Japan's consumer video game market grossed $9.6 billion, with $5.8 billion coming from mobile gaming.[121]

The Japanese arcade industry has also been steadily declining, however, from ¥702.9 billion in 2007 ($8.99 billion in 2015 dollars) to ¥504.3 billion in 2010[117][122][123] ($6.5 billion in 2015 dollars). The domestic arcade market's decline has also been attributed to the country's economic recession.[122] Handheld game consoles, however, particularly Nintendo handhelds such as the Nintendo DS, have featured a number of innovative RPGs during the late 2000s.[124]


The following are some examples of Japanese contributions to video games.


Action role-playing video game (action RPG)

Japanese developers created the action RPG subgenre in the early 1980s, combining RPG elements with arcade-style action and action-adventure elements.[125][126] In 1983, Nihon Falcom released Panorama Toh, coming close to the action RPG formula that they later became known for.[127] The trend of combining RPG elements with arcade-style action mechanics was popularized by The Tower of Druaga,[126] an arcade game released by Namco in 1984.[128] Its success inspired the development of three early action RPGs, combining Druaga's real-time hack-and-slash gameplay with stronger RPG mechanics, all released in late 1984: Dragon SlayerCourageous Perseus, and Hydlide.[129]

Active Time Battle

Hiroyuki Ito introduced the "Active Time Battle" system in Final Fantasy IV (1991),[130] where the time-keeping system does not stop.[131] Square Co., Ltd. filed a United States patent application for the ATB system on March 16, 1992, under the title "Video game apparatus, method and device for controlling same" and was awarded the patent on February 21, 1995. On the battle screen, each character has an ATB meter that gradually fills, and the player is allowed to issue a command to that character once the meter is full.[132] The fact that enemies can attack or be attacked at any time is credited with injecting urgency and excitement into the combat system.[131]

Beat 'em up

The first game to feature fist fighting was SEGA's boxing game Heavyweight Champ (1976), but it was Data East's fighting game Karate Champ (1984) which popularized martial arts themed games.[133] The same year, Hong Kong cinema-inspired Kung-Fu Master laid the foundations for scrolling beat 'em ups with its simple gameplay and multiple enemies.[133][134] Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, released in 1986 in Japan, deviated from the martial arts themes of earlier games and introduced street brawling to the genre. Renegade (released the same year) added an underworld revenge plot that proved more popular with gamers than the principled combat sport of other games.[135] Renegade set the standard for future beat 'em up games as it introduced the ability to move both horizontally and vertically.[136]

Bullet hell

The bullet hell or danmaku genre began to emerge in the early 1990s as 2D developers needed to find a way to compete with 3D games which were becoming increasingly popular at the time. Toaplan's Batsugun (1993) is considered to be the ancestor of the modern bullet hell genre.[137] The Touhou Project series is one of the most popular bullet hell franchises.

Colour video game

The first colour video game was the 1973 arcade game Playtron, developed by Japanese company Kasco, which only manufactured two cabinets of the game.[138]

Fighting game

SEGA's black and white boxing game Heavyweight Champ was released in 1976 as the first video game to feature fist fighting.[139] However, Data East's Karate Champ from 1984 is credited with establishing and popularizing the one-on-one fighting game genre, and went on to influence Konami's Yie Ar Kung-Fu from 1985.[140] Yie Ar Kung Fu expanded on Karate Champ by pitting the player against a variety of opponents, each with a unique appearance and fighting style.[140][141] Capcom's Street Fighter (1987) introduced the use of special moves that could only be discovered by experimenting with the game controls. Street Fighter II (1991) established the conventions of the fighting game genre and, whereas previous games allowed players to combat computer-controlled fighters, Street Fighter II allowed players to play against each other.[142]

Human sprites

The first video game to represent player characters as human sprite images was Taito's Basketball, which was licensed in February 1974 to Midway, releasing it as TV Basketball in North America.[143][144]


Gunpei Yokoi was the creator of the Game Boy and Virtual Boy and worked on the Family Computer, the Metroid series, the Game Boy Pocket, and did extensive work on the system we know today as the Nintendo Entertainment System.[145]

Open-world action RPG

The action role-playing game Hydlide (1984) was an early open world game,[146][128] rewarding exploration in an open world environment.[147] Hylide influenced The Legend of Zelda (1986),[129] an influential open world game.[148][149] Zelda had an expansive, coherent open world design, inspiring many games to adopt a similar open world design.[150]

Open-world adventure game

The 1983 first-person adventure game, Portopia Serial Murder Case, featured a non-linear open world,[38][39] which is considered ahead of its time.[39]


The Sony PlayStation was invented by Ken Kutaragi. Research and development for the PlayStation began in 1990, headed by Kutaragi, a Sony engineer.[151]

Platform video game

Space Panic, a 1980 arcade release, is sometimes credited as the first platform game.[152] It was clearly an influence on the genre, with gameplay centered on climbing ladders between different floors, a common element in many early platform games. Donkey Kong, an arcade game created by Nintendo, released in July 1981, was the first game that allowed players to jump over obstacles and across gaps, making it the first true platformer.[153]

Psychological horror game

Silent Hill (1999) was praised for moving away survival horror games from B movie horror elements to the psychological style seen in art house or Japanese horror films,[154] due to the game's emphasis on a disturbing atmosphere rather than visceral horror.[155] The original Silent Hill is considered one of the scariest games of all time,[156] and the strong narrative from Silent Hill 2 in 2001 has made the series one of the most influential in the genre.[157] Fatal Frame from 2001 was a unique entry into the genre, as the player explores a mansion and takes photographs of ghosts in order to defeat them.[158][159]

Rhythm game

Dance Aerobics was released in 1987, and allowed players to create music by stepping on Nintendo's Power Pad peripheral. It has been called the first rhythm-action game in retrospect,[160] although the 1996 title PaRappa the Rapper has also been deemed the first rhythm game, whose basic template forms the core of subsequent games in the genre. In 1997, Konami's Beatmania sparked an emergent market for rhythm games in Japan. The company's music division, Bemani, released a number of music games over the next several years.

Scrolling platformer

The first platform game to use scrolling graphics was Jump Bug (1981), a simple platform-shooter developed by Alpha Denshi.[161] In August 1982, Taito released Jungle King,[162] which featured scrolling jump and run sequences that had players hopping over obstacles. Namco took the scrolling platformer a step further with the 1984 release Pac-LandPac-Land came after the genre had a few years to develop, and was an evolution of earlier platform games, aspiring to be more than a simple game of hurdle jumping, like some of its predecessors.[163] It closely resembled later scrolling platformers like Wonder Boy and Super Mario Bros and was probably a direct influence on them. It also had multi-layered parallax scrolling.[164][165]

Real-time strategy

Bokosuka Wars (1983) is considered to be an early prototype real-time strategy game.[166] Technosoft's Herzog (1988) is regarded as a precursor to the real-time strategy genre, being the predecessor to Herzog Zwei and somewhat similar in nature.[167] Herzog Zwei, released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis home console in 1989, is the earliest example of a game with a feature set that falls under the contemporary definition of modern real-time strategy.[168][169]


Tomohiro Nishikado's 1974 arcade racing game Speed Race introduced scrolling graphics, where the sprites moved along a vertical scrolling overhead track.[170]

Shoot 'em up

Space Invaders is frequently cited as the "first" or "original" in the genre.[26][171] Space Invaders pitted the player against multiple enemies descending from the top of the screen at a constantly increasing rate of speed.[171] As with subsequent shoot 'em ups of the time, the game was set in space as the available technology only permitted a black background. The game also introduced the idea of giving the player a number of "lives". Space Invaders was a massive commercial success, causing a coin shortage in Japan.[172][173] The following year, Namco's Galaxian took the genre further with more complex enemy patterns and richer graphics.[26][174]

Stealth game

The first stealth-based video games were Hiroshi Suzuki's Manbiki Shounen (1979),[175][176][177] Taito's Lupin III (1980),[178] and SEGA's 005 (1981).[179][180][181] The first commercially successful stealth game was Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear (1987), the first in the Metal Gear series. It was followed by Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990) which significantly expanded the genre, and then Metal Gear Solid (1998).

Survival horror

The survival horror video game genre began with Capcom's Resident Evil (1996), which coined the term "survival horror" and defined the genre.[182][183] The game was inspired by Capcom's earlier horror game Sweet Home (1989).[184] The earliest game to retroactively be described as survival horror is Nostromo, a sci-fi survival horror game developed by Tokyo University student Akira Takiguchi for the PET 2001, with a PC-6001 port published in 1981.[185]

Tactical role-playing game (tactical RPG)

One of the earliest Japanese RPGs, Koei's The Dragon and Princess (1982),[186] featured a tactical turn-based combat system.[187][188] Koji Sumii's Bokosuka Wars (1983) is credited for laying the foundations for the tactical RPG genre, or "simulation RPG" genre as it is known in Japan, with its blend of basic RPG and strategy game elements.[189] The genre became with the game that set the template for tactical RPGs, Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi (1990).[190]

Visual novel

The visual novel genre is a type of interactive fiction developed in Japan in the early 1990s. As the name suggests, visual novels typically have limited interactivity, as most player interaction is restricted to clicking text and graphics.[191]



In 1982, Nintendo's Gunpei Yokoi elaborated on the idea of a circular pad, shrinking it and altering the points into the familiar modern "cross" design for control of on-screen characters in their Donkey Kong handheld game. It came to be known as the "D-pad".[192] The design proved to be popular for subsequent Game & Watch titles. This particular design was patented. In 1984, the Japanese company Epoch created a handheld game system called the Epoch Game Pocket Computer. It featured a D-pad, but it was not popular for its time and soon faded. Initially intended to be a compact controller for the Game & Watch handheld games alongside the prior non-connected style pad, Nintendo realized that Gunpei's design would also be appropriate for regular consoles, and Nintendo made the D-pad the standard directional control for the hugely successful Nintendo Entertainment System under the name "+Control Pad".

Wii Remote

Invented by Nintendo for the Wii, the Wii Remote (often termed the Wiimote) is the first controller with motion-sensing capability. It was a candidate for Time's Best Invention of 2006.[193]

Related technology[]

Japan has also made many contributions to various technologies related to gaming, including computing, graphics, audio, memory/storage, and related electronics. See above articles for further information.

See also[]


  1. Boxer, Steve (2012-03-02). Feature: Is Japan's development scene doomed?. Retrieved on 2012-10-01
  2. Why Japanese Games are Breaking Up With the West from. Retrieved on 2012-10-01
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