Japanese studio Enjin has worked with airline ANA (All Nippon Airways) to build an interactive history of Japan’s rich gaming heritage in the form of an online game. Game Chronicle sees its lead character travel through four decades of video game design, from 1980s 8-bit to 1990s 16-bit, through to present day graphics, the style of visuals in each section transforming to match their era.
Along the way, the character can pick up 100 tokens in four stages (decades), each token representing a major development in gaming technology, such as a console, game, analogue design, arcades and e-sports. When a player picks up the token, they can learn about the item’s history – for example pick up the Donkey Kong token and read about how its release in July 1981 featured the first appearance of Mario, also previously known as Jumpman, Rescue Man and Mr Video; or the TV Tennis token, to learn about Epoch’s 1975 release of TV Tennis Electrotennis, the first home video game console released in Japan. Their collection of tokens is added to their “Chronology”, a timeline of Japanese game history to be filled in by completing the full game.
Players can also meet other characters, digital avatars of real-life people who’ve made an impact on Japan’s gaming history. When a player meets them in the game, they can choose to watch an interview of the real person (while staying within gameplay, so as not to lose their place). Interviewees include creator of Space Invaders Tomohiro Nishikado; professional shogi player Yoshiharu Habu; Masayuki Uemura, developer of Famicom; Daigo Umehara, the first professional Japanese gamer; and Masahiro Sakurai, the director of Super Smash Bros.
There’s also special mini games at the end of each stage/era, such as a timed challenge to collect as many coins in 30 seconds as possible, using a wasabi bowl lift to navigate platforms made from sushi (yes it’s as fun as it sounds).
The site is a novel tourism campaign that hopes to bring more visitors to Japan who have an affinity with game culture. Shiro Nomura, creative director of Enjin said in a statement about Game Chronicle: “The first generation fascinated with Famicom in childhood has grown up while video games born in Japan are now beloved by players around the world. This time, we at Enjin show how Japanese culture has shaped the world of video games.” Enjin was also behind the Tokyo Olympic bid presentation film.