Once Again Asking the Father of Space Invaders About its Creation

Tomohiro Nishikado
Magazine: Space Invaders Materials Collection
Publish Date: 03/26/2020

We ask developer Tomohiro Nishikado everything from the standard questions to urban legends about Space Invaders.

Space Invaders was a game that was also a social phenomenon, and you could argue that the history of Japanese games began with it. Why is it that developer Tomohiro Nishikado joined Taito and made games? Why did Space Invaders have a vertical monitor? Why did it use a joystick? And what was the company structure like at Taito back then? We interviewed Mr. Nishikado to ask him these kinds of questions. If you read these alongside the other four interviews in this book, you’ll certainly deepen your understanding of the Space Invaders legacy.

Tomohiro Nishikado – Taito Advisor
Born in Osaka Prefecture’s Kishiwada City in 1944. He joined Pacific Industrial, a development subsidiary of Taito, in 1968. There he worked electro-mechanical games such as Sky Fighter, and a Pong clone called Soccer. And in 1978, the previously mentioned huge hit known as Space Invaders was released.

No Initial Interest in Games Themselves, Just Audio Circuits

I suspect you’ve been asked this question a million times…(Laughs) But please tell us a little bit about you joining Pacific Industrial, which would later be absorbed fully into Taito.

(Nishikado) Before I was at Pacific Industrial, I worked at another audio related company. A senior co-worker there had joined Pacific Industrial, and I happened to run into him when I was unemployed later on. He said I should come work there, and I really hated it there when I first started.

You hated it…(Laughs)

(Nishikado) I was aiming to specialize in audio circuit design, and I didn’t really know much of anything about games. But the co-worker who got me in liked me quite a bit, and I aspired to be more like him. So I thought I should just follow his lead.

So you didn’t have any interest in game development at first?

(Nishikado) That’s right. When I asked him what he was working on, he told me it was a game. Back then the only real games were things like the driving game from Kansai Seiki.

You mean Mini Drive?

(Nishikado) I was really into playing that at the department store when I was in high school. So when I heard that’s what was being worked on, I thought it might end up being interesting after all.

What was your first project there?

(Nishikado) At first it was some kind of machine assembly. I was sent over to production, and was there for about six months. Even though they told me I’d only be there for three months.

So a position that you’d be put in as a trainee.

(Nishikado) Yeah, I suppose so. It was three months worth of training, but they told me they needed me there longer.

Were you sent over to development after that?

(Nishikado) Not quite, after that it was inspection. Product inspection, that is.

So inspecting them before they were shipped out?

(Nishikado) Yeah, final product inspections before shipment. Not an inspection of the parts, but rather the manufactured product itself. How long was I doing that…I think somewhere around another six months. After that it was industrial science. Back then they just called it the technology department, but there was also a development department. The games they made there would come into our department and we’d do things like design them for production, make improvements on them, and that kind of thing.

You didn’t get into development for awhile then.

(Nishikado) That’s true, I didn’t go over there until about two years after I’d started working at the company.

Is that where you wanted to be?

(Nishikado) I’m not sure if I did. Probably that was right around the time when there was a change in managers. A new head of the development department came down from corporate, and he took a liking to me and asked if I wanted to try going over there.

By “corporate”, you mean Taito?

(Nishikado) Yeah, Taito. They were the parent company of Pacific Industrial, but Taito also had their own technology department. And the person who came over to us as our head of development came from there. If not for him, I may not have ever gone into development.

What Was the Development For Space Invaders Like?

What was development like around the time of Space Invaders?

(Nishikado) Even from before Space Invaders, it was one person per project.

Every single project was handled by just one person?

(Nishikado) Yeah, primarily anyway.

What about things that required specialization, like cabinet design for example?

(Nishikado) Those types of things were done separately, I’m only talking about creating the actual contents of the games. But even so, sometimes there were people who just couldn’t do graphics, so someone else would do it.

So there weren’t people that specialized in graphics specifically in charge of that aspect, but rather just someone else who was good at them.

(Nishikado) Yes, exactly.

I think there were some people who specialized in sound though.

(Nishikado) Before Space Invaders, I did the sound myself on the games I worked on. It wasn’t the advanced sort of music that’s in games now, it was more just bleeps and bloops. Game design back then basically came down to hardware design, so you could do it by yourself. And that’s why we had one person per project. I think there were three other people making games there at the time, apart from me.

Only three people!? (Laughs)

(Nishikado) That’s just how it was. You could get by with only four people doing it back then, at most. Four people meant four projects.

How many projects were completed per year?

(Nishikado) Per year…maybe three or four between all of us. Though it could have been a bit more.

So then you’d have about one project per person, per year?

(Nishikado) No, it may have been a bit more than that. I kind of feel like it was more one every six months. At the time I was working on Space Invaders, Mr. Yasugawa (who I worked with on Blue Shark) and I were the main two people there. Then there was Mr. Ishikawa who made ZunZun Block, so that made three of us.

In the materials that I got from Taito, there’s a document that talks about the people involved with Space Invaders. I’d like you to take a look at it, if you could.

(Nishikado) Oh, what do we have here?

It says that the logo and artwork were done by Kazuo Nakagawa, the sound hardware by Michiyuki Kamei, the joystick by Mr. Ishimura, the cabinet by Mr. Usami, and with assistance from Mr. Wakayama.

(Nishikado) I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Kamei was responsible for the sound in general. It’s true that Mr. Ishimura was in charge of development for the joystick, but I don’t quite remember if he did it all or not. Speaking in terms of timing, the chances are probably pretty high.

I see.

(Nishikado) Though he did tell me it was him on the phone once. Well it makes sense in terms of the timing, and I don’t feel like I’m wrong about that. I’m a bit unsure about the cabinet, I wonder if it wasn’t Mr. Wakayama. I talked to Mr. Usami, who was in charge of mechanical design back then, and he said he felt like it wasn’t him who worked on that.

No one really remembers the details anymore.

(Nishikado) It seems that way. Mr. Usami said “I may have worked on it, but I feel like Mr. Wakayama and I did it together”, but I think there’s a pretty high chance it was Mr. Wakayama. It wasn’t just this one project after all, we had a lot of them that came through like this.

I can definitely understand.

Why Were There Two Different Control Schemes?

I’ve heard that the first 1000 upright cabinets controlled with only buttons.

(Nishikado) At first the control scheme was all buttons. It was that way during development as well.

But I also heard that the table-type cabinets went on sale at the same time.

(Nishikado) And I believe the table-type cabinets had joysticks.

I can’t help but wonder why they both didn’t use the same parts.

(Nishikado) You wouldn’t be able to hit the buttons to move in a table-type cabinet.

That being the case, why did the original upright cabinets not have joysticks too? I’m just wondering why the same parts weren’t used across all of the versions that were manufactured.

(Nishikado) I see. I’m not really sure, you’d have to ask someone who worked on the hardware.

Ahh…so after you finished the development of the software, it went off to a different section of the company?

(Nishikado) When it left me, I didn’t hear anything about what happened after. If sales came back later and made a request to have the control scheme changed because it was too hard to use, that would have been an issue between sales and manufacturing.

Were there plans for both upright and table-type versions during the planning phase? Normally something about there being two types would have come up, I’d think.

(Nishikado) We originally planned only for there to be an upright cabinet.

So then the intention was for it to be played using the button control scheme?

(Nishikado) I was thinking of it as a game that’s played with buttons.

So then adding the joystick was a request from the sales side?

(Nishikado) I think it probably was. Either that or someone in manufacturing came up with it.

So you were hands-off when it came to the control scheme, right?

(Nishikado) That’s right, hands-off.

Were joysticks not so common back then?

(Nishikado) There were games that used them.

So they were already being used elsewhere.

(Nishikado) There were joysticks that moved vertically and horizontally. There was a game called Missile X which had a joystick that only moved horizontally. So joysticks had been around for quite awhile, in some form.

Do you think that the number of games that used joysticks increased due to Space Invaders?

(Nishikado) Well even though there were games that used them previously, I do think Space Invaders resulted in there being more.

I assume that joysticks that used micro-switches weren’t really used until then though? I think before that they may have used leaf-switches?

(Nishikado) Leaf-switches huh? I’m not sure about that, I feel like they may have used micro-switches from the beginning.

From the beginning?

(Nishikado) Of course it was different way back in the electro-mechanical game era. I believe they were leaf-switches then.

Were the joysticks themselves actually made by Taito, or were they bought from other manufacturers?

(Nishikado) The joysticks themselves? According to Mr. Ishimura, who we were just talking about, they were being utilized somewhere in America at the time. He told me that he used those as a reference.

So he used overseas games as a reference.

(Nishikado) That’s right. I’m not sure if the base construction was the same as those or not, but I heard that there were quite a few problems with the functionality of the switches and durability of the springs at first.

People who maintained those machines have told me that the early ones would break right away.

(Nishikado) Right, and that was all improved after. In terms of the basic construction, they were really just switches and springs.

They’re just working in tandem.

(Nishikado) The technology behind them was not all that complex, but there were problems with their durability. And as I said, Mr. Ishimura fixed that issue. I’ve called them prototypes of the modern joystick.

Looking at patent records, it seems as though there was a joystick that existed for industrial use.

(Nishikado) That sounds about right. I think that would have been way before games were using them though. I suspect that maybe someone saw that and decided to make use of them in games.

Moving Blocks…The Progressive Nature of Game Design

Now I’d like to ask you about the game itself. You’ve said in previous interviews that Space Invaders is based on the concepts found in block-breaking games, but I don’t think there are too many games where those blocks move.

(Nishikado) It’s true that the blocks in block-breaking games are stationary, and don’t tend to move.

But they’re moving in Space Invaders. It’s the embodiment of that idea.

Tomohiro Nishikado(Nishikado) Well, that’s how I thought of the game myself anyway. When I thought about what the most interesting part of a block-breaking game was, it was the feeling of breaking that final block to clear a stage. I took just that aspect of those games, and the making the blocks move and hitting targets parts are what I came up with on my own.

 

 

 

In other words, though block-breaking games were the basis, the only real things you took from them were the blocks being lined up and the act of breaking them down?

(Nishikado) The act of breaking them down and the feeling of finally getting that last one.

How did the bunkers come to be?

(Nishikado) The bunkers weren’t there at first. Later on I thought there should be something that the player can use to defend themselves.

Were the enemies moving around on the screen at first?

(Nishikado) Yeah, they were moving around from the very beginning. As I recall though, they weren’t invaders at first but rather tanks. Since that was the standard for a shooting game.

The enemies were tanks?

(Nishikado) They were tanks because it felt like tanks were something that would attack you, but the way they moved just didn’t fit the game. So then I tried out a bunch of different military vehicles like airplanes and ships.

So you were set on regular old military vehicles.

(Nishikado) I tried several different ones, but none of them fit the game. So then I went to aliens. The last thing I tried was soldiers, but someone told me that I couldn’t use people, and I agreed with that. Then I figured I should just use something that resembled a human, like some sort of a monster.

The concept of it being okay to shoot things as long as they weren’t human was pretty common at this time, wasn’t it?

(Nishikado) Yeah.

I guess even today it’s viewed as okay to shoot zombies and robots.

(Nishikado) That’s exactly it.

Did the policy of not shooting humans in a game come from the president of the company? Or was it simply just societal concern?

(Nishikado) It came from the president of the company. Either the department or section chief told me that he didn’t like that sort of thing. It’s not like he told me that directly or anything.

Did you ever see Michael Kogan, the president of the company at that time?

(Nishikado) All the time.

What sort of things did you talk to him about?

(Nishikado) A bunch of the different ideas that I had.

Ideas for games?

(Nishikado) Yeah, mostly conversations about things I thought would be good.

Did Mr. Kogan like games?

(Nishikado) I’m not sure whether he actually played them or not, but he saw a great many of them for business purposes. In particular he saw a lot of the American games himself, he was involved with those personally from the time they were just samples.

You mean he did the purchasing himself?

(Nishikado) He actually went to America himself to do the purchasing.

I’ve heard that Space Invaders was the first Taito game to use the 8080 CPU.

(Nishikado) It was Taito’s first game to, yes. I believe that Midway was the first company to use it in general.

Was there any hardware that you referenced when creating Space Invaders?

(Nishikado) Some of Midway’s games. Sea Wolf or Gunfight used the same board, so we analyzed those.

Did you have documentation for them, or did you have to figure it all out yourselves?

(Nishikado) We had documentation. We had schematics, and the boards themselves.

Oh that’s right, back then they came with schematics for repair purposes.

(Nishikado) Taito was a distributor, so we had schematics.

For repair purposes.

(Nishikado) Yes.

So you analyzed those, and then finished Space Invaders. I’ve heard that the invaders were lined up in five rows and eleven columns because of the size of the screen.

(Nishikado) That’s right.

Why did you decide to go with a vertical monitor?

(Nishikado) Probably because block-breaking games used vertical monitors.

But you could have made Space Invaders cabinets with horizontal monitors too, right?

(Nishikado) Absolutely. But block-breaking games really had a strong influence on the game, so I did the same thing.

You just went with the same vertical orientation.

(Nishikado) Yeah. My first thought was that when the monitor is vertical, you make the blocks more like characters and less like regular boxes. So I went vertical.

I was thinking that since Space Invaders was hand-assembled (turning human readable code into machine language), vertical display and data cleanup must have been tough. You must have had to control the bitmap display vertically?

(Nishikado) I wasn’t thinking about it in that way back when I was programming the game, but looking back on it now I can see there were times when I didn’t didn’t fully understand what I was doing. I was just swapping horizontal for vertical in my head, it wasn’t that inconvenient.

Did you bring in any overseas help when making the color version?

(Nishikado) I redid the original game and converted it into color all myself.

Was doing that conversion difficult?

(Nishikado) The only real difficulty was how how expensive color monitors were.

CRTs were pricey.

(Nishikado) It was the cathode-ray tube itself that was expensive. The circuity itself for converting it to the color wasn’t particularly complicated.

I’ve heard that it was released just a few short months after the original came out.

(Nishikado) I think I had the circuitry figured out in just a matter of about two weeks.

So was the technology for colorizing it primarily just display technology?

(Nishikado) Giving it color on the hardware side is what the circuitry was for, giving it the image of colored cellophane over the top of the monitor. That’s the circuitry I designed.

Study of Digital Circuitry and TVs

I think that was an era in which technology was really evolving, with IC and LSI and such. Did you feel any pressure to learn about these new technologies?

(Nishikado) That was when Logic ICs first came about, so I was learning about those. There wasn’t much resistance in a digital circuit, and I remember studying them when I was a student.

Then there’s monitors, since they’re a consideration when it comes to video games. Monitors have a high amount of voltage running through them, was that a problem for you?

(Nishikado) I knew quite a bit about TVs.

Were you particularly good with them?

(Nishikado) I’m not sure if I was good with them, but I attended lectures at a TV-related school while I was attending university. I did some TV repair as well.

I see, TVs were really evolving back then, technologically speaking.

(Nishikado) Because they utilized the most advanced techniques in digital circuitry. I did TV repair as a part-time job when I was in university.

So you were good with them then.

(Nishikado) I guess so. At first I would modify commercial TVs by adding video inputs.

So you’d take apart commercial TVs and do that?

(Nishikado) That was during the Pong era. The original Pong was using just a standard TV. I referenced that when I was making Soccer, but all I could get for a monitor to use with it was a commercial TV. So I bought one, and added video inputs to it.

So you took the TV and flipped it around?

(Nishikado) Yeah, at least for the prototype anyway. Once it entered production, it was obviously done more properly.

You’re talking about the prototype. Next I’d like to ask you about the sound. A little while ago you mentioned that this was the era of video game sound being bleeps and bloops, so you typically just did the sound yourself. Anyway, I feel that the idea of melodies used to represent the sound of movement was kind of born with Space Invaders. How did that whole idea start?

(Nishikado) Mr. Kamei designed that. He let him run with it since he said he wanted to do it, the only direction I gave is that I wanted it to represent movement. I mentioned he should use this kind of a scale, low frequency waves, and just generally be low pitched. Then I left him to do whatever else he wanted.

Why did you specifically want a low sound?

(Nishikado) I guess because it sort of reminds you of footsteps.

Like in the movie Jaws, or something.

(Nishikado) It may be similar to that, but it wasn’t on purpose. Anyway, it’s a low pitched sound that speeds up as the invaders approach.

So the sound that matches their movement was something that you requested.

(Nishikado) Yes. But according to him he made the sound a little too low at first. So when he increased the output of the speakers, it blew out the cones. So I think that request of mine might have caused a bit of trouble for him. But he ended up doing a great job with it.

On the other hand, isn’t the sound that the UFOs make is quite high pitched?

(Nishikado) That’s right, don’t you think it’s better for the UFOs to sound that way? The thing I didn’t like was the way the shooting sounded.

Even now? It’s a very appropriate sound for shooting.

(Nishikado) That’s the same sound that it was from the very beginning.

And yet you didn’t like it? (Laughs)

(Nishikado) Maybe it wasn’t so much that I didn’t like it as I wish that it had been a bit more lower pitched.

You wanted to make it have a bit more force behind it?

(Nishikado) Right, like a booming sound.

Sort of like a cannon then?

(Nishikado) Yeah, I said that the sound it was making sounded like a suona you might hear playing in some music at a ramen restaurant. Mr. Kamei fumed a little bit about that.

He’s an engineer after all! (Laughs)

(Nishikado) Yeah, it was because he was an engineer. I remember him getting angry and leaving the room. And when I started wondering if he was going to fix it or not, he didn’t (Laughs)

(Both) (Laughs)

(Nishikado) He didn’t end up fixing it in the end!

How old was Mr. Kamei at the time?

(Nishikado) I think he was around 20 when we were working on Space Invaders.

Was he one rung below you on the company ladder?

(Nishikado) Yeah, he was a new employee at the time.

I guess at 20 years old, he might get angry and leave the room at something like that.

Setting An Example for Candy Stores…

If nothing else, this is more of a business question, but how many machines did you buy yourself? Did you ask them to set aside one for you?

(Nishikado) My mom bought one.

Your mom bought one!? (Laughs)

(Nishikado) She ran a small candy store in Kishiwada City in Osaka, and she asked me if there wasn’t a way she could get a Space Invaders cabinet. Back then, no one could get their hands on one. And so I picked that time to ask the executive director of sales about getting one, and he told me he’d make a special exception and sell me one. This is a story I heard from my mother, but apparently someone complained “Do we really need to be putting these in tiny little candy stores when they’re so scarce?”. I don’t think my mom mentioned that I was the one who ordered it either.

Ahh, so the people bringing it there didn’t know that she was related to you?

(Nishikado) We purposefully didn’t tell them.

So the people delivering it wanted to know why they suddenly had to bring it to some little candy shop (Laughs)

(Nishikado) Right! We couldn’t sell any because we had no stock, so why did we have to prioritize selling one to somewhere like this. But the price tag on it wasn’t’ particularly low. My mom said “Can’t they just give you one, since you’re the one who made it?!”

I can understand thinking that way.

(Nishikado) Well, it was at least discounted somewhat.

That may have been the first candy store to have a Space Invaders cabinet.

(Nishikado) Yeah, it may have been. It was a time when manufacturing just couldn’t keep up with demand.

This is also more of a business question: The upright and table-type cabinets went on sale at the same time, but had any game done that before?

(Nishikado) There were block-breaking games that had been in table-type cabinets before.

But I mean having both types on sale at once.

(Nishikado) I don’t think any games had done both at once. Typically they were all upright at first.

How long had you been aware of table-type cabinets?

(Nishikado) Since they started putting block-breaking games in them.

Taito President Koichi Ishii said they were the first ones to release that type of cabinet.

(Nishikado) Ah, that’s right. We looked into it and it seems that Taito was the first company to release the prototype. Then games actually started coming out in table-type cabinets during the era of block-breaking games.

Was it just a matter of taking the board from an upright cabinet and a monitor, and putting those into a table?

(Nishikado) I’m not sure at this point just who it was who did the planning for that.

So we just can’t be sure.

(Nishikado) Right. I suspect Taito was the first to do it though.

And overseas these table-type cabinets are called cocktail cabinets.

(Nishikado) They’re called that since they’re meant to have cocktail glasses set on them.

I wonder if that acted as a hint for Taito?

(Nishikado) It may have been a hint. I think that’s what the prototype for them pretty much was.

I believe there were quite a few Space Invaders cabinets manufactured during the height of its popularity. Do you know where that was done?

(Nishikado) We sub-contracted other companies to do that.

That’s a lot of sub-contracting.

(Nishikado) It was. Places like the Ebina Development Center did that work, Taito’s actual factories didn’t. I think we may have looked into bringing it in-house.

So Taito hardly does any manufacturing themselves?

(Nishikado) They did when I first joined the company, but after that the assembly was all outsourced. I’ve heard that we had no choice but to turn to big factories in order to meet the demand for Space Invaders.

They had no choice.

(Nishikado) Doing that was a significant source of revenue for them, but I think it was afterward where things got hard.

It was a matter of what to do when the boom ended, right?

(Nishikado) Things were really tough for everyone involved with manufacturing at the height of the boom. So tough that some people had no time to sleep.

Procuring materials must have been tough as well?

(Nishikado) Taito had a pretty big pipeline overseas, so I got the impression that materials weren’t much of a problem. But I did hear that parts not being available was a problem for just society in general. Not being able to manufacture things because the parts weren’t available. There’s a logic IC called 74241 which couldn’t be manufactured. Though actually that could have been avoided by a change in design.

Thoughts On Space Invaders When it Was Announced

I heard that Blue Shark got a better reception than Space Invaders at a trade show, did you hear that same thing as well?

(Nishikado) I did, I did. Someone from sales called me at told me about how the product launch went.

They called you?

(Nishikado) I didn’t go to shows or events like that.

And what did you think about how all of that?

(Nishikado) I had a hunch that’s how it would go.

You had a hunch?

(Nishikado) Yeah, I did. With the time restrictions we had on Blue Shark and the way games played up until that point, I figured that one might go over better.

It was easy to understand.

(Nishikado) But I really wasn’t that worried about it, since all the other developers played Space Invaders too and thought it was fun.

So the reaction you got from them was that it was fun.

(Nishikado) The younger people in sales were worried about which one of them was going to get released first. There were also people who predicted Space Invaders was either going to sell like crazy or completely flop.

It was a new idea, after all.

(Nishikado) That’s true. That’s why I wasn’t sure which one was going to go over better.

It didn’t sell very much at first.

(Nishikado) That’s right, I heard that there weren’t very many orders at first.

It would of course eventually catch on and start selling, but when did you actually become aware that’s what was happening?

(Nishikado) I think it was about a month later.

That’s fairly early on.

(Nishikado) I heard about an arcade in Kamata where a Space Invaders machine was just eating coins, I think it was something like 1 or 2 weeks after the game went on sale. So I ended up going out to that location to see what was going on. It ended up being because of a bug, but people who worked at the arcade told me it was making quite a bit of money. Luckily I found that bug so early on in the game’s life, so it didn’t end up being that big of an issue. But that’s about when I became aware it was happening.

The Influence of Space Invaders

I’m going to ask you a bit of a personal question this time. Was there anything that changed in your life as a result of Space Invaders being such a big seller?

(Nishikado) I was promoted from chief clerk to section head, so my status at the company improved. But my status in society didn’t really change at all. I didn’t really mention it to the people around me.

Were there any reactions from your family? Your wife?

(Nishikado) I haven’t mentioned it to my wife.

You haven’t told her?! But surely your wife knew about Space Invaders in general, back then?

(Nishikado) I’m sure she saw someone talking about it on TV or something.

All of the magazines were full of coverage on it!

(Nishikado) I think she probably knew about the game itself, though she never actually played it.

I’m sure she’d never even think that her husband was the one who created it!

(Nishikado) Right, she wouldn’t think it and I’m not telling her. It’s more fun that way!

(Laughs)

(Nishikado) I’ve wondered if I even really need to. I just figured she heard about it in a magazine or something.

Didn’t your salary go up from being promoted to section head?

(Nishikado) It actually went down.

It went down. I assume it’s because you no longer got overtime pay? (Laughs)

(Nishikado) Right, that’s why it went down.

Didn’t you at least get a bonus?

(Nishikado) Of course I got a bonus, but it was nothing special. There are people who claim I got a really big one, but that’s just not true.

(Laughs) Back then did you ever want to say “I’m the person who created Space Invaders!”?

(Nishikado) I never particularly wanted to, and the company never announced that I did.

You weren’t really the type of person who desired acknowledgement from others, were you?

(Nishikado) Hardly at all! (Laughs)

Because making games was so much fun.

(Nishikado) Exactly. When I think about that now, it does seem a bit strange though.

When asked “What do you think the Invader Boom meant?”, the people that we’ve interviewed for this so far talked about how it was like the Big Bang. They talk about how it all began there, but how aware of that are you personally?

(Nishikado) Nowadays I certainly am, but back then I didn’t think about it like that at all. Ten years after, I came to grips with the fact that Space Invaders grew the industry. I still didn’t think of it was a big hit, or being particularly amazing. I didn’t know if it was just going to be a temporary thing or not.

Surely you noticed that in the winter of 1978 there were Space Invaders cabinets everywhere you went.

(Nishikado) There were. I’d hear that annoying sound and it made my ears hurt! (Laughs)

You really don’t like the sound do you? (Laughs) Did it make you feel good seeing so many of them?

(Nishikado) Well it didn’t make me feel bad or anything, but back then I never felt like going into arcades all that much. I never actually saw one of the Invader Houses myself.

You didn’t see how popular it was all around for yourself then.

(Nishikado) I didn’t. I heard all about it from either TV or the people around me, but for some reason I didn’t actually go to one myself.

I wonder if that’s because of how young you were.

(Nishikado) That might be it, because I thought then that would be it for me. I may have just thought to myself “This is how being an engineer is”.

You talked earlier about Mr. Kamei sulking, do you think that’s a type of stubbornness that’s unique to engineers?

(Nishikado) Yeah, I do. After we finished Space Invaders, that was the end of it. I believe it was just because of thinking about the next project.

I’m sure this is a very common question, but in the end what did Space Invaders end up meaning?

(Nishikado) It acted as one of a few points that really started the Japanese games industry, the first being Pong. I’ve thought of Space Invaders as being the second. Looking at it now, I was just happy to be able to contribute to it all. Though I didn’t think about it too much back then! (Laughs)