Behind the video game: the story of Capcom

Behind the video game: the story of Capcom

Behind the video game

Capcom is the videogame house that has grown and started many great authors of the Japanese scene, from Keiji Inafune to Shinji Mikami, passing through Hideki Kamiya and Suda51. It was a furnace of mammoth innovations and IPs, now historical and that certainly need no introduction: Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter. Battle horses that still today capitalize the attention of players and the market.

The yellow-blue company, with the Mega Man blue bomber as a mascot, help in the recovery of the sector after the great crisis of 1983, of which the symbolic event are the unsold Atari cartridges, buried (or rather buried) in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Capcom is also important in the growth and development of the fighting game esports environment, with the Street Fighter combo, Capcom Pro Tour, the annual Capcom Cup and the new Street Fighter League.

To see the Ghosts' n Goblins ending it was necessary to complete it twice. The origin of the company is linked to the crowded city of Osaka, a prefecture with a beautiful night skyline and evocative restaurants overlooking the river in the Dotonbori area, which you may remember from the reinterpretation of Yakuza Kiwami 2. Here Kenzo Tsujimoto, struck by a 'intuition at the sight of the pachinko, he understands the economic potential of the videogame sector and in 1974 he founded the company that will become the Irem (and from which he will be fired for low yield), to then begin to imagine the future Capcom.

In 1979, in the full boom of games inspired by Space Invaders, Tsujimoto gives life to IRM (later Sanbi) and the subsidiary Capsule Computer Corporation, collaborating with Taito for the realization of IPM Invaders and Capsule Invaders. The Capcom division was founded in 1983 and initially only dealt with distribution. The actual and complete fusion of all these Hydra heads took place in 1989 and today the headquarters are in the Chuo-Ku district, near the historic Osaka Castle, among cherry trees, pagodas and Night City style neon lights.

What this rather cold list of company names and locations for "sarariman" can make you lose sight is that between the birth of a Western branch and the other, the company's video games have transformed, evolved and at times anticipated and shaped the market. How is that possible, if Capcom's first cabinet dates back to 1983 and is an anonymous Little League based on baseball?

The EVO and the current Capcom Cup were born around Street Fighter. The Street Fighter League is from 2019. Simple. Capcom has found a soul; he had between his minds Tokuro Fujiwara (who had just left Konami and who will be fundamental for Mega Man) and Toshio Arima. It is no coincidence that arcade shoot 'em ups like Vulgus and 1942 were born. Capcom lived up to its name: it created "CAP-sule" of compact fun, unique products and protected by a metaphorical shell from any attempt at uninspired imitation. But if neither Vulgus and 1942 tell you anything, just think that 1985 are Bionic Commando and Ghosts' n Goblins, one of the most difficult and iconic games ever made.

"During the development of the original Ghosts' n Goblins I struggled to understand how gamers could enjoy this game as an arcade title," Tokuro Fujiwara says in an interview on Gameinformer, "My goal was to determine how to convey the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction within the lifespan of a token. The 'difficulty' was only the end result. Regardless of the generation or platform it is aimed at, I think most people, myself included, feel that a challenge that leads to a sense of accomplishment that is both fun and worth facing. "

In 1987, with Takashi Nishiyama and Keiji Inafune joining the ranks of the company, it was the turn of Street Fighter and Mega Man. Fighting and platformers will never be the same again. Street Fighter, consecrated with the second chapter of 1991, clears the concept of combo (invented by the video game Shangai Kid) and offers a cast that from Ryu to Blanka is now part of the cultural baggage of any player. Cabinet, for some, is synonymous with a perfect crescent to perform a Hadouken.

Much of the Mega Man saga is easily recoverable thanks to the many Collections and re-editions, including those dedicated to the Zero saga. To give an idea of ​​the extent of the phenomenon, we recall that the 1994 Street Fighter film was one of the first cinematographic transpositions of our medium (with Mortal Kombat and Super Mario). But beyond the importance for pop culture, it is to host a Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Alpha 2 tournament that the EVO (Evolution Championship Series) was born, to date the largest fighting tournament in existence and a moment cornerstone of the evolution of the competitive environment. So important that Sony recently acquired it for strategic purposes.

Nobuhiko Shimizu: "Capcom president Haruhiro Tsujimoto also said so, but I believe eSports have the potential to be more than just fashion First of all, compared to traditional sports, eSports are more egalitarian: everyone, regardless of physical condition or gender, can participate and compete at the highest levels of play. Capcom has been organizing Street Fighter tournaments for almost 30 years now, since our tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan in 1992. We feel the strong obligation to continue promoting eSports as an economic and cultural product. "

For Mega Man, a similar argument must be made. First, it promoted non-linear gameplay, with the ability to tackle the levels in no particular order and use a password system to maintain your progress. Secondly, with its high challenge rate and its cleanliness in terms of game design, for many players (especially from the Rising Sun) it has been configured as an almost cathartic personal challenge, different from the game of only reflections of a Ghosts. 'n Goblins. To understand how to deal with certain bosses, it was necessary to study their movesets and understand their weaknesses. Or play early and collect as many secret E Tanks as possible. Games of this type are still born today, in different and apparently distant forms in terms of mechanics: they are our Sekiro and Returnal.

Dino Crisis (1999) is one of the most anticipated and requested remakes of the moment. In 1993 Breath of Fire was released, a classic role-playing game that crosses the Fifth Gen with chapters with retro atmospheres, today irrecoverable if not with timeless imitations and without the same pathos. In 1996 Resident Evil twists the cards on the table and helps define a genre that was a bit smoky in those years, survival horror. Dino Crisis puts the dots on the i's. From the traditional path that passes from Clock Tower and Alone in the Dark, thanks to Capcom the genre is encapsulated, ready to be offered to those in need: from Silent Hill to The Medium. Once again there is a hand of Fujiwara, along with one of the current pillars of Platinum Games, Shinji Mikami.

Keiji Inafune: "My hope is that when people think of Capcom, they think of a company that produces a wide variety of games for all ages. In this sense, I believe that focusing on the development of games for young people and children is very important. At the moment I am working on Onimusha, and there too, I feel that my ability to creating a good game for adults has been influenced by the work I have done for children. Even Shinji Mikami made games like Aladdin, a long time ago ... "

From this point on, Capcom understood the its strengths, so much so that in 2000 it publishes 49 games in a single year (mostly fighting games) and reaches the first section of the Tokyo stock exchange. These are the years of economic security, peak quality, experimentalism and the launch of his Clover Studio, which produces interesting games such as Okami and Viewtiful Joe. In short, it's the time of Marvel vs. Capcom, by Onimusha and Devil May Cry, with Hideki Kamiya (founder of Platinum) as yet another authorship at the service of the Osaka company.

Killer 7 is one of Suda51's masterpieces and was part of the exclusive Capcom Five temporary for Game Cube which also included Resident Evil 4 and Viewtiful Joe. In two decades, Capcom hasn't shown a single hesitation. It was 2002 when another lucky IP was born: Phoenix Wright (Ace Attorney), the saga of the most unfortunate and acute lawyer in Japan, able to conquer thanks to a bizarre narrative despite being imprisoned in simple Game Boy Advance cartridges. In these same years another film adaptation is made, that of Resident Evil with Milla Jovovich, capable of earning 102 million dollars worldwide and which impervious to criticism has received five sequels (and there is talk of a reboot).

The rise seemed destined to last forever. We will not go into details, because it is about rattling off almost the entire history of Game Cube, PlayStation and PSP. Let's say, as an overview, that with his Resident Evil 4 shoulder camera he was able to model some TPS of the future (Dead Space and Gears of War); Killer 7 launched Suda51 in the panorama of bizarre game designers to keep an eye on; Monster Hunter modeled the habits of gamers on handheld consoles; Sengoku Basara won his share of repeat offenders as Dead Rising and Lost Planet opened the doors to a collaboration with Western studios and a bright future on Gen 7 ... A future that has not arrived.

Per understanding the Capcom crisis is enough to dwell on a single warning sign, the brain drain that affects it. In 2006 Mikami and Kamiya left Capcom and founded Platinum Games. In 2007 Clover Studio closes. But, perhaps more serious, in 2012 Keiji Inafune, after thirty games belonging to the Mega Man franchise, leaves the company in turn. Mega Man Legends 3, announced on 3DS, is canceled. Capcom has lost its soul, its souls.

Okami is a Clover Studio platformer, now largely incorporated into Platinum Games. Meanwhile Jun Takeuchi becomes head of the first division, which takes care of the most important games of the company, and what for the audience of fans are incomprehensible oddities continue to happen: games like Umbrella Corps and Operation Racoon City, ridiculous and with repetitive and dirty gameplay. , they terrify (but not as they would like) thousands of players. Resident Evil 6, despite the satisfactory sales, is little appreciated and divides audiences and critics. DMC, reboot of Devil May Cry, alienated with questionable aesthetic choices and a level design that was too linear.

In the meantime it turns out that Capcom doesn't have who knows what pro-consumer ethics, and around 2012 it already included in the code of its games (such as Resident Evil 5) "download" content, that is DLC developed in advance and simply blocked in the eyes of users. On the earnings front, Lost Planet confirms that working with Western studios is not always a guarantee of global success (Spark Unlimited closes in 2015). In 2013 Remember Me risks putting an end, prematurely, to the adventures signed by Dontnod, so much so that Capcom decides not to invest in a sequel.

In 2014 Ultra Street Fighter IV was withdrawn from the Capcom Pro Tour due to its bugs, in 2016 it did not reach two million copies sold. Not even Street Fighter V and the "new" Marvel vs. Capcom are greeted with laurels. In 2018 closes the Vancouver studio, which dealt with Dead Rising. In short, a tsunami that indiscriminately hits all those IPs that seemed unshakeable and a sure guarantee of success.

The Onimusha saga used actors to make its main characters. The exceptions, like Monster Hunter, Strider and Dragon's Dogma, are the white flies of a disastrous landscape, the exceptions that prove the rule. But Capcom does not give up, it awaits and premeditated its story of revenge. Entrusted to Masachika Kawata and Koshi Nakanishi, in 2017 Resident Evil VII and its RE Engine manage to be both a cornerstone of the VR experience and an excellent action-horror, close to the origins of the saga.

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Mega Man 11 it is an unexpected, bittersweet but great return. Luckier rebirth is up to Devil May Cry 5. Monster Hunter World conquers less hardcore players than usual and is a great assist for Monster Hunter Rise. The era of remakes and remasters opens, with Resident Evil 2, 3, Onimusha and operations between homage and novelty such as Ghosts' n Goblins Resurrection.

These are the years in which Capcom he is rebuilding his soul. Not only by taking the reins of his sons back to the prodigal, but by probing what room for maneuver there is for the rebirth of those now classic characters, such as Mega Man and Sir Arthur. Of course, the risk of aiming for nostalgia and not looking for new roads is around the corner, but between fights more vertical than ever against a Kushala Daora, werewolves and vampires in a village to be explored firsthand, the road seems the right one and now anything but uphill.

Capcom has shaped the tastes of many players, created unforgettable heroes and characters. Even today, with its tournaments, it attracts a community of fierce fighters. It disseminated the know-how of pioneering developers of the industry. After all, for the fourth consecutive year, Capcom posted record profits. Despite the mistakes and despite the new market conditions, it could therefore return to being a training ground for bizarre authors immersed in the techno-mythological aura of Japan.

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