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ARTICLe 3—Capcom Sales Brochure (1988)

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I hesitate to call this Consumer Electronics Show artifact a “press kit,” because there’s no public-relations contact information inside and most of the verbiage is aimed directly at retailers and distributors. At the time, catering to the press was not the primary reason why game companies exhibited their products at trade shows like CES.
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Their top priority was to entice retailers and distributors to carry their products. How many nationally-distributed North American video-game magazines were around in mid-1988, anyway? The first wave of console mags like Electronic Games and Electronic Fun were long gone, and the second wave would not begin until later that year with the launch of Game Players, Nintendo Power and VideoGames & Computer Entertainment. Today’s PR reps go into trade shows with packed schedules, meeting with armies of bloggers and freelance writers every 15 minutes…so it’s hard to imagine a time when the only active “video-game journalists” worked for Computer Gaming World or obscure outlets like the short-lived Electronic Game Player and Computer Play.

Anyway…inside the brochure, we learn that four million Nintendo Entertainment System consoles and 20 million NES games were sold in 1987, and that the projected sales figures for 1988 were seven million and 40 million, respectively. Considering what
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we now know about the legendary success of the NES, it’s almost laughable that Capcom felt the need to convince people that the system would continue to be successful through 1988, to reassure them that Capcom had “a long term agreement” to produce games for it and to promise a commitment of advertising funds to promote those games. The company also pledged to issue “Captain Commando Treasure Chest Checks” to reward Capcom game buyers and their friends. I wonder how many people actually got them!

Of greater interest is the two-page spread that lists Capcom’s upcoming NES games, three of which were never released:

Titan Warriors was a sequel to Capcom’s very first video game, an arcade shoot-’em-up called Vulgus (which happens to be name-checked in the catalog description): “Your Titan spacecraft is pitted against mutant alien invaders that are destroying the planet Vulgus. You must pursue the aliens through space and interplanetary obstacles to save
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the planet and your spacecraft.”

Black Tiger was to be an 8-bit conversion of the arcade game of the same name, a cult favorite with a surprising amount of gameplay depth. The screen shot depicted in this catalog is clearly not the arcade version…and it’s different from the only other known Black Tiger NES screen, which appeared in an early issue of Game Players magazine.

• Another notable coin-op, Street Fighter technically kicked off the fighting-game craze of the 1990s, even though the scene didn’t really explode until Street Fighter II appeared in 1992. It’s not generally known that Capcom was planning an NES version of the original game; unfortunately, the catalog contains only a generic piece of artwork and no screen shots.

The product numbers listed for Titan Warriors and Black Tiger were eventually reassigned to Mega Man 2 and Strider, respectively. Street Fighter’s product number appeared two years later on Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight, but this catalog description clearly refers to the original arcade game, not the sci-fi platform action of 2010. (“Young masters of the martial arts challenge street fighters from around the globe: In the USA, Japan, England, China and Thailand.”)

Other observations:

• Developed by Hudson Soft, the game identified here as Mickey Mouse would be renamed Mickey Mousecapade before its release in October of 1988.
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• The insert page that shows Capcom’s previously released NES titles has some interesting details. They include an alternate box design for Gun.Smoke, a drawing of Captain Commando that I’ve never seen anywhere else and an odd description of the original Mega Man (it refers to the game’s stages as “societies” and identifies the robot masters as “empire leaders”).
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• Several of the insert pages are devoted to “Disk Paks” (floppy disk games) for the PC, Amiga, Commodore 64 and Atari ST. Three of these are very obscure arcade conversions licensed from Bally: Sarge, Stocker and Street Football. Note the cheesy Street Fighter artwork (from the original arcade flyer) and the Tiger Road entry—that’s gotta be one of the earliest uses of the now-popular phrase “for the win” in reference to a video game!

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© 2010 Chris Bieniek. Certain video game images, characters and logos on this Web site are copyrighted or trademarked by their respective publishers.