Let Megatech Satisfy Your Most Primal Desires: A Pop Culture Timeline

Beginnings (1989-1990)
I thought Megatech would only last four years, folding like the companies that popped up during the nineties anime boom, but now we’re the biggest licensors of anime games in America. It really feels astounding for a company, founded by a college graduate, specializing in niche titles. I got to say one thing to conclude the interview:
Let Megatech Satisfy Your Most Primal Desires!

– Kenny Wu. Quoted from the June 2010 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly
--#--​

Start

Kenny Wu was just a 21 year old Asian-American graduate from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree for software programming in 1990. At the time, he was at the crossroads of his life. He only thought of the uncertain future ahead of him, whether he’ll hopefully land a programming job at a major company or fail. That thought heavily permeated his head for a long time as he returned home.

Despite the constant worry of employment, he always held an interest in video gaming and anime. He remembered the time he purchased a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) when he was 17 years old, at its release. He wanted to be a video game developer and work at Nintendo, but his parents disapproved such dream and pressured him to work for ‘useful’ occupations.

Another interest he held was anime. For him, anime was something exotic, something lurid, and something awesome. These things were gorier, sexier, and flashier than American cartoons, which were patronizing, sluggish and juvenile. It was something the nation of Japan didn’t export, unlike the endless electronic consumer products and automobiles sold by major corporations.

Kenny Wu was first introduced to anime in the mid-semester of his study at UCLA. He was returning after a long day of study at one of his classes, in which he passed by the AV room in UCLA’s library. Hearing from a random student who talked about animated films, he thought the student was odd for liking cartoons despite being too old for it.

Nevertheless, he decided to peek at what the student was talking about. He entered the AV room quietly, expecting nothing but old cartoon shorts produced by Disney and Warner Brothers. He thought of only softly giggling at the shorts, in which he would quickly return after a few minutes, and dismiss it as a random geek obsessions that people had these days.

Instead, he found himself in animated world when the projectionist played. Superhuman fighters battling with blasts of energy, voluptous and attractive girls with cute faces, frightening monsters with tentacles, and all sorts of mayhem featured on the films. Afterwards, he never saw animation the same way again. He became curious, if slightly obsessed, with anime. He began going to local video rental stores to scour for any anime, joining fan clubs and signing up for newsletters. He even subscribed to multiple fan magazines specializing in anime and Japanese popular culture.

Eventually, Kenny Wu managed to merge two of his major interests into one ambition of his life – to create an anime game. However, that ambition was a pipe dream as he was still a college student with no connections and little skill to match. Yet he held on to that ambition as he continued on with his normal life seeking for jobs. He prayed for the day when he could bring his dreams to reality.

--#--​
In the November of 1991, Kenny Wu went to a local electronics expo in Los Angeles. There he met Gary Lee, a man who would change his life for the better. Gary Lee was a representative for Liberty International Components, a small-time electronics company. The company specialized in distributing passive electronic components in the United States, and had multiple partnerships with electronics companies in East Asia, mainly Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.

Kenny Wu made a talked to Gary Lee, expecting only a short, idle chat that would end immediately. At the moment, Kenny was only seeking employment for a company as he was currently laid off from his job at a small-time electronics store that closed recently. Gary Lee soon became interested in Kenny, seeing him as a bright-eyed man with an ambition, when Kenny spoke about his interests in anime and video games.

Gary Lee brought Kenny Wu to his office. He showed Kenny his personal collection of imported Japanese games, mainly eroge (erotic games), for the Gary's own microcomputer imported from Japan. Kenny was impressed when he saw the graphics displayed on the games. He saw images of pretty girls, albeit in the form of sprite art, combined with their respective H-scenes. It looked elaborate in drafting and vibrant in colors compared to the games on the Amiga and the Apple II he played such as the graphic adventures developed by Sierra On-Line, as well NES games.

“Why don’t I take you to Japan?” Gary Lee said. “I can make your dream come true, kid.”

The mere utterance stimulated Kenny Wu’s imagination. He never went to Japan before, only learning it from disparate television shows, books, and media from the country itself. For him, this was the opportunity that he couldn't afford to squander, a chance to make his ambition come true. Kenny Wu enthusiastically agreed with Gary Lee without any hesitation or second thought.

A few weeks later, Gary Lee booked a flight to Japan. Gary Lee and Kenny Wu boarded a commercial flight to Tokyo, Japan, on an Airbus owned by Delta Airlines. The air trip was relaxing for Kenny Wu, albeit intense for him as he never experienced an airplane flight, let alone an international flight. In the cabin of the Airbus, Kenny Wu heavily daydreamed about making an anime game, having armies of illustrators and programmers working on a project, interrupted by Gary Lee's chats and the ambiance of the airplane.

Kenny Wu and Gary Lee later switched flights en route to Japan at Honolulu, Hawaii. They took a brief rest at the Honolulu International Airport before boarding another plane to Tokyo, Japan. Onboard the plane heading to Japan, Kenny dreamt of entering the world of anime, fighting tentacle monsters while hugging big, beautiful girls. Gary Lee woke him up when the plane landed on the Haneda Airport, also known as the Tokyo International Airport.

Upon arriving in Japan, Kenny Wu and Gary Lee disembarked from the plane. Kenny Wu felt enthusiastic about heading to Japan. He imagined the city of Tokyo as a high-tech feudal city in the future with cute and pretty girls all around and samurai wandering in the city. But much to Kenny Wu’s slight disappointment, Tokyo did not come up to his imagination. The city looked like a crowded, bustling city similar to Hong Kong. The weather was warm albeit overcast. The city was littered with billboards advertising things, but no anime characters whatsoever.

--#--​
In a drab, unremarkable, and modestly-sized office building in the middle of Tokyo, Kenny Wu sat in the office of Gary Lee, at Liberty International’s Japan branch. Kenny wanted to take a break from disappointment and jet lag from travelling all the way to Japan. He sighed heavily on a seat, drinking some cheap green tea that Gary Lee purchased from a vending machine.

Gary Lee contacted the president of HARD, in which the president of HARD arranged a meeting with them. Afterwards, Gary Lee informed of Kenny Wu about the meeting, in which Kenny Wu's mood improved. Gary Lee took Kenny Wu for a night out in Tokyo's local nightclubs, offering cheap alcohol, karaoke songs, and meeting with women, for which Kenny Wu never experienced, being a college graduate of generally modest means.

The next day, Kenny Wu and Gary Lee arrived at the offices of HARD. They were greeted by the president of HARD in the lobby, in which Kenny Wu and Gary Lee bowed in respect, as per Japanese custom. The president of HARD brought them into the conference room for the scheduled meeting. Gary Lee spoke on behalf of Kenny Wu during the meeting with president of HARD, as Kenny Wu did not speak Japanese and lacked familiarity with Japanese customs. Kenny Wu requested a game that could appeal to anime fans, one that had attractive characters and peril to excite viewers.

The president of HARD showed a selection of games to Kenny Wu. However, many of the games came off uninteresting or outdated thanks to the garish color palette, primitive spritework and incompatibility with newer computers. Kenny Wu thought it resembled a child’s approximation of anime – crudely drawn, colored with simple, flat palette, and eye-searing for readers - for which Kenny Wu's initial curiosity with 'anime games' faded after arriving in Japan. Still, Kenny Wu was determined to find a good anime game and not to leave empty-handed. He wanted to make his time in Japan worth for all its troubles and dismay.

The president of HARD thought for a moment. He showed Kenny Wu a new game –
Cobra Mission, developed by INOS, a studio under company. It told of a detective who arrives on Cobra City off the coast of Florida, tasked with investigating a serial kidnapping case of females on the island. For Kenny Wu, Cobra Mission proved to be the suitable anime game for the PC. However, the game was only playable on the Japan-exclusive PC-98, at a time where Amiga and the Apple II was phased out and MS-DOS was beginning to take hold.

Nevertheless, Gary Lee encouraged Kenny Wu to fulfill his ambition. He said that he could import the game to America, if Kenny Wu established a company to translate and reformulate the game. When Kenny asked if the company would be financially supported, Gary promised that he would finance it. Gary Lee and the president of HARD soon struck a licensing deal. The president of HARD handed Gary Lee and Kenny Wu the original source code of Cobra Mission along with the original script penned by Inoue Hosadairi.

Kenny Wu left the offices of HARD completely satisfied, topped with an elated smile, for his own ambition was finally realized. He imagined himself getting rich from licensing and importing anime games from Japan to America, likening himself to Carl Macek and Nolan Bushnell in terms of influence. He wanted to impress his parents that he made a company on his own.

Kenny Wu spent the rest of his trip in Tokyo looking for souvenirs and anime-related merchandise in the local shops of Tokyo while Gary Lee went around the offices of Tokyo-based game companies for licensing. The only thing Kenny brought was a small trinket depicting a female character. On 15 November 1990, Kenny Wu and Gary Lee returned to the United States.


Author's Note:
Hello there and welcome to "Let Megatech Satisfy Your Most Primal Desires", a pop-culture timeline centered around Megatech Software. For those who are unfamiliar with the obscure bits of anime history, Megatech Software was the first company to specialize in anime games, acting as a licensor of eroge from Japan. It heavily reformulated anime games to be ported onto MS-DOS and later Windows operating systems during translation.

The timeline is a heavily-fictionalized version of Megatech's history. This is because little is known about Megatech Software, its history, and its associated staff. Hence, artistic license and addition of fictional details is applied necessarily to the timeline in order to make the story interesting as it deviates from its POD. But be warned, the timeline will be R-rated for depictions and discussions of mature subject matter. Reader discretion is strongly advised.

In conclusion, please feel free to add your own feedback and start discussions. The author is willing to listen to the opinions and suggestions of the readers of this timeline, and will implement said opinions and suggestions in future entries of the timeline.
 
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Now It's Your Turn (1991-1992)
I was the lead designer, writer, and secondary director at the same time. I thought it was going to be easy peasy, but forget it, Kenny Wu, it’s Cobra Mission. The game needs to finish before our boss kills us for missing the deadline.
– Erwin Mab on the development of Cobra Mission. Quoted from the June 2010 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly.
--#--​

Now It’s Your Turn

Kenny Wu and Gary Lee arrived back in America on 18th November 1990. They departed the plane and entered the main halls of the Los Angeles International Airport. They sat down at a local fast food joint in the airport, consuming lunch as they recovered from the jet lag and the fright from travelling for three days. They discussed about their trip to Japan in the eatery. Kenny Wu told Gary Lee that he was excited at the prospect of owning a company and developing an anime game of his ambitions, in which Gary Lee retorted that he was just working on a pre-made project. Still, Kenny and Gary had a good cheer from the discussion.

Back in Los Angeles, California, Kenny Wu and Gary Lee booted Cobra Mission on Gary’s own imported PC-98. The main gameplay was strongly reminiscent of Final Fantasy I on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The player character explored the overworld from a top-down perspective, fighting random encounters to gain experience and money, and talking to NPCs. Battles with enemies were firmly turn-based in nature and depicted through a first-person perspective.

“It’s like playing Final Fantasy,” Kenny Wu commented as he tried out. "But with gangsters and hot chicks!"

“More like Wizardry to me,” Gary Lee said.

Being a software programmer, Kenny Wu opined that it was necessary to develop a whole new game, as the game came off clunky and cumbersome. Other than making it playable on the MS-DOS systems that were common in IBM Personal Computer, it was necessary to modify the gameplay to accommodate the now-dominant mouse-based inputs which all PC games were played with. Not only that, he felt it was necessary to retouch the artwork because he felt eyesores from glancing at it for too long.

In the end of the day, Kenny Wu asked Gary Lee whether he’ll support the establishment of a new video game development company. Gary Lee simply said yes to Kenny Wu’s proposal.

The next day, on 20th November 1991, Megatech Software was founded. It was established as a video game developer and licensing division of Liberty International Components, Inc, specializing in anime games from Japan. The brand name was chosen by Kenny Wu for being “cool and catchy” despite Gary Lee’s protests that it sounded like a bog-standard NES game company or a flash-in-the-pan electronics company.

Gary Lee rented a modestly-sized office building for a low price. It was located in Torrance, California, a city in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. The interior was bland, unfurnished, and sterile, as it was recently cleared of its original owners. Kenny Wu thought it was a suitable place for the Megatech Software company to be its headquarters. He contacted his Taiwanese associates, Peter Kao and Anthony Lu, for an errand. He requested them to set up the entire place for a company by furnishing the place, readying the computer workstations, and cleaning up the place of its dust and grime. The two obeyed the request, in turn, hired a group of cleaners and workers to assist them in that errand.

Meanwhile, Kenny Wu was allowed to wander around the city of Torrance, as Gary Lee needed the time for the whole company headquarters to be set up. Kenny Wu went to a nearby brick-and-mortar hobbyist store in the city. He wandered around looking for a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, a game console that he surely longed for as he missed its big release.

“Heya, specs!” a voice called out to Kenny.

Kenny Wu turned around to see a young man, roughly the same age as him, stocking the shelves with new products. He was dressed in the store uniform, clean and tidy as stated in the conduct guidelines.

“Max,” Kenny blurted, recognizing an old friend of his – Erwin Mab.

Erwin Mab was a colleague of Kenny Wu during their time at UCLA. They studied software programming in the same class, often discussing and exchanging notes as they worked on with their graduate projects. They would hang out together whenever they had the time, and enjoyed playing coin-op games at the arcade. One memory that Kenny recalled the most was creating a rather simple RPG game based on Ultima and Wizardry on the Apple II. They called the game, ‘Ultimardy’ as a portmanteau of the said titles. However, they eventually parted ways after graduation, heading off to their own paths.

“I didn’t see you for a year,” Erwin Mab said. “Where’d you been, man?”

“A long story,” Kenny Wu replied. Then, he told his friend about his interests in anime and manga, meeting Gary Lee at a LA electronics expo, seeing anime games from Japan, a trip to Tokyo, and meeting a game developer and licensing a game. Erwin Mab became entranced and enthralled in Kenny’s account, sounding far-fetched and fantastical, yet true and vivid, to the point Erwin ignored his job for an hour. When Kenny Wu finished telling his story, Erwin Mab was just staring at him as he imagined the details of the story in his head, vividly.

Then suddenly, the manager came and saw Erwin Mab not doing his job. The manager got angry, accusing Erwin of slacking off before firing him immediately on the spot. Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab quickly were kicked out of the story, warned not to return under any circumstances. Erwin Mab initially felt disappointed, but Kenny Wu consoled him, offering employment at new company that he established.

Erwin felt skeptical about it. He wondered how his friend managed to establish a company on his own, but Kenny explained that Gary Lee assisted him in establishing the game company as well financing it. He continued, telling Erwin the company specialized in the licensing of anime games for translation and release in the United States.

Erwin Mab was initially hesitant, but a combination of his friendship with Kenny Wu and Kenny’s relative enthusiasm with his ambition convinced Erwin about the job offer. Erwin quickly accepted the job offer without any second thoughts, realizing a deep-seated ambition he never had. A few hours later, Kenny Wu allowed Erwin Mab to crash by at his home as Erwin Mab had been recently evicted from his home.

The next day, Kenny Wu brought Erwin Mab to the headquarters of Megatech. Erwin was surprised at how modest the building was, coupled with the sparseness of employees in the office. They saw the newly-furnished interior, done by Anthony Lu and Peter Kao, in which computer tables and workstations were installed along with file cabinets and other office necessities.

“Well, isn’t it underwhelming?” Erwin blurted.

“The company’s still new,” Kenny replied. “The only employees are me and you,”

Gary Lee along with his associates, Peter Kao and Anthony Lu, entered the room. “Don’t forget about us,”

Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab were surprised at Gary Lee’s appearance. “Is that your boss?” Erwin asked, pointing at Gary Lee.

“No, I’m his financer. The boss is Kenny Wu.” Gary Lee replied. “Who’s the new guy besides you?”

“My friend, Erwin,” Kenny Wu explained. He talked briefly, succinctly about their relationship along with their history at UCLA. “I’m hiring him,” Kenny concluded.

Gary Lee didn’t like random people on the street being brought into offices without any qualifications, but since Erwin Mab graduated from UCLA with a certificate in software programming coupled with experience with programming games and working at retail, Gary relented with certain conditions. Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab felt elated as Erwin got a job again after losing another one.

Gary Lee glanced at Kenny Wu with a smile. He strongly suggested Kenny Wu that he should seek and recruit employees in order to expand the company’s workforce and increase its efficiency. Kenny Wu agreed, shaking hands with Gary Lee. Gary Lee went to work posting up help wanted ads on the classified ads sections for local trade magazines in California.

The rest of the day involved Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab cruising around the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, looking for anyone with software programming experience. In reality, it was just them going out for a drive in the area, only concerned with enjoying themselves and the view around them. But they quickly resumed to their original task when they thought of the company.

Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab returned home, contacting the rest of their old friends from UCLA. The old friends and acquaintances arrived at the offices of Megatech Software, being greeted by the late appearance of Kenny and Erwin. They explained that they, as a company, needed more effort placed in programming the game during development. The group felt odd upon hearing it, but Erwin said that they would be paid handsomely by Gary Lee, if they could apply their programming skills and experience to the job.


Later, the UCLA friends of Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab spent the evening familiarizing themselves with their workstations. Kenny Wu showed the original source code of the game to the programming group in order to provide the group a goal they needed to accomplish. At the end of the day, Kenny named the programming group Team Neuronus, as it was named after a primitive video game they made back in UCLA days.

The next day, Kenny Wu, Erwin Mab, and Team Neuronus arrived at Megatech Software offices for today’s shift. Gary Lee greeted them in the conference room, followed by Gary introducing Hang Peng, a Taiwanese programmer. He also brought in other development teams – the San Diego-based Team O-2, and Team Rai-Chee from Taiwan and South Korea. Team O-2 was recruited from the classifieds, as they were looking for novice video gaming programming jobs, whereas Team Rai-Chee was just a ragtag team of Taiwanese and South Korean programmers looking for better pay compared to local video game companies.

Gary Lee hired Team Neuronus and Erwin Mab immediately. He declared today would mark the first day of development on the job. He wanted to see the game, Cobra Mission, completed by the deadline of June 1992. Soon, Kenny Wu and the rest of the development team at Megatech Software went to work from that day onwards. They expected the process to be like Atari - quick, cheap and done by the end of the year 1991.

The development, or rather the reformulation of Cobra Mission, took roughly an entire year to complete. The workday consisted of the development team waking early in the morning to avoid the rush hour in Torrance, California, programming the game on the workstations by 8:15 AM, taking a break from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM for lunch, and resume working from 2:00 PM until 6:30 PM, which they returned home.

The development of the game was really stressful on the development team. Owing to their relative inexperience in the industry and sudden difficulty in programming a full game, the team encountered constant stress, leading to issues such as programmers throwing up outside the office, frequent absences, and threat of software programmers quitting the development. Kenny Wu often regularly pressured everyone in the team not to leave, while suffering from worry of missing out on the deadline. However, Erwin Mab was here to keep the workplace environment from becoming too hostile and toxic, and allowed camaraderie among the team to foster quickly.

Erwin Mab was responsible for everything, as he acted simultaneously for being the game designer, scriptwriter, and director’s assistant. As the writer, he rewrote the whole game script from a crudely machine-translated version of the script. He changed the setting of the game from an island off Japan to an island off the coast of Florida. He changed the names of every character from Japanese to American English, swapping the character of Midori, a blue-haired young girl, to Faythe, a blonde older lady. He also inserted jokes and pop culture references into the game to keep the game from becoming too grim or unpleasant for its basic premise.

As a game designer, Erwin overhauled the entire game from scratch. He changed the battle system heavily, converting the turn-based Dragon Quest-style combat to a real-time combat where the player clicks on the enemy graphic to attack. He added more enemies and usable items to enhance the rather stale gameplay variety from the original game. He did it to accommodate the higher graphical demands of newer computers based on the MS-DOS operating systems and Western gamers.

Such changes by Erwin Mab left Cobra Mission completely unrecognizable from its original version. Instead, it was a whole new game made from the basic assets of the original. It was done in conjunction with Kenny Wu’s directions, Erwin Mab’s coordination, and the rest of the team’s hard work. It was basically the labor of their blood, sweat, and tears - the passionate effort for a modest, humble game.

On the 26th of May, 1992, Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab presented the complete, finished version of Cobra Mission to Gary Lee at the offices of Liberty Components International, ltd. Gary Lee was extremely impressed at how the development team at Megatech Software managed to finish developing the game for American release, even before reaching the deadline. He rewarded Kenny and Erwin a sizable pay for a novice employee at a newfound company, letting them for a two-week break to allow the two and the rest of Megatech Software to rest.

Afterwards, Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab went off into the sunset for their two-week break from work. They went around for a road trip in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, looking for places to drink beverages and relax. They went to watch movies released at the cinema during the period - Backdraft, The Hudson Hawk, and Thelma & Louise. They only thought of themselves and the game they worked together at Megatech Software. For the two, they wondered if the game was going to be a hit when released, but they dismissed it, not wanting to intrude their break so much.
 
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Now It's Your Turn, Part 2 (10th June 1992 - 1st August 1992)
WANTED: Private Investigator to Rescue Desperate Beauty,
Tagline for Cobra Mission print advertisement from Computer Gaming World magazine, June 1993 issue.
--#--​

Now It's Your Turn (Part 2)


Gary Lee didn’t think Cobra Mission would be a success in the United States of America. He had low expectations for the game, mainly stemming from Megatech Software’s lack of recognition as it was a small-time, newly-formed company, and the game’s niche appeal. He didn’t have any faith in the game’s qualities, not knowing whether it’ll succeed or not. He considered shuttering Megatech Software and its offices, should the game become a commercial failure, and call it day, an brief test on expanding his company’s markets.

In the eyes of Gary Lee, Kenny Wu was a talented rising star. He saw Kenny’s enthusiasm in pursuing his ambition of developing an anime game, his interests in anime and video games, and the overall good cheer in going to Japan. Not only that, Gary saw Erwin Mab’s cordiality with Kenny Wu and everyone else at Megatech, how he put effort in the development instead of observing and bossing around, and the diligent work ethic and the camaraderie between them. Even the workplace environment was far healthier compared to other parts of Liberty Components International, ltd.

Gary Lee pondered again, whether he should invest in Megatech Software as a division of his company. He knew that the main company was an importer of electronics from East Asia and a small-time licensor of American PC games to Japanese markets, but Megatech Software acted in reverse of its purpose, importing Japanese PC games, those of anime design, to American markets. Sure, Megatech Software was small, but so was every major company division in America.

Gary Lee sighed heavily. The marketing department of Liberty International informed him that more companies in the United States were interested in licensing anime for release stateside. Saban Entertainment, Central Park Media, AnimEigo, Manga Entertainment, and recently, A.D. Vision, were picking up steam in the face of American fascination with ‘Japanimation’, along with underground subculture. But he couldn’t bet his marketing department, as it only specialized in marketing electronics, not electronic entertainment.

Then suddenly, Gary Lee felt a surge of determination flowing. He took the gamble on
Cobra Mission, preparing to cross the Rubicon by investing into the game. He wanted to capture the successes of those anime licensors in the United States of America, seeking to catch the lightning in a bottle. Megatech Software would become his Atari for a company that only worked on importing electronics and being a small-time licensor for PC games in Japan. He wanted Megatech Software to become the Harmony Gold of anime games from Japan, Kenny Wu as the Carl Macek of it.
--#--
It was 10th of June, 1992, at Kenny Wu’s residence, on an afternoon. He lay down in his home, watching reruns of his favorite show. He intended to watch a VHS tape of an anime that he recently purchased from a friend of his. He looked at the television screen with his eyes, hearing the blabbering as he thought only of watching the VHS afterwards. Then suddenly, the house phone rang. Kenny Wu scurried to pick up the phone, listening to it. Gary Lee began to talk to him, asking him that he come to his office immediately. When Kenny Wu asked about the issue, Gary Lee told it was something about the game. Kenny turned off the television and went off to the offices of Liberty International.

At the offices of Liberty International, Kenny Wu was escorted by Gary Lee’s secretaries to the marketing department office of the company. Gary Lee greeted Kenny Wu as they sat down on the table, facing each other.

Gary Lee explained to Kenny Wu regarding Cobra Mission’s viability in a crowded, competitive video market. He said that the game would have to compete with the three most popular PC games on the market – the first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D, the graphic adventure game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and the survival horror game Alone in the Dark. Compared to the adrenalin rush of Wolfenstein 3D, the intuitive puzzle-solving of The Fate of Atlantis, and the immersive frightener of Alone in the Dark, Cobra Mission was really quaint and unassumingly generic RPG game. He told Kenny that Cobra Mission would not sell and that it would’ve been dismissed as a novelty from a startup company, doomed to be forgotten by the audience. Additionally, he also stated American audiences weren’t ready and accepting of an ‘anime game’.

Kenny Wu, however, reassured Gary Lee’s worries and fears. Kenny told he would be working on the promotion of the game and would be willing to take its associated risks. After all, Kenny saw Cobra Mission as his labor of love along with Megatech Software.

In the offices of Megatech Software, Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab were brainstorming for a promotional tagline for the game. Kenny Wu suggested the ads should emphasize the anime nature of the game but Erwin Mab said this could put off potential buyers, as interest in anime was still at its infancy. Erwin Man offered an alternative, saying the ads should emphasize the graphics and the lurid content of the game, enticing potential buyers on its saucy, hardboiled detective narrative. The discussion went back and forth between the two until they reached a conclusion.

Kenny Wu allowed Erwin Mab to compose the draft for the advertisement. Erwin’s draft summarized the synopsis of Cobra Mission’s story, which emphasized the salacious qualities of the game via double entendres and innuendos. The draft boasted of the game’s graphical benchmarks, offering fullscreen animations, which stretched the truth about the game’s limited animation of its sprites, with gaudy colors and a MIDI soundtrack.

Erwin Mab delivered the draft of the advertisement to Liberty International’s marketing department. Before Erwin sent the draft though, Kenny Wu hastily added screenshots from the game and wrote the tagline for the game: “Bond was Hot Stuff. So was Arnie. Now It’s Your Turn.”, based off the two most prominent action heroes that he thought at the time – James Bond and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At the marketing department, Gary Lee thought the drafted advertisement by Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab was juvenile, sensationalistic and frivolous, but felt the advert at least got the intended product’s contents straight. Gary Lee told the marketing department to modify the drafted advertisement for printing, in which they created two versions of the ad. One depicted a stock photo of a scantily-clad model, and another depicted a photo of a hardboiled detective.

A few weeks later, Gary Lee handed over the finalized version of the ad for Cobra Mission, created by Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab, to Megatech Software. Kenny Wu wasn’t impressed about the finalized ad, but the game had to receive any form of promotion as it can, considering the startup nature of Megatech. Kenny wanted the advert to appear on major magazines at the time, as it allowed enough publicity for PC gamers at the time to become aware of it.

Kenny Wu asked Erwin Mab to solicit a request to the two major video game magazines at the time – PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World. In turn, Erwin Mab reached out to the marketing department for a letter of solicitation. The version with the hardboiled detective was sent to the mailing room of Computer Gaming World while the version with the scantily-clad model was sent to the mailing room of PC Gamer.

Out of the two versions, PC Gamer sent a rejection letter to Megatech Software, much to the dismay of Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab. The other version did, however, received an acceptance letter from the editorial staff at Computer Gaming World. The letter said the editorial will publish the advertisement in the next issue in between 1-2 months. The editorial also said they found the advert to be amusing and they were looking forward to it.

Kenny Wu and Erwin Mab felt elated upon reading the acceptance letter. They threw a small party in which they watched anime films non-stop in a marathon coupled with them drinking soda pops and potato chips. The celebration ended with the two burned out, their throats itchy, from all the partying. But still, Kenny Wu thought getting the ad printed on Computer Gaming World’s future issue wasn’t enough, yet Erwin Mab reassured it should suffice for now.

--#--
In July 1992, Megatech Software produced a limited print run of 1000 copies of Cobra Mission. Dubbed the limited edition, the box art depicted the game’s protagonist J.R.’s face along with Donna in flat coloring. It was only available as a direct order from Megatech Software with an introductory price of $49.95. Kenny Wu was wary of over-producing the game as the game was still unknown at the time and he didn’t want to burden Liberty International with high production costs and unsold stock, if the game didn’t sell well. Kenny still remembered the Great Video Game Crash of 1982, which nearly killed the console gaming industry in the United States. How Atari fell from grace by overproducing shovelware video games, overworking its workers until they quit, and other factors leading to disaster.

On 1st August 1992, issue 97 of Computer Gaming World was published and distributed on newsstands at major retailers and on the magazine racks of video game stores. Many people passed-by and picked up the magazine to casually read it, before placing back where it belongs. For others, mostly fans of PC gaming, they quickly purchased the magazine for its articles on video games and the mini-catalogs for video games offered by independent vendors. No one thought those magazines were valuable, yet they considered it a pivotal source of news and information on video gaming at the time.

In the contents of the issue, readers only focused on what they wanted to read – video game articles, advertisements for upcoming games, and catalogs. Certain readers, however, were interested in an advertisement found on page 83 on that issue. It was a striking cover that depicted a detective with a blurred face covered by a question mark, accompanied with the tagline – “Bond was Hot Stuff. So was Arnie. Now It’s Your Turn.”. On the side of the ad was a lengthy summary that told the basic premise of the game – a detective is summoned on an island to rescue abducted women from the grip of General Kaiser. The ad claimed of making players ecstatic through colorful animation and interactivity. The end of the ad blurb described a way to pre-order the game from Megatech Software and the hardware requirements.

Cobra Mission

The ad piqued the interest of potential buyers. Some thought it was an ad for a forgettable game that made overblown claims stretching the truth, and thus passed it over. Others assumed it was interesting, but would never catch on anyways. Yet, there were certain players completely wanting to try out the game, just to see what the game was like and if it matched up to the claims.
 
Now It's Your Turn, Part 3 (15th August 1992 - 9th September 1992)
“'Cobra Mission' was the first 'eroge' I played in my life. I though it was perhaps the most technically impressive anime game in the world. I showed it to others in my anime club, and they all clapped and hooted when they saw the girls in the H-scenes, totally delighted. Although, I took issue with the localization problems such as usage of euphemisms.
--- David S. Moskowitz on Cobra Mission's influence on his career as an employee at Megatech Software.
--#--​

Now It's Your Turn (Part 3)

On a cold morning of 15th August 1992, Kenny Wu went down to Megatech Software’s offices for a regular checkup. Kenny placed laid down his jacket once he entered the lobby, glancing at the secretary in the lobby. His sighed heavily, looking at the sparseness of the lobby.

Kenny Wu went into the filing room of the offices as usual. He was tasked by his boss, Gary Lee, to pick up files for confidential use by Liberty Components International, ltd. Kenny didn’t discern what or how Liberty International process those files. All he knew that he was instructed to pick up and send it to the offices of Liberty International, and do not attempt to open the file under any circumstances.

Kenny Wu opened the filing cabinet as instructed by a typed instruction sent through a fax machine at his home. He opened it, pulling the cabinet open. He sorted through the files, looking for a specific file as indicated by the instruction. Once he found the file, he took it out and closed the filing cabinet shut.

As Kenny Wu left the filing room, a worker from the mailing room ran up to him excitedly. “Kenny, we’ve got good news,”

“What’s up?” Kenny replied.

“We’ve receiving orders for Cobra Mission on the mail and on the line,” the mailing room blurted out.

Kenny Wu smiled. For the first time, the anime game of his ambition had garnered a glister of interest by PC gamers in the United States. He wondered what spurred that interest, but it didn’t matter as long as interest was generated. He excitedly held the shoulders of the mailing room worker, glancing at him.

“How many?”

“Ninety in total,”

Kenny Wu decided to process the orders in motion. He asked the mailing room worker to bring him to the mailing room, where he could inspect the orders before processing the orders for distribution. But first, he had to finish up a task handed to him by Gary Lee.

Later that day, Kenny Wu began processing the orders for the limited edition of Cobra Mission. He would enter the stocking room, where copies of the game were usually stored in the Megatech Software offices, and take a copy or two depending on the quantity requested. He would carefully shrink-wrap the box in plastic to protect the delicate materials, before placing it in a parcel for delivery. It usually consumed nearly a quarter-hour or sometimes a half-hour if Kenny wasn’t feeling good.

The task was repetitive and boring for Kenny Wu, as he had to process all ninety orders in total. It was already late at night, and Kenny needed some shut eye after all. He placed all the packaged copies of Cobra Mission into a plastic crate, tucking it away in a storeroom along with all its intended addresses. He locked the offices for the night and returned home. The next day, Kenny Wu requested Liberty International to ship all copies to the respective addresses through the postal service.

The arrival of the packages prompted the recipients to eagerly open the packages and play the game immediately, only after installing their games in their IBM computers. When the game booted after installment, the silvery Megatech Software logo appeared against a field of shooting stars with the address and contact number underneath it. This was followed by a scrolling horizontal text in big letters – COBRA MISSION – frequently intercut with brief credits and a blue-haired girl who didn’t appear in the finished game.

After the short opening sequence, the main menu appeared within the game’s user interface. The players started the game and stopped playing the game afterwards. They had many reasons to stop playing after a certain point. Some felt the game did not lived up to its own bombastic claims by the advertisements. Some felt the game was utterly primitive compared to the advanced, technically-impressive games at the time. Some felt put off by the odd, somewhat crude spritework which made up the game. And others objected to the nudity and eroticism of certain scenes after completing specific goals in the game.

The ones who managed to complete the game had a mixed reception to it. They thought the game looked and played interesting, not bad for a first-time company, and the anime art coupled with its sensuality was its main novelty. On the other hand, they thought it looked kind of rough and needed more polish for the game, as it still paled in comparison to the other PC games on the market.

Through word-of-mouth and mail, Cobra Mission’s reputation and existence slowly spread across the local PC gaming and anime community in Southern California, beginning with Torrance and ending with San Diego. The buzz created interest among enthusiasts and casuals, prompting discussions and exhibitions about the game, further relaying its qualities. This encouraged them to seek and purchase copies of the game through either legal means such as ordering the game directly from Megatech Software, or outright piracy. By the end of August, the entire first-print run of Cobra Mission limited edition was sold out. Megatech Software earned $49,950 from sales, a modest profit for a newly-formed startup company.

On 9th September 1992, Megatech Software released Cobra Mission for wide distribution in computer game stores and hobbyist specialty shops in the Southern California area. The game was priced for $75.95, a normal price for computer games at the time. Megatech commissioned the marketing department at Liberty International to print advertisement posters and pamphlets to be given to store owners.

Initially, sales were low and very few people were interested in the game. However, the pre-existing hype of the limited release among fan communities through word-of-mouth caused people to flock to stores that sold the game and purchase it on their own despite the hefty price tag. In total, Cobra Mission sold up to 5000 copies, netting Megatech Software revenue of $379,750 for the month. Kenny Wu later divided the profit among the employees of Megatech Software, and used the residue to pay for the operating costs of the company.

The game was, at best, a cult hit. The game received little attention from major game magazines, as it was developed by a startup company and it didn’t have the clout to persuade magazine editors to review the game. Yet, there was a strong following in the small anime fan communities of South California because it was their first time playing an ‘eroge’, an exotic type of video game only found in the nation of Japan. For Kenny Wu and Megatech Software, the success of Cobra Mission inspirited them the motivation to continue working on their mission and vision. Of licensing, translating, and distributing anime games from Japan to the United States.

Soon, Kenny Wu wanted another game for Megatech to work on.
 
Puppeteer (2nd October 1992 - 10th October 1992)
Give Your Joystick a Thrill
– Tagline for Metal & Lace: Battle of the Robo Babes. Quoted from a print advertisement from Computer Gaming World magazine, June 1993 issue.
--#--​

Puppeteer

Shortly a few weeks after the release of Cobra Mission, Megatech Software produced a print run of 2000 copies every month to keep up with the demand. They offered a demo version of the game which could only be purchased from catalogs found in computer game stores or through mail-order. It was used to deter piracy and bad reviews from novice players by offering a trial version before purchasing the full game that was the retail edition.

The demo version of Cobra Mission was a stripped-down version of the game in a single floppy. It only consisted of the first area, Central Cobra, albeit fully interactive. The demo ended at the train station, which was meant to take the player to West Cobra, where the player character’s partner, Faythe, would tell the player if they enjoyed the game, and they should purchase the full game from stores near them or just order directly from Megatech Software.

Still, Megatech Software made a reasonably good profit from the sales of Cobra Mission on retail and mail-order. It was good business for a startup company that was establishes solely for licensing anime games. However, the game received flak from the local anime community of South California once the novelty wore off. For starters, it was lambasted for using euphemisms for the private parts during the H-scenes, along with slipshod translation quality and odd gameplay.

--#--
In the offices of Liberty Components International, ltd, Kenny Wu sat in front of his employer, Gary Lee, as they discussed about the sales figures of Megatech Software’s only release at the time. It was 2nd October, 1992, as marked on the tacky calendar in the office, and the clock showed 11:30 AM. The weather outside was cold and rainy, as the heavy drumbeat of raindrops made it unpleasant to go outside.

“I never expected this to sell so well,” Gary Lee exclaimed, pointing at Kenny Wu’s chart depicting the sales figures of Cobra Mission.

“Yeah,” Kenny Wu replied. His face expressed a dispirited emotion, hanging his head low.

“What’s wrong, kid? Something’s bothering you?” Gary Lee noticed Kenny’s dispirited looks.

“There’s something I need to tell you.” Kenny Wu replied as he glanced at Gary Lee. “I’ve been receiving a lot of letters recently at our offices,”

“Is it good reviews? Cause I love a good review for products,” Gary Lee said jovially.

“No, it’s not. Let me tell you…” Kenny said. He explained Gary Lee about the negative reviews he received about the game. Those reviews, sent through mail, to Megatech Software’s offices, complained of aspects of the game. They complained about the graphics, the gameplay, the story and other things related to Cobra Mission. The worst one came from a fundamentalist pastor, where he ranted about Megatech Software corrupting the youth with ‘carnage and carnality’ and he prayed to God, so Megatech Software would be destroyed, after catching his son playing the game in secret.

Kenny Wu felt slightly miserable and upset after reading every complaint and hate letter from other folks, particularly the ones who complained from a gameplay or graphic perspective. He thought of Megatech Software losing profits, and thus putting his ambitions to the skids. He nearly wanted to cry and sob heavily.

“Kid,” Gary Lee blurted, in which Kenny Wu glanced to his face. “Don’t be like this. Don’t make that face to me. When my company started in 1978, I was just some guy who was tasked with importing Taiwanese electronics, you know, the ones you take for granted in your everyday life. It was a small company, and customers often blame me for selling me sub-par electronics despite not me being the one who manufactures the electronics. And yet, I persevered, kid, and become this company.”

Kenny Wu felt well now, encouraged by Gary Lee’s words. “Maybe, maybe I think you’re right. I should continue on with my company.”

“That’s the spirit, kid.” Gary Lee replied.

Kenny Wu smiled. He thought of finding and licensing a wholly new anime game from Japan, one that had better graphics and hopefully vastly-different gameplay compared with Cobra Mission. He wanted a game that would blow the socks out of his detractors and their complaints, a game that would compete with the equivalent of Little Leagues for PC games.

“I want a new game,” Kenny Wu blurted.

“Well, I don’t have anything in stock.” Gary Lee replied.

“Then we should head to Japan and seek a game for licensing,” Kenny Wu replied. “The game should be different than Cobra Mission.”

“Let me think,” Gary Lee scratched his head. “You want a game of a different genre, right?”

“Yes,” Kenny Wu replied.

Kenny Wu pondered at Gary Lee’s question for minutes. For a moment, he didn’t have a clear answer. But suddenly, a memory popped up in his head. He remembered playing Street Fighter and its sequel, II, at a local arcade in Los Angeles with Erwin Mab. It was a fond memory of his, formed sometime during their work at Megatech Software.

“Something like Street Fighter, the arcade game where two characters fight each other.” Kenny blurted.

Gary Lee thought, examining Kenny’s request for a moment. “I don’t think there’s a market for those ‘Street Fighter’-style games for the PC.”

“Come on, Gary,” Kenny Wu replied. “Those games were made in Japan. I’m sure there’s a PC game like that sold in the country.”

Gary Lee sighed. “Alright, kid. We’ll take a business trip to Japan. I’ve got a business matter in licensing brand-new electronics in Tokyo, so do take the opportunity to search for a game you want to license.”

Kenny Wu jumped from his seat, elated in relief. “Let’s go,” he clamored.

--#--
On 9th August, 1992, Kenny Wu and Gary Lee boarded a plane heading for Tokyo, Japan, as booked by Gary Lee. A day before the flight, Kenny Wu handed over management duties to his second-in-command, Erwin Mab. He told Erwin that he would be going for a business trip and that he needed Erwin to run the company in his absence, which Erwin reluctantly accepted.

The plane departed from the Los Angeles International Airport at 12:34 PM. It was a Boeing 757 chartered by Japan Airlines. It flew off from the runway as Erwin Mab glanced from the view, driving his car. The plane arrived at Haneda Airport. Kenny Wu and Gary Lee disembarked from the plane, and immediately left the airport. In the city of Tokyo, they hailed a taxi to arrive at the offices of HARD. The trip to the office was relatively uneventful, although Kenny Wu peered out the window and imagined anime-related fantasies projected onto the cityscape.

Kenny Wu and Gary Lee arrived at the offices of HARD, the same place where they first went to license Cobra Mission from the company itself. Outside, a heavy downpour that followed a muggy hot weather struck the city, forcing the two to quickly enter the offices of HARD without any formal introudctions.

“Is it you, Gary Lee-san?” the lobbyist blurted as she saw Gary Lee and Kenny Wu. “And you brought Kenny Wu-kun.”

“Yeah, it’s Mr. Lee and my pal, Kenny,” Gary Lee replied with a smile. The two quickly bowed in a hasty, albeit respectful fashion.

“Do you want a meeting with the president?” the receptionist said.

“Yes, but I didn’t book it though,” Gary Lee said.

“I’ll call the president for you,” the receptionist offered. She picked up the company’s phone, calling in for the president of HARD. She briefly spoke with him before putting down the phone. “He says wants to see you two.”

Afterwards, Kenny Wu and Gary Lee entered the office of the president of HARD. As they sat down on their seats, facing the president’s seat, they expected the same man who granted the license of Cobra Mission to turn around and face them. Instead, when the president of HARD turn to face them, what they saw shocked them heavily upon seeing his face for the first time.

Kenzou Nagaoka.

The president of HARD wasn’t a genial, albeit stern man of late middle age, but rather a younger man of roughly 21 years of age with a set of black hair and a nerdy appearance sat on the president’s seat. He resembled a spitting image of Kenny Wu, but he had a distinctively square chin in contrast to Kenny’s soft features. He was too young to be a president of a major video game company, so it raised suspicions in Kenny Wu and Gary Lee.

“Are you the president of HARD?” Kenny Wu asked with a nervous tone, unsure if Kenzou Nagaoka was the president or just an impersonator.

“Yes I am,” Kenzou Nagaoka replied politely.

“Why are you the president?” Gary Lee asked. “What happened to the old guy?”

“He’s retired.” Kenzou Nagaoka sadly stated.

--#--
October 30, 1991.

The school bell ringed in the afternoon, signaling the end of the Japanese school day. A crowd of junior high school students, all dressed in school uniforms, left the school in eager relief as they headed home. Indistinguishable from the crowd, there was a young male student. He wasn’t anything special. He looked tidy and polite, albeit with slightly tousled hair. He was average for his weight and size, resembling a normal-looking student. He wore thoroughly-ironed shirts and good ties. He looked like everybody else in the school.

The junior high boy glanced at a girl with long brown hair. She was the sweetheart, the love of his life. She was a girl with good grades and a high social standing in contrast to his. As he glanced, his thoughts were flooded with him admiring her body and her looks, dressing her up in fanservice-worthy outfits. He stopped staring, once the girl glanced back. He quickly ran away to somewhere discreet, where nobody would judge him or pick on him. He thought of protecting himself from the bullies who picked on him, the strict teachers who scrutinized his work, his grades, and his behavior, and the rival competed affections for the girl.

The junior high boy stopped fleeing after arriving at a train station. He quickly took a ride home, at the center of Kyoto, Japan. His thoughts were saturated with self-loathing and self-pitying. He wanted to break down crying, hiding in a corner of his house. He wanted to retreat into a fantasy world composed of manga volumes and magazines he stacked up in his room. But he couldn’t.

The train arrived at the specific station, where he quickly departed and followed a path home he usually took. As he walked, he saw a local 7-Eleven convenience store that he usually frequented. He entered the store and looked around the interior. He picked up a recent issue of Weekly Shounen Jump which he often purchased every week with his allowance, along with a drink. He paid for it afterwards to the cashier.

Dragon Ball is crazy good this week,” he blurted as he read the latest chapter of his favorite manga.

In downtown Kyoto, he passed by a local game store. Something caught his eye. There was an advertisement for a game on the storefront. It depicted a sinister white mask with a coarse texture, peering from the dark. Under the thing, a title emblazoned in sensual pink colors. He turned to face the storefront window, pressing his palm on the advertisement poster as the cold breeze in the city and the streetlights lit up.

沙織 -美少女たちの館-
Saori: Bishoujo-tachi no Yakata.

The junior high boy heard the title before. He saw the title in an advertisement in a magazine. His friend told him about the game, how he enjoyed every scene of the game in vague, fleeting detail, which hinted something even alluring about the game. The thought made him feel warm.

In the game store, it was stocked with games for the Nintendo Famicom and the Sega Master System, all put into cute boxes. The junior high boy walked around to see a busy shopkeeper heavily occupied on the phone, screaming and complaining about something. He wasn't interested in Nintendo or Sega, but rather the PC-98 as a console. He wanted to see the new game the store had in stock.

He found the part of the store that was off-limits to the general public. It was a dark and smoky room, barely lit from the auspices of the buzzing normal part of the shop. Nobody under the age of 21 was allowed, but the shopkeeper was busy with the phone, so he could enter it without notice. At the center of the room, there was Saori: The House of Beautiful Girls. The box art was similar to the advertisement poster, only with additional text. The junior high boy stared at the cover art, as if the mask was alive, beckoning him to come closer and bring him home.

As he remembered, he had a computer in his room. It was a PC-98, manufactured by Nippon Electric. It was a birthday gift by his mother, who scrounged enough cash to purchase a low-price version. His mother told him to use the computer for moral purposes and for his education. He remembered he wasn’t allowed to own a Famicom, as it wasn’t important and his family was poor.

At first, he didn’t want the game. But then, intrusive thoughts of stealing the game for him, slowly, became stronger and stronger. He imagined a dialogue with his mother getting angry with him. In the end, he decided to steal the game for himself, and swiped the copy of Saori from the shelf, hiding it inside his bag. He quickly darted out of the store, just as the shopkeeper slammed the phone call shut.

Little he did knew his impulsive act of shoplifting would eventually cause big consequences for everyone else.

The Kyoto Metropolitan Police was summoned to arrest the junior high boy after receiving a call from the shopkeeper about a stolen game. The police detained the boy, in which they seized the copy of Saori from his hands. Launching an investigation, the detectives decided to examine the contents of Saori. They booted the game in a PC-98 they owned inside the police station, preparing to examine its contents.

What they saw upon booting the game was nothing short of obscene, disgusting, and lascivious. The game was about a young woman named Saori who is abducted by two men after witnessing a man make love with a woman at a park, and brought to a mysterious mansion by a sadistic, enigmatic woman donning a white mask. In the mansion, Saori explores the rooms, revealing hallucinations of amorous immorality deep within it - father and daughter, brother and sister, a pair of shrine maiden sisters, female teacher and male student, female senior and male junior in a university, and policeman and policewoman.

The Kyoto Metropolitan Police were repulsed by explicit depictions of lewdness found in a game. Now they were seeing with their own eyes. They realized there was obscene materials that went under their sighs, hidden from plain view. Somebody, or at least, an entire company was producing and distributing obscenities without the knowledge. They thought computers was only meant for education and business, with games only being clean and simple and only meant for recreation. As defenders of public morality and social harmony, they felt the game was an anathema to Japanese society, threatening to corrupt youth into future murderers and perverts.

They didn't want another Tsutomu Miyazaki.

Tsutomu Miyazaki, aka the Otaku Murderer, was a serial killer who murdered four little girls in Tokyo by luring them to secluded locations and then strangling them before violating their corpses. The police arrested Tsutomu Miyazaki on July 1989 after he attempted to kidnap a girl at a park in Hachiouji that was thwarted by the girl's father. The Tokyo Metropolitian Police raided his home to which they found gruesome evidence of his murders in the form of photographs along with up to 5763 videocassettes stored in his house. The photos depicted the four murdered girls, each had their corpses done in depraved, unspeakable ways by Tsutomu Miyazaki.

The discovery of the incriminating evidence along with the collection of videocassettes created a media frenzy that followed Tsutomu Miyazaki's arrest and trial. The media blamed Tsutomu Miyazaki's collection of VHS tapes, claimed to be horror films and anime, for making him a recluse from society and inspiring him to murder. Such sensationalistic reporting by the media caused a moral panic surrounding the then-nascent otaku subculture in the late 1980s, where otaku were seen as leeching hermits obsessed with fantasy worlds and potential criminals. The public outcry eventually led to youth protection initiatives against the harmful influence of anime and manga, as pressured by parents organizations and political parties in Japan.

Outraged by such lascivious travesty, the Kyoto Metropolitan Police requested the National Police Agency of Japan to seize obscene material, that is eroge made for the PC at the time, and arrest anyone who was responsible for its production. In response, the authorities authorized a search warrant at JAST and four other distributors in Japan to prevent further distribution of smut in the country.

The police officers raided the retailers and warehouses housing stocks of eroge distributed by said companies. They would barge into the story, show the warrant to justify the raid, and confiscate offending material based on the list curated by Japanese government. Once all copies were seized by the police, they would be sent to the police station for inspection and storage. Eventually, after a month of systematic raids against retailers and warehouses, the authorities arrested the presidents of JAST and Kirara, the two major eroge companies at the time. They were charged by Japanese authorities for possessing obscene materials with the intent of reselling, as per Article 175 of the Japanese Penal Code.

The arrests threw the companies of JAST and Kirara into disarray. FairyTale, at behest of Kirara’s remaining management, withdrew all eroge that could potentially violate Article 175 of the Japanese Penal Code and altered them thoroughly for self-censorship. The first president of HARD felt he could no longer work in such a business anymore, as he felt complicit in the chaos, so he stepped down from his role, where Kenzou Nagaoka took the place as the president of the company. Meanwhile, at JAST, the company scrambled to find another president as they pulled eroge from the shelves as they can.

The fallout of the Saori Incident could be felt far and wide in the Japanese PC game industry. No longer living in a Wild West, where anyone could use a cheat code to de-censor mosaics and pixelated images or willing to go on shocking and taboo levels, the eroge companies was forced to take action. They formed EOCS (Ethics Organization of Computer Software), or Sofurin in Japanese, just so to prevent a repeat of the incident and discourage the Japanese government from censoring the video game industry. All eroge from now on must be approved by EOCS and must possess an 18+ silver sticker on the front of the box.

The events that transpired after the boy's shoplifting was later called the Saori Incident.

--#--
“Do you have any games at the moment? The ones with up-to-date graphics?” Kenny raised his hand, asking Kenzou Nagaoka politely.

“Well, we don’t have those games like the ones you find in America, but I got one.”

Kenzou Nagaoka brought the video game Hatchake Ayayo-san 3: Ayayo’s Afterlife (Let’s Go Ayayo-san). He booted the game on the PC-98 to show Kenny Wu and Gary Lee a demonstration of the game. The gameplay was rather simplistic, the player only needed to read the text that scrolled below. The story was about the titular protagonist Ayayo and her friend Tomoko, who fell into the afterlife one day after they slip on a banana peel. The rest of the game’s story was off-kilter and humorous in nature.

The tone and subject matter of Hatchake Ayayo-san 3 made Kenny Wu and Gary Lee feel weirded out. To them, it was barely coherent and felt like reading through some parodist’s idea of Dante’s Divine Comedy with Japanese cultural gags and pop-culture references. Kenny Wu disliked the game for its limited interactivity and reliance on strange humor. Gary Lee gently refused the game, stating he’d only wanted to take a look at their products.

Kenzou Nagaoka quickly dismissed the meeting. Gary Lee and Kenny Wu left the offices of HARD, feeling unsatisfied. Gary Lee hailed a taxi, this time taking them to a hotel which Gary Lee paid for. Kenny Wu felt down for a moment, but Gary Lee patted on his shoulder, saying he should keep a good attitude and never back down.

At the hotel, Kenny Wu unpacked his things, albeit still placed in his luggage for safekeeping. Gary Lee put on his best dress, tucking his tie under his vest, as he prepared to go for a meeting with a Japanese electronics company, scheduled for the evening.

“Kid, stay inside the hotel, would you?” Gary Lee said, patting Kenny Wu. “I got a meeting to attend to, and I don’t want you get into trouble.”

Kenny Wu smiled, nodding in agreement.

“See you next morning, kid.” Gary Lee said, opening the door to leave. “Maybe I can take you to another company and then we’ll see if there’s any good game.”

Gary Lee left. Kenny Wu was all alone. He only thought of what Erwin Mab was doing back home in Torrance, California.

--#--
“Oh shit, man!” Erwin Mab grumbled.

Erwin Mab was dealing with all sorts of things he wasn’t prepared to handle. As a second-in-command of Megatech Software’s management, he was tasked with doing all the things Kenny Wu did on his behalf. From processing sales reports to paying their employees their wages, all sorts of tasks he did on his own. Finally, feeling the burnout of his job, he went for a quick break in the break room of the offices of Megatech Software. He opened the minifridge, taking out a can of Rolling Rock beer, sipping the drink like it was tea. He sighed heavily, pulling himself together.

Erwin Mab felt the absence of Kenny Wu so dearly since the time they re-united again. He knew Kenny was his best friend at UCLA. But the offices of Megatech Software felt less lively than usual, especially when Hang Peng departed back to Taiwan. Everybody felt like a co-worker to him, but only Kenny Wu was his compadre, his best bud for life.

“Maybe I should make my own pal,” Erwin muttered.

After Erwin Mab’s shift at Megatech Software ended, he took the opportunity to quickly draft up a classified advertisement for employment. The classified advertisement stated Megatech Software was looking for a person with illustration skills, namely anime-style, and some experience in writing and game programming. It stated that employment would only consist of an unpaid internship to gain experience in working for the video game industry.

The next day, Erwin Mab posted the advertisement on the classifieds section of a local newspaper in Torrance. He prayed for anyone who would reply to the ad and arrive at the doorstep of Megatech Software.

--#--
David S. Moskowitz booted up Cobra Mission on his IBM personal computer as members of the Torrance Animanga Club gathered around. He heard the eager rabble of the crowd, as the Megatech Software logo appeared with its chime.

“Settle down, settle down,” David S. Moskowitz said as he started the game.

The Torrance Animanga Club watched as David S. Moskowitz played through the entire of the game in a single day. They cheered whenever David struck a weak point of an enemy in the game, jeered whenever he missed, yawned during travelling segments. But most of all, they all hooted and screamed when it was time to show the H-scenes and the interactive parts.

“WHOA!”

“Let the girl touch me!”

“Does she like me?”

“Don’t stop, she’s good!”

David S. Moskowitz scowled as he tried maintaining his concentration against the unrelenting blurts of vulgar cries and pestering from the crowd. He didn’t like those reactions, because it was very annoying and often detracted from the game’s experience. He thought it was acceptable whenever they watch an anime he brought home or read a manga aloud to his friends, but not gaming. This was coupled with the terrible body odor and greasy stench of junk food that made his nose singe, as the crowd crammed each other in proximity.

“Would you be quiet already? I’m trying to play the game,” David shouted, pausing gameplay. The crowd stopped for a moment, bringing a scene of awkward silence. Fortunately, he resumed to the relief of the crowd.

At the day’s end, the members of the Torrance Animanga Club left the Moskowitz residence with David S. Moskowitz waving goodbye. He saw the sun set as last of the members hailed a drive home with their friends. He sighed, closing the door and locking it. He lied on his couch, turning on the evening news. He thought of himself breaking into the entertainment industry with his own direction. The noise from the television provided a much-needed distraction from the monotony and loneliness of his daily life.

David took a sketchbook on the table. He opened the book to see his anime and manga-styled sketches he did in his free time. It was mainly inspired by anime and manga the club enjoyed together. His artstyle in the sketches, felt strongly influenced or suggested by a variety of animanga artists and a hint of American comics in general. Elements of AKIRA, Warriors of the Wind, Robotech, MADOX-01, and others more could be felt in the sketches, if quite rough looking. He wondered if anyone was interested in his skills.

The next day, David S. Moskowitz picked up the local Torrance newspaper in the morning. He read through the pages, browsing casually the text in the paper. One thing caught his eye, when he was looking at the classifieds, was an ad. He read the ad closely, and saw a company by the name of Megatech Software, which were looking for a person with perquisite skills – mainly artistic skills in drawing ‘anime-style’ and some familiarity with programming and game scriptwriting.

Then suddenly, David S. Moskowitz felt he had received his calling. Besides his skills in sketching the anime-style, he was also an amateur game programmer in his spare time away from working at a major software company that he hated dearly, and was on the verge of being fired by his boss. He smiled, using a marker to circle the ad for himself. To him, it was his destiny that was meant to be fulfilled.


Author's Note:
Welcome everyone to a brand new chapter of Let Megatech Satisfy Your Most Primal Desires. This chapter will be about the licensing and development of Metal & Lace: Battle of the Robo Babes, detailing the fictional events in 1992 and 1993. Shout-out to the users who liked every entry in the timeline: @Nivek, @SilentSpaniard, @Dude-a-Buck, and @Stretch. Your likes provide the motivation for me to continue writing the timeline.

For in-depth research on the real-life events mentioned in the chapter, the following references were used as research material in the writing of the chapter.

References:

The Wild, Wonderful, & Influential World of Ayayo-san (Amelie Doree)

Japan Deep Dive: The Saori Incident:

Wikipedia articles:
 
Puppeteer, Part 2 (11th October 1992)
"I thought the first game was just an experiment to see if there's any market for a bishoujo fighting game. I licensed it for a good price, thinking there's not much of a market overseas, along with its sequel. Instead, Kenny Wu and Megatech Software turned it into the best-selling fighting game series about robots and pretty girls. I heard recently the company was interested in making another installment, slated for release in 2012"
– Hideki Masuko on the Metal & Lace franchise in America, quoted from a 2011 issue of Famitsu.
--#--

Puppeteer (Part 2)

Ningyou Tsukai was a fighting game released by FOREST in May 29th, 1992, for the PC-98. FOREST was an eroge company staffed by personnel formerly employed by various disparate animation and game companies in Japan. The company was formed as they wanted to tap into the then-burgeoning eroge market and to provide an outlet of creativity that was long-suppressed in being toiling corporate drones for the previous companies. Out of the company’s staff, Akihiro Yoshizane was the most prominent by the virture of being an anime illustrator for hobbyist and geek magazines, as well being a mangaka, albeit of lower prestige.

Ningyou Tsukai’s gameplay was a one-on-one fighting game with an all-female cast. The player assumes the role of Mimi, a robotic warrior created by Rika Mizuho, pitting against six opponent robots controlled by the competitors. Each opponent was fought by the player in one-on-one fights, across three rounds, in which the player had to deplete the opponent’s health bar completely to win a round. Victory in each round led to CGs (Computer graphics) of the opponent in stages of undress.

The plot of the game is simple and barebones. Rika Mizuho is an heir to the now-bankrupt Mizuho Factory, a manufacturer of a series of remote-operated robots called ‘Si-lhouette’, used for industrial purposes in off-world colonies. The Si-lhouette robots are used for martial-arts fighting competitions, leading to a combat sport with a competition offering a grand prize to the victor.

--#--
David S. Moskowitz entered the lobby of Megatech Software’s offices in Torrance, California. It was late in the morning, roughly 10:58 AM, as stated in the lobby’s wall clock. The air conditioner was recently turned on, permeating the air of the lobby with sterile, slightly humid stench. He looked around the room, seeing no receptionist and not even a single soul in the lobby.

“Is anybody there?” David nervously called.

A young man appeared in the lobby suddenly, approaching David with odd eyes. “Ah, you must be David,”

“S. Moskowitz,” David corrected by adding the last parts of his name.

“I expected you arrive later, but nevermind,” the man muttered.

“And you’re Erwin Mab,”

“Yeah, that’s me.” Erwin Mab replied, glancing at David S. Moskowitz. “Yesterday, you’re the one who dropped me a call to arrange for an appointment, right?”

“Yes,” David replied.

“Then come with me to upstairs, we’ll discuss about this,” Erwin said as he brought David to the staffroom in the office. David notices dark bags under Erwin’s eyes.

“You didn’t get enough sleep,” David noted. “You should get some rest,”

“The hectic electrics, kiddo,” Erwin replied. “That’s why I was posted up the classified – to find more employees to deal with managing this company.”

“Megatech Software,”

“Yep, pal.” Erwin tapped David’s shoulder. “The company needs more artists and programmers,”

“Are you sure you’re in the right mind?” David asked.

“I’m in the right,” Erwin snorted. “I can make you an employee if you can prove your skills and get an internship, unpaid.”

From that moment on, David S. Moskowitz was started his journey in being employed by Megatech Software.

--#--
11th October, 1992.

It was a rainy morning. A heavy downpour struck Tokyo, dragging the traffic to halt and people to use public transport more hurriedly. A Japanese man, dressed in a heavy raincoat, braved through the hard shower of water as he blocked it with a cheap umbrella he brought from 7-Eleven. The man’s name was Hideki Masuko. He was the main game designer of Ningyou Tsukai, an employee of FOREST. He was responsible for programming the gameplay of said game, integrating with Naoki Osaki’s mechanical designs and Akihiro Yoshizane’s character illustrations.

Hideki pushed the doors, leading to him to a small, compact lobby with a shiny brownish interior. He turned to face the front of the reception counter, tapping the bell three times. The receptionist immediately arrived, standing behind the counter, glancing at Hideki.

“Do you want to book a night?” the receptionist asked.

“Have you anyone by the name of Kenny Wu and Gary Lee?” Hideki Masuko replied.

“Oh, mister, we have a pair of guests currently staying in the hotel. Their names are Kenny Wu and Gary Lee. Is this what you’re referring to?”

“Yes,”

The receptionist picked up the room service phone. “I’ll contact them as soon as possible,”

In the hotel room where Gary Lee and Kenny Wu resided, the hotel telephone rang beside the bed they were sleeping. Gary Lee woke up, yawning, and picked up the phone on the bedside.

“Hello,” Gary Lee greeted.

“Lee-san, a guest wants to meet with you,”

“Come in, come in. I want to see him. But first we need to change,” Gary answered to the phone.

“Understood,” the receptionist on the phone replied.

Gary Lee tugged Kenny Wu awake. “Wake up, pal. We got an informal meeting to attend to.”

Later, Kenny Wu and Gary Lee put on their casual attire in the morning. Somebody knocked on the hotel room door.

“Open the door, would you?” Gary Lee asked.

Kenny Wu nodded. He walked towards the door, opening it. Soon after, a Japanese man entered the room with a casual face. Kenny Wu closed the door as the man sat in the living room while Gary Lee turned around, finished tying his tie.

“Well there,” Gary Lee blurted.

The man bowed and introduced himself. “My name is Hideki Masuko.”

Gary Lee bowed in response. “Hideki, nice to meet you. My name is Gary Lee, or you can call me Lee-san, if it’s formal.” Gary Lee pointed at Kenny Wu.

Kenny Wu bowed, following Gary Lee. “My name is Kenny Wu.”

“Why are you here, Mister Hideki?” Gary Lee asked, wondering why a random person suddenly appears on their doorstep.

Hideki Masuko said. “Let me explain. I am a game designer from the company, FOREST. I received a call from the president of HARD about pair of a pair of prospective licensors from Megatech Software,”

Gary Lee sighed. “That’s Kenny’s company,”

Hideki Masuko stared blankly at Kenny Wu. “He said those licensors, going by your names, were looking for a game to license.”

“Kenny and I helped release a game in the United States under Megatech Software,” Gary Lee added.

“Yes,” Hideki Masuko stammered lightly. “I heard your game is selling well in America, is it correct?”

Kenny Wu nodded as a yes. “What do you have in stock?”

“We only released a game,” Hideki Masuko replied. “Ningyou Tsukai.”

“Gary, what does it mean?” Kenny asked.

“Puppeteer,” Gary Lee replied.

“You’re selling me a game about puppets?” Kenny Wu said in a dumbfounded fashion.

“It’s not that I’m talking about,” Hideki Masuko waved in embarrassment. “It’s a fighting game,”

Kenny Wu suddenly stopped. His mind paused at the utterance of ‘fighting game’ by Hideki Masuko. He thought of Street Fighter II, a game where he and his friend Erwin played at local arcade, very noisy and bright, but fun to play with. He smiled, tapping his foot in excitement.

“Show me,”

“You want to license the game, kid?” Gary Lee blurted.

“I sure do,” Kenny replied.

“If you’re interested in the game, then come with me to the company’s headquarters.” Hideki Masuko offered.

Kenny Wu nodded in agreement.

--#--
Hideki Masuko brought Kenny Wu and Gary Lee to the offices of FOREST. They entered the office through the main entrance, as the heavy rain that soaked Tokyo began to recede. The newly-liberated sunlight reflected off the glistening rain-soaked pavement, creating a soft ambient light that contrasted the stone-cold buildings of the Tokyo skyline.

Inside the office’s lobby, it was really warm compared to outside. Hideki Masuko led Kenny Wu and Gary Lee upstairs, where the game development studio was located. Kenny expected the development room to be warm, spacious, well-lit, and filled with interesting things.

Once Hideki Masuko opened the doors to the game development studio, Kenny Wu saw what a Japanese game studio looked like for the first time. To his dismay, the actual didn’t live up to his mental image, a disappointment to say. The studio resembling something of a third-world sweatshop, with cubicles, filing cabinets, shelves and other furniture crammed into a few cramped, squat rooms. There were artwork posted on the pinboard along with notes and random sketches of anime characters.

Kenny looked down on the floor to see discarded sketches and notes on the floor, littered as if the equivalents of a floor mat. He also saw food wrappings, empty drink cans, and finished ramen cups discarded on the floor, inciting feelings of disgust at the slovenliness of the workplace. They had to be careful when moving around the workplace, not to knock over furniture or startle the employees struggling to sleep. It was a really claustrophobic experience coupled with the dim light caused by the closed window blinds. It felt something out of a morbid crime film than a normal workplace.

In the artist’s studio, Akihiro Yoshizane drew some concept art for a manga he was preparing to publish. The door to his studio opened, prompting him to turn around to see his colleague, Hideki Masuko, bringing in two guests of Western ethnicity.

“Hideki, who are these men you’re escorting?” Akihiro Yoshizane asked.

“Their names are Kenny Wu and Gary Lee. They’re from a company in America looking for a game to license,” Hideki Masuko explained.

“Oh, really,” Akihiro replied. “I never expected anyone to come here except the company staff. Are you from a major company?”

“I’ll assure you the company, Megatech Software, is a rather small company in the states with only a single game in its name,” Gary Lee replied.

“Can I see the game you developed? I’m interested in what you have in stock,” Kenny Wu said in an awkward fashion.

“Why not,” Akihiro Yoshizane stood up, heading towards another room. “Come over here,”

Akihiro Yoshizane and Hideki Masuko booted Ningyou Tsukai on a PC-98 used for bug-testing in completed games, as Kenny Wu and Gary Lee watched. After the lime-green FOREST logo faded in the title screen, the barebones main menu, which only consisted of a black background with a few buttons in Japanese, appeard.

Hideki Masuko pressed the quick play mode. The game quickly showed a screen depicting the details of the current opponent and her silhouette, before fading into the main battle of the game. Kenny Wu observed, staring in amazement, as he saw the main gameplay of Ningyou Tsukai, on the screen of the PC-98. The graphics of the game wasn’t impressive compared to games released at the time, but miles better than the fighting games that were released for PC.

“Whoa,” Kenny Wu blurted.

“Isn’t it great, kid?” Gary Lee asked.

“It isn’t Street Fighter II levels of quality, but damn, the MS-DOS would sure need an arcade game,” Kenny eagerly replied.

“Hey,” Hideki Masuko said. “This game only exists because there wasn’t a bisoujo fighting game in the market.”

“I’ll license that for a buck,” Kenny Wu said with a smile.

“Kid, I got to hand it to you,” Gary Lee sighed. “I can negotiate with Hideki and if he gives a good licensing deal, you should take it on behalf of your own company.”

Kenny nodded in agreement. Later that day, the whole afternoon and evening was spent on setting up a licensing deal whereby Kenny Wu, representing Megatech Software, and Gary Lee, representing Liberty Components International, would license Ningyou Tsukai for release in the United States of America. According to the contract, FOREST would promise to develop a sequel if the game was successful in the west. Hideki Masuko, acting as the president of FOREST, handed Kenny Wu the in-game script along with a copy of the original source code.
 
The question is - so far are you talking about the artistic processing of the events that took place OTL?
The story is basically a heavy fictionalization of Megatech Software's history. Little is known about Megatech Software's history from its founding to its closure, so heavy artistic license is applied to create the events of the story behind the licensing and development of the games. Since it is an alternate history story, the actual POD starts when Nintendo requests Megatech Software in subcontracted translation work on Fire Emblem for the Nintendo SNES.
 
The story is basically a heavy fictionalization of Megatech Software's history. Little is known about Megatech Software's history from its founding to its closure, so heavy artistic license is applied to create the events of the story behind the licensing and development of the games. Since it is an alternate history story, the actual POD starts when Nintendo requests Megatech Software in subcontracted translation work on Fire Emblem for the Nintendo SNES.
Okay, I'll wait for the sequel. Although I already had a couple of premature questions.
 

Stretch

Donor
I love timelines like this, about stuff that seems so obscure, you don't know what the POD is until the creator reveals it.
 
The story is basically a heavy fictionalization of Megatech Software's history. Little is known about Megatech Software's history from its founding to its closure, so heavy artistic license is applied to create the events of the story behind the licensing and development of the games. Since it is an alternate history story, the actual POD starts when Nintendo requests Megatech Software in subcontracted translation work on Fire Emblem for the Nintendo SNES.
I thought the POD was their first game not bombing badly because having better advertisement
 
Nice work so far, got the same feeling when reading the untold story of videogame developers.
I love timelines like this, about stuff that seems so obscure, you don't know what the POD is until the creator reveals it.
Thank you for your compliments regarding the timeline. Please stay tuned and watch this thread, as I will draft up the next entry within a few days. Please be patient.

Ok - just can we expect more popularity of romance games? And can it affect some Western media?
I don't know yet. We'll see when the timeline develops further.
 
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