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April - June 1997

3-D Video Games

Did you know that almost all the most popular home video games around the world come from Japan? Of course, home video games are popular in Japan too. Home video game machines appeared in Japan in 1983. Over the years they have become more and more widespread. Now they're a typical toy that many kids have.

For the past few years, combat games have been popular in Japan. A typical example is Virtua Fighter. Combat games use the latest computer-graphics technology to produce highly realistic three-dimensional images. That's why they're known as 3-D games or virtual-reality games. These games allow you to control the character on the screen and battle your enemy in an extremely lifelike setting. Kids, especially boys, find the games irresistible. New game software is constantly being developed, and now it's possible to enjoy 3-D games in your own home.

Action video games like the Mario series have sold over a million copies in both Japan and the United States. But role-playing video games have also attracted many fans in Japan. Role-playing games are story-oriented; the characters grow and change as the game progresses. It's like playing a game and watching a movie all in one. One popular role-playing game is the Dragonquest video game. The first version of Dragonquest came out in 1986 and the sixth version came out in 1995. All six versions have sold over a million copies. The seventh version of Final Fantasy, another popular RPG series, came out at the end of January of this year, and three million copies have already been sold. The success of these games in Japan probably owes itself to the highly realistic video images, the advanced physics and lively action, the sophistication of the games themselves, and their appeal to the emotions of Japanese players.

Many video games based on popular comic-book characters and stories are now being sold. One example is Neon Genesis Evangelion. In turn, the success of video games has spawned TV cartoons and products based on video-game characters, as well as CD recordings of game soundtracks. There's no end in sight for the video-game craze.

Photos: (Top) a battle scene from Final Fantasy VII (1997 Square); (above) Neon Genesis Evangelion ( Gainax).