The Creation of Space Invaders

The Creation of Space Invaders

In a new interview, Space Invaders creator Tomohiro Nishikado has been
talking about the work that went into his amazing creation.

Image: Prep sketches for Space Invaders

Speaking
in a feature on Taito’s legacy, to Edge magazine, he talks about the
design of the aliens, his reaction to the game’s success, and follow-on
projects such as Pop ‘n’ Pop.

On success

"I
anticipated it would be a hit, but never thought it will be so huge. I
was delighted to see it became popular, but I did not get overwhelmed
by it, because I was already too busy working on the next project."

On those aliens

"It
was not an easy job. First, I thought of making tanks or airplanes as
the targets to shoot, but it was technically hard to make airplanes
look like they are actually flying. Human movement would have been
easier, but I felt it would be immoral to shoot humans, even if they
were bad guys. Then I heard about a movie called Star Wars released in
the U.S. which was coming to Japan next year, so I came up with a game
based in space which had space aliens as targets.

"The alien
design was inspired by The War Of The Worlds. In the story, the alien
looked like an octopus. I drew a bitmap image based on the idea. Then I
created several other aliens that look like sea creatures such as squid
or crab. The cabinet featured invaders that looked unlike the ones in
the game – why was that? Yes, it really looks like a monster. Nothing
like the bitmap images. Another graphic person worked on the design.
Perhaps it was made that way because the game was originally titled
Space Monster. The graphic designer was probably inspired by the sound
of it."

On technological challenges
 
"It was
very a difficult process. The hardest part was the development of a
microcomputer. Microcomputers were hardly used at that time in Japan,
so we had to create one from scratch. I could almost say developing the
microcomputer was harder than developing the game itself. These days,
we have personal computers to rely on, but there was no programming
environment back then. So I had to create everything by myself. I
created a development device, wrote a part of the game that runs on it,
and then created more devices along the way."

On fame
 
"Reactions
are very different between Japan and overseas. In Japan, they only make
some compliments, but in other countries people tend to become very
excited. Many want my autograph, to shake my hand and so on."

Full interview, as well as a chat with Rainbow Islands / Bubble Bobble creator Fukio Mitsuji here.