In video games, no developer/publisher wants to talk much about their failures. In fact, they don’t like to talk about it at all. And this is true for hardware/software companies like Nintendo. After all, no one there really talks about Virtual Boy, or even…Radar Scope, which is perhaps the most infamous of their own video game titles.
Created by Nintendo’s then R&D 2 team, the game was a fixed-shooter arcade game where Arcaders took control of a ship called the Sonic Spaceport and they must take down squadrons of an enemy force called the Gamma Raiders before they destroy the Arcader’s space station. For those who had played Space Invaders and Galaxian, the gameplay will look and play very familiar, but with a “forced perspective angle”.
While the game did well in Japan, it didn’t do well here on this side of the Pacific, and as such it put the fledging Nintendo of America in financial trouble. Desperate, then-NoA president Minoru Arakawa pleaded with Hiroshi Yamauchi (head of Nintendo’s parent company in Japan) for a new game, which is when Yamauchi turned to a staff artist named Shigeru Miyamoto for a hit, which as many now know led to the creation of two of Nintendo’s well-known characters, one of whom would become the face of the company.
But going back to Radarscope, is it really awful? Or did just some folks look at it as too much of a rip-off of Space Invaders and Galaxian that they dismissed it altogether?
While Nintendo has more or less disavowed the Arcade game, history still remembers it, and for better or worse, Radarscope does have a significant place in video game history. While it is known for being the game whose failure gave rise to Donkey Kong and Mario, Radarscope is not an awful title by any means. It’s actually quite unique, and one that does bear taking another look at, and not just as as a mere footnote in Nintendo’s history.