There is a cool little restaurant near my place that sells burgers. Burger places in Japan (not counting fast food places) are a hard commodity to come by so I was happy when this place opened up last year. It is locally owned by a guy who bought an old abandoned building, tossed some paint onto it and filled it with an eclectic mix of used furniture. I love the place.
Among the odds and ends they have are a few American comics from the late 80s. Like burger places, these are also a rare commodity in Japan. To a guy like me who absolutely loved comics in the late 80s, they are a massive source of sentimental curiousity.
So as I had my lunch there the other day, I picked a copy of Detective comics from maybe 1989 or 1990 off the shelf and flipped through it.
One of the things I noticed while perusing its pages is the heavy reliance of 1980s comics on video game adverts. The back cover of this one had an ad for Double Dragon 2 for the NES on it:
An ad for the Atari 7800 in it:
And about three or four other full page ads for mostly Taito games like Sky Shark and Operation Wolf scattered here and there.
The best part though in terms of what they reveal about gaming culture at the time was what was in the back, the little classified ads.
This one here really caught my eye:
Lets have a look at what this says here...
Looking for something to do?
Oh you know I am.
Play a computer game through the mail.
Well now just you hold the boat there, fella. What if I don`t have a computer?
You don`t need a computer and it costs very little to play.
Perfect! I`m sold!
Try two turns free.
How much will subsequent turns cost? How many turns does this have? What kind of computer game is it? Wait....what is the point of playing a computer game without a computer?
Its a crime!
OK, this is getting very surreal.
We want you to try this play by mail game for free!
Alright, fine. What do I have to do?
Write SEND FREE GAME on a card or letter and send to....
Wait, shouldn`t I also be putting my address down on there?
No strings attached - send no money!
OK then. No money, no address, just write SEND FREE GAME on a card or letter and send it to you. Got it.
Sometimes I do forget how much life sucked before the internet.
Anyway, there was also an ad from Play it Again for used games:
If they were in their 9th year then that means they must have started in about 1980 or 81. They were way ahead of the game there.
And with my burger finished I put that copy of Detective Comics back on the shelf, paid my bill and walked out the door into the cold and windy February afternoon that awaited me.