Programmed Publicity

A major point of contention amongst the non-eA-market BEMANI community is a unofficial implementations of eAMUSEMENT for machines outside of Konami’s markets.

On one hand, it’s pretty much a blatant breach of copyright; Konami did not intend for their services to be duplicated and their games pirated. But on the other hand, machines on these unofficial networks are often in public. It’s not like you need to take a 5km elevator ride down and go through ten blast doors each with authorization measures to play on such machines; anyone can walk into, say, Sunnyvale Golfland or such and play on these cabinets that are not running official eA, and if they have an eA pass they can see the address for the network’s web interface (which replaces the official eA URL). On top of that, Chrono Seeker is translated into English, and anyone with a pass will see all that delicious translated text. That’s an unofficial fan effort, not an official localization.

Tau himself has stated that Konami doesn’t really care what goes on with BEMANI cabs outside of their markets, because it doesn’t affect them. It’s when, for example, Spada Omnimix screenshots or obvious home setups of arcade IIDX games make their way around Japanese and Korean communities that it becomes a major issue.

Finally, as my friend says: Piracy is a service issue. Why are such networks implemented in the first place? Because we want a way to experience these various online-only goodies without having to travel to Japan or other countries with eAMUSEMENT. If BEMANI games were released for the international market and eAMUSEMENT was an international service–two things that I highly doubt will ever happen–this entire discussion would not exist in the first place.

Tetris TGM: The ‘G’ stands for “gaijin”

Ichiro Mihara, vice president of game developer Arika and designer of Tetris: The Grand Master, the Tetris sub-series infamous for things such as the “Tetris Japan Finals” video and the “Invisible Tetris” video, had this to say on his Twitter account yesterday, presumably as a take-that to the Western TGM community:

It’s been about four years since all the drama that went down involving the cancellation of Tetris: The Grand Master 4 in favor of Giant Tetris and Mihara going on his previous tirade against the Western TGM community for their usage and promotion of clones and indirect promotion of piracy. So why did he suddenly come out with this post, in (attempted) English, no less?

I’m not going to deny that the use of emulators and clones can have an impact on revenue for the games they emulate or simulate. That is the case…in Japan, the only territory where TGM was officially released and where TGM actually exists in a form easily accessible to the public. TGM is only available as an arcade series; the one console game carrying the TGM brand is a spinoff with hardly any of TGM’s signature mechanics available.

Meanwhile, in the United States, and quite possibly the rest of the non-Japanese world, not a single TGM machine is available for play in an arcade. There were a number of arcades carrying TGM, such as Arcade Infinity, SouthTown Arcade, Gamecenter, and Arcade UFO, but all of these arcade have either gone out of business or don’t have the game in working form anymore.

At best, there are TGM enthusiasts who dump hundreds into TGM arcade hardware, all just so they and local friends (and sometimes, friends making long and expensive trips) can play TGM the legitimate way, a way that they hope Mihara will be content with. Several of these owners have attempted to get their hardware into arcades just so the general public can get to play these games, with mixed results. Those who don’t have the knowhow and money needed to find and purchase TGM hardware have to–you guessed it–use emulators and clones, because no convenient legal option exists for them.

If Arika ever puts out a proper port of TGM (somewhat unlikely due to The Tetris Company’s iron grip over games carrying the Tetris name), I will gladly purchase it in order to show my support, even if I don’t have the necessary system to play it.

Stay classy, Mihara.