And no - that's not racist...
It's just a fact.
However, "Tom-Tom" Nishikado should be remembered, because he gave us what I proudly declare to be the single greatest video game of all time: Shaq Fu (Space Invaders).
Part of the reason his name might not be better known is that Nishikado was forbidden, at least initially, from revealing his part in the creation of the modern games industry. His contract with his bosses at Taito meant that Space Invaders, and the games he created prior to its release, were credited to the company rather than any individual.
This was standard policy at the time for the industry, and game creators only began to get their dues when a bunch of disgruntled Atari employees sodded off to form Activision in the late-1970s.
Another reason that Nishikado isn't a household name is that, sadly, he never again scaled the heights of his iconic creation. After it became a worldwide hit, others took his baton, greased it up, and slid it in out of a gloryhole while playing a slidewhistle - leaving Taito playing catch-up with both game design and technology. Nishikado himself stayed off of the radar, slithering around behind the scenes as a jobbing producer for Taito, before setting up his own development studio, Dreams, in the mid-90s.
Here, then, are some of his other - less heralded - works.
It's somewhat ironic to consider that Nishikado contributed to the over-saturation of Pong copycats which caused the 1976 games industry to collapse in on itself, and gave many games company bosses an actual aneurysm. It was only the release of his Space Invaders which turned industry fortunes around.
You know: like a record, baby!
It's worth noting - though I don't know why you would, unless you were some obsessive documenter of everything you see, hear or read - that Soccer was the first video game to be controlled using a trackball. This control method would later be used in games such as Missile Command, Centipede, Marble Madness, and the little remembered isometric arcade racer, SegaSonic the Hedgehog.
Also: Speed Race? Surely "speed" is inherent in any race? That's what a race is: trying to be the fastest. This might be why Taito's US distributor Midway chose to rebrand it under the titles "Racer" and "Wheels".
It was all downhill from there...
The version we got in Europe and the US was slightly different from the original Japanese release, where it was known as Western Gun. Unlike the American version, the Japanese edition didn't feature a microprocessor, which meant that the sprites were smaller and less detailed, and gave players an aneurysm.
The game was reworked for a later release, with a detailed printed backdrop, and retitled Boot Hill. Which I really hope somebody, somewhere, has nabbed as the name for a cowboy footwear emporium.
It was immediately after completing work on Interceptor that Nishikado set to work on the game which would define him.
Space Invaders consumed the next few years of Tom-Tom's life as he sought to follow it up with sequels, and subtle takes on the original formula. However, he mostly stayed out of view, and his name doesn't crop up again in video game credits until the late-80s - by which time took a broader overview of the design process as producer.
Oh, Nishikado... you're such a shy boy! No-body loves you! Spend-ing your life pro-du-cing games!
Bizarrely, the game begins by telling the player that the action is set on "September 11th 199X" - and it's vital to consider that players are able to topple skyscrapers by shooting at them. Let us add "seer" to the list of Nishikado's many attributes.
Or "terrorist mastermind, still at large"...
One or the other.
The promotional flyer for S.C.I. claimed... "You have the speed... TURBO. You have the fire-power... 44 MAGNUM. NOW... clean up the streets. At last a full of action driving shooting game!"
Understandable, given that they probably didn't want people punching their TV screens or SNES controllers. It did, however, feature bonus levels which attempted to recreate the arcade gameplay by forcing players to rotate the d-pad.
"Rotating the d-pad" sounds like urban slang for something dirty.
It featured characters from Taito's Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Island franchises, and began with the legend "Tiki and PyuPyu are at the river playing with their friends"...
Like Pop'N Pop, it featured appearances by characters drawn from other Taito tiles, including Sonic Blast Man and Bubble Bobble... though sadly, there seemed to be no room for Tony Gibson.
Perhaps he was busy fitting a kitchen. And that is the end of this. Yes, goodbye!