Despite Nintendo's first innovative steps, the Japanese company that was first to be really successful in the arcade was Taito.
When Taito introduced Space Invaders in the summer of 1978, this became phenomenally successful in Japan and across the world soon thereafter. It did not take long for Nintendo (and all other arcade game manufacturers, for that mater) to follow with their own interpretations of the 'shooting aliens' theme.
|Nintendo Space Launcher leaflet (1979)
Nintendo's first response to Space Invaders was Space Fever, followed by Color Space Fever and SF-Hisplitter (all from 1979).
Later Nintendo space shooters include Space Firebird (1980) and the infamous Radar Scope (also from 1980), which unintentionally laid the foundation for Donkey Kong (1981).
Most of these games followed the format devised by Space Invaders closely ('space ship at the bottom of the screens shoots at troops of aliens marching and dropping bombs'), with only variantions in ship design and flying patterns.
A Nintendo arcade game that was more original was Space Launcher (スペースランチャー) from 1979.
|Cocktail and Upright cabinet types
As most early arcade games, Space Launcher was available in two cabinet types: 'cocktail' or 'upright'. Nintendo offered two cocktail cabinet versions: the most common one (as shown in the Othello leaflet) for sitting down and a slightly higher type (shown here) to stand at.
Space Launcher mixes the activities of shooting and maneuvering a space ship. Some elements, like the docking bays at the top of the screen, remind of Frogger. But keep in mind that this game is two years older (Frogger is from 1981). It is Frogger-esque avant la lettre.
The brochure does not hold back, describing the game as "The ultimate thrill of the game universe!" (「スリルある大宇宙ゲームの決定版！」).
|Space Launcher leaflet (back and front)
What do you think? Does this look like a fun game? Have you ever played it?