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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nintendo Space Launcher (スペースランチャー, 1979) - Leaflet

Nintendo was one of first Japanese companies creating electronic arcade games. Starting in this area as early as 1973 (compare: Atari's Pong saw the light of day in 1972), they initially focussed on arcade versions of light gun games, building on the technology of the Kousenjuu SP Light-beam series.

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?


  1. I actually love this game! Sure it's not very deep, but compared to many games released at the time it's not only still very much playable, it also haven't been done better since its release like so many other games from the time.

    I've always wondered what the "story" is though. What does the other side represent? The moon? A space station? And why am I going back and forth?

  2. There are people are looking to repro that oddball narrow & tall cocktail cabinet shown in the flyer, if anybody actually has one that can provide some pictures and/or measurements and details please go to the forums on and let us know, it will be much appreciated.


  3. That tall cocktail doesn't really exist. Pics or it didn't happen.

  4. I don't have pictures to prove it, but I have seen this tall version at least once. It was some years ago, on It was a UK seller and the game was Sheriff. Game may have been an Japanese import. Am kicking myself ever since that I did not bid (or save the pictures). Have never seen it again, but the auction had many photos showing the real deal.

    Would love to see it again. Anyone?

  5. I have a space launcher cocktail
    its a great game and extremely rare

  6. Yes the taller diamond version does exist, as I also have seen this for sale in the uk but this was sheriff not space launcher
    Space launcher plays very much like frogger in a way and like all Nintendo games lovely bright and colourful sprites. Extremely rare game

    1. If you could find some pictures of that taller cocktail that would be really great.

  7. I've got lots of pictures now if you want them Erik

  8. Is this what you're looking for?