|From the March 1976 Play Meter|
The case is Nintendo of America, Inc. v. Elcon Industries, Ind. (564 F Supp 937), available here:
It is a lawsuit regarding the game Crazy Kong - a bootleg of Donkey Kong but it wasn't really a bootleg (at least not entirely - read on)
The first bit of info involves a company called Ikegami Tshshinki.
If you haven't heard of them, they are a Japanese manufacturer of TV cameras formed in 1946. Supposedly they did most, if not all of the programming for Donkey Kong.
See the following for basic info:
Rumor has it that they also worked on the following games:
Nintendo: Block Fever, Computer Othello, Space Launcher, Sheriff, Space Demon, Helifire, Radar Scope, Space Firebird, Space Fever, Sky Skipper, and Popeye
Sega: Congo Bongo, Zaxxon
If the rumors are true, that would make them one of the great unknown video game design firms from the golden age.
They are supposed to have had a verbal contract with Nintendo to design 8 games.
Nintendo is supposed to have paid them 10 million yen.
Suppsedly, they sued Nintendo for copyright violation in 1983 after Donkey Kong Jr. came out seeking 580 million (settled out of court in 1990). Another trial allegedly found that Nintendo didn't own the right do Donkey Kong.
But are the rumors true?
I don't know if any documentation from those trials has ever turned up.
The main evidence for these claims seems to be:
1) A Japanese book called It Started With Pong (translated title) by Masumi Akagi published in 2005. (if I read Japanese I might try to get a copy, but I don't)
2) a message that appears in the Donkey Kong ROMs.
3) Images of the Ikegami logo in the tilesets for Congo Bongo and Zaxxon.
As I was perusing the case above, I found this little tidbit:
"Nintendo Co., Ltd. expended over $100,000.00 in direct development of the game, and Nintendo Co., Ltd. hired Ikegami Tsushinki Co., Ltd. to provide mechanical programming assistance to fix the software created by Nintendo Co., Ltd. in the storage component of the game. The name "Ikegami Co. Lim." appears in the computer program for the Donkey Kong game. Individuals within the research and development department of Nintendo Co., Ltd., however, created the Donkey Kong concept and game. The operation of the Donkey Kong game includes the use of the audio-visual material which was originally created for use in the game by Nintendo Co., Ltd."
So much for Ikegami but what about the rest of the case.
One thing that I found interesting is that Nintendo actually granted a license Falcon, Inc. to sell Crazy Kong in Japan (this fact has been disputed). Why would they license someone to produce a knockoff of their own game?
Elcon Industries was using Falcon boards (via Artic International, a company that had already gotten in legal hot water with Williams).
First of all, what about Elcon Industries.
|From Play Meter, June-Jully 1975 - an early ad for Elcon|
Back when they were still Electronic Concept Industries
Elcon was founded in Michigan in the 1970s by Andre Dubel. They were incorprated on September 2, 1977. At various times, they were located in Bloomfield Hills, Ferndale, and Royal Oak. The name was short for Electronic Concept Industries
Below is a list of games I've found by them:
1975Double Play (Tennis/Hockey)
Triple Play (aka Tennis/Hockey/Soccer)
Circus [lic Exidy]
The Six Pack [cabinet, not a game]
(c6) Cosmic Attackers
(s10) Dodge 'Em
Royal Flush Draw Poker
(11) Crazy Kong [BL]
I'm not sure about all of those titles.
So were they a legitimate company? I don't really know. Almost all of their games appear to be copies of other games. Maybe they actually licensed some of the games. Maybe they were just a distributor at first. The flyer for Cosmic Attackers (seemingly an exact copy of Space Invaders) claims that they manufactured games. Video Bowl was Exidy's Robot Bowl. I'm not sure if they actually had a game called Highjumpers (it was the same as Circus). Blockbuster is Breakout
On the other hand, if they were bootlegging the games, it seems odd that they would advertise them so heavily in the trade mags (the Blockbuster ad/flyer appeared in almost all of them).The Circus flyer mentions that the game was the hit of the 1977 AMOA show but I didn't see a note in there that they licensed it from Exidy.
Then again, Artic/ATW produced flyers too and they were taken to courty by Williams (though I don' know if they advertised their bootlegs).
The First Video Game Death?
What was the first coin-op video game-related death?
Most sources point to Peter Bukowski, who died of a heart attack at Friar Tuck's game room in Calumet City, IL on April 3, 1982 after playing Berzerk (though he apparently had an existing heart condition, was overweight, and had run up the stairs prior to playing).
Many sources, in fact, list this as the only known case of a coin-op video-game related death (Jeff Daily is also said to have died in 1981 after playing Berzerk but details are sketchy and the story is doubted).
Actually, there was a video-game related death long before Bukowski's. The March, 1975 issue of Play Meter reports that Charley Currie, an operator from Ontario was electrocuted on December 3rd, 1974 while playing a "TV game" he'd just installed. He put it next to another (non video) game and neither of them were grounded. He was touched instantly when he touched the other game.
There is yet another game related death (involving a child crushed to death by a game) but I won't go into that one. (I may put it in the book, but may not since it could dredge up bad memories for those involved).