John Szczepaniak is an internationally published journalist, novelist, and copy editor. He's written for Retro Gamer, GamesTM, Official PlayStation Magazine, Game Developer Magazine, Gamasutra, The Escapist, GameFAN MkII, nRevolution, 360 Magazine, Play UK, X360, Go>Play, Next3, The Gamer's Quarter, Retro Survival, NTSC-uk, Tom's Hardware Guide, Insomnia, GameSetWatch, Shenmue Dojo, Pixel Nation, plus others. He frequently contributes to Hardcore Gaming 101, where he helped put together The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures book, and was managing editor on the Sega Arcade Classics Volume 1 book.

John has been doing this for over 17 years, and has interviewed over 150 people. He also enjoyed a six month stint as Staff Writer on Retro Gamer and three years as sub-editor at Time Warner. He's licensed by the UK's Royal Yachting Association as a naval skipper, and also holds a Marine Radio Operator's license. MENSA certified, speaks Japanese, programs indie games, and brews wine.

The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Vol. 3 by John Szczepaniak

The third and final volume of The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers is complete! It's 423 pages and features over 35 interviewees. The book is cover to cover interviews, meaning it's 100% pure revelations from the mouths of those who made the games.

Highlights include:
* Turns out Michael Jackson sang "a capella" for Sonic 3's music
* Falcom RPGs in-depth, including Legacy of the Wizard on NES
* Evolution of Dragon Quest
* Microsoft Japan secrets
* Yu Suzuki wants to direct Swan Lake to heavy metal
* Hironobu Sakaguchi spent $10'000 on parties
* The Final Fantasy team adapted the Aliens film into a computer game
* Konami secrets and the origin of Parodius
* PC Engine versus Famicom coder face-off
* Unreleased games - too many to count!
* Some companies tried to sabotage others!
* Capcom secrets with exclusive photos
* Design documents of games; archive photos and maps
* Breaks more Non-Disclosure Agreements than a corporate espionage mole!

And so much more! There has never been a book with so much first-hand information on the Japanese games industry, and there never will be again! Includes interviews with: Aziz HINOSHITA, Bill SWARTZ, Henk ROGERS, Hidenori SHIBAO, Hiroshi ISHIKAWA, Kazki MATSUMURA, Kelly ROGERS, Ken OGURA, Kenichi YOKOH, Kotaro HAYASHIDA, Kouichi YOTSUI, Manabu KUSUNOKI, Manabu YAMANA, Masahiro FUKUDA, Microsoft Japan, Mitsuakira TATSUTA, Naosuke ARAI, Naoto OHSHIMA, Nasir GEBELLI, Rieko KODAMA, Ryota AKAMA, Satoshi FUJISHIMA, Seve HANAWA, Takashi TOKITA, Takato YOSHINARI, Takayuki HIRONO, Takayuki KOMABAYASHI, Terry WOLFINGER, Toshinari OKA, Yasuhide KOBAYASHI, Yoji ISHII, Yoshio KIYA, Yuichi TOYAMA, Yutaka SUGANO


Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, Sega, Sony—these and other A-list publishers have received plenty of coverage. Szczepaniak goes into detail and these and other Japanese studios in an effort to preserve history that might otherwise disappear forever. – David L. Craddock



  • "This Volume (like the previous two) is one interview after another, detailing the complete history of the Japanese games industry. [...] If you are remotely interested, you must own these books. No matter what genre interests you, it will probably be in one of the three volumes."

  • "These are great books, and utterly essential for anybody with an interest in the Japanese game industry's origins and early days. They are crammed full of exclusive information and invaluable accounts from those who were there."

  • "After many years of blood, sweat and legal problems, Szczepaniak's masterwork is now complete with the release of the third and final volume in the series, and these books are utterly essential reading to anyone who has even a passing interest in Japanese games."

  • "Like every other book in this series, vol. 3 has some bombshell insights into videogame history that nobody else is bothering to capture."

    – Amazon Review



Foreword by Casey Loe

As I listened to the dozen or so interviews I was hired to translate and transcribe for this volume, I was struck by how many moments they shared. Many interviewees took the same long sigh when asked about the future of Japanese game development. A shocking number cited "that table tennis game" as their first videogame, yet couldn't remember its title (it's Pong, damn it! Pong!). But the most commonly repeated moment was when they explained - some at the brink of tears - that no one had ever asked about these stories before, and expressed their surprise that John would come all the way from Europe just to hear them.

The more I heard this sentiment, the more perplexed I became. These are members of the Greatest Generation of game development - men and women who built an industry and shaped a generation of childhoods. If you were to check the business section of any Japanese bookstore, you'd find shelves full of back-patting retrospectives about how the indomitable spirit of the Japanese people built the consumer electronics and automotive industries. But videogames? Nary a single slim volume.

If the people of Japan are aware of how thoroughly their nation dominated the entertainment software industry in the late 20th century, they don't seem to care how it happened. Even Japan's own enthusiast media has shown no appetite for documenting the history of videogames. Instead, they treat themselves as a PR arm of the industry, and the products they cover as disposable commodities. Heroic stories of catch-as-catch-can game development are invariably paved over and replaced with canned interviews in a desperate attempt to make readers believe that every project is proceeding smoothly, and that every studio is stable and above board. I hope this book demonstrates that while the truth of game development can be ugly, it makes for far better stories.

At least the three volumes of Untold History have managed to open a window into the true past of the industry - a tale of young, passionate developers fighting to make art in the face of poorly run companies, shady money lending, physically abusive managers, troubled genius colleagues, and rapidly shifting marketplace trends. I hate that it's the only window we're likely to get, but I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to peer through it with all of you.

- Casey Loe is a professional translator of videogames and manga. He formerly covered the Japanese gaming industry for publications like GameFan, Nintendo Power, and Play. He also wants everyone to know he has one of those ultra rare Cotton tea mugs.