Space Invaders is 45 this year. It hit Japanese arcades on April 1st, 1978, before mass production kicked off on June 16th of the same year, and an urban legend quickly arose that its incredible popularity triggered a shortage of 100-yen coins in Japan. While this tale has since been debunked (production of 100-yen coins was apparently lower in 1978 than normal), the fact remains that it is one of the most famous and instantly recognisable video games of all time.
45 years is quite a remarkable milestone when you consider that many players out there won't even have been born when Taito's famous shooter was sucking up coins all over the world – and for its 79-year-old designer Tomohiro Nishikado, it's the ideal time to reflect on the impact of his most famous creation.
Speaking to Wired in a piece to mark Space Invaders' 45th anniversary, Nishikado admits that, for a while, he didn't give the game much thought:
"I didn’t have much attachment to Space Invaders for 20 years after its release. But especially during the past 10 years, I’ve discovered how many people still play and appreciate the game, and that even children know it. It’s a wonder how we were able to make it in that environment. But I now recognize Space Invaders was the best game I ever made."
While Space Invaders will always be considered Nishikado's most significant contribution to the realm of interactive entertainment, its success has somewhat overshadowed his other titles. Prior to its release, he worked on TV Basketball (1974), Speed Race (1974) and Interceptor (1976), and he is credited on Taito titles such as Chase HQ II: Special Criminal Investigation (1989), Darius II (1989), Parasol Stars: The Story of Bubble Bobble III (1991) and Bust-A-Move 2 (1995).
He founded his own studio, Dreams, after leaving Taito in 1996, only to rejoin his former employer in 2013 as a technical advisor.