For 40 years, Capcom has delivered some of the bestselling, most beloved franchises in video game history, seemingly producing new hit franchises every year while continuing to release new titles for most of their classic series. But to find out why, we’ll have to go back to a time before Capcom was even known as Capcom.
Capcom had its roots in the I.R.M. Corporation, which was founded by Kenzo Tsujimoto in 1979 in the Osaka prefecture of Japan, where it has been headquartered ever since. I.R.M. Corporation and its subsidiary Japanese Capsule Computers Co., Ltd. – both of which made arcade machines – changed its name to Sanbi Co., Ltd. in 1981. However, Capcom considers its official start to be June 1983, when Capcom Co., Ltd. itself was founded by Tsujimoto to sell software. The name “Capcom” derived from the phrase “capsule computers,” which the company used to distinguish their arcade machines from personal computers.
The company’s first official product was the coin-operated Little League machine, but its first “real” arcade video game was Vulgus, a scrolling shooter game released in 1984. In December of that year Capcom released 1942, another arcade game which became the first title in a fairly popular series referred to as 19XX. The next year it released more arcade games, including Commando and Ghosts ’n Goblins, as well as establishing Capcom U.S.A., Inc. in California to distribute Capcom’s products in the USA. At the end of 1985 the company released a port of 1942 for the Nintendo Entertainment System – Capcom’s first title on a home console. Ports of Ghosts ’n Goblins and Commando soon followed.
In August of 1987 Capcom released the arcade game Street Fighter, a fighting game which sparked one of Capcom’s biggest hit franchises. The game’s sequel, Street Fighter II (1991), was a massive success both in arcades and living rooms, and the series spawned several more games. These have included a total of five numbered entries, though most of those have had enhanced spinoffs (such as Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, and so on). A few months later, Capcom went from a fighting game to a game featuring a super fighting robot: Mega Man. The NES game (featuring notoriously awful box art) centers on a little blue android who can use the powers of his fallen enemies, and has led to several sequels and spinoff games set in various different timelines.
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