Super Game 64 Advance DS: The Nintendo Game Naming Formula Revealed!

February 13th, 2007 by Benj Edwards

Super Game 64 Color EX Advance DS '99 BoxWhat's in a name? Well, if it's the name of a game for a Nintendo console, there's a strong chance that part of the system's name will make an appearance. Popular examples of this practice include the game title Super Metroid for the Super NES and Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64. I call this phenomenon "system-naming," for lack of a better term.

System-naming is largely isolated to games produced for Nintendo systems due to the company's penchant for adding "upgrade" prefixes (the "Super" in "Super NES") or suffixes (the "64″ in "Nintendo 64″) to their system titles. We'll take a look at some instances of non-Nintendo system-naming near the end of the article.

So what does "system-naming" matter? The answer, quite simply, is nothing. Really — nothing at all. This is an exercise in pure console nerdlyness. Information for the sake of information. So if you're easily scared away by the academic study of trivial minutia, turn away now!

Still there? Ok. Let's take a look at each Nintendo system, tally up their system-named games, and see which system ultimately wins the battle of the names. All percentages have been rounded up to the next whole number. Sources for the data presented are listed at the end of each section.

Super NES: A Trend is Born

SNES System-Name PercentageSystem-naming in game titles can trace its origin back to one console: the Super Nintendo (or Super NES, also known as the Super Famicom in Japan). By simply adding a "Super" to the name of their previous console (the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES), Nintendo created a new system name that philosophically exists relative to their previous generation of products. Since the NES single-handedly resurrected an industry and defined a whole generation of video games with its astronomical success, every Nintendo product from then on would have to measure up in some fashion to that 800-pound gorilla looming nearby, casting its long, deep shadow upon history.

Logically, games that were upgraded with better graphics and sound for the new "Super" NES could carry the same prefix as the system to denote the upgrade. As a result, we saw a lot of games like Super Bomberman, Super Adventure Island, Super Metroid, or Super Castlevania IV.

Below is a list of all of the "Super" games, with some obvious ones removed that included "Super" phrases that existed independent of the system itself, like Super Mario World, Super Street Fighter II, WCW: Super Brawl Wrestling, and Kirby Super Star, although the last example could possibly be a play on the system name, as it was the first Kirby game for the SNES.

60 out of 715 games, or 8% of the entire licensed U.S. SNES catalog has a name that is derived from "Super Nintendo."

    Krusty's Super Fun House
    Super Adventure Island
    Super Adventure Island II
    Super Aquatic Games Starring The Aquabats, The
    Super Baseball 2020
    Super Baseball Simulator 1.000
    Super Bases Loaded
    Super Bases Loaded 2
    Super Bases Loaded 3: License to Steal
    Super Batter Up
    Super Battleship
    Super Battletank 2: War in the Gulf
    Super Battletank: War in the Gulf
    Super Black Bass
    Super Bomberman
    Super Bomberman 2
    Super Bonk
    Super Bowling
    Super Buster Bros.
    Super Caesars Palace
    Super Castlevania IV
    Super Chase HQ
    Super Conflict: The Mideast
    Super Double Dragon
    Super E.D.F.: Earth Defense Force
    Super Empire Strikes Back
    Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts
    Super Goal! Two
    Super Godzilla
    Super High Impact
    Super James Pond
    Super Metroid
    Super Ninja Boy
    Super Off Road
    Super Off Road: The Baja
    Super Pinball: Behind the Mask
    Super Play Action Football
    Super Punch-Out!!
    Super Putty
    Super RBI Baseball
    Super Return of the Jedi
    Super R-Type
    Super Slam Dunk
    Super Slap Shot
    Super Smash T.V.
    Super Soccer
    Super Soccer Champ
    Super Solitaire
    Super Star Wars
    Super Strike Eagle
    Super Tennis
    Super Troll Islands
    Super Turrican
    Super Turrican 2
    Super Valis IV
    Super Widget
    Tecmo Super Baseball
    Tecmo Super NBA Basketball
    TKO Super Championship Boxing
    WWF Super Wrestlemania

Source: Nintendo's Official SNES Game List PDF (http://www.nintendo.com/gamelist?category=classic)

Nintendo 64: The King of System-Naming

N64 System-Name PercentageThe next Nintendo system to have a swath of system-named games was the Nintendo 64, Nintendo's next-gen successor to the SNES. I'm not sure if it was Nintendo-mandated policy to name your games "Something 64," but there sure were a lot of them.

47 out of 291 games, or 16% of the entire licensed U.S. N64 catalog has a name that is derived from "Nintendo 64."

    Asteroids Hyper 64
    Bomberman 64
    Bomberman 64: The Second Attack
    Carmageddon 64
    Clay Fighter 63 1/3
    Daikatana 64
    Destruction Derby 64
    Donkey Kong 64
    Doom 64
    Dr. Mario 64
    Duke Nukem 64
    Excitebike 64
    F1 Pole Position 64
    FIFA Soccer 64
    Fighting Force 64
    Forsaken 64
    GEX 64: Enter the Gecko
    Golden Nugget 64
    GT 64: Championship Edition
    Harvest Moon 64
    In Fisherman Bass Hunter 64
    International Superstar Soccer 64
    Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
    Madden 64
    Mario Kart 64
    Mega Man 64
    Mia Hamm Soccer 64
    Micro Machines 64 Turbo
    Monster Truck Madness 64
    Namco Museum 64
    Nuclear Strike 64
    Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
    PilotWings 64
    Quake 64
    Quest 64
    Ridge Racer 64
    Road Rash 64
    Robotron 64
    Shadowgate 64: Trials of the Four Towers
    Star Fox 64
    StarCraft 64
    Stunt Racer 64
    Super Mario 64
    Virtual Chess 64
    Virtual Pool 64
    Wave Race 64 Kawasaki Jet Ski
    Wipeout 64

Source: Nintendo's Official N64 Game List PDF (http://www.nintendo.com/gamelist?category=classic)

Game Boy Advance: Revenge of the Suffix

GBA System-Name PercentageI don't know if anyone realizes this, but the Game Boy Advance has had more licensed titles released for it in North America than any other Nintendo system to date. The official number is currently 975 games, which is an absolutely certifiable butt-load of games. With so many games, it's no surprise that some have taken on the family name. A few games have chosen the suffix "EX" over "Advance," but that doesn't count.

55 out of 975 games, or 6% of the entire licensed U.S. Game Boy Advance catalog (as of 02/08/2007) has a name that is derived from "Game Boy Advance."

    Ace Combat Advance
    Advance Guardian Heroes
    Advance Wars
    Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
    Army Men Advance
    Atari Anniversary Advance
    Baseball Advance
    Bomberman Max 2: Blue Advance
    Bomberman Max 2: Red Advance
    Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX
    Desert Strike Advance
    Disney's Donald Duck Advance
    Double Dragon Advance
    Dragon Ball Advanced Adventure
    Driver 2 Advance
    Duke Nukem Advance
    Dynasty Warriors Advance
    Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
    Final Fantasy V Advance
    Final Fantasy VI Advance
    Gekido Advance: Kintaro's Revenge
    Grand Theft Auto Advance
    GT Advance 2: Rally Racing
    GT Advance 3: Pro Concept Racing
    GT Advance Championship Racing
    Guilty Gear X: Advance Edition
    Inspector Gadget: Advance Mission
    Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced
    Mario Golf: Advance Tour
    Mario Party Advance
    Max Payne Advance
    Metal Slug Advance
    Monster Rancher Advance
    Monster Rancher Advance 2
    Mortal Kombat Advance
    Moto Racer Advance
    Motocross Maniacs Advance
    Pac-Man Pinball Advance
    Polarium Advance
    Puyo Pop Advance
    Racing Gears Advance
    Rayman Advance
    Robot Wars: Advanced Destruction
    Serious Sam Advance
    Sonic Advance
    Sonic Advance 2
    Sonic Advance 3
    Super Dodge Ball Advance
    Super Mario Advance
    Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
    Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2
    Tekken Advance
    Tokyo Xtreme Racer Advance
    Whiffle Ball Advance
    Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3

Source: Nintendo's Online Game Database (http://www.nintendo.com/gamelist?category=all)

Nintendo DS: A New Twist on an Old Tradition

NDS System-Name PercentageWith the arrival of the DS, game developers have apparently tired of taking an obvious and boring route of just adding a plain "DS" to the end of their games' titles. Instead, developers go to great lengths to construct contrived reverse meanings for the "DS" acronym and tag them on to the end of their game names.

Without a doubt, some of the dumbest "DS" reverse acronyms are Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy, Guilty Gear Dust Strikers, Dig Dug Digging Strike, and Resident Evil: Deadly Silence. Since the Nintendo DS has plenty of life left in it, expect this trend to continue well into the future.

Just for trivia's sake, the DS is the home of the only game with two system suffixes in its title, Super Mario 64 DS. It would be three if the "Super" in "Super Mario" counted.

31 out of 294 games, or 11% of the entire licensed U.S. Nintendo DS catalog (as of 02/08/2007) has a name that is derived from "Nintendo DS."

    Advance Wars: Dual Strike
    Bust-a-Move DS
    Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
    Diddy Kong Racing DS
    Dig Dug Digging Strike
    Digimon World DS
    DK King of Swing DS
    DS Air
    Dynasty Warriors DS
    Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy
    Guilty Gear Dust Strikers
    Harlem Globetrotters World Tour DS
    Harvest Moon DS
    Lunar: Dragon Song
    Mage Knight: Destiny's Soldier
    Mario Kart DS
    Mr. DRILLER: Drill Spirits
    Panzer Tactics DS
    Rayman DS
    Resident Evil: Deadly Silence
    Ridge Racer DS
    SBK: Snowboard Kids DS
    Spider-Man 2 DS
    Super Mario 64 DS
    Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop DS
    Tao's Adventure: Curse of the Demon Seal
    Tenchu: Dark Secret
    Tetris DS
    World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series
    Yoshi's Island DS
    Zoo Tycoon DS

Source: Nintendo's Official Game List (http://www.nintendo.com/gamelist)

Everything Else: Nintendo Systems with Negligible System-Naming

Negligible System-Name PercentageThe NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Virtual Boy systems all have either a couple or no games named after the system. So what happened?

Well, the NES started it all, so it's what all other Nintendo systems are compared to. The closest you can get to system-naming on the NES are the games NES Open Tournament Golf, NES Play Action Football, and Nintendo World Cup Soccer. The NES was the home of the original games — like Metroid, Zelda, Castlevania, and even Tennis — that were typically upgraded with affixes later.

The original Game Boy had its own unique name that wasn't a play on either "Nintendo" or "NES" (i.e. it's not the "Nintendo Boy" or "Mini NES") . But, in turn, it would be "name upgraded" like the NES was with the "Game Boy Advance" later on. Also, the suffix "Boy" isn't generic enough to add to every game out there. Imagine "Metroid Boy," "Super Mario Boy," "WWF Wrestlemania Boy," or "Barbie Fashion Boy" and you'll get the idea. There was one "Boy"-derived game title — Blaster Master Boy — and one "Game Boy" title, Bill & Ted's Excellent Game Boy Adventure, but that's it. Once the smaller Game Boy Pocket was released, a few titles played off of either that or just the portability of the Game Boy in general, like Pokémon (a contraction of the term "Pocket Monsters"), Pocket Bowling, and Pocket Bomberman.

The Game Boy Color had its own pseudo system-naming suffix in the form of "DX," which appeared in titles such as Tetris DX, Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, R-Type DX, and to some extent, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. Two games included the system term "Color:" Ms. Pac-Man Special Color Edition and Pac-Man Special Color Edition. Other than that, the GBC library is conspicuously lacking more "Color" games.

Did you know that 7% of the entire Virtual Boy game catalog released in the US begins with "Virtual?" Well, sure…it's 7%, but 7% of fourteen games ever released in North America. So only one game, Virtual League Baseball carries that distinction. However, I have no doubt that if the Virtual Boy had stayed around long enough, there would have been many more game titles christened with the "Virtual" prefix.

Source: Nintendo's Official PDF Game Lists (http://www.nintendo.com/gamelist?category=classic)

The World Beyond Nintendo

Genesis System-Name PercentageNotice how this article only focuses on Nintendo-released game systems? Other companies just don't seem to "get it" when it comes to system-naming. What's up, Sega? Why the "Genesis?" Why not the "Super Sega Master System?" And why give a console a dumb name like the "Saturn" when it could have been the "Genesis Plus?"

No other game hardware company seems to be into upgrade affixes like Nintendo. The closest any organization has ever come was Atari with their Atari 400 / 600/ 800 / 1200XL / 130XE (etc…) 8-bit computer line and their Atari 2600 / 5200 / 7800 game consoles. Still, I can't think of any games with "7800″ or "5200″ in the title, can you?

There are no games for the Sega Genesis that carry the system title. However, there are two games that carry the Japanese title of the system, which is "Mega Drive." Those games are Mega Bomberman and Mega Turrican, but those were the only "Mega" games released in the US, so I'm not sure how many there were in Japan.

And sure, the Sega CD, Sega 32X, and the Xbox 360 use upgrade affixes, but there aren't many games for those systems that used system-derived titles. I haven't made a study of it, but I know there's at least one Sega CD title, Sonic CD, that carries the system name. There were no games for the 32X that included "32X" in the title (according to Wikipedia, anyway). And the Xbox 360? You got me on that one. I doubt there are any "360″-titled games, but feel free to let me know about in the comments section!

Playstation? Playstation 2? Playstation 3? Not much luck there either.

The Future of System-Related Game Names

WiiSo, aside from absolutely nothing, what have we learned about the practice of system-naming? Mostly that publishers who produce titles for Nintendo like to do it a lot, and that they'll probably continue to do so as long as Nintendo keeps using upgrade affixes in their system titles. The current generation of Nintendo systems is split in the system-naming department. There's the Nintendo DS, which is the new standard-bearer of system-naming, but then there's the Wii. With Nintendo's release of a console that only goes by "Wii" and not "Nintendo Wii," the future of non-portable system-naming looks bleak. That is, of course, until Nintendo releases the "Super Wii" or the "Wii 256," which will start the cycle all over again.

Yeah, there have been a few games like Wii Sports and Wii Play that include the Wii system name so far, but I don't think that trend will be very popular. If anything, expect more titles that play on the pun of "Wii" = "we." Regardless, I can't wait until the Wii version of the sequel to iNeed (aka iNeed 2 Wii) is released next December.



17 Responses to “Super Game 64 Advance DS: The Nintendo Game Naming Formula Revealed!”

  1. kyle Says:

    wow…great article.

  2. arlandi Says:

    man, this is another proof that with a lot of extra time, a person can really wrote theories about anything.

    :))

    but great article though!

  3. Erik Says:

    This is what the internet is about.

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    Hehe…it is, indeed. Where else could you find information you never wanted to know? :)

  5. Stilton Says:

    What about "Gear" for the Sega Game Gear? Yes, this is a minor system (not so much compared to Saturn, Master System, SG-1000, or SC-3000), and yes, "Gear" is not as common as the Nintendo suffixes and prefixes, but it deserves a mention, if not a footnote! Oh wait!

  6. Benj Edwards Says:

    Good point, Stilton! I didn't even think about the Game Gear. Were there any "Gear" games released for it?

  7. KitsuneDarkStalker Says:

    I love this hardcore indepth stuff! Please make more!

  8. Tzvi Says:

    Actually two of the SNES games should not be there. Super Off-Road and Super Off Road: The Baja were both arcade games and had those exact names. In fact the first game came out for the original NES and was called Super Off Road on that console.

  9. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks for the correction, Tzvi. I knew I was bound to miss some of them.

  10. Toad64 Says:

    Actually you can up the numbers on the Virtual Boy games quite a bit, as I just checked my Wario Land cartridge and sure enough, the full title is "Virtual Boy Wario Land", also normally referred to as VB Wario Land.

  11. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Toad. I actually have that cart and should have looked at it. Are any of the other VB games like that?

  12. jake Says:

    sweet article, really makes you think about the good ole times. keep up the work!!

  13. Rob Says:

    If you're looking at console names as well the XBox=> to XBox 360 is pretty blatant.

  14. joel Says:

    I have to point out that the Genesis was called "Sega Mega Drive" in Europe as well, not only Japan.
    So here in Europe the few titles with "Mega" in them made sense.

  15. m@! Says:

    I'm certain we would all agree that the naming scheme for the the re-release of the Mario series for the GBA was fairly awkward.

    Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Bros. 2
    Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
    Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2
    Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3

  16. a1rh3ad Says:

    The prefix in the game titles are there for parents and young kids to distinguish the different versions of the game. Super = SNES, 64 = 64 bit famicom, Dx = GBC, DS = GBDS, advance = GBA and so on and so on. It dates way back to the old PCs (even predating comadore64) when specific software was designed for only one of many different OS's and hardware. And remember when your parents bought you that atari 2600 (or visa versa) game by mistake? They had different game cartridges for updated hardware. Doesn't need a long drawn out explanation about marketing, this is one of the most retarded articles I've read.

  17. bobby Says:

    To further illustrate this article's point, games released in Japan for the Satellaview attachment were commonly prefixed with BS. It stood for either Broadcast Station or Best Selection depending on the title.

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