Archive for the 'NES / Famicom' Category
I love retro line art diagrams; this one has to be one of the best.
These two pages from the US Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt instruction manual (you can see both pages if you click on the image above — the small two dots in the middle are holes for a staple) illustrate the proper way to plug the Zapper light gun into your "Nintendo Entertainment System Control Deck."
Much fun can be had from doing that, of course — although I spent many hours in my youth cursing the laughing dog. My dad was first in our family to try to shoot the canine as he giggled at our Duck Hunting failure. Sadly, you can't.
NES Action Set Release Date
By the way, I've seen some sources say that the NES Action set, which first debuted the combo SMB/Duck Hunt cartridge, saw its first US release in November 1988. That is definitely not true, because my brother first got an Action Set for his birthday in June 1988.
Seeking to clarify this, I just did a newspaper archive search and found mention of the "Just Arrived" NES Action set in the April 14, 1988 edition of the Ukiah Daily Journal (from Ukiah, CA, of all places). That means the Action Set was available as early as April 1988.
So take dates you see on the Internet with a grain of salt unless they are coupled with a strong source (or better yet, collection of sources) behind them.
Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, what's the best Zapper game for the NES?
During the 1980s, a debilitating disease broke out among white middle-class nuclear families across the United States. Fathers everywhere were seen awkwardly encouraging their children during regular activities — often while playing video games or using personal computers.
Thirty years later, doctors have finally identified this malady as Computer Dad Syndrome (or "CDS" for short), which manifests itself in spontaneous episodes of uncomfortably becoming someone's dad for the duration of a photography shoot.
Diagnosis of this condition is contingent upon the appearance of three or more of the following symptoms.
Clutching of the upper arm
Last month, my mother and I searched through boxes and boxes of my grandmother's old dishes to see what might be of use to me now. The dishes had been sitting in my parents' attic untouched for two decades. Many of them were padded with old newspaper from eastern Tennessee, which is where my grandmother lived until she died in 1992.
Among the usual black-ink-on-yellowing-paper fare, I found a handful of gloriously full-color advertisement circulars. A December 1989 mini-catalog for Service Merchandise caught my attention immediately because it featured a pair of Nelsonic Game Watches licensed by Nintendo. (That segment of the circular is what you see scanned above.)
Each of these two watches, which sold for ($19.97 a piece — or $38.37 today when adjusted for inflation) played a simplified prefab-LCD interpretation of its console namesake. If you remember Tiger's LCD handheld games, you're on the right track. In the Zelda watch game, you were forever trapped in a dungeon, and in Super Mario Bros. you forever hopped between platforms.
While these watch games were limited at the time, it was amazing to think you could fit a portable, battery-powered "video game" on your wrist and play it wherever you liked. I personally recall seeing more than one of these watches getting confiscated by teachers during my elementary school days.
That desire to carry functional video games with us has never abated. Heck, I bet that within days of the Apple Watch's release next year, someone will hack it to play emulated versions of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda — allowing us to finally have the full NES experience on our wrists. It may be 25 years too late, but it will be amusing to see how things have come full circle.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned a watch that played a game? Tell us about it.
Since I missed last week's column, I decided to fold some of those links into this week's edition. So there may be a few older newsbits, but at least they're still interesting.
- 2300 Console Games Now Playable on Internet Archive
'Ole pal Jason Scott writes about the sudden influx of games playable on the Internet Archive website
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working with a range of volunteers on a massive expansion of what we call the Console Living Room at the Internet Archive. Previously weighing in at about 800 game cartridges from seven console systems, the new collection is roughly 2300 cartridges and a total of 21 different consoles.
- George R. R. Martin Writes Using WordStar 4.0 in MS-DOS
I'm not surprised. To avoid distractions, I sometimes write using Word 6.0 for DOS on a Compaq Aero 4/25 laptop.
The 'Game of Thrones' author confessed to late-night talk-show host Conan O'Brien that he prefers to write his popular books on a DOS word processor instead of the latest laptop.
'I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.'
- Nintendo Forces Takedown of GBA Emulator for iOS
From the not-very-surprising department
In order to play titles like Super Mario and Zelda on your iPhone, then, you have to look at unofficial alternatives. GBA4iOS was one of the most popular — but after its creators received a DMCA notice from Nintendo this week, it is no more.
- Analogue Interactive's $499 NES Clone Up for Pre-Order
TinyCartridge reports on this fancy console with a healthy grain of salt mixed in. (Memories of Generation NEX still make me shudder.)
Analogue has opened pre-orders for its Nt, the Famicom/NES device with RGB output, four controller ports, and purported 'unparallelled'" compatibility with American and Japanese games and accessories.
- New Book About How Sega Nearly Won the Console Wars
Chris Kohler provides an overview of Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle That Defined a Generation.
If a few small things had changed, might we be gaming on a Sega PlayStation right now? That’s the picture Blake Harris paints in his new book Console Wars. It is a narrative history of the brief time period in the lifespan of the videogame publisher Sega when it was on top of the world.
- Midway Planned HD Remakes of Mortal Kombat Games
I would have really loved to see this
With the [ Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection], Midway's initial plan was to release HD remakes of the original games with new actors, and even though that's not what happened in the end, these images with Liu Kang, Sonya, Shao Kahn and the others show that the remakes would have been quite faithful to the original
- The Last Survivors of Meridian 59
A rare examination of obscure Internet game culture from a mainstream publication (The New Yorker)
Today, almost eighteen years after Meridian 59’s launch, Barloque’s streets are quiet and vacant, its cobblestones buffed and rounded by little more than a digital breeze. They are rarely visited by more than twenty people in the world at any one time.
- The Great Works of Software
Paul Ford muses about a software canon
Is it possible to propose a software canon? To enumerate great works of software that are deeply influential—that changed the nature of the code that followed?
- How Steve Wozniak Wrote BASIC for the Original Apple From Scratch
Woz himself writes for Gizmodo, re: BASIC 50th anniversary
The problem was that I had no knowledge of BASIC, just a bare memory that it had line numbers from that 3-day high-school experience. So I picked up a BASIC manual late one night at HP and started reading it and making notes about the commands of this language. Mind that I had never taken a course in compiler (or interpreter) writing in my life.
- How Sega is Rejuvinating its Classic Games in 3D
I'm not sure if "rejuvenating" is the right word here, but I welcome Sega dipping into the past
Few games have had as much attention lavished upon them as the Sega 3D Classics series. The first wave of titles was released between November and December of last year, in pairs over four successive weeks.
- Super Mario Bros. Level Belt (Etsy)
Incredible artistry — an entire Super Mario Bros. level crafted into a leather belt
The images are of a belt that I crafted for my brother, who is a big Super Mario fan, and depicts the last level of Super Mario brothers where Mario finally rescues the princess.
If you want me to include something on a future Newsbits column, send me an email with "[Newsbits]" in the subject line.
Today, PC World published my latest slideshow, The Top 1000 Video Games of All Time.
The in-depth piece — split into 1000 separate slides, each with its own paragraph of text — took over two years to create.
You may be asking yourself how one person could create such an epic work. Well, I got a little help from custom algorithms I programmed partially in Haskell — and partially in Minecraft's redstone circuitry using Boolean algebra.
But I didn't just rely on computer wizardry. Much self-deliberation went into choosing the order of the items on the list. I argued with myself for hours while sitting on the bench at a local park, on the bus, and in the North Regional Branch of the Wake County Public Library. After being arrested 13 times (twice in the nude), I decided to perform future deliberations in the privacy of my own bathroom. I feel that it made the results more pure.
Here's a sneak peek at the bottom 11:
1000. Halo (Xbox)
999. Silpheed (IBM PC)
998. Sewermania (TI-99/4A)
997. Quadrapong (Arcade)
996. Section Z (NES)
995. Pooyan (Arcade)
994. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
993. Popeye: Beach Volleyball (Game Gear)
992. Lloyd the Squirrel (???)
991. Snafu (Aquarius)
990. Descent (PC)
And here's a selection from somewhere near the middle:
555. Superman (2600)
554. Bioshock Infinite (PC)
553. Slipnosis (iOS)
552. Star Trek: Phaser Strike (Microvision)
551. Farmville (Flash)
550. Deadly Towers (NES)
As for the top 10, you may be in for a surprise. My Haskell program determined with scientific precision that the 10 greatest video games of all time are, in fact, different versions of Ms. Pac-Man:
10. Ms. Pac-Man (Apple iPod)
9. Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 2600)
8. Ms. Pac-Man (TI-99/4A)
7. Ms. Pac-Man (ColecoVision)
6. Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)
5. Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 800)
4. Ms. Pac-Man (IBM PC)
3. Ms. Pac-Man (Intellivision)
2. Ms. Pac-Man (Arcade)
1. Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 7800)
Oddly, my redstone program placed Super Mario Bros. 3 in the top 10 seven times — that's how good it is. But I can't do the same game on the same platform in multiple spots, so I compromised. To see the full, final list, you'll have to check out the slideshow yourself. I hope you enjoy it.
And remember: unlike most of my previous ranked lists, I used computer algorithms to ensure its accuracy, so don't get mad if you disagree with the list. You're completely wrong.
Discussion Topic: What are your top 1000 video games of all time?
There's a certain ultra-rare golden NES cartridge out there that originated at Nintendo World Championships 1990. Here's an advertisement for the event itself on the back of a vintage Nintendo Power magazine from 1990.
Kinda makes you want to go back in time and attend, doesn't it? Call 1-900-HOT-4NWC to find out more!
Discussion Topic of the Week: Video game competitions: interesting or boring? Debate.
My mom saves everything. Case in point, I ran across a mountain of mid-1990s coupon flyers — the kind that arrive stacked in an envelope through the mail — at her house this afternoon while I was looking for some old papers. This particular 30-cents-off coupon for Kraft's Super Mario Bros. Macaroni and Cheese from 1994 caught my eye. It measures 4.5″ x 7.5″ (for those of you at home keeping notes).
I've never eaten Super Mario Bros. mac and cheese, but I bet it was every bit as delicious as the regular noodle variety. And besides — there was an adventure in every bowl.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever eaten any food products based on licensed video game characters?
While sorting through my childhood papers and effects recently, I came across this amusing Christmas list from 1989. I was eight years old then, and I apparently ripped out pictures of the toys I wanted from weekly newspaper advertisements and pasted them on a sheet of 8.5″x 11″ wide-ruled notebook paper. The result was a rare illustrated Christmas list that I don't remember making before or since.
(I'm not sure why there is a big chunk of the page missing in the upper-right corner, by the way. Perhaps I changed my mind on some item and physically removed it from my list.)
What's notable for our purposes is the healthy contingent of video game related items on the list. There's a wireless remote for the NES, a Game Boy (which had just been released that year), and even a Sega Master System.