[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The NES Zapper Diagram

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Nintendo NES Zapper diagram from Super Mario Bros. Duck Hunt Instruction Manual - circa 1988Plug it in, plug it in. (click for full image)

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.

[ From Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt manual, 1988, p.23-24]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, what’s the best Zapper game for the NES?


See Also:
Disk Box Modern Art (RSOTW, 2014)
Simple IBM Instructions (RSOTW, 2013)
USB Instructions (RSOTW, 2013)
Game Boy is Twenty (RSOTW, 2009)

The Warning Signs of Computer Dad Syndrome

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Computer Dad SyndromeDuring 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

Clutching of the upper arm

[ Continue reading The Warning Signs of Computer Dad Syndrome » ]

[ Newsbits ] April 17, 2014

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

VC&G Newsbits Newspaper Logo

VC&G Newsbits Logo

Vintage computing and retrogaming news small enough to eat.

Recent News

  • The New Age: Leaving Behind Everything, Or Nothing At All
    A piece about digital legacies from NPR

    “Perhaps in your attic or basement there is a box of papers — letters, photographs, cards, maybe even journals — inherited from a grandparent or other relative who’s passed on. But what if that box isn’t a box at all? What if it’s an ancient laptop? And if we are starting to leave behind an increasingly digital inheritance, will it die as soon as the hard drive does?

  • Nintendo Embraces NES History in its Twitter Marketing
    I like this trend

    “Its time for #SpringCleaning! Did you find any forgotten gems while organizing your Nintendo gaming collection?

  • This 1981 Computer Magazine Cover Explains Why Were So Bad at Tech Predictions
    This piece from Harry McCracken at TIME gives a hat tip to the greatest magazine illustrator of all time

    “If you were passionate about personal computers between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the odds were high that you were a reader of Byte magazine. And if you read Byte, you were surely a fan of Robert Tinney, the artist whose cover paintings were one of the magazine’s signature features for years.

  • Solid Snake Pixel Art Graffiti
    Whoever did this is free to vandalize my office wall

    “Solid snake graff piece. I like the dude in the box. Nice touch…

  • Make Your Very Own “Game Boy Macro”
    Got a broken DS lying around? Chop off the top and you’ll have a new system.

    “i personally first saw it on kotaku made by Maarten, from the Bureau voor Gamers. so i decided i would make a couple of my own because i had some brokens DS’s laying around. decided to go with Macro, since its like a GB micro but huge.

  • Five Unemulated Computer Experiences
    Jason Scott makes a point about emulation nitpickers

    “While I and many others work to turn the experience of emulation into one as smooth and ubiquitous as possible, inevitably the corners and back alleys of discussions about this process present people claiming that there are unemulated aspects and therefore the entire project is doomed. I thought I would stoke that sad little fire by giving you five examples of entirely unemulated but perfectly valid vintage computer experiences.

Cool Links

  • The Lost Ancestors of ASCII Art
    Awesome piece I missed from January — by Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic

    “The history of ASCII art goes deeper, and much of it is told only in Geocities blog postings, abandoned websites, Google Books, and scattered PDFs across the web This post traces a fascinating and mostly lost strand of that history: The way thousands and thousands of people made typewriter art, from amateurs to avant gardists.

  • PabloDraw: A Modern ANSI Art Editor
    We don’t need no steenkin’ TheDraw. (link via @blakespot)

    “PabloDraw is an Ansi/Ascii text and RIPscrip vector graphic art editor/viewer with multi-user capabilities.

  • An Early English-Language Image Diplay from a Computer, 1957
    Dynamic text display on a CRT in 1957? Not bad.

    “The screen of the picture tube shown will present as many as 10,000 characters per second. Each character is formed by an array of bright spots, a selection from a rectangular array of a total of 35 spots, five wide and seven deep. For a capital letter T, for example, the selection is five spots across the top and six more spots down through the middle…

  • Pinterest Gallery of Ugly Computers
    One of Blake Patterson’s amazing Pinterest boards

Submit News

If you want me to include something on a future Newsbits column, send me an email with “[Newsbits]” in the subject line.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Nintendo Triple Play

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Nintendo Triple Play Game Boy NES SNES Nintendo Power Ad - 1992Oh my god, it’s full of stars

[ From Nintendo Power, February 1992, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Which system has the best game library: NES or SNES?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Dr. Mario Valentine

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Nintendo Dr. Mario Valentine Valentine's Day from 1992Friendship cures all

Valentine’s Day is this week, and boy do I have a neat retro valentine for you. When I was growing up in North Carolina, it was traditional for kids in elementary school to give valentines to every one of their classmates regardless of gender. I’m not sure how it is these days (it may be the same), but I thought I’d explain it for folks who may hail from overseas.

One year, a friend of mine named Eric gave me a Dr. Mario-themed valentine, which you see scanned above (front side on top, rear side on bottom). Amid a scene of Dr. Mario himself throwing a vitamin pill (don’t do drugs, kids) at a group of viruses, we see the words “Friendship cures all! Be my valentine.”

The valentine itself was torn off from a larger sheet of valentines, as evidenced by the perforated tear on the left side of the paper and the “fold in half” inscription near it. I’ve put it away somewhere since I scanned it last year, but I recall that it measures about four inches on its longest dimension.

The printed image bears a copyright and trademark date of 1990, which coincides with the publication of Dr. Mario for the NES. That doesn’t mean the valentine was printed in that year. In fact, a much younger Benj — ever the historian — wrote the year he received the valentine: 1992. I was in fifth grade at the time.

Good ‘ole Eric never knew his compulsory elementary school valentine to me would one day be famous on the Internet. So 21 years after I received it, let his vintage valentine be my gift to you, dear readers, this Valentine’s Day.

[ From Dr. Mario Valentine, circa 1992 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you trade valentines in school? Were any of them video game-related?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] A High-Powered Christmas

Monday, December 17th, 2012

High-Powered Greetings Nintendo Power Christmas Ad - 1992Nintendo presents deliver themselves. No Santa required.

[ From Nintendo Power, November 1992, rear cover]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever received a Nintendo console for Christmas? Tell us about it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Dr. Chaos

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Dr. Chaos for NES Nintendo Ad - 1991That purple monster skipped out mid-treatment and he’s angry!

Happy Halloween from VC&G

[ From Video Games and Computer Entertainment, Jan 1991, p.163 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s the scariest video or computer game you’ve ever played?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Gun.Smoke

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Gun.Smoke Gunsmoke Ad Nintendo Fun Club News - 1988Guns don’t kill people. My grimy hands do.

[ From Nintendo Fun Club News, April-May 1988, p.13 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever fired a gun in real life? Do any video games successfully replicate that experience?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Crystalis Tips

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Crystalis Power Playing Tips from JELLO Gelatin Pops Box NES -  1990Frozen whipped gelatin on a stick.

I recently found this cardboard tip sheet for Crystalis in a pile of my old stuff at my parents’ house. As you can see, I cut it out of a JELLO Gelatin Pops box in or around 1990.

The tip sheet seems to serve a triple marketing purpose: 1) to promote NES games (specifically Crystalis, in this case), 2) to promote the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, and 3) to promote Nintendo Power magazine.

I love finding tie-in marketing artifacts like this — I’m glad I saved it all those years ago.

[ From JELLO Gelatin Pops box, circa 1990 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you remember cutting video game tips out of boxes, magazines, or other paper publications? Tell us about it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The NES Action Set Family

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Nintendo Entertainment System NES Action Set Box Family - 1988The Euro-American family in its native habitat.

Just in time for Thanksgiving — and the ritual practice of family togetherness — comes this wonderful vintage photo from the back of the NES Action Set box. In it, we see a four-person white American nuclear family utterly consumed by a game of Super Mario Bros.

This scene looks nice at first glance, but imagine having to play through a whole game with mom and dad hanging off of your shoulders.

“Hey son.”

(Father gets in close, whispering into son’s ear.)

“Want to play some Super Mario Brothers?”

“I’m already playing, Dad.”

(Father squeezes son’s shoulder tighter.)

“My uncle’s name is Mario.”

Nintendo Entertainment System NES Action Set Box Family - 1988

Luckily, the scenario I’ve concocted above appears nowhere on the box. Still, a few amusing things about this photo jump out at me:

  • Mario is gleefully flying to his death.
  • The family apparently owns two copies of Super Mario Bros. because one is on the table, and they’re playing one in the NES.
  • The two kids are both playing a one player game at the same time. Or maybe the older brother (player 1) on the right is screwing up the little brother’s game by hitting pause at random intervals.
  • The mother and the son on the right aren’t looking at the TV set. Actually, I don’t think any of them are.

I’ve included an extra-large scan this time (when you click on the image), so you might be able to turn it into a desktop background.

For more vintage family madness, check out my latest slideshow on Technologizer.

Happy Thanksgiving!

[ From Nintendo Entertainment System Action Set Box (reverse), 1988 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever played a video game with your entire immediate family rapturously engaged in the action on screen?