Hello, everyone. Doctor Sparkle, here, and welcome toChrontendo Episode 1, the Revised Edition. “Now, what’s this?”, you say.”Revised Edition?” Well, yes. Back in 2007, when I did the veryfirst episode of Chrontendo, I wasn’t really satisfied with the results(especially concerning the sound) so I’ve gone ahead and basicallyre-recorded Chrontendo Episode 1. It’s basically just a newer improvedversion of that same original episode. For those of you just now tuning in,Chrontendo is an attempt to play every single game released for theNintendo Entertainment system (or the FamiCom, as it was called inJapan) and we’ll be playing all these (rather than just looking at them)in chronological order. This will hopefully allow us to learnsomething about one of the most beloved video game consoles of all time,as well as a bit about the history of Nintendo and, sort of, videogame development in general. But first, let’s start off by taking a brief look at the history of Nintendo, themselves. Nintendo was actually founded,way back in 1889, in Kyoto. The original purpose of the companywas to produce Hanafuda EX, which is a sort of Japanese playing card. Over the years, they diversified a bit; they came out with westernstyles of playing cards and tried their hand at other things,like a taxi company and a chain of hotels. But, really, for the first halfof the 20th century, Nintendo was primarilya card manufacturer. Probably the most significant personin the history of Nintendo was Hiroshi Yamauchi(the grandson of the original founder). When he took over the company in 1956, that’s really when Min… Nintendobegan to change its focus. One figure who was instrumental inthis massive change was Gunpei Yokoi. He designed an enormouslypopular toy, called the Ultra Hand. After the success of the Ultra Hand,Nintendo sort of switched its focus, [and] wants to become a toy company. Yokoi, himself, designedmany of these early toys, including some very earlyversions of Nintendo light guns. Nintendo also moved on into electronics and, by the end of the ’70s, hadmoved into the arcade video game field. As was standard practice,most o’ their early arcade games were very derivative of otherarcade hits, such as Space Invaders. Of course, all this changed, mostly due toa young man named Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto would eventually becomeNintendo’s preeminent personality and game designer (and one of the most influentialfigures in the history of video gaming). His career took off when he was calledin to design a video game that could be converted from unsold copiesof a game called Radar Scope. Depending on whom you ask,Radar Scope was either an enormous hit in Japan thatfailed to sell any copies in the U.S., or was just an overall flop. Either way, Nintendo of Americahad a whole bunch of these things sitting in their warehouse andthey requested a conversion kit, so these could [get] changedinto a different new game. The resulting game, Donkey Kong,was released to arcades in 1981, and was a huge hit inboth the U.S. and Japan. It was unlike any other gameon the market and created the vogue for what wenow call platform games. Nintendo followed up Donkey Kongwith more arcade hits, like Donkey Kong Jr. and Popeye. Now, for a while, Nintendo had also been interested ingetting into the home console market. They had released some Pong clones,under the name T.V. Game,
They had released some Pong clones,under the name T.V. Game, in the late ’70s, and shortly thereafter, a series of handheld L.E.D. games,designed by Gunpei Yokoi, hit the market. Yokoi would eventually designsomething called the Game Boy, but Game and Watch wasthe first entry for Nintendo into the world of portable gaming. Finally, in 1983, Nintendo ve… unveiledits cartridge-based console: the Family Computer(or the FamiCom, for short). A few years later, it would be releasedin the U.S. (in a re-designed form) as the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Japanese FamiCom has a rathereye-catching red and white color scheme as well as two controllers that areactually hard-wired into the console. Now, back in 1983, the FamiComwas a pretty sophisticated system. It featured an 8-bit processor,2 kilobytes of RAM, and could display 16 colorsand 64 sprites on the screen at one time. The Japanese home video game marketwas pretty much untapped at this point, and the FamiCom was an instant success. Let’s start back in the gloriousyear of 1983, on July 15th. The FamiCom debuted that day,with three games as launch titles. Like most new systems, releases for theFamiCom came pretty slowly at first. There were a total of ninegames released in 1983. And a quick word aboutthe FamiCom cartridges: The FamiCom games are acompletely different size and shape than the U.S.Nintendo Entertainment System carts. As you can see, they’re sort of shortand squat and fit snugly into the FamiCom game boxes (which tend tosort of be longer than they are tall). Alright, well, let’s get going. Here it is! The very first game forthe Nintendo FamiCom: a port of their arcade game,Donkey Kong. This was one of threelaunch titles for the system. Note the sorta’ weird musicplaying during the title screen, and this even has, sorta’,like, an attract mode. If you don’t touch anything, you’ll startseeing a little demo of the game playing. It’s almost like Nintendo thinks it’smaking an arcade game, somehow. Once ya’ press a button, the actualgame will start, and then you’ll find you’re playing an extremely accurateand convincing port of Donkey Kong. I’m going to assume that, perhapsthe major selling point of the FamiCom, when it first came out was, “Hey! You can play games likeDonkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., at home and it’s just likeplaying the arcade version.” This certainly makes sense. If you think about it,two of the biggest selling titles for the Atari 2600 were ports ofSpace Invaders and Pac-Man. The original Donkey Kong, designed byShigeru Miyamoto, hit arcades in 1981. Am I the only guy who’s everbeen bothered by the fact that Donkey Kong looks completely different,on the “How High Can You Get” screen? Well, doing a side by side comparison(here’s the FamiCom version again) you’ll see just how close this thing was. There were, of course, a few compromises. For example (I assume to save space)the little, sort of, introductory sequence with Donkey Kong climbing the buildinghas been cut and an entire level (the so-called Pie Factory)has been removed, as well. But still, this must have astonishedgamers when they first saw it. As a point of comparison,let’s take a look at some of the earlier home versions of Donkey Kong. Here, for example, isthe old Atari, uh, 2600 (really not that old; it came out in 1982) but it’s only a rough approximationof the actual Donkey Kong game.
but it’s only a rough approximationof the actual Donkey Kong game. The ColecoVision Donkey Kong,by contrast, was a major selling point for the console. This was considered near-miraculousin its fidelity to the arcade game, even though, certainly,there are some differences (like the fact that the little barrelsdon’t explode when you hit ’em with the, uh, hammer). I’m going to assume that everyoneout there more or less knows how to play Donkey Kong. You control Mario (or Jumpman, ashe was called in the original version). Ya’ need to climb to the top of thesevarious levels, avoiding things like barrels and, uh, other thingsDonkey Kong throws at you. Here’s the final level, here. You gotta’ remove all those rivetsthat are holding the platforms in place, which will cause Donkey Kongto fall on his head. In terms of historical importance,Donkey Kong was the first platform game, the game that sort of broughtNintendo to America, the game that introducedboth Donkey Kong and Mario. You might say that virtually all ofNintendo’s later successes were, sort of, built on the foundation of Donkey Kong. So, this is a pretty auspiciousstart for the FamiCom! And, naturally, the second gameto be released for the FamiCom (once again, a launch title)was Donkey Kong Jr., the 1982 sequel to theoriginal Donkey Kong. As before, we have sort of that, sort of,generic-looking title screen and, like, a little arcade-style demo mode. Donkey Kong was perhapsa bit harder, in the first game (certainly had a bit morevariety in the type of play). One thing to remember:this was actually a pretty new game; it hit arcades in 1982. Let’s take a look at theoriginal arcade version, here. Mario has captured Donkey Kongand is keeping him in a cage. The main question here is,”Who is the second Mario? Is that Luigi, dressed in red?”(always been a bit o’ mystery). This game portrays Marioas a whip-wielding villain sending all these weird littlecreatures after Donkey Kong Jr. Something else youmay have wondered is, “What, exactly, isDonkey Kong Jr. wearing?”. He’s got some little,kind of, white outfit on. It’s odd that a monkeywould be wearing clothing. As I mentioned, Donkey Kong Jr.is kind of a tough game. Falling more than aboutone centimeter will kill you and there’s various thingsthat will fall on you or hit you. The gameplay has been changed a bit,from the original Donkey Kong. There’s still some running and jumping,but the game is also, sort of, based around the mechanicsof climbing ropes or chains. All the climbing actually reminds meof the various vines and whatnot you would find in Super Mario games. Just like Donkey Kong, there weresome cuts made to the home version. The little introductorysequences are not there. You don’t get to see Mario, uh,pulling up Donkey Kong in the cage, while some Bach organ music plays. It’s interesting to note that,while Donkey Kong Jr. was a pretty big arcade hit, Nintendo’sfuture was a little shaky, at this point. They were currently in the middleof a lawsuit with Universal, over the use of “Donkey Kong”. Universal was claiming that thiswas based on King Kong which, supposedly, they had the copyright to. They sued Nintendo,gave them a cease and desist order,
games mahjong play They sued Nintendo,gave them a cease and desist order,
They sued Nintendo,gave them a cease and desist order, and this was not resolved until 1984. (I think the appealsactually dragged on ’til 1986.) Nintendo won and gotsome damages from Universal. Okay, so going back to the game, here. We’re about at the final level. This is it, here. It involves climbing chains andpushing keys up into the locks, there. This will free Donkey Kongand send Mario tumbling. After this, the levels will just repeat(just like in Donkey Kong). Ah! Evil Mario has been defeated. Hopefully this is the lastwe’ll ever hear of that guy. And, the third and final launch titlefor the FamiCom was Popeye (yet another port of a 1982Nintendo arcade game – this one, perhaps not quite so successfulas Donkey Kong or Donkey Kong Jr., but I certainly remember seeing it quitea bit in the arcades, back in the day). All these games havevery similar title screens. Nintendo sort of was aiming for, like, somekind of consistency across their releases, with the virtually identical title screens,the little music, very similar box art… Once again, the arcade game wasdesigned by Shigeru Miyamoto. He originally wanted to make a, uh,Donkey Kong, based on Popeye, but couldn’t get the rights. If you look at the intro here, you’ll noticeyou’ll see little things like, uh, word balloons, and a… a bit more of a little story beingtold between Popeye and Bluto and Olive Oyl. Unfortunately, the FamiComversion couldn’t quite capture this. Popeye is definitely the best looking of thethree arcade games that are on display, here, and the FamiCom wasn’tquite able to capture this. As we can see, the visuals take a bit of a hit. This is not quite the accurate port thatDonkey Kong (and Donkey Kong Jr.) was. The object, here, is to catch allthe various objects that Olive Oyl throws at you, while avoiding Bluto. There is a spinach that’ll appear, once per level. If ya’ grab that, you can then knock Blutoout and send him crashing into the ocean. This’ll buy you a few moments of extra time. Also, you can’t let the objects fall into the ocean now and get wet; otherwise, you’ll lose. Later levels get a bit more difficult(three levels altogether). One interesting little footnote: Popeye, along with Donkey Kongand a few other titles, were supposedly co-developed bya Japanese [electronics] company called Ikegami Tsushinki. They apparently did some ofthe coding for this game and, when Nintendo proceeded toduplicate this code, Ikigami sued them. The lawsuit was not resolved until 1989. Well, with Popeye, that wraps upthe launch of the FamiCom. Let’s now fast forward to August 1983,for the first original titles for the system. Alright, Nintendo, so you just releasedports of your three big arcade hits for your new console;what are you gonna’ do next? Well, like video game publishers,everywhere, you release some versions of non-copyrighted board games. In this case, it’s Gomoku Narabe Renju. Gomoku is actually a pretty simplelittle game that’s actually played on a Go board, using Go pieces, butit’s much simpler than the game, Go. The object, here, is that black and whitetake turns putting down pieces and you’re gonna’… gonna’try to get five pieces in a row. The rules are that black goes first. Now, there is sort of a catch. It turns out that, if black goesfirst they can always win.
It turns out that, if black goesfirst they can always win. Therefore, this is actually a variationof Gomoku, called Renju. This is Gomoku, with a few extra rulesand restrictions in place, that prevent whoever goes firstfrom always winning. Gomoku (just like Go)is an old Chinese game, but the name “Gomoku” is Japanese. It means something like”Five Pieces Line Up”. If you’re a kid that grew up in the U.S.,you’ll probably think this game looks a lot like Connect Four. There’s a few different options on this cart. You can play against the computeror you can play against another person. I’m playin’ against the computer, here. And, you know, it turns out I’mactually not a very good Gomoku player. It’s funny; I would always beatmy cousin at Connect Four ([I] guess the computer’sa bit smarter than my cousin). The game does give you little hintslike when the computer’s about to get five in a row,their pieces will start flashing. Now, the first three games we sawwere all released in the U.S, for the Nintendo Entertainment System,in 1985, but Gomoku Narabe is the first Japan-onlytitle for the FamiCom. Obviously, when Nintendo of Americawas picking out potential releases for U.S. release,they decided to pass this one over. This is something we’ll seea lot of in Chrontendo. Certain games will have, sorta’, like,an universal appeal, like Donkey Kong, and certain games, Nintendodecides simply only the Japanese would be interested in playing. Of course game fans andpublishers often disagree, as to what games they would like to play,leading to a lot of frustration in the United States and Europe,over all the great games released in Japan, but not over here. With this one, though, I don’t reallythink that we’re missing that much. Sure, this is a fun little game to play,but nothing too spectacular. Released the same day asGomoku Narabe, is Mahjong! Now, if you’re like most westerners,you’ve probably never actually played the game of Mahjong. You may have played that gamethat comes on Windows computers, but that’s not the actualgame of Mahjong. That’s just sort of a matching gamethat, uh, uses the Mahjong tiles. It’s been released under variousnames over the years, such as Shanghai or Solitaire Mahjong. Mahjong is sort of like a card game,only instead of being played with cards, it’s played with small painted tiles. There are several [suits]. For example, here, you see I havequite a few of the, uh, bamboo [suit]. Other [suits] have a series of dotson them or Chinese characters. Now, this is not the firstMahjong video game; Mahjong games were among thevery first video games made in Japan. For example, here’sRoyal Mahjong, from Nichibutsu, originally released back in 1981. In real life, Mahjong isnormally played with four people. Though, since theadvent of computer games, a certain, sort of, special variationon Mahjong has emerged, in which you play one-on-onehead-to-head with the computer. Now, the odds are that youprobably don’t play Mahjong and I certainly don’t play Mahjong(seems like here in the United States, the only folks who play itare little old Jewish ladies) so I can’t really tell you toomuch about whether this is a good version of the game or not. I suppose it looks decent. But, in Asia, Mahjong video gamesare enormously popular, so it’s not too surprising that one ofthe very first games Nintendo released for the FamiCom was,in fact, a Mahjong game. It certainly paid off for Nintendo. This was one of the biggest sellingtitles, over the entire system’s lifespan. And, I should point out that,over the course of Chrontendo, we’ll be seeing many manymore Mahjong games. And, hot on the heels of Mahjongcomes Mario Bros. No, no; not that game -the original Mario Bros. This game is notable for a lot o’ reasons. It’s the first game where Mario sorta’steps out of the shadows of Donkey Kong (also notable for being the firstgame where Luigi is introduced). A few recurring themes in the Marioseries sort of make their debut, here. Once again, Mario Bros. is a port…but it’s actually a port of a pretty recent title! The arcade Mario Bros. came out in 1983(same year as this FamiCom version). The FamiCom couldn’t quite,apparently, replicate that rather fancy littletitle screen there. Much like the Donkey Konggames and Popeye, Mario Bros. is apretty good looking port. Obviously the colors are a bitmore brighter, in the arcade version, there’s a bit more detail, but, uh,compared to what we’ve been seeing… Well, here, for example,is the Atari 2600 port of Mario Bros. This came out in 1983 as well. And, while this is clearly Mario Bros.,it’s certainly been compromised quite a bit. So what’s goin’ on here? Well, back in Donkey Kong,Mario was apparently a carpenter. Now he’s gotten a new jobas a plumber and there’s some sort of majorplumbing emergency going on, with all kinds of turtles and crabsand fireballs coming out of the pipes. Mario’s job? Well, rather than to fix the plumbing,better kill all the animals that’re comin’ out. Oh, here’s a bonus level herewhere the object is to collect coins (the coins being one of the thingsthat sort of debuted in this game, along with Luigi, as seen here,and, of course, the koopas, which in this game areactually called “shell creepers”). Mario Bros. is a collaborationbetween Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi. Apparently Yokoi came up withsome of the basic design ideas like, uh, having multiple levels, here (and, of course, Mario not dyingif he falls off one of the platforms). Of course, in comparisonto the later Mario games, the jumping mechanicsare actually quite primitive. Once in mid air,you cannot control your jump at all. Well, Mario Bros. was the lastof Nintendo’s big arcade hits that were ported to the system,which raises the obvious question: what were they gonna’ do next? Okay, let’s set the stage, here. It’s late November 1983, there hasn’t been a new game releasedfor the FamiCom in two and a half months, Nintendo has already portedall its big arcade hits to the system… What are they gonna’ do now? Start porting stuff like Radar Scope? They can’t exactly ask Miyamototo crank out a new game every two weeks, but, still, they have to have somethingon this new console, don’t they? Well, the solution is obvious! Just rip some of the spritesfrom one of their existing titles and make a brand new game. Because, of course, thisis a Family Computer (it’s supposed to be good for kids,not turn their brains into mush) it’s gonna’ be an educational game,this time starring Popeye. So, as a result, we getPopeye no Eigo Asobi. And, of course, if you don’tremember this game from when you were a youngperson, that’s because it was only released in Japan. It’s a game that’s supposed to teachJapanese kids English alphabet and words. You start by choosing a categoryand then a word will come up. Then Popeye runs aroundand selects the correct letters (shows you the word in Japanese andyou have to translate it into English). Every time he gets a letter wrong,Bluto will punch the punching bag and knock Swee’Pea a little bitcloser to the, uh, edge, there. I love the, uh, charminglittle skulls that appear, whenever you choosethe wrong letter. Nowadays, I think that the suggestionof harming an infant in such a fashion might be considered a bittaboo for games, but, uh, Let’s see what actually happens. Will Swee’Pea actually drown? Oh! Thank goodness!Saved… just in time. There’s a few differentgameplay variations, here. Other than the one we just saw,this next one, here, doesn’t actually show you the word in Japanese -only has the English words, so it might be a bit difficult toguess what the word is gonna’ be. You’re goin’ to have to picka few random letters first and hope you get lucky. And the last gameplay variationis one for two players only. You and Bluto compete to catchletters that Olive Oyl is throwing. This one is set in the,uh, Sea Hags level. Well, I guess we dolearn something from this. Even in Japan, educational gamesare really not a whole lot of fun. We enter the all-importantmonth of December with “Baseball”. This would be the sp… firstsports game from Nintendo. Make a note of that music,because we’ll be hearing the exact same music in the game,”Tennis”. Now, as we start the game, here,notice that it actually allows you to choose your team, representedby those little letters, there. We’ll discuss that in more detail,in just a moment. Now, it’s a long-standingvideo game tradition that, when video game makerscome out with a new console, usually one of the very first things theydo is put out some sports games on it. And that’s exactly what Nintendois doing; we’re gonna’ be covering Baseball, Tennis, and Golf,this episode. If ya’ think about it, this makes sense. I mean Nintendo didn’t wantto invest too many resources into creating brand new games. So, they just sorta’ stuck withsome of the standard formulas, while they waited to see howthe whole thing kinda’ worked out. Baseball video games have beenaround for quite some time, going back to the veryearliest days of home consoles. There’ve also been somebaseball arcade games. Let’s take a look at some, now. Here, for example, is Double Play,from M… Midway, from 1977. A lot of early baseball gamestended to look kinda’ like this. Major advances in sports gameswere made with the release of the Intellivision, which was known for itsreasonably realistic sports games. Here isAll Star Major League Baseball This was conkidered…considered to be pretty… pretty hot, stuffback in the day. This is, I suppose,a somewhat reasonable, you know, facsimile of howbaseball’s actually played. Now, let’s take a look atsomething for the ColecoVision: Super Action Baseball, from 1983. The ColecoVision was themost graphically advanced home console, at the time,though in this case the game suffers from a prettyugly color scheme and horrible little,uh, animations of the characters running around. And then, suddenly, oneyear later we jump to this. Wow. What a difference! Look at the players! They have, like,uniforms on and everything! And, relatively realistic animations. And, furthermore, the game evenhas two different camera angles! When you’re batting or pitching,the camera’s sort of zoomed in, right on the diamond;when ya’ hit a ball, then, like, suddenly it goes back out andyou can see the entire outfield. You can see a scoreboardin the background, you can see people in theaudience; it’s very nice! Now, like a lot ofearly baseball games, the controls on thisare pretty simple. You mostly just controlthe pitcher and the batter. You use the button to eitherswing the bat or throw the pitch. The D-Pad’ll let you moveyour bat around a bit or give you a certain amount ofcontrol over the kind of pitch (you know, fast ball,to the left, to the right). You have a very limited controlover the players in the outfield. Once they have the ball, usethe D-Pad to control the throw. For example, pressing Upwill throw to second base, pressing Right will throwto first base, and so on. Now of course, back then,if you take a look at this game, like, nowhere in the gameor on the box are there any sorts of names of baseball playersor any of the sports teams or… or anything that wouldhave to be licensed. This game is in no way affiliatedwith any sort of, like, Major League Baseballteam or product, but it still does(in sort of a sly way) refer to actual teams. Like, for example, it shows you thefirst letter of each team’s names. Now, here, for example, “D” ispresumably the Dodgers, based on theiruniform color scheme. So, even though the game doesn’tactually mention the Dodgers, you can still sorta’ feellike you’re playing them. But, still, I don’t believe there’sany sort of, like, differences between the teams, in terms ofthe stats or anything [like] that. The only real differences aresimply the colors of the uniforms. Well, I’d say Baseball’s,all in all, a pretty good game, and for Nintendo’s first sports game,it is, uh, pretty impressive. For our final game of 1983,we have one that you probably hated, if your parents got itfor you, back then. It’s”Donkey Kong Jr. no Sansuu Asobi” or, as we call it in the U.S.,”Donkey Kong Jr. Math”. And, yup, just like that Popeyegame, this is an educational game. And it was undoubtedlya quickie game that, uh, was made simply so they couldre-use some of the sprites from Donkey Kong Jr. Well, so anyway, if you don’t recall this game,this is how it works: It displays a number,up at the top of the screen, and you’re supposed to jumparound and collect the numbers [and] the mathematical symbols,in order to get everything to add up to that particular number. For example,here we’re supposed to get 77. We already have nine, so we’regonna’ grab the times symbol, and then grab 8. That’ll take us up to 72. Then, all we have to do afterthat is find 5 and add that. Now, this is a 2 player game only,so the pink Donkey Kong (I assume that’sDonkey Kong Jr.’s sister) should also be trying to do theexact same thing at the same time. There’s a second optionon the title screen. That’s simply the exact same game,except the numbers involved are larger. And there’s one last final option as well. Either way, this is probably not a gameyou really would have enjoyed playing, you know, back in, uh, 1985, whenit came out in the United States, and it’s probably not a gamethat you’d really enjoy playing now. Presumably Nintendo createdthese games, so they could (like I said earlier) re-use someexisting sprites and to make a game that was, in theory, “educational”,but they pretty much dropped the whole educational game,uh, thing almost immediately. From this point forward,generally speaking, educational games wouldbe left to other publishers. By the time 1984 opened,it was pretty clear the FamiCom was gonna’ be a success in Japan. Despite that, this st… year stillstarted kinda’ slowly for releases. In fact, only six games werereleased in the first half of 1984 (as compared to nine gamesfor the previous six months). In fact, we really won’t seethe pace of new FamiCom games pick up until pretty late in 1984. Alright! So let’s get January 1984rolling with “Tennis”! This was, in fact, the onlygame released in January. Now, one thing you may havenoticed here, is Nintendo’s sorta’ tryin’ to go for, like, ahouse style, with their title screens. They all look pretty much the same. They’ve all got a very simple logo,couple different play options, the Copyright Nintendoagainst a black background, usually a short littlemusical tune will be playing… Eventually they would geta bit more creative, but for the time being,this was sort of, like, the look that they were going for. Also, the FamiCom box art hada very similar feel to it, as well. All the box artkind of looked the same. So, anyway, here we have “Tennis” (which is, obviously, basedon the real life game of tennis). Now, I’ve gotta’ confess; I usually don’t really like videogames based around tennis. I guess part of the problem is that,you know, you ha… you have to sort of depict a 3D reality(a ball moving towards you) you know,in a two dimensional video game, which is really not that easy,especially back at this time, but here Nintendo does manageto do a pretty admirable job. They’ve depicted the tennis courtfrom a top down perspective, but it’s sort of slightly angled. There’s a bit ofperspective in the court. For the tennis ball, they actuallyuse several different sprites, so it gets bigger,as it comes towards you, and as it recedesit just becomes a tiny dot. There’s also a shadow on the ball,which gives you some assistance interpreting how highoff the ground the ball is and the shadow alsogets smaller and larger. So, from a strictlytechnical perspective, the game is pretty impressivein the way it tries to depict a ball moving back and forth in space. Now, something elseinteresting, here. The referee looks a lot like Mario! (Well, he’s a littleshort guy with a mustache.) He’s not dressed like Mario, butthis does appear to be Mario’s first, kind of, cameo appearancein a sports game. Nintendo would later go on toput him in all their golf games. So, it appears,even at this early stage, Mario was essentiallythe Nintendo mascot. The game plays pretty simply. Move your, uh,figure back and forth, using the D-Pad;use the button to swing. If you hit the button, like, hardor s… or softly, that’ll, sort of, control the strength of the…of the swing, just a bit. The title screen allows youto select the difficulty option. Back then, video games had awhole lot of difficulty options. I mean, they still do nowadays,but in the days of the 2600, for example, there were always,like, fifty different options on every video game. So, while Tennisisn’t exactly fantastic, it’s, uh, still plays pretty good,and I’d say it’s a lot better than some of the otherthird party tennis games [that] would eventuallycome out for the system. Alright, so you’ve donesome basic board games, you’ve got a few sports gameson the system, so what’s next? Well, something a lot ofvideo game developers would do would be to create a pinball game. At this time (the early ’80s)pinball was still quite popular in the arcades. A lot o’ decent-sizedvideo arcades would have some pinball tables in there, as well (and, of course,they had been in arcades much longerthan video games). Thus, we haveNintendo’s “Pinball”. Now, something that’s alittle cool and different, here, is that this game ha…actually has two screens. There’s sorta, like,a top half and a bottom half. When the ball drops down below,it goes into the lower screen, and if you shoot it back up,it goes back [to the] top screen. This allowed Nintendo to, sort of,create a bigger pinball table. Now, how does the thing control? Well, it’s kind of a unique setup. With your right hand, you canhit either of the two buttons; this will control the right flipper. With your left hand,you control the D-Pad (doesn’t matter whichdirection you push it in); this will do the left flipper. So, this gives the gamesomewhat of a feel, like a real pinball machine. Now, if you saw theAmerican cover, there, a moment ago,you might be wondering, “Why is Mario on the cover? What’s he haveto do with this game?”. Well, he actually does haveanother cameo, just like Tennis, though this one’sa bit more hidden. I guess this might beone of the first examples of, like, a hidden mini-game,inside a larger game. Of course, it’s reallynot that well hidden. In fact, if you playthis for a little while, you’ll eventually come[across] it, mostly by accident. On the bottom screen,kind of near the upper right hand corner,there’s, like, a little hole that you canshoot your ball into. If you get lucky andget your ball there you actually go into thislittle mini-game which is, kind of, sort of,like Breakout. What it is is Mario will beholding a platform on his head. You can move himback and forth, uh, try to bounce the balloff the platform, and free Paulinefrom the prison above. Now, this was a bit before Princess Peachentered the picture, so, Pauline is still Mario’smain love interest. So, anyway, I guessthat Pinball’s probably a pretty minorearly FamiCom title. It certainly wasn’t bad. On the other hand, like… In 1983, E.A. had releasedPinball Construction Set, which is a game that’s a lotmore fondly remembered. And, later on, you’d see stuff,like, for the TurboGrafx 16 (like Alien Crush) which weremuch more interesting games. Still, Nintendo hasn’t exactlymade a whole lot of Pinball video games, soI suppose that, in a way, this is sort of a unique title. The other game to be released inFebruary of 1984 is Wild Gunman. Now, Wild Gunman is interestingfor a few different reasons. First of all, this is not exactlya port of an early arcade game, nor is it based ona board game or a sport, so I suppose it’s one of the earlyoriginal titles for the FamiCom. But also, check this out: “Hiyah!” Yeah, there’s an honest to Godspeech sample in this (almost unheard of, at the time). There were a few gamesfor the Intellivision that used its specialspeech synthesizer, but it was still pretty rare. Now, as I mentioned, Wild Gunman wasmore or less an original title, but it was based ona much earlier (sort of, not video game,but arcade) game, called Wild Gunman, that re…Nintendo released, back in 1974. This had an actual 16 millimeterf… uh… film that played, and then you shot at it,though the basic idea is the same as the FamiCom game. And, of course, if you’ve seenBack to the Future: Part II, you will see a special,uh, Wild Gunman free standing arcade cabinet,that was never actually produced for real arcades. Apparently it was made justfor the movie, for some reason. But, perhaps most interestingof all was the fact that you control this game,by using a light gun. Yes, this game was the debutof the Nintendo light gun. Now, take a look at whatthe original Japanese FamiCom light gun looks like. I mean, wow!It looks just like a real gun! It looks like a Colt or something. Really, nothing at all likethat crazy, uh, orange Zapper that came with theNintendo Entertainment System. I guess, uh, in the United States,at that time, you really couldn’t get away with making yourtoy guns look like real guns. So, how does the game actually play? Well, very simply, each roundone of these bad guys marches out and ya’ have to shoot him! Well, don’t worry,you don’t actually kill them. You know, you always just, like,shoot their hat off or their pants off or something like that. Now it is possible to shoot too fast. If you shoot before the, uh,guy is ready, you’ll get a foul and you’ll lose the round. Likewise, if you get shot,you lose the round as well. And there’s also aharder difficulty setting, in which they come outtwo at a time. And finally, difficulty option Cis the gang setting. That’s where you’renot out in the desert; you’re actually in a town,in front of a saloon, and the bad guys will, sort of,open up the various windows and doors and shoot at you. This particular kind of layoutwould, sort of, be the standard for most light gun games. It usually involves quick reflexesand having to shoot an enemy as soon as he appears on the screen. So, Wild Gunman isn’t exactlythe most interesting or exciting light gun game. It is the first one on the system,and, I mean, back then, of course (well, Nintendo had beendeveloping light gun toys and whatnot, for quite some time,as well as light gun arcade games, but) a light gunhome console game was pretty muchunheard of, at this time. The light gun would go on tobecome quite popular in the U.S. but not so much withthis game, but rather with the next gamewe’re going to see. As ya’ may have noticedthere, a second ago, Duck Hunt cameout on April 21st. That’s over two monthsafter Wild Gunman. Why the big d… longdelay between games? Well, I don’t really know,but it couldn’t have been because they were putting a whole loto’ time into this game. Duck Hunt is probably,about the simplest game Nintendo ever released,though I mean, I may [as] well admit,it does look pretty nice. I’d say the most memorablething about this game is probably the waythat dog sticks its head up and laughs at you,every time you miss a duck. And, of course,it has that sort of catchy (but incredibly short)piece of music that plays. Out of all the gamesNintendo developed, this must be the one with the least amountof music written for it. Now, if you had a N.E.S.,back in the day, you probablyremember this game. In fact, when it was firstreleased in the United States, this game was a pack in title, in the version of the Nintendothat came with the Zapper. I’m sure a lot o’ people neverbought another Zapper game, so this is the onethey probably think of, when they think ofthe light gun games. I suppose there is a certainsort of genius in its simplicity. Really, all thathappens in this game is two ducks fly upand [you] try to shoot ’em. If you miss,the dog’ll laugh at you! Now, there is a slightly morechallenging mode in this (the one that probably most[of] you guys didn’t play); it’s the, uh, clay pidgin shooting. It’s a bit more difficult,but the screen is also incredibly dulland boring looking. I mean, for such a classic title,I really don’t think Nintendo put a whole lot o’ time into this! Now, at some point,someone at Nintendo realized that what players really wannado is to shoot the darn dog, so, when this came outin the arcade version (it was, like, one of those,uh, Play Choice 10 titles) you actually couldshoot the dog, though, of course, hewould get upset if you did. Okay, and we do actuallyhave one more light gun game coming up,in just a few minutes. The only game to bereleased in May of 1984: it’s Nintendo’s “Golf” (the thirdtitle in Nintendo’s sports series). One thing you might notice, here, is that Golf is entirely devoid ofany sort of music, whatsoever. I mean, there’s some soundeffects, but there’s no music during the title screenor during the game itself. This might beconsidered evidence that Nintendo were stretchingthemselves a bit thin, when it comes togetting out all these games. Well, anyway, Nintendo’s “Golf”introduces a control scheme that would become pretty muchstandard for golf games, on the system. You use the D-Pad to selectwhich golf club you want to use, and you use the Left and Righton the D-Pad to control, sort of, the general directionof your swing. Golf also uses a veryinteresting mechanic to actually control your swing. You press the button onceto move your club back. Once you’ve got it back far enough,press it again to move forward, and then press it a third time,right when the arrow reaches those… little group of white lines,on the meter below you. The second button press willcontrol the power of the swing. The further you let…you let it go back, the stronger your swing will be. Press the button again,when the little arrow’s right in that little groupof white boxes, there, will make your swing more accurate. If you press it too early or too late,you will either hook or slice the ball. But this ratherunique control scheme makes Golf a little revolutionary. ‘Course there had been golf games…golf video games before this. For example, there weresome games on the 2600 and there were somearcade golf games, as well. But this mechanism you use tohit the ball is actually quite new. Some of the older arcadegames used a trackball. That is, you hit the ball, andthen you’d move the trackball as fast [as] you could, in orderto get the golf ball to move. And, of course, there are lotsof nice little realistic touches, like you can tell whichdirection the wind is blowing. There are water traps,sand traps, all that sort of thing. Now, in comparison tousing the regular golf clubs, putting is a little bit different. As you see, there’s no white boxes. You can’t really, sort of,cause your ball to go astray, using putting, uh, but you canhit it not hard enough or too hard and it’ll go right past the hole. And also the greens tend to,sort of, have a, like, a little bit of a slant to them. The arrows on the green will show you which directionthe green is sort of graded. So, when [you] hit your ball,it won’t necessarily go completely straight; it can godownhill a bit and miss the hole. And, of course,as you may have figured out, I guess this guy issupposed to be Mario (probably looking asunlike Mario as he ever has). Also [very] clearly depicted hereas being sort of a chubby fellow. On the Japanese box art,you don’t see his face and he doesn’t looklike Mario, whatsoever. On the U.S. box art, he wasclearly drawn as being Mario. I guess it is a littleweird to see Mario, dressed up in civilian clothing. In Japan, this gamewas quite successful. It sold, I thinkseveral million copies (one of the better selling gamesof the system, as far as I’m aware). It certainly influencedenough other golf games (most of the subsequent gameson the FamiCom really seemed, kinda’ like a slightvariation on this one). Nintendo, themselves,would go on to release numerous golf games, all ofwhich were very similar to this. By today’s standards, the gameis a little on the simple side, but it still plays pretty well. From June 1984, it’s our last game this episode,Hogan’s Alley (the game that’s so complicatedit actually requires a individual, sort of, training screen thatshows ya’ what targets to hit and what targets not to hit). Hogan’s Alley is, once again,a light gun game. The object here is to, well,basically shoot the bad guys. This is sort of like atraining simulator, here, for cops orsomething like that. These little, uh,cardboard figures slide out and you want to shootthe ones that look villainous, and, uh, not shoot the onesthat look like friendly old men or little ladies or cops. You’ll look down atthe bottom, there, you’ll notice there’s a,uh, a miss counter. You can only missso many times. That means hittingthe wrong target or not hittingthe right target. Think you can getabout ten misses and then the game ends. So, you might be wondering, “What exactly does thename ‘Hogan’s Alley’ mean?”. Well, a Hogan’s Alley issort of a general term for these firearmstraining places, here. There actually was anoriginal Hogan’s Alley. I believe it was designedby the U.S. military. You’d go in there and,suddenly, uh, various, like, cutouts of people wouldpop up and you’d have to shoot the right ones. I guess this was to trainyour reflexes and judgement, when it comes tohandling a firearm. You’ve probably seenthings like this (maybe on T.V. or movies)where someone has to, you know, train (become anF.B.I. agent or a cop or something like that). I believe that the F.B.I. hada Hogan’s Alley in place, about the same timethis game came out. The police officer, here,is sort of interesting. He’s smiling. On the other hand, he’s also,sort of, holding his billy club and putting itin the palm of his hand, almost like he’s kinda’thinkin’ he wants to, like, smack ya’ on the head with it. He does seemjust a bit menacing. Okay. So, then there’s theHogan’s Alley B option. Here, instead of astandard shooting range, you’re actually in somesort of m… alley mockup, and the little, ah, figuresappear in the windows and doorways andtry to shoot at you. It’s actually anawful lot like one of the optionsin Wild Gunman. Even at this stage,Nintendo is not above re-using the same ideas,and this is probably a bit more interestingthan the first option. There’s a bit more variety. You have, you know,actual backgrounds in it. One thing I’vealways wondered: That one gangster – is he dressed up,wearing a tuxedo? It was nice of him to put on such a formalget up, for this occasion. Now, one other thing thatis quite n… notable, here, is that, you know,as the scene switches, you’ll see what appearsto be the earliest instance of sideways scrollingin a FamiCom game. One thing about the FamiCom:It was designed so [that it] was very efficientat sideways scrolling – something that someof the other machines available at the time,like the M.S.X. computers, really could not do. When you thinkof the system, you tend to think of allthose, like, uh, scrolling, uh, games likeSuper Mario Bros. It’s a little unusual thatthe FamiCom has been out in the market for a year,and this is the first game that we’ve seen thatactually utilizes scrolling. Well, there’s onefinal variation, here, and it’s called trick shot. This is where ya’ shootat cans and try to keep ’em, sort of, you know,up in the air and get ’em toland on a platform. You’ll then get somepoints, depending on which platformyou land ’em on. And, why does themusic from this sound like something froman old Small Faces song? Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Okay, so that wraps upthe last game, this episode. So, what did we learn, here? Well, while none of thesegames are exactly bad (I mean, they’re allreasonably well made) none of ’em are really…that exciting. I mean, I think probablythe game that most folks would remember wouldprobably be Duck Hunt. Nothing wrongwith Duck Hunt; it’s just a verysimplistic game. It was something that was,kind of, like, you know, good to pull out at,you know, parties or some’m or for a[bit o’] fun, but it’s not reallya game that I think people wouldnormally put on a list of all timefavorite games, or anything like that. Of course, you know,a few of these games, such as Golf and Mahjong,ended up being very successful,at least in Japan. But, for most of us,I think we’d still, sort of, think of the FamiComas being in, sort of, like, [an] experimentalstage, at this point (hasn’t reallyfound its groove, yet). Ya’ might say that thereally interesting things didn’t start to happenuntil 1985. And, there ya’ have it! Chrontendo Episode 1,Revised Edition! Hopefully it turnedout a bit better than the original Episode 1,and maybe someday I’ll get aroundto re-recording Episodes 2 and 3 as well! In the mean time,keep an eye out for actual brand newepisodes of Chrontendo.