In 1983, there was a crash. Not a stock market crash or a car crash involving someone noteworthy. But a crash in the videogame industry. People got tired of playing the figurative whack-a-mole of “Find The Good Game”, with the all too common chance of picking up a bad game, and simply gave up. Videogames to the common people became a fad, and like many fads, it came and went. However this event was mostly situated in North America, and more specifically within the console market. In Japan, videogames were just as healthy as ever. Arcades and consoles saw use and playtime everyday. Nintendo had released the Famicom home console in Japan. But North America would prove to be a different beast to conquer. However once that beast was tamed, it became a formidable ally. On this Retro Weekend, we reminisce about the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Nikkei has reported that Hiroshi Yamauchi has passed away. Known for his no-nonsense style of business at Nintendo, he turned the company around from making just playing cards and other gambling games to creating videogames. He demanded perfection in the videogames his company made.
He was responsible for many of the gears that set in motion what made Nintendo a household name to this day. He brought on Gunpei Yokoi, who went on to create the Game & Watch and Game Boy line of handhelds. He tasked Minoru Arakawa, his son-in-law, to handle the North American branch of Nintendo and to sell arcade units in the region. When that didn’t work well, he looked to Shigeru Miyamoto, who made the arcade hit Donkey Kong. Come the NES days, he realized that artists are just as important to making games as technicians were. If a game was to be made on the NES, he got the final say on its appearance on the console. Many credit the NES, and the presence of Super Mario Bros. on the system, for saving the North Amercian videogame market after the Great Videogame Crash of 1983.
[New to this edition is the addition of the Wii U campaign. Much of what was written from the previous edition is largely unchanged, save for some grammatical corrections that might’ve slipped by. Some parts might also have more info added. So sit back, relax, and read on.]
You have an idea for a product. You make the product. And now it’s time to sell the product. So what’s the one thing you’ll do to sell your product? Advertise it of course. This is pretty much the pattern that most product makers follow. In the game industry it’s no different. With catchy slogans, flashy graphics, and some off-the-wall shenanigans, an ad is supposed to convince you to buy the product they are selling. But ignoring all of the attempts to sell and actually looking at the ad, they always seem to be a product of the era that they were released in. So for this retrospective, we’re going to look at one of the longest living game companies, Nintendo, from when we played with power, to when we played it loud, to two guys asking us if Wii would like to play, to what we will play next.
This week was all about intro themes. We flipped dimensions in Chrono Cross. We retold a tale with Soul Blade. We traveled the wasteland with Wild ARMs 3. We schemed with Ishtar in Ninja Gaiden II. And finally, we got all our items with Metroid Prime Trilogy.
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In prehistoric times, there were dinosaurs that blew bubbles at toy robots… at least, this is what Taito wanted you to believe. The dinosaurs Bub and Bob became the mascots for Taito, and this was the game that started it all. Combining puzzle elements and action gameplay, Bubble Bobble made its rounds across many platforms and charmed audiences with its bright colors and steady challenge. This weekend, NES MAY gets caught in a bubble. Continue reading
The Native American. A people that have long been the center of government screwing. But in entertainment, they’ve been seen as those guys in Westerns that always seemed to mess up the good guys. But sometimes, the helped out. Other times, the were sidekicks. Native Americans in videogames? Well, they… well, one, was fodder for being raped in front of a cactus by a dead cowboy dodging arrows. Yeah, Natives weren’t quite painted in a positive light. But hey, there was one game that would try and fix that a bit. Whomp ‘Em is the next game in NES MAY after the jump.
Pumpkins, vampires, zombies, murderous robots. These were among the numerous creatures to pervade the entertainment landscape, tapping into the fears that people developed worldwide. So it’s no surprise that such monsters would find their way into videogames. Monster Party sought to bring them to the forefront and make them the primary enemies in the game. What we got was a game that actually parodized the monster genre and made little references to the source material here and there. Oh, and this game pretty was hard. After a month off, let’s celebrate NES MAY with a Monster Party!
And here we are, the last Mega Man game for Mega March (sorta). This weekend, we go back in time to talk about the game that many Mega Man fans herald as the best of the series; the pebble that started the avalanche. Whether it was for its gameplay, its music, or its weapons, Mega Man II has found its way into many top ten lists, music remixes, and tons of fan art. And so, we end off Mega March with the last game I’ve played so far, Mega Man II. Why is it the last so far? Well, hit the jump to find out.
You have an idea for a product. You make the product. And now it’s time to sell the product. So what’s the one thing you’ll do to sell your product? Advertise it of course. This is pretty much the pattern that most product makers follow. In the game industry it’s no different. With catchy slogans, flashy graphics, and some off-the-wall shenanigans, an ad is supposed to convince you to buy the product they are selling. But ignoring all of the attempts to sell and actually looking at the ad, they always seem to be a product of the era that they were released in. So for this retrospective, we’re going to look at one of the longest living game companies, Nintendo, from when we played with power to two guys asking us if Wii would like to play.
This article came out a little over a week ago (probably two by the time of publication), and I both loved and hated it so much, I knew I wanted to use it as the inspiration for some of my musical discussion.
The author tells a familiar tale of how video game music just isn’t what it used to be and takes a stab at explaining one reason why : limitation. The underlying principle, one that I somewhat agree with is that some of the greatest game music came out of composers doing the best that they could do with the sound resources they had available; in the early days of gaming, this amount was very little.
While I agree with the principle, it’s no excuse for the direction game music is taking. Gregory admits that there are exceptions to the rule especially in the realm of Japanese gaming, but why is that? The soundtrack for Super Mario Galaxy 2 uses an orchestra as big as many other modern games for instance, and yet its music falls far from the “disposable” category.
I started thinking a lot about the state of game music, what happened to change the nature of such music, and what we can do as composers and/or listeners to keep video game music relevant even today.
And thus I decided to go on a journey exploring different generations of game music. Who knows, maybe there’s something to learn from all of this.
Part 1 : Simple NES/Gameboy Music
What’s the goriest game you could think of? I’ll give you some time…. Okay, now how about the Super Nintendo/Genesis, can you think of a gory game for that one? Got some? Good. Now how about the NES? Not a lot huh? Well, that’s the point. The NES wasn’t really known for having much gore in the games that released on it. While there were some games that skillfully dodged Nintendo of America’s Judeo-Christian-Puritan-No-Sex-No-Violence Morality code, there were some that made your wonder “How the hell did this make it past the censors?” One of those games was space-shooter Abadox.
Looks like it. I encountered this commercial yesterday after looking up some more recent Wii game commercials. I click on this thinking it’s Japan’s Epic’s Yarn commercial. Besides it looking like it was recorded with a VCR, the video looked normal. Then the gameplay footage is shown. I’m like, “what…? Kirby’s Adventure?” I’m thinking “must be an extra in Epic Yarn.” Then the old Japanese “Nintendo” splash is shown to end the CM. I’m thinking “nah, this guy must’ve edited something.” I look up another video, and it’s true, this was the real deal: this really was the Japanese Kirby’s Adventure commercial! So that means someone at HAL looked back on this commercial and thought, “You know what, let’s make a game outta this!” I gotta admit, this is pretty cool. The only other time I’ve seen Nintendo take cues from their commercials was when they took the Chandelier Dragon from the Golden Sun US commercial and added him to the game in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.
I Stand On My Soapbox is a series of editorials that cover more specific topics in the games industry and community. These articles are a little more extreme than normal editorials published here, and could just degenerate to outright ranting. Have fun and enjoy the show!
Ah Donkey Kong Country 3. Many consider this game the Super Mario Bros. 2 of the Donkey Kong Country series, the sort of outcast that not many people remember. I mean, it came off the heels of Donkey Kong Country 2, and was released the same year the N64 came out. Like its following and fan reaction, its soundtrack was met with… okay ratings. While there were some memorable tunes from this entry in the series, it was obvious that some was… missing. Maybe its because Eveline Fischer did most of the composing and not David Wise (no offense to Fischer). Maybe it’s the relatively new setting for the Kongs.Years later, facing audio issues for the GBA, Nintendo saw this and brought back David Wise to redo the entire soundtrack of DKC3 for its GBA release. And then… a fanbase split ensues!
I’ll try to keep my opinions about Lady Gaga’s music to myself. But I think some of you might find this amusing. I will say though, the use of Zelda footage here is really just a backdrop for what is otherwise a pseudo 8-bit remix of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance (and just view-whoring to rake gamers in). I say “pseudo” because this is being done on GXSCC. Now this would be real 8-bit if it was being done on something like Famitracker (of even LSDJ). Really not a fan of GXSCC’s sound, but nice try for the creator.