Retro/Classic Feed

Nintendo Classic Edition Brings Iconic NES Back To Stores

NES ClassicNintendo hit the big time in the home video game console space thirty years ago with the beloved Nintendo Entertainment System and while the company has been re-releasing its greatest hits such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda on the Virtual Console service for the Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS, there's a large startup cost involved if all you really want to do is play Mega Man 2.  Nintendo is cutting through that expense this November with the release of a cute little micro version of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System control deck dubbed the Nintendo Classic Edition.  Priced at $59.99 and packed in with thirty solid, popular games (no Urban Champion here!), the NES is primed to take over living rooms all over again.  The new hardware offers HDMI out and even uses new NES controllers with Wii remote connectors on them so Wii and Wii U owners can use them for the Virtual Console service.  Read the press release for all of the details.  Here's the list of games that are built into the new console.

  • Balloon Fight™
  • Castlevania™
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest™
  • Donkey Kong™
  • Donkey Kong Jr. ™
  • Dr. Mario™
  • Excitebike™
  • Galaga™
  • Ice Climber™
  • Kid Icarus™
  • Kirby’s Adventure™
  • Mario Bros. ™
  • MEGA MAN® 2
  • Metroid™
  • PAC-MAN™
  • Punch-Out!! ™ Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics™
  • SUPER C™
  • Super Mario Bros.™
  • Super Mario Bros. ™ 2
  • Super Mario Bros. ™ 3
  • The Legend of Zelda™
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link™

This is a phenomenal idea and I'm surprised Nintendo hadn't acted on it sooner.  This product hits every basic type of gamer demographic: casual, lapsed, and core.  It will be a popular gift this holiday season for sure.  Even if you discount the cost of the hardware itself, you're paying $2 per game which is a much better deal than the Virtual Console's $5 per game.  Just imagine all of the modern parents who grew up with the NES buying one of these to both play themselves and to share the fun with their young children.   I still have my original NES from thirty years ago hooked up to my media room television, although the muddy visuals from running an old fashioned signal through coax cables and RF adapters looks horrible on my modern HDTV.  I also own a variety of the built-in games on the Virtual Console for both Wii U and 3DS, but I can't resist the nostalgic draw of this mini console.  I think it's time my bedroom TV had a NES of its own.

The OneUps Bring You Part Seven

Metal ManSomewhere along the line when I wasn't paying attention, my favorite video game music cover band, The OneUps, released a new album.  Entitled Part Seven, this latest release includes songs from Final Fantasy VI, Double Dragon, F-Zero, Donkey Kong Country, EarthBound, and many more each performed in the band's unique jazzy funk style.  Check out this version of Metal Man's famous theme from Capcom's classic Mega Man 2, "Saw VIII", and prepare to be impressed.  You can download the entire album from many of the usual digital storefronts including Amazon. If this is your first exposure to the band, I highly recommend that you check out their complete discography. Fans of video game music from the medium's most beloved franchises will find so much to enjoy.

Come Get Your Super Mario T-Shirts, Cookies, And Phones In This 1990 Nintendo Retailer Catalog

NES boxes

1990 was a hot time for Nintendo and its retail partners.  This was the era when the Nintendo Entertainment System was king, when a third-party licensee could slap Mario on just about any consumer product to earn a healthy profit, and when games like Boomer's Adventure In Asmik World and Wall Street Kid were positioned as the next big thing.  I remember those crazy days, but if you're too young to have been around for them, then you can vicariously experience the thrill of laminated wood displays and cartridge storage kits with the Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide provided by Video Game Ephemera.

The Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide was a custom-publishing project aimed at Nintendo’s retail partners, which included more than 6,000 locations with special “World of Nintendo” areas reserved for Nintendo-related products. The article on page 6 describes this type of installation as a “store within a store,” a neighborhood mecca for Mario maniacs.

In the pages between the product listings, you’ll find short articles about certain Nintendo licensees as well as paid ads from some of them. The articles are actually labeled as “advertisements,” so they were obviously paid for as well. Many of the ads speak to consumers, but several of them are written for the people who sold the games. It’s fascinating to see the soft-sell tactics employed by game publishers as they tried to convince retailers to carry their products in the early ’90s. Most of them promise “aggressive” advertising campaigns and dealer support while extending friendly invitations to visit their booths at the Consumer Electronics Show.

This guide and others like it are a peek behind the curtain at the layer of middlemen between Nintendo's licensees and your local retailer down the street.  I remember seeing plenty of these Oakcasestore displays in the Kmarts of my youth when I longed to scarf down the licensed cookies and collect the cards and wear the t-shirts bearing Mario's smiling face.  Nintendo was hot, Nintendo was king, nothing could ever possibly knock Nintendo off its pedestal.  Nope, not at all.  The days of officially licensed cartridge storage cases made of oak will last forever!  Actually, those oak cases do look pretty sweet.  I bet they'd look right at home next to my classic oak VCR cassette storage case.  Not all family heirlooms are impressive or valuable.

Power Button - Episode 207: Donkey Kong For Juniors

Power_buttonSince the dawn of the medium, children have gravitated towards video games.  What began with kids grasping that first arcade joystick or Nintendo Entertainment System controller decades ago has led to today's children becoming enraptured with apps and motion controls.  How should a responsible parent encourage a child's burgeoning gaming interests?  On this week's podcast, parent of two Blake Grundman reflects on how he's introducing his kids to video games and outlines his plans to spread the hobby to the next generation.  From Yo Noid! to Just Dance, we have you covered.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 206: Turn The Lights Out When You Leave

Power_buttonVideo Game consoles burst into this world with a collection of highly publicized launch titles, but nobody ever promotes their game as the last title out of the gate before production moves on to the next generation.  Everyone remembers that the Nintendo GameCube debuted with Luigi's Mansion, but what was the final release for the system?  How did the Super NES wrap things up?  Who turned out the lights on the Sega 32X?  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman take a walk down the weedy, unkept side of Memory Lane to discuss the final releases for some of the industry's most beloved or infamous consoles.  You know you want to find out how the Atari Jaguar folded.  Join us for an hour and be sure to turn the lights out when you leave.!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Wario's Creators Explain His Purpose

WarioNintendo's villain / anti-hero Wario has gone on to fame and fortune of his own, stepping out of Mario's shadow to star in the Wario Land and WarioWare franchises, and while we all know how he started out in 1992's Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins when he stole control of Mario Land, debate has continued to rage regarding his true origins.  I'm not talking about the fiction here; I'm directly asking: why was Wario created?  A developer interview with SML2's creators originally featured in the game's official strategy guide has been translated and posted at Shmuplations, and it sheds some light on the issue.

—What was the idea behind Wario?

Kiyotake: We imagined Wario as the Bluto to Mario’s Popeye. The truth is, we kind of came up with the idea of the name first, and everything else came after. Since he was a “warui” (bad) guy, he should be Wario. And we had the idea to flip the M upside down. To our surprise, the idea was a big hit with everyone on the team.

—What was your process for creating the character of Wario?

Kiyotake: Whenever I had the idea for a character—not only Wario—the first thing I would do is talk it over with Hosokawa. If he thought it was cool, I’d present it to the rest of the staff. Then, once I thought the idea could work, I’d discuss the details of the sprite animation and movement with Harada. That’s the process I went through for Wario and all the other characters in SML2. Granted, there were a lot of direct rejects, or characters that no one took a liking to.

—Can you tell us about Wario’s past/origins?

Kiyotake: There’s been a rumor going around the Wario was childhood friends with Mario, but it’s just a rumor: I don’t know if it’s true or not. His favorite food is crepes. That much seems true…

There we have it, straight from the source!  Heroes need villains, and while Mario already had Bowser to contend with at this point in history, creating a Bizarro-version of our favorite plumber allows the Super Mario games to play with conventions more directly than Bowser allows.  Consider the end of SML2 when Mario and Wario finally meet face to face and the latter uses the same power-ups that the former has been using all game long against him.  The game's internal logic not only suggests that Wario can use the Fire Flower and Carrot, it demands that we see it happen.  The interview suggests that Mario is fighting for himself for the first time in SML2, but the plot goes deeper than that.  He's not only fighting for himself, he's also fighting a reflection of himself.  Now we jump through a mirror, darkly.


Mortal Kombat Imitators Are Sincerest Form Of Battery

Blood WarriorSuccessful media always spawns imitators, but sometimes the imitators go on to become highly successful entities of their own.  Super Mario led to Sonic the Hedgehog.  Grand Theft Auto inspired Saints RowStreet Fighter II spawned Mortal Kombat.  And what did Mortal Kombat spawn in response?  Mostly trash.  Hardcore Gaming 101 has a listing of Kombat clones each more dismal than the last, most of which use words like Battle, Warrior, Ninja, or Blood in the title.  Here's one that nails two of those words: Blood Warrior.

From Kaneko, the folks who brought you those Chester Cheetah games, Blood Warrior is another Japanese take at a Mortal Kombat style game, even though it's kind of a sequel to the 1992 game Shogun Warriors, which predated Mortal Kombat. When it comes to gameplay, it does all right, even if it's not exceptional. There's nothing particularly unique about its mechanics, although it at least plays well enough. The presentation, however, feels like a particularly low budget sentai show, with characters like a kappa and some kind of Buddhist statue as part of the cast. Despite its goofy look, it's also surprisingly bloody, with characters frequently exploding into piles of organs. The same developer would go on to make the Jackie Chan fighters, which were much better games all around.

The only game on the list with staying power is Killer Instinct.  The rest are forgettable or, worse, doomed to only be remembered as laughingstock fodder for an hungry Internet.  It's interesting to read through the list and be able to tell which games actually had some devoted, talented people behind them and which were just cranked out as quick, cheap cash-ins on the current hot property of the year.  One of the games, Way of the Warrior, was created by Naughty Dog who would later go on to major fame with Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted.  I suppose everyone has to start somewhere.


Fans Fill Metroid Void With New Creations

Samus AranMetroid fans have been waiting a while for a proper follow-up to Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission, but with the franchise's focus on the 3D Metroid Prime titles and the upcoming spin-off Federation Force, it seems that the lack of classic 2D-style Samus Aran adventures is going to go on for a while more.  Not wanting to wait it out, several people have put together complete reworkings of 1994's Super Metroid for the Super NES to turn it into new games.  NeoGAF member Boney has put together a list of the best new Metroid adventures and invites further discussion about them.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you should know that the original Super Metroid is widely considered one of the best videogames of all time and for good reason. A masterfully created open ended map overhauled from it's predecesor, with an emphasis on exploration and acquisition of significant power ups. The strong design was accompanied by the creation of a believable ecosystem, gorgeous spritework, wonderful music and too many memorable moments to mention here. It's widely considered the best game in the franchise and every game since then has diverted itself mechanically or design wise to the beauty that is Super Metroid.

So to satisfy you guys before some of you lose it due to deprivation, I invite all of you to be part of GAF plays: Super Metroid Hacks, in which we can find solace in wonderfully designed games made by passionate and talented community that is the Super Metroid scene. These guys have been going strong for over a decade and they show no signs of stopping, making more and more progress and pushing what is thought to be possible to build when handed the keys of the game itself.

There's some interesting stuff happening here.  Normally I'm not a fan of underskilled gamers proclaiming that they will make the true Metroid 5 or the real Sonic X-Treme or what have you, but in this case I think that the creators of these Metroid projects have something special happening.  There's actual game design talent in action here.  Super Metroid Redesign tampers with gravity and rebalances Samus's abilities.  Metroid Super Zero Mission is built for sequence breaking.  Metroid: Ice Metal focuses on a non-linear design and encourages exploration.  Nintendo will eventually take Metroid back to its roots, but the fans can fill the void until then (and more power to them as they do).

Speed Through The History Of F-Zero

Nintendo's beloved racer F-Zero attracted a lot of attention when it debuted with the Super NES in 1991, and over the years the various sequels for the Nintendo 64 to Game Boy Advance and beyond have turned heads thanks to the sense of immense speed and break-neck turns.  Hardcore Gaming 101 explores the history of the series including several installments that never left Japan.  For instance, there's a expansion kit for F-Zero X that includes additional racing cups, a track editor and a kickass remix of Mario Kart 64's famous Rainbow Road track.  There's even some information on unofficial versions of the series for the Sega Genesis and PC.  Here's a bit of the section on the Satellaview-exclusive semi-sequel, BS F-Zero Grand Prix.

The SNES game was simultaneously the first and the last Western players got to see of F-Zero for eight long years. In Japan, however, Nintendo revived the brand for their Satellaview program already in 1996 with the BS F-Zero Grand Prix. Each of the four broadcasts consists of one cup, but the game is structured a bit oddly. Before each race starts, there is a practice round and a demonstration of a specific tip for the course. The parts were played as timed SoundLink broadcasts with added commentary and arranged versions of the music (different from the jazz album).

The four iconic F-Zero cars were replaced with new alternatives that have a more fancy look and shuffle the stats around a bit, but fulfill the same basic roles within the game. Even though later entries in the series greatly expanded the roster of competitors, these four vehicles never returned. The tracks are mostly the same, but they're arranged a bit differently and there is one new course in each cup for a total of 19 (Mute City I is repeated once in the last broadcast). Some of the new courses mix up the familiar elements in unique and interesting ways, but there's nothing categorically new here.

I've always enjoyed the F-Zero series despite being basically terrible at it.  I even tracked down the rare arcade release, F-Zero AX, in a secret arcade hidden away at Walt Disney World several years ago.  Fans have begged for a proper new F-Zero since the earliest days of the Wii, but word on the street is that poor sales for the GameCube's F-Zero GX and a lack of consensus within Nintendo on where to take the series next have held back new installments.  Still, if Star Fox (another Super NES title meant to show off new technology and a series thematically linked with F-Zero through fun character references) can see a sequel post-GameCube, I'm sure there's hope for F-Zero yet.