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An archive of Nintendo Power magazine

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 03, 2016

Nintendo Power 01

The Internet Archive has collected the first dozen years’ worth of Nintendo Power magazines. I was a subscriber to Nintendo Power for the first couple years, having previously received the Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter. The first issue contained an extensive guide to Super Mario Bros 2, teased a game called Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf, and the Legend of Zelda was ranked the #1 game, ahead of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Metroid, Super Mario Bros, and Kid Icarus.

Nintendo Power High Score

The July 1991 issue shows how good Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was at Game Boy Tetris:

Woz Tetris

“Evets Kainzow” is “Steve Wozniak” spelled backwards.

Update: Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley made his way into the high score list in the magazine twice in 1990; once for Strider and again for Ninja Gaiden II (alongside Steve Wozniak’s massive GB Tetris score).

We Work Remotely

The NES Classic Edition

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 14, 2016

Nes Classic

In November, Nintendo is coming out with a mini NES gaming system that includes 30 games and a classic controller. Among the games are Legend of Zelda, Dr. Mario, Bubble Bobble, all three Super Mario Bros., Excitebike, Castlevania, and Metroid. It hooks to your TV with HDMI and will cost $60.1

There’s is no way I am not getting one of these. There’s no way to buy online yet, but keep your eye on this Amazon search and I imagine it’ll show up sometime soon.

Update: Amazon says the NES Classic will go on sale on November 11 at 5pm ET. One-click ordering will be disabled, so make sure your current CC and address are in there and practice that checkout routine. Quantities will be extremely limited, so you best act quickly.

  1. Taking inflation into account, the original NES Deluxe System (with R.O.B. the robot) sold in 1985 cost $664 in 2016 dollars. When it was released in 1987, Legend of Zelda retailed for $111 in 2016 dollars. Zelda was one of the more expensive games and some of the games included with the Classic Edition came out later, but say a typical game is $80 in 2016 dollars. That’s $3000 worth of games and system crammed into something that fits in your hand and costs $60. Moore’s Law!

Legend of Zelda 30-year tribute

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2016

Zelda 30

Scott Lininger and Mike Magee built a fully playable WebGL version of the original Legend of Zelda, which came out 30 years ago. Works in any modern web browser. Not sure how long this is going to be up, but it’ll be fun while it lasts.

Thirty years of Super Mario

posted by Tim Carmody   Sep 14, 2015

Super Mario Brothers was released for Famicom in Japan on September 13, 1985.

When was the game released in the United States? Nobody knows.

Here’s Nintendo’s official anniversary video.

Legendary designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka broke down the first level of the game for Eurogamer. (My favorite part? The subtle way that Mario is designed to have “weight,” and how this affects the player’s identification with and affection for the character.)

Kyle Orland at Ars Technica has thirty little-known facts about the game:

The original instruction booklet for Super Mario Bros. details how “the quiet, peace-loving Mushroom People were turned into mere stones, bricks and even field horse-hair plants.” That means every brick you break in the game is killing an innocent mushroom person that would have been saved once Princess Toadstool “return[ed] them to their normal selves.”

Digg has a video on the character’s evolution (including cameo appearances in other Nintendo games):

Samir al-Mutfi’s “Syrian Super Mario” reimagines the game with obstacles faced by Syrian refugees. (Grimly, the player has 22,500,000 lives to lose.)

And of course, Super Mario Maker, the game that lets players make their own Super Mario Bros. levels, was released for Wii U. Users’ levels are already being repurposed for social commentary, from the existential dread of “Waluigi’s Unbearable Existence” to the more lighthearted “Call Your Mother, You’ve Got Time.”

Super Mario Bros was designed on graph paper

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 18, 2015

In talking about an upcoming game (more on that in a bit), Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka discuss the process they used in designing the levels for the original Super Mario Bros. Much of the design work happened on graph paper.1

Super Mario Graph

Back in the day, we had to create everything by hand. To design courses, we would actually draw them one at a time on to these sheets of graph paper. We’d then hand our drawings to the programmers, who would code them into a build.

Here’s the full video discussion:

Now, about that game… Super Mario Maker is an upcoming title for Wii U that lets you create your own Super Mario Bros levels with elements from a bunch of different Mario games. So cool…I might actually have to get a Wii U for this.

  1. This is pretty much the same process I used when designing levels for Lode Runner back in the day.

The last blockbuster syndrome

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 07, 2014

Using Motorola, Nokia, and Nintendo as examples, Tero Kuittinen explains how dominant tech companies are lulled into “a comfy trip to the grave” by huge but ultimately short-lived successes before new paradigms take over.

For years, Nintendo has believed it could reject smartphone and tablet apps, yet still flourish. The reason for this delusion is familiar — it’s the toxic Last Blockbuster Syndrome that doomed the consumer electronics divisions of Motorola in 2004 and Nokia in 2007. Often at the start of a massive trend shift in consumer electronics, dominant dinosaurs get one massive hit built on a nearly obsolete paradigm, and that allows them to be lulled into a comfy trip to the grave.

The best example from the past few years is when Motorola, Nokia, and RIM were flying high with their phone products when the iPhone came along and changed the game.

Console Wars

posted by Jason Kottke   May 15, 2014

From Grantland, an excerpt from Console Wars, a new book by Blake J. Harris about the video game console battles of the 1990s between Nintendo and Sega. The excerpt is about the rise of Nintendo.

And just like that, the North American videogame industry ground to a halt. Hardware companies (like Atari) went bankrupt, software companies (like Sega) were sold for pennies on the dollar, and retailers (like Sears) vowed never to go into the business again. Meanwhile, Nintendo quietly glided through the bloody waters on a gorilla-shaped raft. The continuing cash flow from Donkey Kong enabled Arakawa, Stone, Judy, and Lincoln to dream of a new world order, one where NOA miraculously resurrected the industry and Nintendo reigned supreme. Not now, perhaps, but one day soon.

Harris is also working on a documentary based on the book. And Sony is making a “feature-film” adaptation of the book as well. Cool!

Update: Medium has another excerpt from the book.

Maybe this Sonic could sell in Japan, but in America he belonged inside a nightmare.

Kalinske got off the phone with Nakayama and took the fax to Madeline Schroeder’s office. “I have good news and I have scary news.” He handed her the artwork. “What do you think?”

She looked it over. “I think we’ll be the first videogame company whose core demographic is goths.”

“Nakayama loves it.”

“Of course he does,” she said. “It’s so weirdly Japanese. I’m surprised the girlfriend’s boobs aren’t hanging out of a schoolgirl outfit.”

Despite his sour mood, Kalinske laughed. “Her name is Madonna.”

Schroeder put the drawing on the desk. After a long silent inspection they both spoke at the same time, saying the exact same thing: “Can you fix it?”

Bo Jackson’s quarter-long run

posted by Aaron Cohen   Dec 12, 2012

In this video, Bo Jackson’s historic quarter-long run against the Patriots is recreated on Tecmo Super Bowl almost exactly. I tried to figure out how many yards he actually ran, but I can’t count that high or fast. Apparently a Tecmo quarter lasts about 1:54 when the clock is allowed to run.

See also, You Don’t Know Bo, the just aired ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. (via @sportsguy33)

What your favorite Nintendo game says about you

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 12, 2012

Let’s see, my favorite game was probably the original Legend of Zelda, so:

You have carried a piece of string cheese behind your ear for a whole day.

Not the whole day, but certainly longer than was socially or hygienically acceptable. (via @tcarmody)

Did blowing into Nintendo cartridges really help?

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 25, 2012

Ok, I’m gonna point you to the article discussing the whole thing but based on my years of extensive experience as a kid, I can tell you that blowing into the cartridge absolutely did work. Zelda in particular always needed a good blow before playing. (via @djacobs)

Shigeru Miyamoto to step down at Nintendo

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 07, 2011

Miyamoto, who is responsible for creating or overseeing the creation of Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and many other games, is stepping down from his role as manager of Nintendo’s Entertainment Analysis and Development branch to work with a smaller team on smaller games with much shorter timelines.

“What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself,” Miyamoto said. “Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.”

Miyamoto was profiled in the New Yorker last December. (via @shauninman)

Update: Nintendo says it was a misunderstanding.

“This is absolutely not true,” said a spokeswoman for Nintendo. “There seems to have been a misunderstanding. He has said all along that he wants to train the younger generation. “He has no intention of stepping down. Please do not be concerned.”

Metroid source code

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 14, 2011

Here’s the entire source code + helpful annotations for the original Metroid game for the NES.

Labels corresponding to address values have been added to every line to make the code easier to follow for beginners interested in understanding the inner workings of a Nintendo game. The labels also make the code easier to debug if it is modified. At this time, the source code is still a work in progress but it is much farther along than the original document. The title page is completely documented. The intro routine, end routine, password scheme and sound engine are described in detail. About a third of the game engine is detailed and about half of each game area page.

(via @shauninman)

Wii 2

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2011

Project Cafe, or the Wii 2 as everyone else is calling it, is Nintendo’s next gaming box. IGN has some details:

According to sources with knowledge of the project, Nintendo’s next console could have a retail price of anywhere between $350 and $400 based on manufacturing costs, and will ship from Taiwanese manufacturer, Foxconn, this October, putting the earliest possible retail release anywhere between mid-October and early November.

Shigeru Miyamoto profiled in the New Yorker

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 13, 2010

The New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten goes long on Nintendo’s resident genius, Shigeru Miyamoto, designer of many of Nintendo’s top games.

In his games, Miyamoto has always tried to re-create his childhood wonderment, if not always the actual experiences that gave rise to it, since the experiences themselves may be harder to come by in a paved and partitioned world. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” he told me one day. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation. I wish that children nowadays could have similar experiences, but it’s not very easy.”

Koopa Soupa and Ganon Loaf

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 09, 2010

Meat cut diagrams for some of your favorite Nintendo characters.

Koopa Supper

Prints are available.

Super There Will Be Blood

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2010

The Super Nintendo version of There Will Be Blood:

This is pitch perfect. What really puts this video over the top are the sound effects (“milkshake!”) and that it doesn’t go on too long.

The Super Mario Bros infinite 1-up

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 28, 2010

In a recent interview for the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Mario’s baby daddy Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that the infinite 1-up trick was included in the game on purpose but that the minus world was a bug.

“We did code the game so that a trick like that would be possible,” Miyamoto revealed. “We tested it out extensively to figure out how possible pulling the trick off should be and came up with how it is now, but people turned out to be a lot better at pulling the trick off for ages on end than we thought.” What about the famed Minus World? “That’s a bug, yes, but it’s not like it crashes the game, so it’s really kind of a feature, too!”

Javascript Nintendo emulator

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 17, 2009

This Javascript Nintendo emulator works amazingly well in Google Chrome. You can play Dr. Mario, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, etc.

I highly recommend you use Google Chrome to play JSNES. Thanks to its high performance canvas element, and a clever optimisation by Connor Dunn, it runs at full speed on modern computers. Mac builds are also available. Otherwise, it just about runs on Firefox 3.5 or Safari 4, but it’s hardly playable.

We’ve come a long way from the days of the 5K Awards.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 21, 2009

Might have to dust off the Wii for this one: New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Features include four-player collaborative play (!!) and something called “demo play”.

The game will also be the first game on the Wii to feature “demo play”, where players will be able to pause the game, let the game complete the level for them, and resume play at any time by unpausing.

In my house, this was called the “give the controller to my 11-year-old cousin and let him show you how it’s done” feature. I both hated and loved that feature. (via object of my obsession)

Punch-Out for Wii

posted by Jason Kottke   May 11, 2009

Punch-Out is coming to the Wii (@ Amazon)…the teaser commercial features Isiah Whitlock, Jr., who played Clay Davis on The Wire, as Little Mac’s trainer. It’s worth watching to hear Whitlock’s comparison of comebacks and yo-yos. (thx, rob)

The Game Boy is 20

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2009

The Game Boy just turned 20; here are six reasons why it was so successful. Surprisingly, the list is not:

1. Tetris
2. Tetris
3. Tetris
4. Tetris
5. Tetris
6. Tetris

Tetris didn’t start with the Game Boy, of course (Pajitnov created it for the PC in 1985), but the Game Boy made it mainstream. Ultimately, Tetris proved so popular that it quickly drove sales of Nintendo’s handheld console into the millions. Tetris’s grown-up gameplay also attracted adults to Nintendo’s new platform, expanding Game Boy’s potential audience beyond the usual adolescent NES set.

Somewhere, I still have an original Game Boy with a Tetris cart wedged into it.

Wii Balance Board reviews

posted by Jason Kottke   May 16, 2008

The Wii Balance Board, the new exercise peripheral for the Nintendo Wii, was reviewed favorably by a number of people for the New York Times. A fitness professional at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers gave it pretty high marks:

“Actually I think it’s pretty good,” she said. “You can definitely get a workout. When I started doing it, I realized all the activities were pretty much on point. There were some things I didn’t like, like the alignment in a couple of places. But over all, I thought they did a good job and this will be a good tool for people who can’t make it to the gym.”

The Wii Balance Board will be released in the US and Canada early next week.

Update: Joel Johnson has a nice round-up of exercise-themed video game accessories, from the unreleased Atari Puffer to the Wii Fit.

Grand Theft Auto, circa 1985

posted by Jason Kottke   May 07, 2008

Commercial for the little-known version of Grand Theft Auto for the circa-1985 NES. The Tanooki Suit is the best part. (via house next door)

Ooh, there’s going to be a Dr.

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 02, 2008

Ooh, there’s going to be a Dr. Mario game available for the Wii at some point, playable over the network. It’s already downloadable via WiiWare in Japan…which should not be confused with the Virtual Console downloadable games even though the difference is really confusing.

Mario Kart Wii out soon

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 27, 2008

Mario Kart Wii will be out in the US on April 27!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why so many exclamation points? Feast thine eyes on this:

This game has been announced as supporting the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. This will feature online racing and battle modes, both of which are capable of up to 12 simultaneous players. It has also been confirmed that there will be online leagues, with international and local rankings. This will take place from within an entirely separate Wii Channel. This channel will also feature the option of sending saved time-trial ghost data.

IGN has several videos for your online viewing pleasure.

A pair of videos showing off Wii

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 03, 2008

A pair of videos showing off Wii Fit, a balance board device for the Wii. Looks pretty interesting, although if it’s marketed as exercise equipment, I fear it may not do so well. The board and a Wiimote in each hand could make for a pretty convincing skiing experience.

Update: Hmm, the Honda Fit and Wii Fit logos look pretty similar. (thx, dave)

Wailing Pull Stars of Super Mario Galaxy

posted by Adam Lisagor   Dec 03, 2007

The latest installment of Super Mario has received plenty of notice for its revolutionary style of gameplay. But just as striking is the intricacy of its sound design. One convention of the game is a Pull Star, a floating anchor that Mario can grab with some sort of magical, musical force which, when activated emits a creepy, almost theremin-like wail, wavering just a bit before solemnly sliding down in pitch. This sound is one of those elemental formulas for touching an emotional soft spot. The other day I was playing a level with a series of Pull Stars in succession and my girlfriend implored me to stop, as it was making her sad, and not only because I’m a grown man playing a child’s video game. Here is an example of the Wailing Pull Star (and a taste of the very Vangelis-like score scattered throughout the game).

Also: via Boing Boing Gadgets, footage from a live orchestra scoring session for the game. Mario’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto sits aside and supervises.

Also also: I noticed that the menu for selecting levels to play is a musical instrument in its own right, allowing the player to create melody with chord changes and everything. It’s a subtle touch.

Nice interview with Nintendo game designer Yoshiaki

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 28, 2007

Nice interview with Nintendo game designer Yoshiaki Koizumi, particularly the bits about shifting from 2-D to 3-D Mario games and Mario Galaxy. The bulk of the gameplay in Galaxy takes place on spherical surfaces:

He explained that no matter how large you make the playing field, if you walk long enough you will run into a wall, and that will make you turn around, which makes the camera turn around and runs the risk of making the player lost. With a sphere, Mario can run all he wants without falling or hitting a wall… a useful concept for getting players totally absorbed in the moment. Koizumi added that the best thing about spherical worlds is the “unity of surface,” and the “connectedness.” Neither will the player get lost easily, or need to adjust the camera - by using spheres, Koizumi said, they had created a game field that never ended.

They also talk about the Galaxy’s two-player (well, 1.5-player really) feature, which is a really nice way of getting a second passive player involved in what is essentially a one-player game. (via snarkmarket)

An appreciation of the Real Super Mario

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2007

An appreciation of the Real Super Mario Bros 2. The game was released in Japan in 1986 but was considered too difficult/weird for US gamers and a different Mario 2 (based on a Japanese game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic) was released to the US.

In most games, you trust that the designer is guiding you, through the usual signposts and landmarks, in the direction that you ought to go. In the Real Super Mario Bros. 2, you have no such faith. Here, Miyamoto is not God but the devil. Maybe he really was depressed while making it — I kept wanting to ask him, Why have you forsaken me? The online reviewer who sizes up the game as “a giant puzzle and practical joke” isn’t far off.

The whole upshot is that RSMB2 is now available on the Wii Virtual Console as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. And for the record, I loved SMB2.

Nintendo-themed rap music video: Buy Mii a

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 28, 2007

Nintendo-themed rap music video: Buy Mii a Wii. My favorite part is when he rhymes Nintendo with Shigeru Miyamoto. (thx, undulattice)