HCK PLAYS – Pretty Fighter on the Super Famicom

9 08 2013

Ah, Super Famicom how we love your classic games, and your… not so classic ones, too.   After all, hate is a twisted form of love, right?

Pretty Fighter is a middling beat-um-up made by Imagineer that actually did well enough to receive an enhanced port on the Saturn titled Pretty Fighter X, which received an 18+ rating and yellow label.  Now you’d think that was because of some sexy situations involving the all-female cast, and you’d be dead wrong.  It’s because there’s a cut scene that involves a male flasher.  In one awesome swoop Imagineer punked every Saturn owning pervert back in 1995.

This video was done as a rudimentary test for Studio Happy Chicken’s upcoming Game Girls Go! only I’m sorry to say the only game girls are the ones actually in the game.  I needed to see how long it took to finish of a 10 minute segment.  Keep in mind NOTHING here is going to be like it is on the show, this is simply a very basic and hilarious test.

Also, keep in mind it gets very NSFW, so keep it away from children and small animals.





NINTENDO: a History of Strange Business Decisions

9 08 2013

Nintendo is a company that’s been around the block a few times.  In fact, I would challenge you to find any other company as associated with pure gaming outside of Atari.  They’re also the only company who have remained a juggernaut in the industry over the past 30 years; but being the Big N doesn’t mean there haven’t been stumbles along the way.  For everything the House of Plumber does right, it seems they leave behind them a wake of decisions that often leave both fans and detractors scratching their heads.  Here is, in my estimation, some of their most huh-worthy contributions to gaming.

 

 

GETTING INTO GAMING IN THE FIRST PLACE

 

database-hardware-famicomdisksystem01

Back in 1983 when Nintendo entered the market in Japan, they were known mostly as a company that made playing cards and the occasional arcade game.  Sure, they had been dabbling in games since the 1970’s, but when the Famicom first surfaced, gaming in Japan was dominated by computers.  It’s closest rival was Microsoft’s MSX series of computer consoles, licensed to the likes of Panasonic, Sony, Sanyo, and National.  That’s a pretty ballsy move, going up against some pretty heavy hitters with very, very deep pockets; but Nintendo had done their homework, and they came loaded for bear.  First off, the Famicom (short for Family Computer) was set to directly compete on the PC front, even though it wasn’t a personal computer at all, really.  You could outfit the Famicom with a keyboard, disk drive, and it even ran BASIC.  This would be the only time in gaming history that Nintendo would enter the market not having a monopoly on what makes Nintendo, well… Nintendo: it’s signature games.  Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, heck, even Super Mario Brothers were all available in one form or another on competitor’s machines; but it’s the superior Famicom versions of those games that would become classics.

 

 

SUPER FAMICOM DISK DRIVE

 

snes-cd

Probably the most well known head-scratcher in the history of the company, Nintendo was famously working with Sony on a CD drive for their Super Famicom game console when it put the kibosh on the project well within view of the finish line, literally throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  The end result of this gigantic corporate punking was the creation of the PlayStation, specifically designed to pee in Nintendo’s coffee.  You need to understand that Nintendo’s main competitor at this time wasn’t Sega, but NEC, whose PC Engine system was the #2 console in Japan… a console that was built around CDs.  The number 3 company, Sega also has a CD option for their system, and although the technology was new, it provided an obvious path as to where games were going.  Interestingly, the excuse Nintendo would provide as to exactly why they made the decision they made regarding a CD add-on for the SuperFami makes no sense whatsoever.  N pointed to piracy concerns over the easily copyable CD format, when there had already been devises specifically engineered to copy both Famicom and Super Famicom cartridges on the market for ages.  The reality is Nintendo did this simply because they felt they could, because… they were Nintendo.

 

 

STICKING WITH CARTRIDGES

 

SONY DSC

By the time Nintendo’s Ultra 64 rolled out as the Nintendo 64, the gaming industry had already embraced the compact disk as the chosen format for game delivery; but Nintendo made the decision to stick with cartridge based games.  Their explained reason: sure, CD games were cheaper to manufacture and held more data; but cartridges loaded faster.  That’s right, the Big N was so concerned about how you spend your time, they didn’t even want you wasting that extra 20 seconds it might take a game to load had it been available on CD instead of cart.  That’s just how thoughtful they are.  This would prove the beginning of a disastrous trend for the company to forgo industry standards… just because.  The end result of this decision would lead to the departure of one of the companies biggest 3rd party assets, Square Soft, and set the stage for the position in the console market Nintendo finds themselves today.

 

 

64DD / VIRTUAL BOY ONE TWO PUNCH

 

64DD copy

Although the Nintendo 64 proved far from a failure, two devices Nintendo would release alongside it would come to define the word.  Nintendo assured it’s critics that it would address the space limitations of it’s chosen cartridge based format with an-add on that harkened back to its Famicom roots: a disk drive that could read and write data, giving game companies not only more storage options; but also the ability to expand games.   Seemed like a sound and interesting idea at the time, and no one was exactly opposed to it; only it took them forever to actually release the thing.   Announced in 1995 and finally hitting shelves in 1999, by the time Nintendo made good on their promise almost all of the anticipated disk games had already been released in cartridge format, and no one was supporting it… including Nintendo.  That’s right, Nintendo released a device that it had no intention of supporting because they didn’t want to feel like they wasted their money.  But they had no problem with consumers wasting theirs.

The Virtual Boy parallels the disk drive in almost every way but one: while the 64DD was held back by Nintendo’s need “to get it right”, the Virtual Boy was rushed out the door even in the face of protests from it’s designer, Gunpei Yokoi.  Yokoi made the machine his pet project, and Nintendo was onboard having been fiddling around with 3D since it’s Famicom days (the Famicom supported 3D gaming through a pair of active shutter 3D glasses and some early Super Famicom games had 3D support built in, although it was never utilized.  In fact, the N64 was once conceived as a 3D system).  So while Nintendo had been doing it’s thing, the inventor of the D-pad, gameboy, and creator of such classics as Kid Icarus and Metroid was tinkering away in the background on his little 3D device.  He had it up and running just fine, but due to the cost LED diodes at the time it only was able to display one color: red.  Yokoi was pleased about his progress so far, but felt that it still wasn’t quite ready for prime time, and that in order for it to be viable in the marketplace it needed a full color screen, not just red.  Behind closed doors Nintendo agreed with him, but then they went out and publicly announced the Virtual Boy’s release, much to Yokoi’s horror.  This move was beyond bizarre: not only was there no reason to release the system at that time (Nintendo dominated the mobile gaming marketplace, they had no real competition), but the folks who designed the system has specifically told the bigwigs not to release it. The system flopped, just as Yokoi has predicted it would in it’s current state, and Nintendo not only publicly blamed Gunpei but also went out of their way to shame him, fire him, and then later murder him.  Yes, Nintendo killed Gunpei Yokoi.  They also never really made any games for the system, marking the second time Nintendo sold a product to consumers it never had the intention of supporting.

 

 

MINI-DVDS

 

Nintendo_GameCube_Game_Disc_and_Wii_Optical_Disc

Finally capitulating to the demands of developers, Nintendo announced that the followup to the Nintendo 64, called Project Dolphin, and later given the Christian name Game Cube, would in fact utilize DVDs for game delivery (thus bringing the system in line with the standard game format of the day); but not just any DVDs… MINI-DVDs!  It was like getting all the audio and load times of a DVD, but with half the storage space, once again making it nearly impossible to port a great many games to their system.  It’s important to understand just why the distinction between DVD and mini-DVD is so important.  The biggest reason beyond the amount of data it can hold is the cost to manufacturer.  Because DVDs were the standard format of the day for games, movies and computer software, it cost less to manufacture them and thus cost developers less to produce games on that format.  Because mini-DVDs were pretty much a specialty item, the cost to mass-produce them was significantly higher than your vanilla DVD.  Once again, Nintendo said the reasoning behind this was to protect from piracy, but let me tell you: if you can copy a DVD, you can copy a mini-DVD.

 

 

CONTROLLERS ARE TOO COMPLICATED

 

PSX

As Nintendo was gearing up for it’s successor to the Game Cube, the company decided to go on an interesting tirade:  controllers had become too complicated, there were too many buttons and, where once gamers could just pick up a controller and go, they now had to learn the controls to the game before playing it and that impeded the joy-joy process.  Nintendo would fix this problem by offering consumers a simple controller that needed no explanation, said Nintendo’s talking heads.  The actualization:  the Wii remote and nunchuk.  Now maybe it’s just me, but having a two-part wireless controller that has to be in the very specific range of a sensor bar and whose function varies depending on what game you play at any given time, that can also be used horizontally as well as vertically is a lot more complicated than, say, a controller where you use one thumb to press a d-pad or analog stick and the other thumb to press a button.  This would be the beginning of a trend where Nintendo would identify perceived problems that didn’t exist within the industry and claim to fix them.

 

 

THE TWO SCREEN HANDHELD

 

nintendo-ds-1

Nintendo’s announcement that the followup to the wildly popular Game Boy series of handhelds would feature two screens working together had gamers in a heightened sense of speculation.  What would it look like?  How would it work?  Would the screens be side by side?  The end result, the Nintendo DS (DS for Dual Screen) was an unmitigated success; but the Big N’s explanation of just why two screens were needed was a little bit… odd.  You see, in Nintendo’s mind the idea of pushing a button to access a menu or map or secondary screen within a game was just unacceptable.  They argued that, using the Legend of Zelda as an example, it took away from the gaming experience to have to hit the select button to call up the items screen and then have to push left or right on the d-pad to see the map.  It was much more logical and handy to have a second screen that displayed items or location information.  An interesting concept, yes.  A thorn in the side of gamers?  Hardly.  This was another instance where Nintendo would claim to fix a problem that just didn’t exist.

 

 

IT’S NOT ABOUT POWER, IT’S ABOUT GAMES

 

mario-is-missing-snes-box

During it’s Wii years, Nintendo would take a lot of heat for releasing an underpowered game machine, a system that just couldn’t keep up with its competitors.  N’s answer to this criticism would be that gaming was less about the power of the system and more about the quality of the games.  They then proceeded to release the Wii U, another underpowered system, repeating the games over horsepower mantra… while at the same times not releasing games for it.

 

 

TOUCH SCREEN CONTROLLER

 

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The main selling point for Nintendo’s Wii U system was less the actual system and more about the system’s unique tablet based controller.  While controllers in the past had toyed with the idea of having some sort of interactive display (most notably the usage of VMUs on Sega’s Dreamcast), Nintendo went all in giving the Wii U a controller that could display the entire actual game on it, without the use of a TV.  An interesting and exciting idea to be sure; but once again the reasons given behind the decision making is suspect.  What if, Nintendo has said, someone wants to watch something on TV while you want to play a game?  You can play it on the actual controller without the need of a TV!  Additionally, Nintendo again brought up the problem of pesky menu screens.  It’s much more handy to have a second screen handling menus instead of having to press a button.  It keeps you in the game!  Well, I don’t know about you; but it takes me out of the game a lot more to have to divert my attention away from the game to a secondary screen I’m holding, then to find an icon, press it, and then return my attention to the main screen.  And what about when your playing your game on the controller screen without using your TV?  Doesn’t that mean there should be a secondary controller screen to your secondary screen?  If not, how important does that make the necessity of having tablet controller in the first place?  Once again, a fix for a problem that never existed in the first place.

 

 

ALL OUR CUSTOMERS ARE IDIOTS

 

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The most recent example of Nintendo Brand Business Wackiness comes straight from the top, Mr. Satoru Iwata.  He announced publicly that according to an internal study, modern gamers weren’t smart enough to finish level 1-1 of Super Mario Brothers.  This distain for customer intelligence had been one of those things hidden in plain sight at Nintendo for years.  Look at their early games: they’re all pick-up-and-go.  Then on the Super Famicom they started giving more in-depth tutorials when a new gameplay mechanic was introduced.  The Nintendo 64 and Game Cube would give players a chance to see where things were before levels started.  The Wii featured an actual ghost player to show you what you were suppose to do.  The 3DS offers you up an indestructible mode of play on Super Mario if you die enough, and many games offer endless tutorials because as Nintendo now openly believes, you can’t figure out things for yourself.





An Unexpected Turn: The Newspaper Covered Box of Destiny

6 01 2012

This mysterious package was delivered to my apartment recently:

Whatever could it be?

 

Actually I knew what was in the packaged when it arrived. God Bless Yahoo! Auctions.

 

Sweet, sweet, goodness in a box!

 

This is a Nintendo Satellaview, an officially licensed add-on for the Super Famicom video game system.  What’s a Satellaview, you ask?  Well, come with me on a journey into the past…

When Nintendo launched the Famicom in Japan it was 1983 and home consoles at the time were more than just mere video game machines; they were computers.  The MSX personal computer was chugging along quite nicely back then.  You could play cartridge-based games on it, as well as program, print, and what-have-you.  In fact Metal Gear, Castlevania, and Ikari Warriors were just some of the famous NES games that were first released on the MSX.

 

My MSX 2+ with Metal Gear in the cartridge slot and Ikari Warriors above

 

Nintendo wanted their machine to be competitive so they released a keyboard, tape drive, modem, and even a floppy disk drive for their Family Computer.  The peripheral that would have the biggest impact proved to be the disk drive, being so successful that Nintendo worked with Sharp Electronics to create an all in one console called the Sharp Twin.  Many games that are considered classics were originally Famicom Disk System releases, including The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Kid Icarus.

 

A selection of Famicom Disk titles you might recognize

 

Fast-forward to the 1990’s and the release of the Super Famicom.  NEC had already proven successful launching video games on CD with their PC Engine game system, and Nintendo began exploring their own CD add-on possibilities, the success of the Famicom Disk System still fresh in their minds.  First partnering with Sony Electronics, and then Phillips, working prototypes of CD enabled Super Famicom units were created; but Nintendo brass were unhappy with the load times associated with CD based games.  Remember, at the time most CD drives were 1-speed.  Nintendo was also very sensitive to the problem of piracy.  Game copiers had become a popular thorn in their side during the Famicom era, and they were becoming equally popular and accessible for the Super Famicom as well.  CD games held a lot of data and were inexpensive to manufacture; but they were also easy to copy.

 

We all know how well that line of thinking went...

 

Nintendo’s final solution?  The Satellaview.  It was the only add-on to the Super Famicom that Nintendo every really supported.

 

Hello!

 

In order to get the Satellaview to work, you had to have a satellite dish and subscribe to Nintendo’s Satellaview service.  That’s right, it was subscription based.  Once everything was set up, you could download Satellaview enhanced games to an 8-meg flash cartridge that came with the unit.  Playing a game on Satellaview added CD quality music, voice, and even animated cut scenes to games.  One of the most popular games to be released in an enhanced version for the satellite add-on was the original Legend of Zelda, completely remade with modern graphics, CD quality surround sound, and the ability to play the adventure as either a boy or a girl.

It sounds great, doesn’t it?  I mean, Nintendo solved their piracy issues and delivered what was at the time, next generation quality.  There was only one problem… in order for you to use the service, Nintendo had to stream the data to the satellite, which would then stream it to the player.  This only happened at certain times of the day for fixed periods of time.  So if you woke up at 3am with the urge to get your Zelda on, you couldn’t.  You had to wait until the broadcast started at 4pm and then play it until it ended at 7pm.  All this from a company who kept complaining that the main problem with CD based games was load times.

 

Why settle for mere minutes when you wait for DAYS!

 

The Satellaview offered other features as well.  You could download game magazine and view them on you TV screen.  Some people claim that the added RAM in the Satellaview actually improved some cartridge based Super Famicom games; I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Satellaview service stopped June 30, 2000, rendering the units practically useless, although they have become very collectable.  8-meg flash carts typically sell in the Y6000 ($77.00) range now, depending on what they have on them.  Units in Japan are fairly hard to find complete.  I got mine for Y7000 ($90.00) and consider it a pretty good deal.  In America, Satellaview units can sell for hundreds of dollars.  So the next time you’re fiddling with you Super Nintendo or Super Famicom system and notice that mysterious data port on the bottom, you’ll know what it was for.  And knowing, is half the battle.





New Year’s Goodness from Famitsu

29 12 2011

The last Famitsu of the year came out today in Japan.  For those of you not familiar, Famitsu is the 800 pound gorilla of gaming magazines in Japan.  It seems as far as 2011 goes, Famitsu saved the best for last.

This issue comes with a bonus catalog sized, well, catalog highlighting the best of Nintendo from the Famicom all the way to modern day 3DS download titles.  Here’s a sampling of what this 194 page tome has to offer:

 

Left: Famicom Right: Famicom Twin, Famicom Twin Turbo, Famicom Titler, and redesigned Famicom. Missing is the neon orange Famicom Twin.

Selection of Game Boys in their various forms, including the Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Light.

Left: Super Famicom Right: Nintendo Satellaview

The Game Boy Advance in it's many varied forms. Missing are almost all of the special editions.

The Nintendo DS, DL Lite, DSi, and DSLL (XL in America).

Left: Page highlighting Zelda for the Famicom Disk System. Right: Famicom Disk System accessories and the disk re-writing kiosk.

Left: Super Famicom and Game Boy re-writable flash memory cartridges. Right: Special edition games for the Game Cube

Left: Special edition Famicom Mini Game Boy Advance boxed sets. Right: Mother 3 (Earthbound 3) for the Game Boy Advance.

 

And as if that weren’t enough, Sega chose to bless readers with a free DVD filled with gameplay and movies from their upcoming  PS3 and XBOX360 game Binary Domain.

 

Happy New Year from Famitsu and Sega!  I highly recommend you snag a copy of this issue before it sells out.





I am Frisky Tom’s Frisky Tom

12 04 2011

Three games in one! What a deal?

I picked up the Nichibutsu Arcade Classics cartridge for the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) today; one, because it was cheap and two, because it featured the game Frisky Tom.  I had heard about Frisky before in some article about classic adult gaming or something like that, and I noticed the big bright yellow-and-balck “18 and above” logo, so I thought this must be that famous Tom (I also Googled it first).  Turns out Frisky Tom in an arcade game that came out back in 1981.  Tom is a plumber who has to fix water pipes and protect a water tank from being blown up by explosive-crazed rodents.  He’s frisky because when you beat the level with “X” amount of water left in the tank, you see a crudely drawn and poorly animated girl in a bubble bath.  Now, in the American version on the arcade game, you couldn’t very well have people nekked in the bath, so they put a tasteful red bikini on the lass and called it a day… but this was the Japanese version of the game, so I was probably a little too excited to help Frisky get his thing on.

WULFF indeed!

I was all the more excited to find that in the options menu of the game, you could set the version to “domestic (read, Japan)” or “overseas (read, prudish), so of course I had to play the “domestic” version for history’s sake.   Here’s a look at the ancient wonder that is Frisky Tom (for some reason sound doesn’t kick in until the 2:55 mark):

The thing is, after getting the hang of the game… I couldn’t lose.  Sure, when I started I actually had to look up the point of the game online, I totally couldn’t figure out what to do; but I mean I couldn’t lose.  I can now say that I beat my first classic arcade game, all 26 levels of it.  Here’s what I got for all my hard work:

 

That's all? At least you could offer to buy me a beer...

That's all? Only one congratulation? At least you could offer to buy me a beer...

Then it said GAME OVER.  And the girl was wearing a bikini, too.  I should have expected as much in a Nintendo game.