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Nintendo's Famicom Turns 20 44

Posted by simoniker
from the happy-birthday-to-youuu dept.
Warrior-GS writes "GameSpy has been running a weeklong series of articles dedicated to the Famicom, which became the super-console Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States. The Famicom turned 20 on July 15th. The series covers everything from the birth of the console to the hardware to many of the classic games." This massive article is, indeed, both comprehensive and lovingly researched, and is well worth checking out.
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Nintendo's Famicom Turns 20

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  • Is this a Japanese term? Is it one of those made up words that looks cool in Japanese?

    I'm glad they changed it for the American market: it sounds like the name of a pregnancy test kit.
    • by rylin (688457) on Friday July 18, 2003 @11:07AM (#6470801)
      IIRC, It's "Family Computer" or something like it. http://www.atarihq.com/tsr/odd/scans/famicom.html
      • Thanks! Would have never known that "Atari HQ" (the link you gave) would have contained valuable Nintendo history information.
        • Re:Thanks (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The Japanese are fond of creating new words based on parts of other foreign words, not just with famicom, but for example:

          pasacon - personal computer
          pokeberu - pager (pocket bell)
          pokemon - pocket monster
          etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2003 @11:04AM (#6470763)
    I remember Nintendo's release in America, at the time it wasn't impressive at all. The graphics were on par with Colecovision and it seemed a no brainer to go with the Sega Master System(M.U.S.C.L.E. Wrestling vs Sega's Pro Wrestling was the deciding factor). Unfortunatly I made the wrong decision as I missed out on the Super Mario Series, Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania ... Though I did have Phantasy Star which was the best game ever made for an 8bit console.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If it was a wrestling game that swayed your decision, you got what you deserved. (:
    • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday July 18, 2003 @01:21PM (#6472155)
      I remember my mom taking me to the store and letting me try out both systems, and trying to make the decision on which my parents would get me for christmas. (Funny, at the time i never realized there had been a crash in the video game market. I'd been happily playing games on my Colecovision which had an Atari 2600 adapter, and though the NES and Sega Master system were just the next step up instead of a revitalization of the entire industry)

      The NES was demoing Super Mario Brothers, the Sega machine was demoing, um, a couple pieces of crap, there was maybe one of the games that interested me, but i forget which. The graphics seemed more impressive on the Sega, but Mario was more fun. I thought about it awhile, and got the NES, and didn't regret it.

      A year or two later i got a Master System as well since they'd gotten cheap, and a few games for it as well. However every time i had the chance to get a new game, there was almost always something for the NES that outweighed anything i was contemplating for the Sega. The Master System ended up getting stuck in a corner and got pulled out for a brief period ever six months or so once it got moved into my bedroom.

      I'm glad to say that for the most part i've managed to stick with making decisions based on the quality of the games (PS2, GameCube) rather than purportedly superior graphics but only one or two games worth playing (XBox, with Halo and Panzer Dragoon)

      Although i wonder if i'd be any different today if i'd grown up with Phantasy Star and Sonic and um, wrestling games? rather than Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior.

      • Well, no offense, but if you think the only two games worth playing on the Xbox are Halo and PD, you're not really making decisions based on quality only, are you? You'd be purchasing the Xbox as well, because most players that are quality-only types (like me) will get every system out there, especially when you can only get things like JSRF, Gunvalkyrie, and Toe Jam & Earl 3 on the Xbox. Maybe you should go back and pick up a Saturn too, as well as a PC-Engine and TurboDuo?

        You wouldn't be any diff
        • Maybe you should go back and pick up a Saturn too, as well as a PC-Engine and TurboDuo?

          Toe Jam & Earl 3 just looks strange, not something i'd be inclined to pick up unless someone i knew recomended it to me and explained why. Gunvalkyrie looks potentially interesting. Something i'd possibly get if i bought the system, but not something that would make it worth buying the system on it's own. As for JSRF, i still haven't managed to find time to play JSR on my Dreamcast.

          Which gets straight to the hear

        • PC-Engine and Turbo Duo are like the SNES and the Super Famicom. Same basic unit.
          Only some minor phisical incompatability on the cardslot, need an adaptor to play import games.
          • I dunno about you, but my PC-Engine is missing something my Turbo Duo has in a big way...

            a super-cd system 3 drive (yes, you can get the cd-rom attachment, but it's like saying a genesis and sega-cd are the same thing).
  • by rylin (688457) on Friday July 18, 2003 @11:04AM (#6470769)
    Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, START!

    *Cheat enabled: First Post*
    /me hides

    • Re:Come on kids! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lightspawn (155347)
      Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, START! ... SELECT, START! That takes care of player 2 too - unless you've always played alone.
      • by rylin (688457)
        ... I had a Nintendo.. why would I need any other friends? :P
        • I had a Nintendo.. why would I need any other friends? :P

          Contra?
          • This EXACT conversation happened the last time Nintendo was in a thread.

            Goddamn geeks!

            (Not that I didn't make the SELECT == Friends arguement in that last article...)
            • This EXACT conversation happened the last time Nintendo was in a thread.

              Goddamn geeks!


              Yes, I know.. but last time it was moderated funny, so I figured easy karma. Me, I had a Sinclair Spectrum back then, and for most cheats, you had to insert a POKE command between loading and executing, or use one of those handy edit-memory-in-real-time devices.
  • by chadamir (665725) on Friday July 18, 2003 @11:05AM (#6470773) Homepage
    that means it was 20 years ago today that the first cartridge had to be blown in and shook around as not to give that flashing blue screen when you power on!
    • Re:ah... famicon (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Decaffeinated Jedi (648571) on Friday July 18, 2003 @01:38PM (#6472307) Homepage Journal
      Here's the big question: what kid was the first to pioneer that technique? Every kid in America (and, I'd assume, Japan) somehow knew that blowing into the cartridge and shaking it around would magically make it work. Where did this knowledge come from? Or was it just instinct?

      "Cartridge no work! Me shake now!"

      My best friend's NES eventually deteriorated to the point that he had to cram a pencil into the deck to keep the cartridges from popping up. Can you imagine the consumer outrage if one of the modern consoles had these kinds of problems? I guess we were willing to tolerate a little more way back when.

      DecafJedi

      • Re:ah... famicon (Score:3, Insightful)

        by theNote (319197)
        Ahh, the pre internet days.
        If the internet had been, and people really knew how bad the problems were, there would have been an outcry.

        Another interesting question is how did cheats make it around?
        Things like the contra 30 lives cheat.
        I remember the kid who showed me, but who showed it to him?

        Those were the good old days.
        Now all you have to do is log on and you can get a list of cheats usually even before the game hits the shelves.
        • Another interesting question is how did cheats make it around?
          Things like the contra 30 lives cheat.
          I remember the kid who showed me, but who showed it to him?

          I'd imagine that most of the cheats got out to the public through Nintendo Power. After all, everyone knew someone with a subscription to the magazine. I can't imagine Nintendo bothered to publish a how-to on the old "shake and blow" technique of overcoming the limitations of their flimsy hardware in Nintendo Power, though.

          Did I just use the phra

      • Before anyone in my neighborhood got their Nintendos I had a 2600. We blew on those cartridges, too. Also, they had these two little spring loaded prongs that had some mechinical significance to the insertion of the cartridge. Anyway, I was convinced that if you pushed those prongs in a couple of times it did something to clean the cirucuits on the inside of the cartrige.

        River Raid needed to be prong-cleaned every time I wanted to play it. Adventure [homestarrunner.com] always worked. That's a damn shame since I remembe
        • I remember my father used to blow in the 2600 cartridges when I told him the thing wasn't working, so I guess I picked it up from him. Of course, after years of blowing in the 2600 and NES cartridges, I learned that you really shouldn't do that, due to the moisture that ends up on the cartridge.

          Bleh, anyway, at least the Atari still worked long after the NES need all kinds of weird tricks to load a cartridge (careful alignment of the cartridge so that it was in the console as little as possible while still
      • modern consoles not working? you've never used a first-generation playstation, have you? the PSX required you tip the thing upside down to get it to read discs! and if I recall, the first ps2's had some kind of issues, as well... and first-generation x-boxes scratched discs..... the only company that makes products that work as advertised without issue anymore is nintendo. on top of that, my NES still functions: yes, I do mean the NES I got for christmas way back in 1987. granted, connectors must be bl
      • I had a nintendo that a bunch of us that lived together all pooled our games together for. We had scores of them, and surprisingly enough, the nintendo got a lot of play time (even though there were many newer systems there).

        The thing did deteriorate but still works. To get a game working now requires my favorite technique I have seen. After putting the first cartidge in and pressing it down, you cram a second cartidge into the slot. Works just about every time. It is fairly easy to figure out why th

  • by nsda's_deviant (602648) on Friday July 18, 2003 @11:17AM (#6470882)
    the article lacks the details of how great nintendo became because of famicom and how the famicom reinvented the game marketplace forever. Atari crashed the industry, Nintendo brought it back, Sega dented the industry, Sony dominated the industry and Microsoft is making the industry better (more competition is better). wether nintendo ever becomes the titan again will be questionable, now only if gamespy did an article about celebrating Nintendo creations. I always hope Nintendo will be remembered for their devotion to creating exceptional games, and creative applicaitons to games that no one ever pieced together (Zelda, the original Mario, evolution of Mario: raccoon mario!, Metroid) ... just my thoughts
    • Did you read the same article I did? Actually I'm only on page 25 out of 27 (been reading it all freakin day almost) and it definitely covered how it rescued the video game industry.
    • the article lacks the details of how great nintendo became because of famicom and how the famicom reinvented the game marketplace forever. Atari crashed the industry, Nintendo brought it back, Sega dented the industry, Sony dominated the industry and Microsoft is making the industry better (more competition is better).

      Actually, if you continue reading the series of articles, you get to that point. However, the Famicom really didn't do those things, because Atari didn't crash the industry in Japan. The NE
  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Friday July 18, 2003 @11:55AM (#6471285) Homepage Journal
    I stopped playing the NES with Super mario world was ported to the SNES. My kids love the older Mario multiplayer games more than the Xbox/Ps2. Fun to watch them play the same games you did at their age. Also fun to kick their asses and put those young whipper snappers in their place. ;)

    Multiplayer Mario just keeps the older consoles alive, even with new GFX, mario world is just simple fun for both boys and girls. Nintendo never did reach that same level of non-gender fun for newer consoles. (IMHO)

    I'm not saying the new console games arent fun, but they are mostly single player, or gender biased games. Mario party was a good try, but something seems missing.

    Wonder how many hours people spent building excitebike tracks, and having friends race them. Seemed to be a popular thing at pizza parties.

    • BEEP BEEP BEEP boop
      WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEE
      whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrWHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEE E
      whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrWHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEE

      Excitebike was great. But one thing that I really loved was Super Mario Kart on SNES. I didn't have an SNES, and never played any other games than that one, but I remember having sleepover's at Steve-Dave's house and playing that game all night and eating chocolate covered pretzels. We called it "Naked-Robber," but most people know it as Super Ma
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Excitebike was great. But one thing that I really loved was Super Mario Kart on SNES. I didn't have an SNES, and never played any other games than that one, but I remember having sleepover's at Steve-Dave's house and playing that game all night and eating chocolate covered pretzels. We called it "Naked-Robber," but most people know it as Super Mario Kart.
        What the fuck?
  • Ahh the Famicom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Monkeylaser (674360)
    I actually played the Japanese Famicom a few years back the house of a friend of mine who was Korean.

    It was pretty neat to play all the cool games years before they came out in the american Market, all bowderlized and generally edited to nothing.

    Super contra was same damn good times. Another interesting part about the Famicom was how many bootleg games were made for it. We all know about the infamous black box tengen game series for the NES, but the Famicom had TONS of illegitimate carts for it.

  • Go check out the book Game Over [amazon.com] by David Sheff. I'm an avid Nintendo fan (ever since my original NES). I found a 2nd hand copy in a bookstore, and must say it's one of the best looks into the history of the company, the people behind the company, and the games themselves. I'd highly recommend finding a copy on eBay or Half.com or (if you actually leave your computer) at a 2nd hand bookstore.

    The riveting story of Nintendo's conquest of the interactive entertainment industry offering true tales filled with cocky arrogance, confidence and international intrigue that rival any novel. Whether it is recounting the struggles over the game"Tetris," offering blow-by-blow narrative of Nintendo's bitter legal warfare or its see-saw competition with other companies for market leadership, Game Over is a masterful piece of business journalism and technical reportage - a book both cautionary and hugely entertaining.
  • by DrWho520 (655973) on Friday July 18, 2003 @01:30PM (#6472236) Journal
    Just wanted to wish the Famicom a happy birthday. I blistered many a thumb on mine.
  • Thanks for the carpal tunnel syndrome Famicon! I never could have gotten it without you.

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