Tagged: Nintendo

My e-Reader Card Collection: Nintendo’s Last Straw.

I have made a fair share of questionable purchases over the years. Back when I was still a Nintendo apologist, during the heydays of Gamecube puttering along way behind the PS2 and when the Game Boy Advance was king of all portable gaming, I had bought stuff that in hindsight wasn’t that useful. Such as the GBA-GC link cable that connected a GBA to a Gamecube to transfer data, or in the case of games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, have all the action take place on the GBA.

Nintendo-e-Reader

Doesn’t this look neat at first glance? Oh, if only.

But that isn’t nearly as much in terms of questionable purchasing decisions as me buying into Nintendo’s e-Reader. Not to be confused with an eBook reader, the e-Reader was a Game Boy Advance add-on where you could scan cards with codes printed on the side to get cool goodies. It sounds like a good idea on paper, but the execution was poor: Games sometimes needed 3-10 codes scanned to play something, you could only hold one thing on the e-Reader’s memory at a time, and you needed a GBA link cable if you wanted to transfer anything from an e-Reader to another system, or the Gamecube.

It was a mess. Needless to say, Nintendo of America wasn’t having more of this and discontinued the thing around 2004. Thus leaving me with a bunch of cards I had acquired that I didn’t really have much use for anymore.

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52 e-reader pickup (digital photography, 2018)

Over 15 years after the e-Reader came out, I still have the damn cards. And I’m gonna show some of them off here. Now, these aren’t the most rare, or the most valuable, these are just cards I find interesting, because they have a story to them. Note I’m only gonna list cards I personally own, as much as it would be interesting to write about Japanese exclusive e-Reader cards, I don’t have those.


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Props to Nintendo for using the original Famicom cover art, at least.

Donkey Kong Jr.-e

One of the two pack-in classic games – the other being Pinball – this was part of the “Classic NES Series” which featured almost nothing but early NES games, the ones you see crop up everywhere on Nintendo platforms: Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, even much-maligned brawler Urban Champion got the e-Reader treatment.

The first card shows how to play the game, with each subsequent card giving some important tips on how to play and eventually master the game. It’s nice considering people even of my generation never grew up on the older NES catalog, but them not being based on more “powerful” NES games like Super Mario Bros. really made this particular series only interesting to diehard Nintendo fans.

It also didn’t help it came on five cards, with one set of two dot codes each. That’s 10 codes I had to scan to play this thing. Worst off, if I wanted to play any other game, I had to remove the game from memory, thus requiring me to scan all ten codes again if I wanted to replay it.

Funny enough, some of these games later got treatment as part of a brief stint of a different “Classic NES Series,” which was on traditional cartridges. These featured more of the NES classics you’d be familiar with, like The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. Why scan 10 codes of Ice Climber when you could buy the same thing for a higher price on a traditional cartridge? Nintendo probably didn’t think that one through too well.

I’ve seen some of these Classic NES Series card packs on sale during the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, and I sometimes get the temptation to get another one of these. Then I realize I’d have to scan 10 codes, and I could play that game elsewhere with less hassle.

…Have I mentioned I hated having to scan 10 freakin’ codes yet?

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Video game fruit snacks MK. III: Mario Kart fruit snacks!

Sometimes I can get into a groove and write stuff for weeks straight. Other times, especially during the summer, I get into long gaps where I write at most once a month. Maybe I’ll find some inspiration while grocery shopping…

In addition to buying a fair share of unhealthy things, I found two things I just had to have: One was New York Seltzer, a return of one of my childhood favorites. The other was this item that I couldn’t resist blogging about.

These fruit snacks are NEW! NEW! NEW!

These fruit snacks are NEW! NEW! NEW!

Mario Kart fruit snacks. 2015 is becoming quite a year for video game-related food and drink. First the Mario gummies and Plants vs. Zombies 2 fruit snacks I wrote about earlier this year, then the Destiny Red Bull, now this. Since these are branded by Kellogg’s rather than some off-brand company I’d never heard of, these can only be good.

The cover is taken straight from the recent Mario Kart 8, which makes sense considering its popularity. But unlike the game it’s based on, don’t expect anything not Mario-related in this set. Though maybe they could’ve save that for another series of fruit snacks.

The box I had opened had 3 packages with Mario and 7 with Luigi. THE YEAR OF LUIGI SOLDIERS ON

The box I had opened had 3 packages with Mario and 7 with Luigi. THE YEAR OF LUIGI SOLDIERS ON!

These fruit snacks feature Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, a Koopa Troopa shell, and the famous Star as our options. All good options, though them making the purple one a regular Koopa Troopa shell instead of the evil blue shell seems like a slight misstep, but this is a fine lineup. At least I can bite the head off Yoshi like the crazed maniac I am.

As for how they taste, they have the typical taste of fruit snacks. I can’t say each character has a discernible flavor, but they taste like your average fruit snacks. At least this time each character applies to a color, which made it easier to get a proper set.

Man, this would've been nice to have around when I was a kid....

Man, this would’ve been nice to have around when I was a kid….

Since these are made by Kellogg’s, on the back of the box has inspirational options for kids to get outside and have fun. I like this idea, but I find it somewhat strange. Like if this was on a box of Corn Flakes or Froot Loops, I could understand. But it’s on a box of somewhat unhealthy fruit snacks. The healthy choices here really don’t work.

Props to Kellogg’s for making fruit snacks based on a recent video game and having them taste good. Then again, it’s really hard to screw up fruit snacks, unless you do what the Angry Birds people did and label them “fruit gummies” in order to do a bait and switch on me. I still haven’t forgotten that one.

Since we’re slowly approaching autumn, it can mean many things, like pumpkin spice everything and the changing of colors. But hopefully I’ll be getting back in the groove of writing more “substantial” stuff in the future. At least, as substantial as it can get for a blog like this, anyway.

Nintendo Power’s August 2005 DVD Special: With Zelda and a bunch of bonus stuff.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I collect a bunch of unusual things, such as demo discs and promotional DVDs. I covered a Nintendo Promo DVD from 2002 last year, and mentioned that I had other promo discs that I intend to write about. Well, here’s another one of these.

Oh boy! Twilight Princess with DOLBY DIGITAL AUDIO!!

This is a special promo DVD from Nintendo Power, released around mid-2005. 2005 was a dark age for Nintendo. The GameCube was literally on its last legs, the DS was floundering and the GBA was the only success for the big N. This was before the Wii (or the “Revolution” as it was called) was even revealed. Like the 2002 promo, this disc is chock full of demos for the hottest new games on Nintendo platforms.

Naturally, the biggest game on display was the E3 2005 trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I never enjoyed the 3D Zelda games, and know little about this game except Midna, Wolf Link, and 8.8. (Giant Bomb and old school GameSpot fans will know what the last one means.) Nintendo Power was so proud to have this trailer that they boasted it being in DOLBY DIGITAL! You can literally be amazed at the audio quality, provided you had the audio setup.

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Game Show Themes vs. Their NES Counterparts.

Woflogocomparison

Okay, it doesn’t fit one-to-one, but you get what I’m going with this, right?

There’s two things that I love fondly that I grew up with: Video games (natch), and game shows. I’m not exactly sure what gravitated me towards game shows: Could be the flashy sets, the catchy themes, the thought of people winning $25,000 in mere seconds; but whatever it was, I was hooked. I still enjoy the classic game show every now and then, even though my interest in the genre has waned in recent years.

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The rare sunburst logo. The common white and blue logo wouldn’t show up ’til the 1990s.

Since I like game shows and video games, having the two come together sounds amazing. It’s my version of a peanut butter cup. There were a whole bunch of them on the ol’ NES, almost all of them published by GameTek, a US-based software company. I think the game show games were their only hallmark, though they did publish games like Frontier: Elite II and Corridor 7: Alien Invasion, as well as working on publishing Robotech: Crystal Dreams before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1999. There were some NES game show games published by other companies, such as Hi-Tech Expressions, but the less said about those games, the better.

Now, there’s a fair share of game show games on the NES by GameTek, including four different editions of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, as well as Double Dare, Hollywood Squares and many others. What most people don’t know is that some of these were developed by Rare. Yes, that Rare. Donkey Kong Country Rare. Banjo-Kazooie Rare. Kinect Sports Rare. For those who don’t find that as surprising as I do, Rare is a games company based in Twycross, England. All the game show adaptions that they had made weren’t as well known on British TV at the time, so to have a company based in England to do American TV game show video games is funny. I would assume the production companies would send them episodes of the show as well as the rules of the game so they understand what they’re trying to make.

David Wise is one of my favorite European composers, next to Tim Follin, Richard Jacques, and Simon Viklund. You could consider this post part of the “David Wise Appreciation Station,” if really you want to.

Since Rare was a small skeleton crew throughout the ’80s, they only had one composer: Dave Wise (pictured). Wise pretty much composed all of Rare’s games solo up until the early ’90s, and seeing him try to recreate some of game show’s iconic themes on the NES sound chip sounds intriguing. Let’s see how well he did on each of them…

Jeopardy! (also includes Jeopardy! Junior Edition and Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary Edition)

Guys, the globe goes *behind* the logo, not under it!

The NES version:

COMPARED TO: 

“Think!”, Jeopardy!‘s theme from 1984-1991 (originally composed by Merv Griffin):

There really isn’t much to say about Jeopardy! as a show. Surprisingly, there were several NES adaptations by Gametek, with new editions out about a year apart from each other.

The theme to Jeopardy! is undeniably the most well-known and iconic game show theme. Merv Griffin’s little think tune eventually became the show’s hallmark theme since the show’s revival with Alex Trebek. Being one of the earliest Rare/GameTek collaborations, this is probably one of the closest. However, the intro – used during the contestant selection in the game – goes up three keys rather than two like the actual theme does.

Mutant David Letterman faces off against two random ladies in this exciting game of Jeopardy!

The rest of the game has random little ditties that play throughout, and none of them resemble cues from the show. The theme is the closest they get, and it’s surprisingly passable.

Now who ever seen a kid with a beard? Especially on Jeopardy! of all shows…

The two later releases of Jeopardy! by Rare, 1989’s Junior Edition, and 1990’s 25th Anniversary Edition, have the same exact music. 25th Anniversary adds a little ditty during the copyright screen, which would also appear in Wheel of Fortune: Family Edition.

There really isn’t much difference between the three editions besides new clues — the Junior Edition might be even harder than the other editions unless you know a lot of 50s-60s stuff — even the 25th Anniversary edition recycles the contestant sprites from Junior Edition, except giving one of the kid models a mirror-universe beard for some reason.

These are alright versions of Jeopardy!, especially by 80s standards. You could do much worse.

Wheel of Fortune (also includes Wheel of Fortune Junior Edition)

This title screen looks so… plain, even by late 80s standards.

The NES version:

 COMPARED TO:

“Changing Keys,” Wheel of Fortune‘s theme from 1983-1989, originally composed by Merv Griffin:

While Jeopardy! is a fairly straightforward game, Wheel of Fortune is a bit more elaborate. Spin a wheel and play hangman, and try to win cash. The 3 (!) versions GameTek released are identical in every way, and are particularly backwards by not having prizes on the wheel, the top dollar value never going higher than $1,000, that sort of thing. Otherwise the game’s pretty spot on to the nighttime “playing for cash” format that started becoming the show’s standard by that point. (Sorry, no shopping for ceramic dalmatians here.)

Welcome to the *WHEEL VORTEX*. Don’t ask what the Boo and Moo spaces are.

Wheel’s theme was another Merv Griffin-composed tune called “Changing Keys,” which was made to replace the original theme composed by Alan Thicke when the show entered syndication in 1983. The theme was arranged a few times over the years by Griffin and later Steve Kaplan, before being completely replaced with a Kaplan composed tune in the early 2000s. A shame, as the later themes are rather generic-sounding.

This is where most of the action takes place. Rather simple looking these days.

In the NES game, Wise opted to use the bridge that played during the show’s credits as the theme, rather than the introduction that was associated with the show at that point. It’s only something the game show diehards like me would notice, but it’s close enough to the main theme that it’s not a bother. Plus you’re likely only gonna hear a few seconds of this before you go into the game itself anyway.

Like Jeopardy!, Wheel had two additional releases done by Rare: Junior Edition in 1989 and Family Edition in 1990. Oddly, Family Edition completely changes all the music to completely original compositions such as this:

It sounds okay, but for a Wheel of Fortune game to lack the famous theme song is a strange omission, especially since the show had still had Changing Keys as its theme by the time Family Edition was released. Maybe this was music for an unfinished Rare game that they didn’t want to go unused? It definitely matches the sound of later Rare NES titles like Cobra Triangle and Battletoads

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The 2002 Nintendo Preview DVD: Featuring Metroid Prime, and a whole lot of Gamecube.

Anyone who follows the blog may know I collect large amounts of video game-related crap. (For those who are visiting the site for the first time: I collect large amounts of video game-related crap.) Most of the time, it’s video game trinkets and items from press events, magazines, and demo discs, among many other things. This time, I’m gonna look at a preview DVD.

Oh no Samus is bursting out of my gamecube

It’s a Nintendo Preview disc from about mid-2002. Mostly an ad for the forthcoming Metroid Prime, it also features other flagship Nintendo GameCube games like Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Party 4, Animal Crossing, and Star Fox Adventures, along with some advertising for the Game Boy Advance, including the ill-fated e-Reader add-on. One of these days I’ll get around to covering that e-Reader, it’s a strange part of Nintendo history.

I remember this DVD being available at a Game Crazy (RIP), and took one home to watch at all the reasons for me to ask for a GameCube that Christmas. Nowadays the only reason I still have my GameCube is because my Wii doesn’t support the Game Boy Player add-on, one of the best damn hardware add-ons out there.

The most information about three Metroid games that you can pack onto a DVD.

Each of the highlighted Nintendo games get a few trailers for the games, most with typical sizzle reel fare. One for Star Fox Adventures is voiced by freakin’ Don LaFontaine for crying out loud. There’s also bonus features for each of them. Super Mario Sunshine and Mario Party 4 have tips and tricks videos. Metroid Prime has a feature called “The Metroid Legacy” which covers the history of the franchise – weird, considering that Metroid had only three games by the time of this DVD’s release – and Animal Crossing comes with a special set of commercials that are parodies of The Real World.

Back then, these were slightly funny commercials, nowadays they’re pretty cringe-worthy. Keep in mind this was the era when Nintendo thought having Yoshi beating up Pikachu to the tune of The Turtles’ “Happy Together” was a great way to advertise Super Smash Bros.

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Super Power Supplies: The Fall/Winter 1999 Nintendo Power Catalog.

I’ve been in a funk lately. I’ve had no drive to write any new entries or make new videos. Since I come from a packrat family, There’s bound to be something in my room that’s worth talking about.

While combing through my magazines, I had stumbled upon this catalog that had been buried among the stack, and I think it’s an interesting time capsule: Nintendo Power’s Super Power Supplies catalog. From 1999! Everybody loves old catalogs, right? Well, at least I do.

Pokemon! Donkey Kong! Yoshis! A combination only Nintendo could give you.

I honestly don’t know how I got this, but judging how it’s from Nintendo Power, I likely got it when I had a subscription to the magazine from 1998-2000. That was an interesting time: Pokemon was becoming a big thing, the Nintendo 64 was winding down, the Game Boy Color was a new and colorful way to play handheld games, and there were magazine covers dedicated to stuff like Tonic Trouble. This makes me realize we’ll never see anything cool like this again, now that Nintendo Power’s gone.

By this time in my gaming career, I was still a hardcore Nintendo nut, but my interest in the Big N started to fade, looking at the cool Sega Dreamcast, and later, the PlayStation 2. I still respect Nintendo, they make good stuff on occasion, even if my mom used the Wii more than I do. But enough waxing nostalgic about Nintendo, let’s crack open this catalog.

Pokemon: Starring a bunch of characters you don’t care about, and PIKACHU!

The catalog was released during the height of Pokemon fever. I played Pokemon Red in its heyday, but I later traded it with a classmate for The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which was a better decision, especially after my friend borrowed my copy of Red and finished the game with my save, giving me less interest in playing it.

By the time this catalog was released, Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition just hit the US, so Pikachu is featured prominently on a lot of the merchandise, such as the sweatshirt shown above. I like how it’s some of the well-known Pokemon like Charizard, Snorlax, Eevee, and Meowth in a group shot, but Pikachu’s in the corner, as if they’re saying “You don’t give a fuck about the rest of these guys, only Pikachu.” I was more into Charmander myself, but I guess with the popularity of the anime that they decided to capitalize on making Pikachu the face of Pokemon.

I wonder if someone who served in the military had Meowth dog tags in addition to their name and rank.

When I said there’s a lot of Pokemon stuff in the catalog, I wasn’t exaggerating. You could have such wonder Pokemon products like Pokemon hats! Pokemon watches! Pokemon card game holders! VHS tapes of the Pokemon anime! You could get freakin’ Pokemon DOG TAGS! I could understand T-shirts and hats, but dog tags? Really? I guess if you wanted to show off how much you love Blastoise, then I guess the dog tags would be cool.

This is the 1999 version of the controller condom. It’s like Nintendo never forgets their past!

The catalog does feature stuff besides Pokemon. One other hot ticket item in 1999 was Nintendo’s other big release that year: Donkey Kong 64. Featured are Donkey Kong 64 hats, T-shirts, wallets, plush toys, even Nintendo 64 controller gloves. If you wanna protect your controller from getting nasty germs or other things on them, I guess those would be an interesting purchase.

I’m surprised they didn’t sell actual gloves for your hands, considering Mario Party came out around this time and was causing issue with people’s hands due to people palming the analog stick on the more intense minigames. Pair them with the controller gloves for maximum protection.

If I had a Nintendo 64 carrying case, I could’ve been the cool kid on the block.

As I dip further into the catalog, I find some more cool accessories that I would want even now: Protective plastic cases for loose Nintendo 64 carts, or carrying cases for your game systems. I always found those pretty cool, because you could stash your system in a bag and take it with you to Grandma’s house.

I wish I ordered the magazine holders, it probably would’ve been a tidier way to stack my game magazines. At least I finally bothered to get plastic magazine sleeves to preserve some of those older Nintendo Power issues.

Of course, if you’re buying the games, you might want the strategy guides too, right? I still have a bunch of these “Player’s Guides,” and they’re nice when you wanted some game hints before everybody had the internet at their fingertips. Fun fact: That Donkey Kong 64 Player’s Guide cover got changed to one featuring the ensemble cast. I should know, I own two of them.

Nintendo Power was also selling the game soundtracks if you wanted to listen to those kickass tunes in the car, which was still sort of a novelty back then. Though, that Diddy Kong Racing soundtrack disc looks pretty creepy. Plus it’s not round, how the heck would it play in a CD player without shattering in the drive? I will have to find that soundtrack some day so I can find out how that magic works, as I usually don’t see very many non-round CDs.

This is an interesting little item for me to stumble upon. These are great time capsules, as they give me an outlook on some of the silly swag that Nintendo was selling even during that period where Sony was gaining dominance in the video game landscape.

Alas, I don’t have any more of these “Super Power Supplies” catalogs, so this will be it for now. However, I do have some old Nintendo and Sony catalogs, including a Nintendo DS catalog from 2005 which has a few unique things about it. I wonder if anyone has talked about those…

(Thanks to user fauwf of The Internet Archive for a clearer scan of these pages, which I used when updating this article.)