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BoneSnapDeez
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Early Famicom (pre-Super Mario Bros.)

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:09 pm

So, the NES launched with Super Mario Bros. in October 1985. This was (and is) an absolutely groundbreaking game, and effectively cemented a huge gap between the second and third generations with its unprecedented nuanced play controls, diverse musical score, and lengthy stage-based gameplay.

I always assumed that the Famicom also launched in 1985. It wasn't until I was an adult and embraced retro gaming as a hobby that I learned that the Famicom hit shelves in 1983 in Japan.

The games released during the system's first couple of years stand in sharp contrast to the technical marvels (Kirby's Adventure, Super Mario Bros. 3, and so on) that would eventually follow, and are also noticeably simpler than the likes of Super Mario Bros.. Many of these games were arcade ports. Most "loop" and have no discernible ending screen. Graphics are ColecoVision-esque. A large handful were released as early NES "black label" titles, while others weren't localized until years later with more traditional hand-drawn artwork. And, naturally, some never made it out of Japan.

All pre-Super Mario Bros. games...

1983
Baseball
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.
Donkey Kong Jr. no Sansuu Asobi (Donkey Kong Jr. Math)
Gomoku Narabe Renju
Mahjong
Mario Bros.
Popeye
Popeye no Eigo Asobi

1984
4 Nin uchi Mahjong
Clu Clu Land
Devil World
Donkey Kong 3
Duck Hunt
Excitebike
F1 Race
Galaxian
Golf
Hogan's Alley
Lode Runner
Mappy
Nuts & Milk
Pac-Man
Pinball
Tennis
Urban Champion
Wild Gunman
Xevious

1985
Balloon Fight
Ice Climber
Exerion
Galaga (Galaga: Demons of Death)
Raid on Bungeling Bay
Formation Z
Soccer
Championship Lode Runner
Space Invaders
Kekkyoku Nankyoku Daibouken
Yie Ar Kung Fu
Ninja Kun
Chack'n Pop
Dig Dug
Flappy
Wrecking Crew
Hyper Olympic (Track & Field)
Spartan X (Kung Fu)
Star Force
Elevator Action
Field Combat
Road Fighter
Warpman
Door Door
Zippy Race
Super Arabian
Robot Block (Stack-Up)
Front Line
The Tower of Druaga
Astro Robo Sasa
Honshougi: Naitou Kudan Shougi Hiden
Robot Gyro (Gyromite)
Geimos
10-Yard Fight
Battle City

I've always expressed adoration for Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and the original Mario Bros. game. Those were my three most-played arcade titles growing up shaped my love for the video game medium. Popeye, which is similar to the aforementioned, is one I've just discovered recently, and it also gets my seal of approval.

Of those I haven't played I am most interested in Mappy, Nuts & Milk, Devil World, and Clu Clu Land. They all appear to be simplistic "maze" games or strategic platformers, which are the genres I gravitate to.

Any thoughts of these games? Would these games comprise a worthwhile "sub-collection"? Is Donkey Kong Jr. Math really that bad?
Last edited by BoneSnapDeez on Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Early Famicom (1983 and 1984)

by prfsnl_gmr Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:23 pm

Mappy is great. You are probably better off playing it on one of the multiple Namco arcade collections, however.

I haven't played Nut & Milk yet. I really need to order it since it is not that expensive.

Devil World is a classic. I have a copy, and it should have been released in NA. (I understand why Nintendo probably chose not to release it, however...)

Clu Clu Land is a strange misfire from Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto. It has strange mechanics, and it isn't that much fun to play. I juts can't get into it.

Finally, I actually like Donkey Kong, Jr. Math. I think it's a good game and that it's at least as good as many of the other early Famicom/NES games.
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Gunstar Green
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Re: Early Famicom (1983 and 1984)

by Gunstar Green Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:37 pm

I was actually going to make practically this same thread. Early Famicom is really fascinating to me because it almost has a second generation feel compared to what it became post Super Mario Bros.

I can recommend Nuts & Milk for any early single-screen platforming fan. You can read my thoughts on it here: viewtopic.php?p=1072881#p1072881

Another game that didn't come out until 1985 is Binary Land which was a port of a 1984 MSX game. It's another really challenging and interesting single screen game where you control two penguins and have to get them to meet at the exit.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGhqb5GXDUs

Both of these games are super common and cheap.

1985 also saw the release of one of my favorite Galaga-style arcade shooters on the Famicom, Exerion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8dtrKJlhec
Last edited by Gunstar Green on Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Exhuminator
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Re: Early Famicom (1983 and 1984)

by Exhuminator Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:47 pm

Nuts & Milk is so much fun. I just wish it had a two player mode where one player was Nuts and the other Milk, and you could chase each other around. Such a missed opportunity there.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Early Famicom (1983 and 1984)

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:17 pm

Talk of 1985 games in this thread is fine. I was originally going to include them on my list, but I wanted to keep the thread to "pre-Super Mario Bros." which meant looking up specific month/day release dates for the 1985 games and I got lazy.

I believe I have played Mappy on a Namco collection, but I don't remember it much. Sometimes I find that I like the NES/Fami ports of these games as much as the arcade originals.

Binary Land looks radical. I'd be tempted to get in on MSX, but that release appears to be a cassette so I'd have no way to play it. Famicom it is!

Funny, a game called "Nuts & Milk" turned out to be popular than I expected.

But yeah, the second gen feel is one thing I do love about Early Fami. It's like playing ColecoVision minus the crap controls.
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Gunstar Green
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Re: Early Famicom (1983 and 1984)

by Gunstar Green Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:44 pm

One of the cooler early Famicom things is Namco's "18 series." It's kind of the Namco equivalent to the "black box" NES games in a way (or the Check Mark label Nintendo games in Japan). It comprises the first 18 games they put out before they switched from paper boxes to plastic cases and stopped numbering them. There were quite a few games we didn't get in the west like Dig Dug (for some reason).

Two other single screen 1985 games in that series that were pretty neat:

Warpman: An update to their 1981 game Warp & Warp. It's alright. It's got some proto-Bomberman stuff going on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2KBNpuadN0

Battle City: Successor to 1980's Tank Battalion. This one fairs a little better and is one of my favorites. It can get pretty intense. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPsA5PtfdL0
Last edited by Gunstar Green on Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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nightrnr
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Re: Early Famicom (1983 and 1984)

by nightrnr Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:48 pm

Of those, I have good memories of:

Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr
Excite Bike
Duck Hunt

Galaxian, Xevious, Pac-man, and Lode Runner are considered classics as well of course.

I think I ran across Nuts and Milk on a pirate cart of mine. Might have to check that out again, as well as Devil World.

So 5 of the games from 1983/1984 made it on NES Classic. Not a bad percentage from that time frame.

Gunstar Green wrote:Battle City: Successor to 1980's Tank Battalion. This one fairs a little better and is one of my favorites. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPsA5PtfdL0

Love that game.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Early Famicom (pre-Super Mario Bros.)

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:26 pm

Edited the original post to include the pre-SMB 1985 games!

Note that the 1983 and 1984 lists are in alphabetical order, while the 1985 one is by release date... I was using two different references.
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Gunstar Green
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Re: Early Famicom (pre-Super Mario Bros.)

by Gunstar Green Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:08 pm

Ahh there's a few other weird ones there I forgot about.

Super Arabian is another typical single single screen platformer. You have to collect letters to spell out random English words for... some reason? It's simple but decent. I looked up if there was ever a "non-super" Arabian and apparently it was published across many 80's home computers including the C64. I like it.

Astro Robo SASA is a game I've never decided if I liked or not. I absolutely love the concept but it's so much harder than it looks. You play a little space man and you propel yourself around the screen with your gun while fighting against gravity (for more old-school goodness when you leave the screen in most levels you wrap around the other side).

Your goal is to collect the energy tanks in each stage and you have limited energy so you have to make every shot count. This bugger is really hard to control though and your energy level carries over to the next level. The energy can be destroyed which counts as you collecting it so you can really screw yourself if you end a round with low energy. I want to love it but man the controls can get annoying in certain stages.

It's really clever and unique especially when they start messing with the gravity in different environments but I could never play it for very long without getting a sore thumb and a case of frustration. It is beatable though, and kind of short at 16 levels. I can give it a "maybe" recommendation though because it costs only a buck or two and you might enjoy it more than I do.

Door Door looks like another single screen game though I never played that one. Looks like it has some unique mechanics though.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Early Famicom (pre-Super Mario Bros.)

by prfsnl_gmr Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:03 pm

You know I have to collect all of these now, right? Thanks, Bone...
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