The Letters and the Law, The Meaning and the Cause (Super Mario World)

(32 comments)

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There are two ways to begin this.


I am, of course, talking about Super Mario World here and not The Super Nintendo Project, where there were an infinitude of ways I could have gone. No, I'm referring to the start of Super Mario World, where you are presented with a straightforward choice between going left to Yoshi's Island 1 or right to Yoshi's Island 2.


(Here's a secret history for you.


The 1986 wide release of the Nintendo Entertainment System was one of the great marketing successes of 1980s American capitalism, a period with no shortage of contenders for that title. At the heart of the success is simply the sheer degree to which Nintendo triumphed over conventional wisdom. Following the shocking collapse of the Atari-led American video game industry in 1983, the American market was enormously wary of the entire idea of video games.


Indeed, it was in some ways surprising that Nintendo even had the opportunity to try, given that they very nearly allied themselves with Atari in 1983, just before the crash, an alternate history prevented only by a staggeringly unforced error in which Atari executives mistook a Coleco Adam running Donkey Kong at a 1983 trade show as evidence that Nintendo was making a deal with Coleco (formerly the Connecticut Leather Company), when in fact the Adam was simply playing the Colecovision release of the game via its backward compatibility. This resulted in Atari abruptly pulling out of its deal with Nintendo to distribute their successful Famicom console in the US.

Nintendo thus went it alone, initially trying to release the system as a personal computer akin to the still popular Commodore 64 or the Apple IIe, and, when this faltered, regearing the product as a straight video game console, and creating R.O.B., a console peripheral/toy robot that allowed Nintendo to situate the system not as a video game system in the mould of the failed Atari 2600, but rather as a toy.)


It’s more of a choice than it might first appear. The sense of linear progression would obviously lean towards starting with Yoshi’s Island 1, but this undersells the degree to which movement from left to right is a fundamental part of the conceptual grammar of the side-scrolling platformer genre that Super Mario World is in many senses the apex of. Likewise, the world map as visible at the start of the game emphasizes the importance of going right - the path extending forth from Yoshi’s Island 2 has two nodes that are visible markers for where Yoshi’s Islands 3 and 4 will appear, as well as a castle, recognizable as the end-of-world objective.


Funnily enough, I don’t remember the exact circumstances of getting the system. It would have been somewhere in the vicinity of my ninth birthday, which was the official release date, although systems arrived in stores a couple weeks earlier. It’s possible it took as long as Christmas, but getting the system closer to my birthday and then Super Castlevania IV and Super Ghouls and Ghosts for Christmas feels closer to my practical experience, because I distinctly remember a period where the system was defined entirely by Super Mario World.


It seems odd to forget the particulars of this. I remember plenty of other details around the launch - an argument with a video game store clerk in which he decried the still-forthcoming system as self-evidently crap, complaining that the controller was going to be too complicated because it even had buttons at the top of the controller sticks out with particular vividness. (And for all that this is genuinely funny given that the four face buttons plus shoulder buttons layout became industry standard, it’s worth remembering the sublime pointlessness of the L and R buttons in Super Mario World.)


Beyond that, of course, I remember the marketing campaign - a protracted tease in Nintendo Power that carefully stage-managed expectations of the forthcoming system. This was not a new process - indeed, the February 1990 launch of Super Mario Bros. 3 served, in many ways, as a dry run for the stage-managed release of the Super Nintendo. Nevertheless, it was effective - one of the earliest points in my life where I can recognize myself as being thoroughly shaped by a marketing campaign. It was, it seems, the season for it - this was the exact same time period that Marvel Comics was releasing The Infinity Gauntlet, one of my earliest memories of comic book buying, an event series I was firmly “in the tank” for, as it were - an event that is on the one hand entirely coincidental, and on the other hand seems like it must speak to something about late 1991, or the experience of turning nine, or like it must otherwise contain some crucial secret and truth about the world out of which we might finally build some sort of understanding.


(Almost immediately, other companies rushed back into the market. Most significantly, Sega brought the Master System to the US market a month after the NES’s wide release in 1986. This was not, to be clear, significant in terms of the NES itself. The numbers there are straightforward: in the US, Nintendo shipped thirty-four million NES consoles over the lifetime of the system. The Master System, in comparison, sold two million, an irrelevant footnote in a generation of video game history that was almost exclusively owned by Nintendo.


It was not until 1989 that Nintendo actually faced significant competition in the US market, with the twin release of the TurboGrafx-16 and the Sega Genesis in August of that year. Initially it was the TurboGrafx-16, which launched with a high profile mascot of its own in the form of Bonk, the caveman adventurer, that seemed the more dangerous of the two, assuming that you considered a threat to Nintendo’s American market share a danger. But both systems ultimately offered the same basic challenge to Nintendo: they were sixteen bit systems, capable of better graphics and richer sound than the NES’s eight bit microprocessor could hope to offer.)

Yoshi’s Island 1 is, at least, the authorized “correct” choice, in that it advances the job of demonstrating that the release of the Super Nintendo is a big deal. It goes out of its way to foreground the changes to the Mario formula. The first enemy encountered is a Koopa without his shell, an immediate inversion of the order of things. But what is more important is the second enemy, a massive Bullet Bill. Oversized enemies had appeared before in Super Mario Bros 3, it’s true, but the grandeur of this one, rendered exquisitely in sixteen bits with a richness of color and shading that had never been seen before, all magnified tremendously. It’s totally, utterly, ruthlessly cool, and clearly designed so that the game opens with a (literally) big moment.
Ironically, as a challenge within the game, this enemy is only difficult if you are taken in by the glamour of the moment. Assuming you opted to play Yoshi’s Island 1 first, the Banzai Bill (as the monster is called) is encountered prior to any power-ups, and flies exactly one unit above the ground, so that it is successfully evaded as long as you simply don’t react. The only real danger comes if, upon seeing the massive enemy, you attempt to jump and evade it, which, if you’re jumping once you’ve seen it, will bring you straight into its path. It is, in other words, only by accepting the technological advancement that the Banzai Bill represents as normal and not reacting to it that the player is safe.


(Accordingly, Nintendo had to react, and so put the Super Nintendo into development. The console launched in Japan in 1990 (where the TurboGrafx, known there as the PC Engine, had been out since 1987), to considerable success. But, notably, to less success than the Nintendo Entertainment System. Over the lifetime of that system it sold nearly sixty-two million units, thirty-four million of those in the US. The Super Nintendo, in contrast, sold forty-nine million, twenty-three million of those in the US.


But perhaps the more significant fact are the sales of the Sega Genesis, which sold forty million units worldwide, putting it relatively narrowly behind Nintendo’s system, in marked contrast to the previous generation of video game consoles, where the Nintendo Entertainment System made up 77% of the sales of the entire generation. This time their domination was not nearly so total - indeed, for each Christmas from 1991 through 1994, it was Sega, not Nintendo, that ruled the roost in US sales, and it was only the drastic reduction in Genesis inventory forced by Sega of Japan’s pivot to support their next generation Sega Saturn in 1995 that allowed Nintendo to pull back ahead. For the main heydays of the two consoles, in the US at least, the Super Nintendo was the second choice system.)


Going right, meanwhile, to Yoshi’s Island 2 is, while not quite as ostentatiously technical a demonstration of the ways in which Super Mario World is new and fresh, is nevertheless just as much a mission statement for the game as the Banzai Bill in Yoshi’s Island 1. It features the introduction of Super Mario World’s iconic character, after whom the entire first area is named, Yoshi.


In one sense, Yoshi is just another power-up. Like the mushroom or fire flower, he serves to allow Mario to take a hit from enemies without dying, and affords some extra powers. But he is not a transformation to Mario as such - rather, he’s a character Mario can ride. If Mario is hit and loses Yoshi, he simply runs away, and can in fact be caught again. (Cleverly, he goes faster than Mario at a walk, but slower than Mario at a run.) Again, there’s something not entirely unlike a precedent - the Kuribo’s shoe in Super Mario Bros. 3, for instance, actually works basically the same way. But Yoshi is rendered in endearing detail - hopping up and down anxiously and opening his mouth when waiting for Mario to mount him, with iconic sound effects both when Mario climbs atop him and when he sticks his tongue out. He is, in short, an impeccably designed mascot.


(The reasons for the Genesis’s success compared to the Super Nintendo are manifold. Certainly a well-timed price cut that meant that the Genesis was $50 cheaper than the newly launched Super Nintendo was a part of it. So was the release of Sonic the Hedgehog almost precisely alongside the release of the Super Nintendo. The game was a well-done platformer of roughly equal caliber to Super Mario World, but between its slightly punk-edged main character, which finally gave Sega a mascot that could, if not go toe to toe with Mario, at least hold his own in the cultural landscape, and its trademark high speed sections full of TV-spot friendly loop-the-loops, it served to make the system look technically accomplished and just plain cool.


It is, however, this last word that ultimately matters the most. The Genesis was promoted via a marketing campaign that aggressively positioned Sega as the young and brash competitor, famously proclaiming that “Sega Does What Nintendon’t.” Sega concocted the term “blast processing” to promote the Genesis, a technical concept that, in practice, didn’t mean much of anything, but which sounded big and explosive. The message was clear - sure, the Nintendo was what you played with back when you were a kid, but now that you’re older, you obviously want a Genesis. Even the physical consoles confirmed this - the Super Nintendo was a neutral grey with purple highlights. The Genesis was sleek black, with a harsh, metallic logo that loudly proclaimed exactly what sort of toy this was meant to be.)


But in some ways what’s more interesting is what isn’t introduced anywhere on Yoshi’s Island, namely the feather power-up, which replaced the leaf and raccoon tail of Super Mario Bros. 3 as the item allowing Mario to fly. This was held back for Donut Plains 1, the start of the second world. Indeed, the entire dynamic of the second world is notable - after you beat the first castle, the world zooms out, so that Yoshi’s Island is revealed to be a small portion. Notably, this is not a transition to a separate, larger world map - this is the main map, upon which the castles for Worlds 2, 4, 5, and 6 are all visible, along with the places where the levels will fill in for 2, 4, and 6. Instead, you start on a small inset map before the full sweep of Super Mario World is revealed. (Although this is also revealed if one opts to go left, which brings you to the Yellow Switch Palace, a cul de sac of Yoshi’s Island positioned on the main map.)


There is a subtle but significant shift in how we are meant to consider this space compared to previous Mario games. The fact that the bulk of the world is visible quite quickly, with a clear spiral path leading around the edge of the map, through places that are obviously meant to be filled in defines a clear scope of Super Mario World. Along with the fact that it is the first Mario game to feature any sort of save/password system, and the way in which it takes it exceedingly slow in introducing new concepts, so as to give the player time to acclimatize to everything, the result is a clear message: Super Mario World is a game that the player is meant to explore all of. Indeed, it’s a game the player is expected to beat.


This is helped by the fact that it is, if not outright easier than past Mario games, at least more accessible. Easy-to-get 1-ups abound, and the ability to revisit past levels means that access to an easy-to-farm 1-up factory is generally available, meaning that even challenging levels can be ground away at. A bevy of genuinely challenging levels exist in the secret area accessible via the Star Roads, but these are deep-lying structures meant to be excavated through extended, dedicated play and secret hunting, as opposed to obstacles in the way of beating the game. The result was a game that was, despite being a well-made entry in a genre known for its difficulty, namely the 2D platformer, tremendously accessible and appealing for an entire family.


(Sonic the Hedgehog, it also should be noted, was an exceedingly difficult game. Not only did it feature no save/password feature and what can charitably be called a stingy continue mechanism, but simply beating the final boss was not sufficient to beat the game, instead resulting in an animation of the main villain juggling the six “chaos emeralds” over the caption “TRY AGAIN.” To actually beat the game required collecting these six chaos emeralds, which requires both accessing and beating six tricky bonus stages. This was, of course, in keeping with the tone set by the Genesis’s advertising. The Genesis was the console for self-appointed cool kids, and so of course it had an extremely difficult flagship game. Coolness required exclusivity, and difficulty provided that.

But there’s an ugly underside to all of this. If the Genesis was the exclusive console, the people being excluded were fairly obvious: anyone who wasn’t a boy. That’s what the brash, punk hedgehog, the black and metallic physical console, and the aggressive difficulty were all there to communicate in the first place. Indeed, the concept became brutally literalized in a British ad for the console that, with no investment in subtlety whatsoever, proclaimed “the more you play with it, the harder it gets” with the rest of the ad going out of its way to ensure that nobody failed to miss the real slogan, “Sega: It’s for Dicks.”)

My ninth birthday came towards the start of fourth grade. It was not a good year for me. My teacher was, to say the least, a poor fit, memorably at one point issuing the seemingly sincere advice that I should “stop being so smart.” It was a period still very much defined by bullying, and by an increasing sense of confusion and mild alarm at the world. It was the year I learned about sex, not, obviously, as a thing I had any interest in, but as a thing that existed in the world. It marked the point at which I started to become consciously aware of my basic discomfort with masculinity, and my dislike of male spaces. I had my heart broken for the first time I remember. I learned that I did not understand the world, and, worse, that it understood me all too well. And the Super Nintendo era began.

Comments

Bennett 1 year, 10 months ago

Video game advertising from the nineties is uniformly awful. Unpleasant, gratuitous and, as you say, ostracising. Made all the worse by knowing they were deliberately made to be that way because these were traits a significant number of their audience were aspiring to have. I wish I could say Nintendo steered clear of the worst of these instincts, but the wretched "Willst thou get the girl, or play like one?" commercial comes treacherously to mind.

Between gender segregated toy catalogues, and centrefolds of B. Orchid appearing in official magazines, I find it a minor miracle that I got through my younger years more or less unafflicted by the boys' club mentality that was the unfortunate public face of video gaming. I'd like to say it was because I was clever or kind or socially minded, but I was none of those things when I was eight.

I think I owe it all to having my earliest gaming experiences under the guidance of female gamers - having my Aunty help me find Dr. Fred's lab in Day of the Tentacle, or being told of secret pipes and warp zones by the older girl in the children's ward. I learned from an early age that not only did girls play video games, listening to them allowed you to discover more about those games than you'd ever know on your own. It's a disgrace to Nintendo and Sega alike that neither ever once tried to teach me that.


Oh, and Super Mario World is awesome. And gnarly, and tubular, and groovy, and mondo, and outrageous, and funky. And way, way cool.

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Matt Marshall 1 year, 10 months ago

I spent a lot of this article confused as to what the Genesis was, until I realised you were talking about the Mega Drive (apparently it was only called Genesis in North America). The SNES wasn't grey and purple in Europe either, it was grey and light grey. I'm not sure how much these things actually matter, but they do to me, dammit!

I don't think it's fair condemning the Mega Drive as sexist or 'boys only' based on one advert as both systems would have had lots of pretty terrible 'boys only' adverts. I mean heck, I seem to recall the flagship characters for the Mega Drive being Sonic and Tails (cute woodland animals) and a massive push for Ecco the Dolphin (who was a dolphin).

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SpaceSquid 1 year, 10 months ago

While I'm absolutely in agreement that Sega's marketing strategy was grotesquely testosterone-charged (at least in the UK), roping in Sonic's difficulty seems an odd way to try and underline the point, mainly because it didn't have any. Both Sonic and its first sequel were notoriously easy to complete by the standards of the time (Sonic was almost certainly the first game I ever actually completed, with the possible exception of Altered Beast - the game that came with the Mega Drive and was similarly pitched at the easiest end of the spectrum).

I'd also point out that the ending sequences are vastly less different than implied here; in both cases you run through crowds of cute animals you've saved (go you!) and see the credits interspersed with sequences from the game and a characteristically awesome Nakamura tune. Only the very final screen differs, with the "Try Again" juggling rather than Robotnik's angry sulking.

So no. It's a famously easy play where continues are sprinkled upon you like spring rain The game is difficult to "beat" only in the sense that plenty of games are difficult to achieve 100% completion on (a definition of game beating that perhaps says more about the author than the difficulty of the game).

Even still, Sonic must represent one of the easiest possible iterations of the "100% approach", requiring as it does only six objects, each one of which is literally at the centre of its own easily-accessed bonus stage. Had gaming vocabulary reached the point of referring to such things as "secrets", Sega would have violated trading standards by referring to the Chaos Emeralds as such.

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SpaceSquid 1 year, 10 months ago

he SNES wasn't grey and purple in Europe either, it was grey and light grey.

Thank the Gods! I was worrying my memory had gone monochrome...

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Matt Marshall 1 year, 10 months ago

The first time I saw a picture of an American SNES I got so confused, it is totally un-SNES-like (I imagine the same effect is had the other way round, but still...)

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Philip Sandifer 1 year, 10 months ago

This is probably an appropriate place to remind site regulars that

1) The Nintendo Project has always been my one overtly American project.

2) The "casually make statements of opinion as though they are objective facts" tone that occasionally enraged people about TARDIS Eruditorum is essentially the default style here.

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Philip Sandifer 1 year, 10 months ago

(Which is, of course, not to fault any commenters or object to the discussion, so much as to note that there's lots more where this came from.)

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Matt Marshall 1 year, 10 months ago

Oh of course, and as an American blogger it is your prerogative to refer to things by their US names, I was just commenting that I had to wiki 'Genesis' before I realised it was a Mega Drive.

(And in response to the commenter below, I found Sonic really, really hard. He moved too fast! :( )

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SpaceSquid 1 year, 10 months ago

(And in response to the commenter below, I found Sonic really, really hard. He moved too fast! :( )

I'd never considered that as a possibility, actually. Fair enough. Though the game was designed to make the really high-speed sections essentially risk-free, and included them not to ramp up difficultly but to show off the speeds the processor was capable of, speeds the Super NES couldn't match. I dimly recall various games journalists at the time saying the Mega Drive's speed was essentially the only thing the system had going for it compared with the Super NES aside from price.

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Aylwin 1 year, 10 months ago

Ecco the Dolphin (who was a dolphin)

And brilliant. And kind of trippy.

Swim fast, young singer...

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SpaceSquid 1 year, 10 months ago

My favourite part of Ecco was how long it kept up the fiction that it was basically just an actual undersea life simulation; then went utterly batshit once the Asterite showed up. It was the console game cetacean equivalent of Twin Peaks.

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Froborr 1 year, 10 months ago

I was 11 when the Super Nintendo launched. I did not have one.

The reason is simple: my parents were disabled and unable to work, and that kind of extravagant purchase was unthinkable. However, I *did* have an allowance of a dollar a week, because my parents considered it important that I learn to save, and my grandparents sent $5 on my birthday and a couple of other holidays, and so by scrimping and saving and shepherding my allowance, basically going entirely without candy for over two years, I managed to purchase a NES in late 1989. There was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to do that again for a SNES so soon.

A side effect of this is that by the time I did acquire a SNES, it was with Donkey Kong Country rather than Super Mario World. (Which is a story for another time.)

The result is that I have never owned this game. I played it a little on emulator, but found it generally uninteresting, especially compared to its sublime predecessor and even more wonderful sequel. Until, that is, the Hilariously Broken SNES came into my life.

The Hilariously Broken SNES was the property of my ex, who brought it with her when she moved in with me in 2008. We named it that because it had a very specific and bizarre defect: it had lost the ability to properly handle circular motion. Anything in any game that moved in a circle was screwed up, but precisely what that meant from game to game varied considerably.

In the case of Super Mario World, which was one of the handful of games she owned, it meant that the rotating platforms that show up in several levels didn't rotate. They stood in awkward, seemingly random positions (but always the same every time you played the level) until you touched them, at which point they would immediately and very rapidly fall to the lowest point of their circle and stay there forever.

Needless to say, we didn't get very far in Super Mario World.

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Frezno 1 year, 10 months ago

I had sort of the same experience as a kid; we weren't all that well off, so I got an NES in 1990 and spent the first half of the 90's coveting the SNES. On rare visits to see cousins I would experience Super Mario World, brief and fleeting and alien. Then in 1995 I got a SNES and it came with Donkey Kong Country, so that was my platforming leap into the future which will no doubt be covered on this Project in due time as its own evolution.

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David Faggiani 1 year, 10 months ago

Amazing article! I look forward to the rest of the series so much.

I presume you've seen this, Philip? :) http://i.imgur.com/ldtnk.png

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SpaceSquid 1 year, 10 months ago

My family experienced a major upswing in finances when my father went from working to the council to working for a private firm, so my ownership history went from a ZX Spectrum straight to a Mega Drive. So much lost in that vast, terrible in-between.

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VariousVarieties 1 year, 10 months ago

> Indeed, the concept became brutally literalized in a British ad for the console that, with no investment in subtlety whatsoever

Well, a lack of subtlety is to be expected, given that the advert originated in Viz!

Meanwhile, this is how Nintendo were advertising in the UK at around the same time. Watch the Mario All-Stars advert: I don't think I've ever seen a game advert that makes challenge into as big a selling point as that one did.

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Matt Marshall 1 year, 10 months ago

Oh right. Wow yes, that advert appearing in Viz recontextualises it a lot. You should probably mention that, Phil, it's important (though the decision to advertise in a magazine like Viz says pretty much the same thing as the content of the advert)

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storiteller 1 year, 10 months ago

My singular video game system was a Sega Game Gear and I loooooved dolphins, so Ecco the Dolphin was a particular obsession of mine. I loved being able to swim around and explore, unlike the hectic nature of Sonic and Mario. The weird SF/mystic trippy plot was even better. But man, that game and it's sequel were stupid hard puzzle-wise, at least for 10-12 year old me. I only beat the first one because I finally looked up the answer to the one puzzle and the other one I never did. I tried it again a few years ago and was just as stumped.

More on point, as a girl, I never found the Sega to be particularly sexist. They had games I wanted - Sonic, who was punk but adorable; Ecco; and Jurassic Park - so I would have never considered they weren't for girls.

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Daibhid C 1 year, 10 months ago

Likewise; as I think I mentioned back when the Super Nintendo Project was first being discussed, I basically got into video games through my sister, who I always knew was better at them than me. She was also better at football than me, but I didn't care about football so much.

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Jarl 1 year, 10 months ago

The moment you said tubular, I had a knee-jerk reaction I can't fully describe, but it was extremely unpleasant.

"Tubular" was, for years, the go-to trigger word to spark a severely negative emotional reaction to vidya. Apparently, it still serves that purpose, though now I think of "Agroprom" as the brightest star in that position.

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Jarl 1 year, 10 months ago

Looking back on it, I'm fairly certain Sonic 1 is the first game I ever beat without cheating of any kind. If we include save states as cheating, I've never 100% beaten Super Mario World.

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Froborr 1 year, 10 months ago

"Vidya"?

I mean, fairly obvious what it means, but new one on me.

Out of curiosity, what's the association for "tubular"? I looked up Agropom and apparently it's a level of some shooter, but I'm not finding anything for tubular.

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Jarl 1 year, 10 months ago

The Agroprom Underground is a level from STALKER, a free roaming survival horror FPS made and set in Ukraine, specifically in the Zone of Exclusion around Chernobyl NPP. It takes place in an alternate timeline where there was a second disaster in the early 21st century that mutated the very fabric of space-time, and created terrifying monsters. It's a great game, but very difficult.
Specifically, the Agroprom Underground is the first map where the player is expected to run into some of the more powerful and terrifying mutants the game has to offer. The sound and level design are top notch for making it a nerve-wracking experience. To further complicate things, the entire portion of the game it's set in is spent convincing you that there's going to be mostly bandits and, if you're really unlucky, USS down there. So you go in expecting some room-to-room shooting, clearing corners, checking halls, and there's plenty of that as well, but then you enter a large boiler room, hear an ungodly roar and a shuffling, huffing breath sound, and then an eight foot tall Mindflayer comes surging out of the darkness in front of you and then disappears, literally. It is the scariest level of any game I've ever played, and to this day I have to psych myself up before I can replay it.

Tubular, meanwhile, is one of those hard levels Phil alluded to earlier. It's a secret level you have to unlock by walking the Star Road, and it comes second after Gnarly. It's also nightmarish, and features terrible monsters, but in a more Super Mario World-y way. It's not quite Kaizo Mario, but it's in the right vein for that level of precision platforming and bullet hell dodging. Tubular was what killed my goal of ever 100%ing SMW as a kid.

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elvwood 1 year, 10 months ago

Just wanted to say that this was surprisingly fun, given that I have no experience of (or interest in) the subject matter. Even though I was a games developer until 1994 my work was all on home computers rather than consoles, which is actually very different.

I always assumed that the Genesis and Megadrive were different things, so that's something I've learned today...

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Scurra 1 year, 10 months ago

The message was clear - sure, the Nintendo was what you played with back when you were a kid, but now that you’re older, you obviously want a Genesis.
And nothing has changed in the intervening thirty years, except for the name of whatever it is that isn't the Nintendo... Which is why it is desperately important for them to keep doing what they do.

One thing that I think it took until Super Mario 64 for Nintendo to properly embrace - although it's clear that Super Mario World is a big step on that path - was the notion that almost anyone should be able to "beat" the game, but that "completion" was something else again - you aren't just half-way but less than half-way because of the difficulty ramp up. (To the point that you can "beat" Galaxy fairly quickly, but even if you "complete" it, you discover that theoretically there is still probably as much again to do - and then again after that.)

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phuzz 1 year, 10 months ago

I had an Amiga at this time as well, so my attitude towards the NES/SNES/Master System/Megadrive was, is, and probably always will be:
"huh, consoles, they're not /real/ computers".
Still, it's interesting to see what I missed out on, not having a console in our house.

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Nick Petrillo 1 year, 10 months ago

Good points, especially about Nintendo's image, although if I have to be picky, I could say the Donkey Kong Country series helped bridge that gap. You could get, what, 102% completion on some of those?

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Froborr 1 year, 10 months ago

This idea that beating the game should be easy, completion hard is almost verbatim something Sakurai discussed regarding his design philosophy for the Kirby games, and you can see it going right back to Kirby's Adventure (which IIRC came out a few months before the SNES). As his star has risen, I think it's become steadily more influential in the company, to the point that I'd say it's a key element of Nintendo's aesthetic today.

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TB Tabby 1 year, 10 months ago

I just typed out a long comment about Nintendo's answer to Sega's ad campaign, but it got eaten. I knew I should've copied it.

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Daru 1 year, 10 months ago

"This is probably an appropriate place to remind site regulars that

1) The Nintendo Project has always been my one overtly American project.

2) The "casually make statements of opinion as though they are objective facts" tone that occasionally enraged people about TARDIS Eruditorum is essentially the default style here."

Cool, thanks Phil. I had literally no idea what the Genesis was (Genesis device?) and just thought it was the console that came out before the MegaDrive that I knew as a kid. I have to admit as having been only an occasional computer gamer as kid I was going to be in the dark. So I am looking forwards to the American focus and getting immersed in a world I know only a bit about in practice. Cheers!

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William Silvia 1 year, 9 months ago

This being about a month old, I was going to forgo commenting, until my brain realized that you posted a long analytical article about a retro game on 4/20. Clearly, someone knows how to relax. ;)

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Ryan Ferneau 1 year, 6 months ago

I remember consoles as being something I always wanted for having all the "real" games but that my family never had for long because they weren't "educational" enough.

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