Flight Simulator: Dirty Pair: Project E.D.E.N. (Famicom Disk System)

Back when I started planning these video game posts it never would have crossed my mind that it would take until 1987 to properly get this phase of the project underway and that the first actual video game we’d be looking at wouldn’t even be a Star Trek one. And yet, Kei and Yuri must be heard.

There were a handful of Star Trek titles released for early PCs and home consoles like the Apple II, TRS-80, VIC-20, Commodore 64, Atari 2600 and Vectrex in the early 1980s, but they were all on platforms I either didn’t have at a formative age or are so arcane they’re difficult to get ahold of these days. Considering the way the pagination for Volume 2 is turning out, I may try to take a look at a few of them to flesh that book out, but we’re skipping them for the time being. The Star Trek video games I’m most familiar with date to the late-1980s and early 1990s and we’ll talk about those when the time comes, but, as it turns out, Dirty Pair: Project E.D.E.N. predates them all. In the meantime, a whole bunch has happened in the video game industry, namely that there is now in fact a video game industry that has been around long enough to not only crash thanks to market saturation and Atari’s sloppy management, but come back bigger than ever before thanks to toy company from Japan called Nintendo.

The Famicom Disk System is a strange beast within the history of Nintendo. It was a Japanese-exclusive add-on for the Famicom (or Family Computer), which is what the NES (or Nintendo Entertainment System) was called in its home country. This naming discrepancy actually reveals a lot about how the history of the game industry in the United States differs from how it played out in Japan. See, by 1985 video games were seen as a dead fad thanks to the collapse of the monopolistic Atari that dragged the whole industry down with it in 1983. Because of this, Nintendo had to market the NES as essentially a children’s toy to get it to sell its first Holiday season, in the process changing the way video games are thought of even to this day (before Nintendo’s US success, video games were seen as social things for everybody, though primarily young, single, active adults). However, this was only true in the US, and in Japan, the console was marketed as what it straightforwardly was: A home computer designed for family entertainment.

(You can see this attitude play out even today: In the US, in spite of the industry’s major inroads in recent years, video games still can’t *quite* shake the stigma of being thought of as expensive playthings for lazy, socially maladjusted children, or adults with the mentality of socially maladjusted children. In Japan, the Nintendo 3DS is as ubiquitous as the iPhone.)

So, the Famicom Disk System is something that Nintendo would only ever have released in Japan at this time, along with the modem that also existed for the console at the time (yes, you could access something a lot like the Internet on your Famicom in 1983).…

Continue Reading