Though I dabbled with Atari in my nascent years, I was raised on Nintendo. I have so many fond memories of the console because I spent so much of my childhood with it. Don’t get me wrong: I think gaming today is just as good (if not better) than it was back then. But people enjoy reminiscing. I am no different.
Allow me to indulge.
The year was 1988. Christmas was quickly approaching. My brother and I had heard really good things about this game called Tecmo Bowl, so we asked our mom to buy it for us. About a month before Christmas we spotted the first gift under the tree that was the size and shape of a game cartridge box. Being the busy woman that my mother was at the time, plus the fact that she had to track presents for six total children, my brother and I couldn’t help ourselves. So we prematurely unwrapped the present after school one afternoon without her noticing.
Sure enough, it was the much-anticipated and sought-after Tecmo Bowl, starring the untackle-able and greatest athlete of all-time, Bo Jackson. Of course, we started playing immediately. Once the first play session was over, we re-wrapped the gift and slide it back under the tree at night. Next day, rinse and repeat. Pretty soon we started inviting friends over to play as we were the first ones on the block to get the game. By the end we were so brazen, we didn’t even care when my mother approached our room, opened the door to see a group of boys playing “some video game,” and just assumed it was a title we already owned.
On Christmas day, my none-the-wiser mother handed me and my brother a tattered, repeatedly-tapped, re-wrapped present, and with a sweet smile asked which of us wanted to open it. It was no use. We had all grown tired of the game after playing it daily for a month straight. I hope our feigned faces still had enough smile on them to show our appreciation for the great gift it was and will forever be.
For any male readers born from the mid ’70s to early ’80s, listen up—Console Wars by Blake Harris has it all: your childhood, the answer to your next marketing challenge, cultural divides, innocence, under bellies, triumph, and loss.
It’s also the only book I’ve ever read that made me feel as young as I am old. Take these gems, for example:
- “There was no such thing as a magic touch, and it wouldn’t have mattered if there were, because the only thing it takes to sell toys, vitamins, magazines (or anything) is the power of story. That was the secret. That was the whole trick: to recognize that the world is nothing but chaos, and the only thing holding it (and us) together are stories… When you tell memorable, universal, intricate, and heartbreaking stories, anything is possible.”
- “Tony Harman was prepared to leave with his tail between his legs (smiling, though, as his thesis that western cultures can make great games too had made it all the way to the top), but he decided to try one more approach. “Let me just ask one more question,” he said, taking a step toward [Nintendo President] Yamauchi. “How many bad television commercials do we make each year?” Continue reading…
If you have a DS, please head to your nearest Wii, game store, or DS kiosk to download a free demo of Rhythm Heaven. The above video does a better job explaining the game than I ever could, but in short, you tap, flick, hold, and slide the DS stilus in rhythm with the music to produce a desired effect… say building robots on an assembly line. It’s as crazy as it sounds, but also a lot of fun. I haven’t played a game that made me smile this much since World of Goo. The full version comes out April 6.
The paltry entry on video games from the Microsoft-owned encyclopedia currently has only one sentence regarding Wii’s popularity: “The introduction of Wii made Nintendo once again a major player in the video game industry.”
That’s accurate. And I wouldn’t expect up to date specifics — this isn’t Wikipedia, after all. But the language seems to deemphasize reality upon further reading from the same paragraph which quickly shifts gears:
As of September 2006, Nintendo had sold 275 million Mario games worldwide easily making the little Italian plumber the best selling game character of all time. To put that into perspective, imagine all other notable game characters, combine them, and you still won’t account for half of what Mario has sold. Not Halo, not Gran Turismo, not even Nintendo’s own Pokemon or Zelda come close.
And he’s still selling. “Mario is a gaming icon that has had and continues to have a huge impact on the gaming world,” admits once Nintendo rival Takashi Iizuka of Sega. But even though single game sales may never resurface to the level of 1980s gaming, Mario isn’t the only franchise character still thriving. The franchise formula continues to work to this day assuming the playable characters maintain their appeal.
Continue reading at Business Week…
Former rivals Nintendo and Sega announced today a mashup title featuring the largest two franchise characters in video game history. Mario and Sonic At the Olympic Games will exclusively ship for Nintendo’s DS and Wii platforms later this year preparatory for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Granted, cross-promotional games like Square/Disney’s Kingdom Hearts and Lego Star Wars have sold well in the past, but here are five reasons why the announcement doesn’t really matter.
Continue reading at GigaOM…