Video Works by Jeremy Parish

Another step along the Road to NES Works this week as we look again at the next round of software releases for Nintendo Famicom. Unlike last time, only one of these games made its way to the U.S. on NES, the other two (Galaxian and Devil World) seemingly being skipped over due to datedness and, uh, satanism? What was this, 2021?

A couple of follow-ups to 1983 releases this week, as well as a couple of games that appear to have been held over from 1983. Yes, SG-1000 begins 1984 with a hangover. Pachinko II is the affordable and expanded follow-up to Pachinko. Golgo 13 is not a sequel, despite the number in the title. It's a tie-in with a long-running manga and anime series, presumably tied to a big theatrical release. Orguss is another anime property, this one related to Macross and its ilk. You know what that means: Transforming robots. Home Mahjong brings multiplayer competition to the console mahjong space, using a fascinating physical accessory to make such a thing possible on a single television.

Now that we've seen both Nintendo and Sega's offerings for 1983, we move along to 1984 and the first wave of Famicom releases. All but one of these titles have already put in an appearance on NES Works proper as entries in the 1985 and ’86 Black Box NES launch rollout catalog, so the first half of this episode is simple a recap and reminder to give a sense of these games' place in the context of their 1984 debut in Japan. The second half, however, downshifts into low gear to take a leisurely cruise through a game that is generally regarded as a joke (thanks to its title) outside of Japan, when it's regarded at all: Hudson's Nuts & Milk. My hope is that after viewing this episode, you'll have a better appreciation for the place Nuts & Milk holds in video game history—not simply for how it represents a key change for Nintendo's business model, but also for how radically Hudson reinvented it to appeal to Famicom consumers.

(You may, of course, continue to chuckle at its name. Titter, even.) Games this episode:

  • Tennis
  • Pinball
  • Wild Gunman
  • Duck Hunt
  • Golf
  • Hogan's Alley
  • Donkey Kong 3
  • Nuts & Milk

This week we hit on the two most expensive games for the SG-1000. Every console's gotta have at least one of them, right? The ultra-rare collector's chase piece that hits the brakes on any reasonable dream of ever owning a complete set? In this case, those disasterpieces are Space Slalom, a mere slip of an almost-racing game, and Pachinko, the pachinko sim so busted they recalled it. Yes, the great console gaming tradition of incredibly expensive games also being incredibly undesirable for gameplay purposes really begins here, with the SG-1000. On the plus side, there's also Zippy Race, a pretty good conversion of a minor Irem arcade hit, and Exerion, a Jaleco arcade port that tries really hard, bless its heart.

And that wraps it up for 1983! Next up: 1984, surprisingly enough.

Sega has always been an arcade powerhouse—even now, they run arcades in Japan. They've become fan destinations for more than just playing games; I bought taiyaki in the shape of the Sega logo at their Akihabara location a year ago. And this episode showcases just how heavily Sega plowed the arcade-to-home conversion furrow from the very start, with four games based heavily on arcade properties or concepts:

  • Sega Flipper, arguably the first true arcade-style video console pinball game;
  • Pop Flamer, a port of a weird Jaleco coin-op;
  • Pacar, a sequel in all but name to Head On; and
  • Sega-Galaga... which is just Galaga, but for Sega.

They're not all winners, but they're mostly good! Just pretend Pop Flamer never happened. That game could never live up to its delirious box art, anyway.