This Week in Nintendo History: March 21st to March 27th
If you’re reading this it probably means you’re here to find out what happened in Nintendo’s history this week. Well let’s take this stroll down memory lane together. We’ve got Metroid, Pokemon, new systems and Zelda to talk about so let’s get right to it.
Up first this week is a game that fellow Nintendo Okie member Shelby knows a lot about. Metroid Prime Hunters hit retail on March 21st, 2006. This was a first person shooter set in the Metroid franchise between the events of Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. At the beginning of the game the Galactic Federation received a strange telepathic message that they send Samus to investigate. Unknown to her six other bounty hunters have intercepted the message and head for the Alimbic system to retrieve the item that Samus has been sent to claim. Because Retro Studios was already hard at work on another game the development team for Hunters was headed by Masamiche Abe and Colin Reed, who had worked together on previous titles 1080 Snowboarding and Pikmin. The game was first shown at E3 in 2004 and after some negative feedback about the lack of multi-player the game was delayed officially in August of 2005 to include the feature. During that delay, in addition to the multi-player, the development team worked hard to improve the game’s frame rate. It was released to both critical and commercial success with a Metacritic ranking near 84%.
Tetris is one of those titles that is ubiquitous and has seen a release on every possible platform. Nintendo’s Virtual Boy might have been one of the biggest failures in the company’s history, but even it had a version of Tetris. 3D Tetris was released for the system on March 22nd, 1996. This version of Tetris featured a 3D playing field and wire frame tetriminos allowing you to see through them in order to position them properly on the playing field. There were four different modes of play available and many people say this game is as addicting as its 2D counterpart.
One thing, with the Pokemon franchise, that’s been a bit of a tradition is to release 2 games simultaneously and then later release a third title that combines all the elements of those two games into one title. Pokemon Platinum, released on March 22nd, 2009 is that third title. It is essentially the director’s cut of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Pokemon Platinum introduced new features to the Wi-Fi mode such as the Wi-Fi Plaza where friends could play mini-games together, and the Vs. Recorder which allowed for battles to be saved and shared among friends. Shaymin, who was released in America through a promotion at Toys ‘R Us, received a new form which could be unlocked with a new item to the game, the Gracidea Flower; this unlocked Shaymin’s Sky Form. Pokemon Platinum sold over a million units in its first two days of release in Japan and more than 800,000 units in America through its first nine days of release.
Nintendo has built up a reputation for putting out slightly better iterations of their portable hardware over the life of that system. It started with the original Game Boy and has continued to this day with the DS. One of those iterations during the days of the Game Boy Advance was the release of the Game Boy Advance SP on March 23rd, 2003. This “new” system introduced the clamshell design, made famous with the Game & Watch series, to Nintendo’s handheld platforms. It also decreased the size of the system when it was open to that of a Game Boy Color. There were some issues that hampered the system at its launch. One being the lack of a back lit screen, which was fixed with the second iteration of the system. The other was the removal of the headphone jack that meant you had to have a special adapter to use headphones with the system. It was released in America at a lower than usual price point, selling for $79.99. Nintendo would go on to sell more than 24 million units of the system in America and more than 43 million units worldwide before the system was phased out in favor of the DS.
Nintendo releases Wing Island on March 23rd, 2007. This flight simulator developed by CAProduction and published by Hudson Soft, was inspired by Nintendo’s previous flying franchise, Pilot Wings as the two titles shared many similar features. In addition to being able to control a single plane, you were also able to control squadrons of planes flying in formation. In keeping with a more friendly approach if you ran into the ground while flying you would be stunned temporarily rather than crashing and destroying your plane.
March 23rd, 2009 was Virtual Console Day in North America. On that day Bomberman ’94 and Detana!! Twin Bee for the Turbo Grafix-16 were released. Also on that day Pop’Em, Drop’Em, Same Game was released by Hudson Soft for WiiWare.
Link’s had many adventures through the year. None seemed more controversial at the time than The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, which was released on March 24th, 2003 for the GameCube. The game was set 100 years after the events of Ocarina of Time and saw our hero living on an island known as Outset Island. When the boys of the island come of age they are dressed as the Hero of Time in hope of instilling courage in the children. Link has donned the outfit on his birthday and during that time his sister is kidnapped by a large bird and flown away. This sets off a series of events that have Link caught up in the activities of a pirate known as Tetra, who later is revealed to be Princess Zelda. This game takes place across a series of islands and introduces a character known as the King of Red Lions, who is in the shape of a small boat. Link is given the ability to control the wind through the use of a baton. The game was shown off during Spaceworld 2000 alongside Nintendo’s new console the GameCube. At that time the game featured a grittier more realistic look, but when the game was shown a year later that style had been replaced by the cel-shaded look that has become famous and many people renamed the game the Legend of Celda. Wind Waker was the fourth game to ever receive a perfect score in Famitsu and has become a world wide success with many people, despite the initial apprehension of the graphical style, saying this is one of the best games in the Zelda franchise. It has gone on to spawn to sequels, released on the DS, and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
Virtual Console Day was upon us, once again, this time on March 24th, 2008. On that day King’s Knight, originally for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and Powerball for the Sega Genesis were released.
Opoona was released to American retail on March 25th, 2008. This RPG developed by ArtePiazza and published by Koei was most famous for the ability to play the game using only the Nunchuk attachment to the Wii Remote. If you did not like this style of play you could, instead, attach the Classic Controller. This as an RPG that had characters designs created by Dragon Quest artist Shintaro Majima. The music in the game was created by the composer of the Final Fantasy XII soundtrack, Hitoshi Sakamoto. The game received a fairly positive reception in Japan, was reviews in North America were a bit mixed with the controls, pacing and presentation being praised while the gameplay was considered very shallow.
GDC 2009 saw the announcement of the Virtual Console Arcade. This was a new section of the service that allowed for classic arcade games to appear on the system. With the announcement during the week a second round of Virtual Console releases happened on Wednesday March 25th, 2009. Four arcade titles were announced and released on that day; Gaplus, Mappy, Star Force and the Tower of Druaga.
Our never ending string of Game & Watch releases continues with the release of Fire Attack on March 26th, 1982. This game saw you trying to defend your house from Indian chiefs throwing fire sticks. If the sticks reached your house and set it on fire you lost a life. As with every Game & Watch title if you lose three lives it’s game over.
Blast Corps was released on March 26th, 1997. In the game, for the Nintendo 64, you had to clear the way for two defective nuclear missiles that were being transported to safety. In order to do this you had to create as much destruction and remove buildings from your path with the arsenal of weapons on your vehicle. While the game started with only one level available many other levels quickly opened up the gameplay and there were a number of different demolition vehicles available to choose from. Acquiring medals in the game allowed you to advance through the games 31 ranks. Blast Corps was rated, by Nintendo Power, as the 71st best game released on any Nintendo platform in their Top 200 Games list.
Pokemon Stadium 2 for the Nintendo 64 was released in North America on March 26th, 2001. This 3D arena battling game featured all 251 Pokemon from the first two generations of the franchise. It also featured support for all three original Game Boy games as well as the three Game Boy Color games. The game, like its predecessor does not feature a true storyline, but you can advance through the games numerous cups to become the best Pokemon trainer in the world. There are also a number of mini-games that can be played. One of the more unique features of the game allowed you to enter the Game Boy Tower and play Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver and Crystal on the Nintendo 64 in either normal, double or triple speed.
March 26th, 2007 was the release date for EA’s first attempt to bring the first person shooter to Wii; Medal of Honor: Vanguard. This was the 10th installment in the Medal of Honor franchise and saw you take the role of Sergeant Frank Keegan as he took part in Operation Husky, Operation Neptune and Operation Market Garden. Each of the operations began as the members of the 82nd Airborne Division parachuted in from their air transports. You were able to roughly designate where you landed and based on where you landed you had the option of picking up some upgrades available in the game. Vanguard also included local multi-player for up to four people. The game was received fairly poorly with many reviewers citing the poor graphics, lack of online play and poor AI.
Our last look at the North American shores for the week has us being visited, yet again, by the Virtual Console releases. March 26th, 2007 was Virtual Console Day and on that day Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire, originally for the Super Nintendo, was released.
So there you have it, but before we leave we have to remember our friends from foreign shores. Here’s the list of games released this week throughout the rest of the world.
1997 – Battle Corps (N64, Japan)
1999 – Pokemon Snap (N64, Japan)
2001 – Game Boy Advance (Japan)
2003 – WarioWare Inc: Mega MicroGame$ (GBA, Japan)
Metroid Prime (GCN, Europe)
2008 – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (Europe)
2006 – Cooking Mama, Pokemon Ranger (NDS, Japan)
2000 – Kirby 64 (N64, Japan)
2005 – Kirby Canvas Curse (NDS, Japan)
1994 – Mega Man Soccer (SFC, Japan)
2008 – WiiWare Service (Japan)
1997 – Kirby’s Dreamland 3 (Japan)
2004 – Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GCN, Europe)
As always if you know of anything that is missing from this list that should be included, or you know of anything coming up in the future please leave us a comment and let us know or send us an email. We want to make sure we cover everything in this article that has been released. Until next week….