This Week in Nintendo History: March 28th to April 3rd
Howdy Howdy everyone. What’s going on? It’s Monday, the start to a new week and that must mean it’s time for a look back through history. It’s fairly light on releases this week, but we’ve got the beginnings of two companies that have become rather big names in the industry.
I can remember many afternoons of my youth spent watching the adventures of Mario and Luigi. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was one of my favorite shows when I was younger and on March 28th, 2006 I was able to begin reliving my past. That was the date that Volume 1 of the show was released on DVD. The show usually began with Mario, played by the late Cpt. Lou Albano, and Luigi, played by Danny Well, getting into some sort of scheme or trouble. That would be followed by a cartoon that was based off of the world of Super Mario Bros. 2. The show would then end with the live action portion being wrapped up. On Friday’s they would show the Legend of Zelda in place of the Mario cartoon.
Guitar Hero has gone through many different versions and featured dozens of bands and artists in the game that arguably revolutionized the rhythm game genre. March 29th, 2009 saw the release of one of the most unique versions of that game with Guitar Hero: Metallica. Metallica was approached in 2008 to discuss a version of Guitar Hero featuring the band and they considered it a “no brainer”. The game featured 28 songs from Metallica themselves and 21 songs by other artists who were their personal favorites or influences. Because of the unique musical style of the band it also came with a second bass pedal and a new difficulty level called Expert + that made the second bass pedal for the drums absolutely necessary. Guitar Hero: Metallica has been considered by many to be one of the best versions of the game released by Neversoft in the series.
The video game industry is filled with interesting and different personalities and no one can argue that Goichi Suda, aka Suda51, is one of the more interesting out there. The man responsible for games like Killer 7 and No More Heroes founded the development studio Grasshopper Manufacture on March 30th, 1998. The company has gone on to develop games for nearly every platform that’s been available, but they are most famous for their work on Wii with the aforementioned No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle.
The man known as Wario has starred in numerous games since his beginnings in Super Mario Land 2. He’s been in mini-game collections and sports games, but his best adventures have come in the Wario Land franchise and on March 31st, 1999 Nintendo released Wario Land II for the Game Boy Color. This was not the first time the game was released, but a re-release based on the new hardware that added color to the Game Boy. Captain Syrup and her gang have stolen Wario’s treasure, left his giant alarm clock ringing and the water running in his castle. Wario wakes up to all this and finds out he must regain what has been stolen. The game featured many different interesting enemies and multiple branching paths that Wario could take on his travels through the game.
April 1st is probably best known for being April Fool’s Day and many game industry pranks have been pulled on that day. One game that was not a prank was 1080 Snowboarding for the N64 released on April 1st, 1998. This game was created by Giles Goddard and Colin Reed, who had previously worked on the Wave Race series, and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto. In the game, you controlled one of five snowboarders from a third person perspective as you competed in six different game play modes. There were two different trick modes, in addition to three race modes and a training mode. The game was announced at SpaceWorld 1997 under the name Vertical Edge Snowboarding. The game sold very well achieving sales in excess of 1.2 million units.
Konami Computer Entertainment Japan merged a number of their subsidiaries together on April 1st, 2005 creating what would be known as Kojima Productions. The new development studio was headed by Hideo Kojima and is responsible for the Metal Gear franchise. It was originally designed to relieve Kojima of administrative and business responsibilities at Konami in order to focus solely on creating games. The company is located in Roppongi, Tokyo and employees more than 200 people. They are most famous for their work on the Playstation brand of consoles, but a number of their titles have made their way to Nintendo systems.
Parappa the Rapper was created by Masaya Matsuura and released on the Playstation. After the Wii was released he had the idea to use the Wii Remote as a drum major’s baton to lead a band. The outcome of that idea was Major Minor’s Majestic March, released on Wii April 2nd, 2009. The game had you, as the drum major, use the Wii Remote as a baton to keep tempo, recruit new members to the band and pick up items that had been dropped. There were 15 different instruments available to play 25 of the most popular marching band songs that had been composed into original medleys. The game was received very poorly and many people complained the controls just didn’t work.
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales for the Nintendo DS hit stores on April 3rd, 2007. This spin-off of the Final Fantasy franchise starred a Chocobo participating in a number of mini-games that had been woven together to tell a story. The game had you, the player, exploring a 3D world looking for picture books. When one of these books was found you were transported into a mini-game that you had to play in order to progress. The game was very reminiscent of things like Aesop’s Fable or Grimm’s Fairy Tales and was very lighthearted in tone. Also during this travel you would obtain cards that could be used while participating in 2D pop up battles. Chocobo Tales was received fairly well, with some outlets praising the quality of the game hidden under the “saccharine visuals”.
April 3rd, 2007 was also the release date for Prince of Persia: Rival Swords on Wii. This game was a port of the previous game known as Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones that had been released on the Nintendo GameCube, in addition to the PS2 and the Xbox. This game followed the second ending of Warrior Within and was designed to blend the two previous titles together to create a perfect balance between the dark, gritty world of Warrior Within and the more lighthearted tone behind The Sands of Time. The game was very well received and considered a great refinement to a solid gameplay experience.
So there you have some of the events that make up Nintendo’s history during this coming week. But before we leave we can’t forget our friends from across either pond. Here are some of the game releases that have happened in other territories.
March 28th: 2003 – Game Boy Advance SP (Europe)
2008 – Manhunt 2 (Wii, Europe)
March 30th: 2006 – Contact (DS, Japan)
2007 – Eledees (Wii, Europe)
March 31st: 2006 – Odama (GCN, Europe), Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS, Europe)
2007 – Bomberman Wii (Wii, Japan)
April 2nd: 1994 – Final Fantasy VI (SFC, Japan)
2009 – Nintendo DSi (Australia)
April 3rd: 2009 – Nintendo DSi (Europe)