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Long before EA got their mitts on beloved developer Maxis and ran the SimCity name into the ground, Nintendo made SimCity part of the launch library for the Super Famicom/Nintendo in 1991.

At this time SimCity was a huge hit on PC and available on basically every platform, so Nintendo went the extra mile to make their version unique. The Super NES version included changing seasons, redesigned buildings, special items (such as ferris wheels) and even a Mario Statue. Two new scenarios were added as well, including Bowser as the game’s disaster. The game’s mascot was the green-haired Dr. Wright, loosely based off the original game’s creator, Will Wright. He provided updates as well tips for mayors.

SimCity was released on the Super Famicom in April of 1991, while America got their version in August of the same year. Europe recieved the title in 1992. The game’s success marked a Greatest Hits release in the United States. Oddly enough, SimCity was re-released in 1996 for the Japanese exclusive Super Famicom Satelliaview add-on. Digitally, SimCity was available for the Wii’s Virtual Console service, but has since been removed due to expired licences.

While its sequel, SimCity 2000, was released on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo was not involved. Nor where they with the Japan-only spin-off, SimCity Jr. However, Nintendo were directly responsible for SimCity 64, which was meant to be the true sequel to the console-version of SimCity.  Unfortunately, it was made and released for the ill-fated Nintendo 64DD add-on, which never saw the light of day outside of Japan. 

Bonus katakana: シムシティー


In the mid-1980’s Sega was the king of the arcades. Led by the legendary Yu Suzuki and his Sega AM2 development team, Sega’s machines included classics such as After Burner and OutRun. In 1985, Sega released a unique, first of its kind game called Space Harrier.

While Space Harrier is essentially a rail shooter at its core, graphically and technically it was very impressive for the time. Its engine was able to scale sprites at fast speeds on a moving background, mimicking a 3D effect. The speed of the game was high in comparison to most games during this era, which introduced a level of control not yet seen - the joystick being pressure sensitive, allowing the player more control. The icing on the cake was the distinctive arcade cabinet, increasing the immersion. 

Being a popular title, Sega ported Space Harrier to just about almost every system under the sun. Curiously, Sega licensed the game out on rival systems, such as the PC, Commodore 64, PC Engine/Turbo Graphix 16 and even the NES. On the home front, Space Harrier hit the Master System, Game Gear, Sega Saturn and even the ill-fated 32X…yet inexplicably missed Sega’s best selling console, the Mega Drive/Genesis. 

Space Harrier also made a interesting cameo of sorts in Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue series, with the complete game being fully playable in the game’s arcades. Part I was on the Sega Dreamcast, while Part II was both on the Dreamcast and original Xbox. 

Sega also released various collections that include Space Harrier, such as the surprising competent Sega Arcade Gallery (Game Boy Advance), the ironic Sonic’s Ultimate Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Collection (Xbox 360/PS3/PC) which included the arcade version in lieu of the non-existing Genesis version, and the horrible Sega Classics Collection, which were low-grade 3D remakes. The pictured Sega Ages 2500 - Space Harrier Collection is arguably the best set, with an arcade-perfect port as well as its sequels. 

Digitally, Nintendo’s Wii Virtual Console offers the Master System and Arcade editions, while the 3DS Virtual Console offers the 3D compatible version of the arcade.

Space Harrier
has one offical sequel, Space Harrier II, released in 1988. The same year saw the release of Space Harrier 3D for the Sega Master System, which story-wise was a sequel to the original.The last entry in the series came in 2001, as an arcade-only spinoff called Planet Harriers.

Bonus katakana: スペースハリアー Supēsu Hariā

Before reading this post, I recommend putting the Mute City theme in the background:

The Super Famicom/Nintendo was a powerful machine back in its day, with Mode 7 being one of the system’s calling cards. With apologies to Pilotwings, there was no better showcase for this feature than F-Zero.

Launched with Super Mario World at the Super Famicom’s debut in November 1990, F-Zero wowed with its Mode 7 graphic mode, which mimicked a 3D effect. The American Super Nintendo launched in 1991 with F-Zero among its launch library as well while Europe had to wait until 1992.

Technical victories aside, F-Zero is arguably credited for launching the future racing sub-genre, with its high speed hovercar racing in the year 2560. 3 leagues (actually difficulty levels) and 15 total tracks were a big thing, as well as 4 unique characters and vehicles. The original four F-Zero drivers are the alien Pico in the green Wild Goose, Dr. Stewart in the Golden Fox, Samurai Goroh in the magenta Fire Stingray and of course, the famous Captain Falcon in the Blue Falcon, who became the series’ main character.

The success of the game hatched a new franchise for Nintendo and yet another feather in the cap of Nintendo’s internal development crew. F-Zero would get 9 sequels, spanning the Nintendo 64, GameCube, Arcade and Game Boy Advance. There are 3 games that never made it out of Japan since they were for Japan-only Nintendo accessories: BS F-Zero Grand Prix 1 & 2 were only playable via the Super Famicom’s Satellite game service while the ill-fated Nintendo 64 Disc Drive received F-Zero X Expansion Kit.

Aside from its original Super Famicom/Nintendo cartridge form, F-Zero is available on Nintendo’s Virtual Console service on both the Wii and Wii-U. As of this post, the Wii-U is .30 cents, quite the deal.

Bonus katakana/romaji: エフゼロ Efu Zero

For a game that is basically Joust with helium, Balloon Fight has graced many a screen since its debut in 1984. 

Before entering the home console market, various first generation NES titles started life in the arcade, under Nintendo’s Vs. arcade machine series. Balloon Fight was ported to the Japanese Famicom in 1985, then a year later on the NES for US/Europe. In 1986 Balloon Fight returned to the arcades under Nintendo’s Playchoice-10 arcade machine. Rounding out the pack of original releases for Balloon Fight was a Game & Watch edition that same year.

Nintendo’s 8-Bit and 16-Bit catalog was revisited with the release of Game Boy Advance in 2001.The Nintendo e-Reader was the GBA’s first (and only) add-on, a curious device that scanned information from thin data cards. Balloon Fight was among the NES ports included. 2004 marked the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Famicom which lead Nintendo to release the mini-Famicom/Classic NES Series collection that included yet another Balloon Fight port.

The full version of Balloon Fight was also included as a item in the 2001 GameCube classic, Animal Crossing.While that technically be a digital version of Balloon fight, the game would eventually get a proper Virtual Console release on the Wii (2007), 3DS (2011- Ambassador Club only) and Wii U (2013, first title for the service).

The game was published by Nintendo while being developed by its internal team, Nintendo Research & Development 1.

Balloon Fight has one true sequel: Balloon Kid (1990, Nintendo)

Bonus katakana and romaji: バルーンファイト Barun Faita 

The King of the Monsters made his 16-bit video game debut in Super Godzilla (超ゴジラ ) in the early days of the Super NES/Famicom. The player would guide Godzilla against some of his greatest enemies (and a new one) though 6 stages.

The game was a tad quirky; Godzilla moved across cities in a board game like matter until he reached the boss, in which the game turned into a traditional side scrolling affair. Godzilla fights King Ghidorah (in mecha form as well), Biollante, Battra, an UFO and two special monster. First, Mechagodzilla, which is different depending on which verison of the game you play. The Japanese version had the more modern one at the time while the American got the classic one, since the new Mechagodzilla had yet to make its US debut yet. The other mosnter is the infamous Bagan. This poor fellow was supposed to start in a Godzilla film mutliple times but the projects would be changed and cancelled. To this day, Bagan has yet to start in a feature film.

There 21 Godzilla video games made; Super Godzilla has the ninth one released. It came out in December of 1993 in Japan, while appearing in America in July of 1994. No European version was released. The only format Super Godzilla was officially released on was Super Nintendo/Famicom cartridge format, with odds of a virtual release slim due to licensing issues. It was seceded by the Japan-only release Godzilla: Monster War in 1994.

In lieu of the upcoming Fire Emblem game on the 3DS, let’s give thanks to the first one that convinced Nintendo to release the series outside of Japan: Fire Emblem (ファイアーエムブレム 烈火の剣), which carries the subtitle of The Sword of Fire.

Despite being the 7th game in the series, Fire Emblem is actually a prequel to Japan-only Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi (aka Sword of Seals). That game starts Roy, who is more famous in the West for his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Fire Emblem: Sword of Flame stars 3 protagonists  Roy’s father Eliwood, the knight in blue armor, Hector (the big guy with an ax) and Lyn, who at the time was only the 2nd female protagonist in the series. The story includes chapters per each character with inter winding stories. As usual, the series’ trademark “all deaths are permanent” remains true here.

This Game Boy Advance title saw international release for the first time in franchise history in November 2003 for America; Europe and Australia got it in 2004. It is the seventh entry in the Fire Emblem series, which currently stands at 11 games. Developed by Intelligent Systems, a Nintendo internal developer. The only format Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame is available on at this time is a Game Boy Advance cart, which is playable on Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP,  Nintendo GameCube via the Game Boy player and the Nintendo DS.

(Thanks to Bearisoslow for pointing out a incorrect screen shot!)

Aside from visual novels, horror titles aren’t that common on portable gaming systems. Nintendo and Tecmo Koei looked to change that with a Fatal Frame spin-off, Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir (心霊カメラ ~憑いてる手帳~).

The story doesn’t stray too far from the standard horror tropes; a young lady named Maya finds a mysterious diary one day and is trapped inside its pages. Armed with the Fatal Frame trademark “weapon” - The Camera Obscura - Maya must exorcise the spirits in the diary to get out.

One of Spirit Camera's main features is extensive use of the 3DS's camera, AR and Gyro sensors. Included with the game is a AR book, which is used to discover more information about the world and the spirits trapped in the diary. While it is called the Diary of Faces in English, it is named the Purple Book in the Japanese version. 

Aside from the main story mode, the game includes two mini games modes that use the camera and AR modes on the 3DS. Some Fatal Frame characters make some cameos in these bonus modes, but other than the use of the Camera Obscura, Spirit Camera has no connection to the core Fatal Frame series.

Released exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS, Spirit Camera was released in January 2012 in Japan, followed by its American release in April and finally appearing in Europe in June. 

Shortly after the Nintendo 64 launched in 1996, Wave Race 64  (ウエーブレース64) was released. At this time, the N64’s game library was awfully poor - America at this point had only two titles - so many hungry N64 owners picked up a copy. Luckily, Wave Race 64 was arguably one of the system’s best games, impressing gamers with a fun racing engine and a solid psychics engine for that time. 

The Japanese version saw light first, on September 27, 1996, carrying the same name with the subtitle of “Kawasaki Jet Ski Race”. America got their version of Wave Race 64 roughly less than two months later, on November 5th. Europe has the final stop from the original version of the game, as it was released on April 29th, 1997. Shortly after, Japan received an upgraded release of game: Wave Race 64 Rumble Pak Support Version (ウエーブレース64 振動パック対応バージョン). As the name implied, it added supported of the Rumble Pak accessory that was released with Star Fox 64.

Due to quality, critical acclaim and frankly a shortage of N64 games, Wave Race 64 sold extremely well, becoming a Player’s Choice selection in both America and Europe. Likewise, its Japanese success led to the Rumble Pak edition.

Wave Race 64 returned to Nintendo consoles in 2007, getting released on the Wii’s Virtual Console. It went through various cosmetic changes due to expiring licenses (Kawasaki for example) but otherwise reminded a near-perfect port of the original.

Wave Race 64 is actually the second game of the franchise; the first title was the Game Boy title Wave Race, released back in 1992. The 64 version’s success led to a sequel released for the Nintendo GameCube, called Wave Race: Blue Storm, in 2001. However, many fans consider that follow-up to be inferior to the N64 release, similar to how another N64 classic, 1080° Snowboarding, didn’t fare well as well on the Game Cube.

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