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Famicom/Super Famicom Switch Online: Shin Megami Tensei, Donkey Kong Country, and Gun-Dec coming in July

Heavy hitters incoming

The next Switch Online Famicom/Super Famicom update for Japan has been announced. Later in July, Switch Online members will be able to enjoy Shin Megami Tensei and Donkey Kong Country for the Super Famicom, as well as Gun-Dec for the Famicom.

The Famicom's designer thought Nintendo's president was drunk when he requested the creation of the system

From drunk ramblings to a pop culture phenomenon

Masayuki Uemura is the man responsible for the Famicom and the NES. While others in the company were making games, Uemura handled the hardware creation from the get-go. Without Uemura, the Famicom and NES could have turned out completely different.

In an interview with Kotaku, Uemura reveals that he didn't even think the request to create the Famicom was real at first. He mistook the mandate as nothing more than the drunk ramblings of then president Hiroshi Yamauchi.

It started with a phone call in 1981. President Yamauchi told me to make a video game system, one that could play games on cartridges. He always liked to call me after he’d had a few drinks, so I didn’t think much of it. I just said, “Sure thing, boss,” and hung up. It wasn’t until the next morning when he came up to me, sober, and said, “That thing we talked about—you’re on it?” that it hit me: He was serious.

Once Uemura realized Yamauchi was being serious, work on the platform began. It turns out Yamauchi had even more impact on the Famicom's creation, as he came up with the color scheme.

The colors were based on a scarf Yamauchi liked. True story. There was also a product from a company called DX Antenna, a set-top TV antenna, that used the color scheme. I recall riding with Yamauchi on the Hanshin expressway outside of Osaka and seeing a billboard for it, and Yamauchi saying, “That’s it! Those are our colors!” Just like the scarf. We’d struggled with the color scheme. We knew what the shape would be, but couldn’t figure out what colors to make it. Then the DX Antenna’s colors decided it. So while it ended up looking very toy-like, that wasn’t the intent. The idea was making it stand out.

Project Blue for Famicom launches on Kickstarter

Out of the blue

Project Blue is a brand-new 8bit Action-Platformer for the Famicom/NES, created as a team-effort by the talented ToggleSwitch, FrankenGraphics & M-Tee.

The game's base gameplay is heavily inspired by classics like Megaman and Super Mario Bros. 3, but mixes things up with a unique dystopian setting and creative level design with lots of unique challenges and multiple game modes to tackle.

The project was successfully funded and realized as a NES-compatible cartridge release through Kickstarter in 2019. For this year, the developers have teamed up with First Press Games to bring Project Blue to the Japanese sister-system of the NES, the Famicom.

Aside of making it available for the different hardware, the goal is also to create a thoroughly localized packaging, manual and even implement translated in-game text to make it a truly fleshed-out release for the console.

This Kickstarter aims to fund part of the production for the Famicom version, which will be quite expensive due to many involved custom parts.

While new NES releases are a common feat nowadays, well-made Famicom games are very hard to find on the retrogame aftermarket. First Press Games wants to change that and tackle it the same way as they did with Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe:

Custom-manufactured cartridge shells, newly-assembled PCBs and self-developed, authentic packaging to give the whole product a proper edge over anything you have ever seen before!

Make sure to follow the Kickstarter updates closely, a lot of exciting details and behind-the scenes content will unleash during the course of the campaign.

Check out the Kickstarter here

New round of Earthbound/MOTHER merch spotted (UPDATE)

Yep, it's the motherload

The Pollyanna comic collection that released as part of the Hobonichi Mother Project is chock-full of Mother/Earthbound tributes, but it turns out the book also offers a look at what's to come.

Another round of Mother merch is on the way, and they're pretty darn fancy. The lineup includes the following.

- Franklin Badge replica
- Starman and Mr. Saturn lapel pins
- Mother series keyring
- Mother Earth Silver Necklace

UPDATE - Turns out there's even more merch than first thought. A new round of items has been discovered.

Along with what was mentioned earlier, the following items are on the way as well.

- Master Belch plush
- Mr. Saturn plush
- Assorted character bead keyrings
- Mr. Saturn and house plush
- T-shirt
- Assorted Tote bags
- Assorted Towels
- Set of books with scripts from all three Mother games

GoNintendo Thought: Namco Museum Archives' PAC-MAN Championship Edition demake is absolutely fascinating

What we do here is go back

I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on PAC-MAN Championship Edition next week. I love the original release and follow-up, and I'm dying to see how this Famicom/NES version plays. I just had to share my excitement for it! As always, thanks for reading.

After a Japanese announcement of the Namcot Collection, retailer leaks, and an Asian localization, we finally got word today that Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 and 2 are heading to both North America and Europe. The collections bring together classic NES/home console versions of numerous Namco classics, including Dig-Dug, Mappy, Xevious, Galaga, Rolling Thunder, and more. It'll be great to have another way to enjoy some classic games with added bonuses, but out of both collections, I'm most excited for the one "new" title included.

Just a couple weeks back, Bandai Namco announced that Namcot Collection in Japan would have a special bonus game. Those who separately purchased 10 titles in the Namcot Collection would be able to download PAC-MAN Championship Edition. This isn't the 2007 title that hit multiple platforms, but instead, a demake of that game. All the other games in this collection are straight from the NES days, but PAC-MAN Championship Edition is made to not only pay tribute to the NES, but also adhere to what was possible on that platform.

Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 and 2 could have been fun enough on their own. A collection of legacy games from Namco with bonus features like save states, rewind, borders, and more. Fans of those old titles are more than happy to dive into a collection that groups them into two packages, and those quality-of-life improvements sweeten the pot. That said, the addition of PAC-MAN Championship Edition has taken this package and turned it into something really special.

Companies are extremely eager to remake their games nowadays. Remakes and re-releases are a huge deal, and they usually bring in big bucks for the devs and pubs. Take a game that is well known and loved, revamp the graphics and sound, tweak some gameplay mechanics, and watch the dollars roll in. Remakes and re-releases have always been a thing, but they really started to take off during the PS3/Xbox 360/Wii era. When devs and pubs started to see how much cash these reworkings could make, countless companies got to work on making them happen. Nowadays remakes and re-releases are pretty much expected, and are something fans clamor for.

While remakes are commonplace in today's industry, demakes are few and far between. Yes, there are plenty of developers who look to emulate the visual style or sounds of legacy platforms, but that's an artistic choice. Furthermore, that approach is being utilized for a new project. Shovel Knight, Panzer Paladin, The Messenger, and other games in the retro genre are brand-new experiences that are looking to recapture elements of consoles and gaming eras gone by. A demake takes a game that already exists and ports it down to a platform that we've long since moved on from.

Fan-made demakes are somewhat frequent, but official demakes are a rare beast. This is what intrigues me so much with PAC-MAN Championship Edition. Bandai Namco actually gave the go-ahead to take a game from 2007 and port it down to hardware that was thriving in the mid-to-late 80s. This isn't something you see nowadays! It's just so out of the ordinary that I can't help but be excited by it.

The story gets even crazier when you dig into it more. Turns out Bandai Namco worked with M2 to handle PAC-MAN Championship Edition's demake. For those who enjoy retro games, M2 is the king of the ports. The company pays a ridiculous amount of attention to making sure ports of classic games look, sound, and feel like they did back in the day. They know fans of those titles expect the exact same experience when they play straightforward re-releases of those games today, and it seems there's no one better at nailing the minutia than M2.

Just recently, we learned that PAC-MAN Championship Edition was originally going to see release on the 3DS. Now while it's not perfectly clear, it does seem the plan for the 3DS version was to mimic the original release, rather than be a demake. For reasons unknown, the 3DS version didn't end up panning out. Eventually things shifted over to the Namco Museum Archives, and M2 saw an opportunity to do something special. With Bandai Namco's blessing, they went ahead to create an NES/Famicom replication of PAC-MAN Championship Edition. While bringing PAC-MAN Championship Edition to the 3DS would have been hard enough, now M2 was working with a more powerful platform, but limiting themselves even further by adhering to what the NES could do!

According to M2, the team has been working on PAC-MAN Championship Edition for 5 years now. Again, it's not clear how much of that time was spent on the 3DS version and the Switch version, but it's still an incredible amount of time to work on this one project. Even if the demake only took a year's worth of time, that would still be extremely surprising. All that time spent to replicate a platform that we moved on from decades ago. If anything, it only goes to show just how dedicated both Bandai Namco and M2 are to not just respecting the history of games, but also keeping it alive in new ways.

I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on PAC-MAN Championship Edition in the Namco Museum Archives. Seeing such a love letter to the early days of gaming tickles me a million ways over. We finally got to see some footage of the game today, and it certainly looks the part of a Famicom game. PAC-MAN Championship Edition in 2007 retained the look of Pac-Man while enhancing it with tons of neon lights and special effects. PAC-MAN Championship Edition's demake looks right in line with what the NES/Famicom could do, but still tries to keep some of those fancy bells and whistles from the 2007 outing.

What we don't get to experience in the trailer is the audio side of things, which I might be even more excited about. PAC-MAN Championship Edition has an amazing soundtrack, full of thumping beats and pulse-pounding music. I cannot wait to see what M2 and Bandai Namco have done for the demake. Will they keep those same tunes but recreate them in a chiptune style? Will they work on all-new chiptune tracks? Will it be a mix of both ideas? I am so bummed they didn't let us hear what was going on in the debut trailer, but it makes me that much more excited to go hands-on next week.

All in all, I think there's one main reason why I love seeing official demakes. When you take a game and try to make it run on hardware that came out decades prior, a lot has to be stripped away. Visuals can't be anywhere near as good, sound is limited, and features have to be cut back. With all that said, the core thing that has to be retained is the fun. A demake is forced to boil a game down to its most essential features, showing what makes us enjoy the game to begin with. When you strip a game down to its bare-bones, you're left with something that either excels in fun or doesn't. I have no doubt PAC-MAN Championship Edition's demake will be just as fun as the 2007 it stems from.

Bandai Namco releasing a Famicom port of Pac-Man Championship Edition for the Namcot Collection

Oh man, this is SO damn cool

The Namcot Collection is coming to Switch in Japan on June 18th, and it lets fans of classic Namco games put together a virtual collection. You can piece together various games to play, and also display on a virtual shelf. Players will be able to pick and choose the games they want, and a very special addition was just announced today.

Bandai Namco has gone through the trouble of porting Pac-Man Championship Edition down to the Famicom, which will be based on the time-attack version from 2007. You'll need to purchase 10 different games in the Namcot Collection first, and then you'll get Pac-Man Championship Edition as a bonus. It's unclear if this game can be purchased separately.

Along with that, Bandai Namco went over some other quality of life features the Namcot Collection will include. Those new features include...

- save function that lets you suspend and resume at any time
- rewind function
- various screen formats

Thanks to Kolma for the heads up!

Famicase Exhibition 2020 submissions showcase another round of gorgeous cartridge art for games that don't exist

If only these games were real

The Famicase Exhibition has been going on for a very long time now, and it continues to impress with its collection. For those who don't know, Meteor hosts an exhibit every year where artists come up with Famicom cartridge designs for games that don't exist. The only requirement is that the art fits within the borders of a Famicom cart.

The 2020 Exhibition has now been revealed, and there's yet another amazing round of cartridges in the mix. Due to the pandemic, there won't be the usual physical exhibit this time around. While that's certainly a disappointment, at least we can all enjoy the online gallery. Have a look at the full catalog of submissions here.

Square-Enix details the creation of Odin, the first summon they ever made for the Final Fantasy series

The birth of a series staple

Final Fantasy III is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and in honor of that milestone, Square-Enix has shared a new interview with some of the team that worked on the game. The feature includes comments from dev Hiromichi Tanaka, who reveals that Odin was the first summon ever created for the series. Check out details on Odin's creation below.

When the battle field is made into one area, there’s a visual difference between the player side and the monster side, with Mr. Amano’s monster designs on one end and Mr. Ishii’s character pixel art on the other. We wanted to place something monster-like on the player’s side too, to create a visual that pits monster versus monster, and so from that I suggested including summons. The first one we created was the Zantetsuken-wielding Odin.

Odin’s visual design came from a picture that happened to be in Mr. Amano’s illustrations of a man riding a horse which looked close to the design we wanted. I can’t remember exactly why we decided he uses Zantetsuken; there were even people on the development team saying, “Doesn’t Odin always use a spear?” [laughs]

Getting into the technical side of things, before FFIII when we were making Rad Racer, at that time we were developing for cathode ray tube screens, so to animate the road turning we would integrate scrolling by individual scanlines. Using the same technique, for Odin’s attack we realized perhaps we could shift the scanlines in the middle of the display and make it look like the screen is splitting in half. I figured we could slide the top and bottom parts of the monster to make it look like it’s been cut into two pieces. That’s why the place where monsters sit on the battle screen is only black, while the location graphics were put up top. To do that kind of visual on NES we couldn’t use layers, it had to be one big sprite image. So if the monsters were displayed with a background behind, that would have been split into two as well. We made the background black to avoid that.

Mega Man & Bass fan-made demake in the works

Mega Man goes 8-bit again!

Mega Man & Bass originally saw release on the Super Nintendo, and then made its way to the Game Boy Advance. Now the game will live again, thanks to fan efforts. This time around, it's going to get a demake, rather than a remake!

A Mega Man & Bass Famicom/NES demake is currently underway, and you can check out the game's progress in the trailer above. There's still lots of work to do, and the team is looking to bring in new people. If you think you can help out, reach out to the team and let them know!

Astro Ninja Man seeing release on the Famicom sometime in Spring 2020

The Famicom lives on!

Riki have announced that they're bringing their action game Astro Ninja Man to the Famicom, and it's slated to launch sometime in Spring 2020. Eijirou Ichikawa is listed as the programmer, and Noriyasu Kamata is responsible for game level design. Hiroto Saito, Nobuyuki Shioda, Manabu Namiki, and Bun all worked on the music, while Nobuyuki Shioda handled sound effects. You can check out the game's awesome packaging below.

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