Spotted some neat stuff in the background of an episode of Frasier

frasier earthbound snes virtual boy sharp

I was watching this 1995-episode of Frasier as I did my daily walk on the treadmill when I noticed some familiar items in the background of this toy store.

The first image highlighted by the red rectangle on the left is a stack of Super NES systems. In the shot they’re only seen from from the side. I couldn’t find any good images of the box from its side, and I didn’t feel like digging out my old box, but if you look at the bottom of the lower image, you’ll see the side (at an angle), which matches up exactly to the box in the scene. It’s not a Super Set, which came bundled with Super Mario World, rather, it’s just the Control Set (no games included).

The second image is of the famously-large box for EarthBound (an expensive and hard-to-find SNES classic), which included a large player’s guide and some heinously stinky scratch-and-sniff cards (mine still smell). It’s turned slightly at an angle, showing its right side. You can see that it’s sitting atop another EarthBound box, which is lying face-down.

And lastly, the image on the right is the back of a Virtual Boy box. I’d recognize that hideous art anywhere, haha. That poor machine was only available at retail for seven months in the US before Nintendo pulled the plug. It’s kind of a weird system to collect games for, as only 22 were made between Japan and the US. Wario Land is actually a pretty fun game, though. It’s got a lot of dimensional depth and cool spritework. Had limitations (and other hindrances) not held it back, a full-color Wario Land would’ve been beautiful.

This episode of Frasier aired on December 19, just under a week before Christmas. EarthBound and the Virtual Boy had just been released that summer, so I imagine Nintendo was hoping for them to be big-ish sellers during the holiday season. Sadly, neither sold exceptionally well, although EarthBound was a sleeper hit at the time and wound up gaining a major cult following in the years that followed.

The Nintendo 64 was set to launch in September of ’96 in the US, so the SNES was very much at the end of its life cycle at this point. That explains much of EarthBound’s lack of initial success, but the Virtual Boy was a flop because it was just so poorly conceived in so many aspects, and its sales reflected that.

Anyway, I love spotting this kind of stuff in older television shows. 😀

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Dreaming Beyond Nintendo 3DS

satoru iwata

Earlier in the week, a rumor popped up on NeoGAF regarding Nintendo’s next piece of hardware. Now, you never know who the people commenting on NeoGAF actually are, so anybody can say anything, but this massive videogame forum has a history of being the source of leaks and rumors that were later seen true.

The commenter said:

“Almost certainly off-topic, but I don’t quite want to make a new thread, because it would go to shit quickly. Also, I’d need to post a source, and I don’t really want to get people in trouble. Anyway, Nintendo apparently started working on a new platform in early 2013 and has already selected a vendor for the SoC [system on a chip] after talking to several potential candidates. The SoC might be based on an existing design, but will be changed to fit Nintendo’s requirements. I assume it’s for their next handheld, though.”

I seriously doubt Nintendo is preparing to throw in the towel on Wii U just yet, although a humbling financial report just came out today that has President and CEO Satoru Iwata considering a new business model. In a news conference this morning, Iwata stated, “The way people use their time, their lifestyles, who they are — have changed. If we stay in one place, we will become outdated.” Continue reading

What’s A Video Store?

video store

In early November, news came that Blockbuster would be shutting its doors for good. All but a handful of stores were scheduled to close shop, officially signaling the end of an era.

And while I’m not distraught over Blockbuster going out of business, I am saddened by what it represents. With the rise of streaming video services, this day has been a long time coming. I can’t argue against the convenience of these services, but to quote a friend, I won’t have any fond memories of browsing my Netflix queue. Continue reading

Looking back on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Zelda-3DS

With The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds set to release this week, it’s an ideal time to reflect upon the game it directly succeeds in the Official Zelda Timeline.

Believe it or not, A Link to the Past was released in Japan almost exactly 22 years ago, in November of 1991. It took roughly another five months for it to make its way to North America, but I wouldn’t get my hands on it until Christmas of 2002, when it made its debut on the Game Boy Advance. Continue reading

“It’s maybe str…

Quote

“It’s maybe strange to say [this], but I miss the limitations of making games in those days,” Kitase acknowledges. “The cartridge capacity was so much smaller, of course, and therefore the challenges were that much greater. But nowadays you can do almost anything in a game. It’s a paradox, but this can be more creatively limiting than having hard technical limitations to work within. There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries, one clearly evident in Final Fantasy VI.”

-Yoshinori Kitase, Director of Final Fantasy VI

Not to toot my own horn, but this is exactly what I postulated in my very first blog post.

Here’s what I said:

“I don’t like to speak in absolutes, but I almost get the impression that the best games are often made when developers are faced with reasonable limitations.”

It’s encouraging to hear my thoughts echoed by an industry veteran. Huzzah!

Here’s the article on the Edge website.