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Adding on Up!

We learned a lot two weeks ago about the NES’s add ons, now it’s time to step into the 90s! This week on Journal in the Jungle, we look at the SNES and the N64 peripherals.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) or Super Famicom (スーパーファミコン) or SFC for short was released in Japan November 21st, 1990. It would reach North America on August 23rd 1991. It sold an astounding 49.10 million units. Production of the SNES continued until 1999, a full two years after the console’s last first-party game (Kirby’s Dream Land 3).

“The Mouse” came bundled with the game Mario Paint back in 1992. It felt and operated just like a computer mouse. In Mario Paint you could create static pictures, simple looping animations and “pixel-by-pixel” stamps. There was also the awesome music generator, and a mini game where you swatted gnats.  Other games were released that worked with the mouse as well, such as Populous, Jurassic Park and Acme Animation Factory.

Have you ever been playing Pokemon Red and think “Man! I wish I could play this on my TV instead!”. Fear not, the Super Game Boy is here. Released in 1994, it would run you about $60 USD. It was very simple to use. A Game Boy game went in the top slot on the SGB. The SGB then fit in the cartridge slot on the SNES. At first, games were only available in monochrome (much like the original Game Boy was), but later games were optimized and able to use additional color information.

Like the NES, Japan got some pretty neat add-ons that were never brought over. Lets just look at one, the Nintendo Power (not to be confused with the magazine of the same name). The Nintendo Power was a flash RAM cartridge for the Super Famicom and the Game Boy. It allowed downloaded game to be played for less the cost of a full cartridge. However, the cartridges would have to be brought to a store which had an NP copier. It’s similar to what we have today, except we don’t have to go anywhere to buy our downloaded games. Isn’t technology great?

The Nintendo 64 or Nintendo Rokujuyon (ニンテンドウ64) was released in 1996, and was not discontinued until December of 2001. The N64 came in a rainbow of colors, some limited edition. Some colors are now harder to find than others. I admit it took me awhile to find my pink N64.

The VRU or Voice Recognition Unit, came with every copy of “Hey You, Pikachu!” In the game, you use the VRU to talk to Pikachu. The game claims he can understand 200 different words. A fun easter egg in the game is that Pikachu knows the word “Sony”. If you say it to him, he will become angry.  It’s like swearing to Pokemon, but your mom won’t yell at you for saying it. Another game came for the VRU, Densha de Go! 64, a train driving simulator. It was not released in the US.

The Expansion pak was necessary for games like Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Donkey Kong 64, as they needed more RAM to run. The Pak doubled the contiguous main memory of the system. While some games did not require it, it did enhance titles like Resident Evil 2 and Perfect Dark. It fit cozy in a little slot on the front of the N64.
Not all of the N64’s peripherals were a success. The N64 DD was another Japan-only. It was scheduled for North American release, but due to its commercial failure in Japan, that plan was scrapped. Only 9 games were ever released, and only 15,000 were ever sold. Many games were planned for the DD, but would either go on to be regular N64 games, Gamecube games, or were flat out cancelled. One game that was being developed was Earthbound 64 (or Mother 3). Because of the DD’s failure, it was being adapted for the regular N64. While some screenshots and trailers were released, it was ultimately cancelled. Six years later, in 2006, it was released as Mother 3 on the GBA. While Mother 3 is an incredible game, many of us can’t help but wonder “what if...”

Thats all for this week! Check back next week for our next article on cancelled or incomplete games! 

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