I logged enough hours on the NES version of Ninja Gaiden that I thought I knew everything there was to know about the game. Turns out I thought wrong. Did you know there was a Sega Master System version? There was, and it looks pretty cool. The game is different but plays similar to the NES version, and the graphics are excellent.
Not only so, but there was an arcade version that I never knew existed, either (or, if I knew, I never experienced). It is significantly different from the NES version, making it one of those weird games (like Strider) whose port is something different and better from the arcade original.
I still think the NES version is the best. I have to; I’m too invested in it. But these others are at least interesting.
I’ve mentioned the Retroist, his podcast, and his blog several times here on authordougmccoy.com. What I haven’t told you is how I first found the Retroist. I was searching Itunes for podcasts on classic video games. He had done several, so I listened to them and then to all his other episodes.
I count 21 video game-related Retroist podcasts covering everything from the NES, the Master System, the Atari 2600 & 5200, the Colecovision, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Missile Command, and Mr. Do. Here are a few of my favorites:
I searched Amazon’s Kindle store for “video games”. When I did, I found Classic Videogames Hardware 01.
This book has a kind of strange name, but it covers every classic video game system from the beginning of the home console era to the N64. In most cases, the authors cover the consoles themselves and then list ten of their “perfect” games. Most of the classics you know are here: Atari 2600, Intellivision, NES, Master System, etc. There are also some oddities I’d never heard of: Wonderswan, PC-FX, and various computers. The authors are from the UK, so they give a perspective on these consoles that I wasn’t used to. They also cover several consoles and computers that didn’t make it in the states. I was a little thrown off by some the consoles I didn’t know and the constant references to “pounds” instead of dollars, but I liked how indepth the reviews were. If you’re interested, you can Classic Videogames Hardware 01 on Amazon.com and Itunes.
I barely mention the Sega Master System in ANESthetized, but the truth is that I spent a couple of months with the console in the waning days of 8-bit gaming. I hadn’t even heard of the SMS until after the Genesis was released, at which time it began appearing in the Toys R Us barbain bins. Since it was such a bargain, and since the Genesis had made a name for Sega, my friends and I picked it up. That makes the SMS just about the only example of backwards console awareness in my gaming history.
Those who know computers better than I say that the SMS was more powerful than the NES and that it’s colors were brighter. I don’t know about all that. I remember the SMS graphics (which was my only standard of measurement) being less than those on the NES. I also remember the SMS having a very ugly brand design. Where the NES had the black label/single game image design, the SMS had drawings over a grid.
And where the NES had those beautiful gray square cartridges, the SMS had Atari 2600-like chunky, small cartridges which had just the game title and a red-and-black grid.
The console was pretty nice looking, though.
And the SMS had some good games. I could have done without Alex Kidd in Miracle World (which was built into my SMS, starting if the power was turned on when no game was inside. But there was also Phantasy Star (unbelievably aweseome), Trillion (pretty cool), and my favorite, Cloud Master.
The SMS also had a light gun, like the NES Zapper, and a few superfluous accessories, like the 3-D glasses.
Again, those in the know say the reason for the SMS’ failure in North America was the lack of third-party games (which Nintendo monopolized through their exclusive policies). That may well be true. To me, though, it just doesn’t seem as good as the NES. That’s not to say that it should be dismissed as all bad. It wasn’t. The couple months I spent with it were fun enough. It just wasn’t what the NES was, at least not to me.
The Atari XE commercial I posted a few days ago didn’t make a dent in the NES’ popularity. But this Sega Genesis commercial did. The boast of “16-bit arcade graphics” was powerful enough to pull even me away from the NES. This commercial and this console really were the beginning of the end for my little gray box with the black stripe….that is, until I came to my senses years later and discovered that my love for the NES was greater than the Genesis, Turbo-grafx 16, and Super Nintendo. Now, this “16-bit arcade graphics boast” seems hollow. It’s the 8-bit graphics that ultimately stuck with me!
You’d find this boast in comic book and magazine ads as well.