15. Season One Finale!
15. Season One Finale! – Including the Final Chapter of Fire Flower
Smitty talks about what's coming next for Special Reserve Games: a new website, new games, and some previously unannounced stuff... Also, Erik concludes his audio documentary about the history of Nintendo in the final chapter of Fire Flower: From Paper to Pixels, And we take a look back on the first season of Games You Deserve.
Games You Deserve is a weekly podcast from Special Reserve Games that celebrates the digital art of video games. Join us for gaming industry interviews, insider perspectives, and interactive content. Production by Dan Vadeboncoeur. Music by Jesse Hamel. New episodes drop Sundays at 9:00 a.m. CST.
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Erik: Welcome to the season finale of Games You Deserve, brought to you by Special Reserve Games. In today's episode, Smitty reveals what's next for SRG, including a new website and maybe even some secrets. Plus, the final chapter of Fire Flower and a look back at the first season of the podcast. Here we go.
Smitty: Last night, I was watching just random TV, trying to fall asleep after dinner, in the chair, because that's what I do now that I'm old. And I happened upon Ice Road Truckers. And it was kind of a repeat, but they were picking up in Winnipeg, and then they were going way up, way up north into Barrows and whatever, way up there. And I was like, "Hey. I've been there. I know some guys there. I'm going to talk to my guys tomorrow about... They know about these places." And I did. I asked Michael, today, about it. And he was like, "Oh, man. That's way up there. I can't even understand how people live up there. It's so frigid cold, and..." So I was like, "If it's on a show called Ice Road Truckers, you would think it's going to be cold."
Erik: What was Mike working on?
Smitty: Oh, our new website.
Erik: Yeah. It's everything everybody's working on here, right? I mean, all hours of the day.
Smitty: Yeah. There's nothing like great timing, because when you have, I guess, a schedule that you're putting things out on, like we do, we actually have release dates, and things aren't just on sale all the time. The things actually go on sale and usually sell out. And so, we're always building toward products being on sale.
Well, July 23rd, coming right up, we're doing three products on sale for the first time ever, and, just to kind of celebrate that moment, we also are changing our complete back-end infrastructure of our website and rebuilding our entire website, in between the gaps of sales. And so, we are quickly heading toward July 23rd, and by the time this comes out, we should've just released our website to, probably, the Dogfathers and the Discord group to actually go... It'll be public, but we'll always go ping people in there to help us kind of stress test the site and go in and create a user account or log in to your existing user account and test it. Just see what's broke and what we need to fix, ahead of the big, giant sale coming up, so.
Anyway, that's what Mike's been working on. That, but we also have three products that we're getting ready to put on sale. And we just went to print with all our Mother Russia Bleeds assets, so –
Dan: Busy time.
Smitty: ... quite a bit of stuff. Yeah.
Dan: So, for the new website, are people going to be able to use their old log-ins to log in and buy stuff as they were, or do they have to create a new account?
Erik: Oh, that right there's going to be the fun part, right? Because we want to make it as seamless as possible, right, so we brought all this data over to make sure that it was as seamless as possible. But your password is not going to carry over into the new site. Your account will, but, as you first visit the site, you're going to want to go in and make sure that you click on the thing that you reset your password with.
Smitty: Yeah, I think it's actually going to have to be "forgot my password," and they'll just send you a password reset link.
Erik: I do that ten times a day, because I always forget my fricking passwords.
Smitty: Yeah, yeah. Same. Same. In fact –
Dan: I forgot the password to talk to you guys. I don't even remember that one.
Smitty: Well, and I mean, in fact, just to tell you how small of a team we really are, and how we do things, I was just, literally an hour ago, maybe less than an hour ago, going through all the settings on... account settings, the store settings, and check-out settings, and log-in settings. And they have that recaptcha or whatever. Do I want to recaptcha?
Erik: Click on all the pictures with the street lamps in it or something like that. I mean, come on.
Dan: Oh, I hate that.
Smitty: Part of that just makes me crazy. The one that I hate, where it's the shadowed letters and then you have to RX9, and ten times to get it right.
Erik: Yeah. Type this in, and you... What the hell is that?
Smitty: But one of them was, "Do you want the detailed password for your users?" So it had to be a minimum of seven digits. It had to include capital letters plus a number and no symbols or yes to symbols. So, I actually was in there, trying to figure out, hmm, I wonder if I should turn this on for safety, and then, if I do, what would be the least irritating mandatory password configuration? Because, man, you could really get in there and make people's lives insanely hard.
Erik: It would be just like Mel Brooks in Spaceballs, with the password to his luggage.
Erik: Why is this website being changed? And I don't mean the technical reasons or anything like that. We wanted to do some bigger and better things, right, and we've got some really cool stuff coming down the pipeline, eventually. So maybe we should tell people about some of that.
Smitty: Well, talking about the pipeline, Erik and I have started an oil business, and we're getting into... Oh, not that, yet. That's for...
Erik: Yeah, what are... You're not supposed to let that out, yet.
Smitty: That's near Christmas, yeah. Okay, so... Oh. The Illuminati's here. Well, so what we're going to be doing with the website, moving forward, is trying to give a better class of service to customers, number one, that you could use our site more as a resource to get all the information you need about the actual games. And you can also dig in a little bit deeper to setting wish lists for yourself or creating little messages, to even set up, maybe, a reminder. You can share pages. There's different things that just the back end will offer that we were more restricted on the other service provider, without just naming names here. And so, there's that, but this new infrastructure gives us the ability to create a mobile app. And so, I'm working on...
Dan: I hear that's where the big... that's what all the kids are using these days, is that –
Erik: All the kids.
Smitty: Yeah. And I mean, and I am not one of those kids. I still do, to buy things, say... Instacart. I order my groceries from Instacart. I have the app on my phone. Absolutely, I do. But I'm still the guy that has this nice big screen. I like to go sit in front of my computer and not squint to see, is that broccoli or is that cilantro? You know what I'm saying? I'm old. So I think it is kind of a younger person's game, but we see the order trends hovering well above in the 50s, into the 70 percents of orders that, actually, are executed through a mobile device for our games. And so, our old website, I still wasn't happy with how it looked, visually, on a mobile device. And the functionality, of course, was going to be limited, as well, because you had different weird templates and stuff. Then, just... Buttons didn't line up. Whatever.
Erik: Templates. That's like a four-letter word to me right now.
Smitty: Hmm, yeah. So we do have... This thing is web-optimized, or mobile-optimized. It's a template that really is reactive, and then... But this back end is something that we're building on our own. This app, we're building it from the ground up. And so, without getting into the technical who's and how's, it's only made possible by moving to this different infrastructure, this back end architecture that allows us to, basically, have the app where it won't store any customer data. It doesn't take any transactions. It's not doing credit card processing. It's kind of a straight pass-through, but going through and using our actual web infrastructure to do that.
So it's safer for the customer and everybody. I don't have to have a bunch of private information. It's safer for us, too. And it's a real light-weight app. And so, we'll put that out. We're in the final stages of testing that, now. We'll probably start beta-testing that with Dogfathers in the coming weeks, in the very, very near coming week. And then, of course, we have to get it through and get it approved by Apple for their iOS and for Google Android. And then, we'll actually put it out for free, and it'll be an app that will... for people who just want to buy our stuff, hey, great. You got our app. Easier way to buy. Easy. You don't have to do anything on our website.
But then, I think that we were going to have some special things in that app, maybe products that are only available through the app. We're talking about a subscription model and what that might really mean. So, a couple of those things will probably be exclusive to the app. So, anyway, there's a couple things that are exciting. So, the website has... Yeah, like you said, Erik, it's got many reasons for changing and making these changes. But all of them are geared toward better customer experiences and just making the job and the fun and the hobby of collecting these games more enjoyable.
Dan: We should try to figure out a way to play the podcast through the app. That'd be kind of cool.
Erik: Well, well, well. Yeah. Boy, you are hitting a nail right on the head, there. Yeah.
Dan: I only ever think of the podcasting, so.
Erik: No, no. It's not just that. There's a ton of different things. We've talked about the ideas that can go into this. And, honestly, once you have an app like that, where you can kind of have a little finer control over the contents and not have to deal with so many templates, let's say, you can deliver things like a podcast or other non-sale-y type material. That's one of the things that I love, and Smitty and I talk about this, I'd say, every once in a while, the idea that we love the games. We love what the developers are doing. We don't just want to sell to you. We're not trying to peddle all the time. That's why we do stuff like the podcast, because we enjoy this, right? And so, the app gives us, maybe, another place where we could deliver some non-sales content.
Smitty: So we can peddle and push and sell. Yeah.
Erik: Jersey Mike, can you not... ?
Smitty: Hey, well. Let me just say. But there is one thing, Dan, I just want to point out. We have these new icons that we're putting on the website, which will be all over, not just app-related. And we have now a dedicated icon – it's a little microphone – and it is a link to the podcast.
Smitty: So we're going to have these little icons, up in the graphics at the top of the site, that have a newsletter... of course, Discord and stuff. But podcast... Oh, what? There's another one in there. Even our YouTube channel is just... We haven't had links like that in the past. So, there'll be a lot of nice icons up there. One of them is right to the podcast, so you can join.
Smitty: For the first time in the history of SRG, we have three games going on sale at the same time. And also, very exciting, we have a game going on sale day-and-date with the digital release of a brand-new game. That game is Carrion. Carrion for Switch.
Erik: So exciting. So exciting.
Smitty: Ah, geez. Ooh, man.
Dan: It looks so cool. Can I be honest and say I'm not going to be able to wait until we get the SRG version? I'm just going to have to download it on... I'll still get a version from SRG, but I would love to get... I can't wait to play this game. It looks so cool.
Smitty: Well, I might have a code or two for a guy like you.
Dan: Well, what I'm saying, I'll have both copies, but it's just –
Smitty: I have an uncle that works at Nintendo, and I can get –
Erik: No, no, no, no. That guy's... No. Not that guy.
Smitty: I can get them codes.
Dan: No, but it's such a cool idea. I watched... they had a... After the Devolver Direct last week, I caught on... I think it was GameSpot. They had a 20-minute demo just of somebody’s game play, of somebody just playing it out. And now, that's a bit of a spoiler for people who don't want to be spoiled. It's what's going to happen. But it just is such a cool...
Smitty: Didn't I see some dumb post today that said, "I heard that the game takes only three hours to finish, and then it's all done" or "thirty minutes" or something.
Erik: Oh, no.
Smitty: "Heard the game only takes three..." And I was like, "Oh, my gosh." That wasn't the real game.
Erik: That was the demo.
Smitty: That was a play-through.
Dan: That was just the first level, or whatever.
Smitty: Yeah. But Carrion is... It's weird how people are really responding to it, in the general public, that haven't even seen it, the actual game. The game play has not been in front of them. It's just been the logo or a couple screenshots or something. Because it is very... I don't know. It gets right into your soul. It touches something weird that just responds, and immediately has that kind of horror movie vibe. It just brings it out.
Dan: There's not a lot of games that allow you to play as, quote unquote, the bad guy, right, or as the monster. There's not a ton. Now –
Erik: Well, who's to say he's bad?
Smitty: Well, there is Mario, but –
Dan: Well, that's... Well, we all know that Mario's a jerk. But, no. No, you're right. He's just misunderstood. He's a misunderstood –
Erik: Oh, what? Wario's the real hero? Wario's the real hero?
Smitty: Don't start talking about Luigi. Are we going to have a problem, here?
Dan: No. No, no.
Erik: No, but... no, no, no. Who's to say he's bad, is all I'm saying. The monster, it's...
Dan: It's a good, tentacled mass of flesh and...
Smitty: Well, but Dan, they do call it a reverse horror game. And so, I'm sure that Nigel and then the guys at Phobia, they probably went back and forth 100,000 times, just to decide on those words –
Smitty: ... of a way to accurately describe the game. But a reverse horror game is what they call it. So just to your point, exactly, there's not a lot of games that allow you to play as the bad guy or the monster. This is one of them.
Erik: Yeah. Yeah.
Dan: So, just to be clear, and I'm kind of the outsider on this. You guys are... the Carrion... I say it weird. Do I say it weird? I say "Carry-in."
Erik: No, I think I've heard it both ways. I say it "Carry-on." I've heard people say it "Carry-in." I think it actually might be "Carry-in." I think it might actually be "Carry-in."
Smitty: And if you, well... Well, if you look it up, the definition of "carry-in," "carry-on" is rotting flesh. It's got a very gross definition. And but, so if you say "Carry-on" in our Discord, they immediately start playing Carry On, My Wayward Son. It turns into a whole music thing.
Dan: Oh, yes, yes.
Erik: And I have to say, Dan, that was your cue.
Dan: If we can afford that music.
Smitty: I thought I was cute because I said, "Keep calm and carry on." I was like, "Hey, boys. Just calm down in here. I found me a cool picture." But there's been a... So, I think, a lot more people probably pronounce it "carry-on," just so... I mean, whatever camp you're in. So, hashtag "carry-on" or hashtag "carry-in."
Dan: So, it's spelt the same, regardless.
Erik: No, it is. It's exactly. He's just trying to get a double hashtag out there.
Dan: But what's the... Are there going to be any other assets shipped with this, or is it just going to be a single with the... that kind of style, where you get a single?
Smitty: How dare you.
Dan: Well, I don't know. I'm asking the question.
Erik: Rights? Come on.
Smitty: Assets. Talking about my assets. Wow.
Dan: No, not the assets. But you had talked about it one time, having an artist do a sculpture of the Carrion creature. That was something you guys...
Dan: No? Not going to happen?
Smitty: Threw that out the window. No, I'm just messing around. We did have a sculpture done, and it's George Tsougkouzidis from Greece.
Dan: There it is, again.
Smitty: Got to love that name. It's just great to say. But he did do a sculpture that's hand-sculpted from pigmented clay. In fact, I got the dimensions and everything of it, now, to 80 grams of pigmented clay, if you ever really want to... But he did just about 275 of these, maybe 300. We're going to put 250 of them up for sale as part of a signature bundle for Carrion, "Carry-on." And, as part of that, we will do the game, the signed, autographed, live-signed sculpture. There'll also be autographs from the developers in the box on a signature card, not on the game. And then, we are going to produce some 5x7's, all-metal prints. It's that metal polymer stuff that we did for the Mother Russia Bleeds reserve. And it's a really cool material.
I think, once people actually start getting it in their hands, taking pictures of them, feel it, they'll realize that these just aren't metallic prints. It's really hard to show some of this stuff on the website, how cool it is. But we'll have three different 5x7's for Carrion, where one's going to... I think all of them are going to be landscape orientation. And one is just going to be the monster, the key art of the monster, which is so cool. And then, I think we're going to just do two screenshots, because the screenshots are so cool. And so, they're essentially 5x7 screenshots on a really amazing, metal, semi-shimmering piece that you can easily just hang right on your wall.
Dan: Well, and I'm a big fan of that pixel art look, anyways, and I think there's a ton of people that love that. And we've done a good handful of games that have that wonderful art style, with pixel art, so.
Smitty: So, yeah. Actually, Dan, we did that sculpture. And they're actually completed, and the sculptures are currently being bundled up in Greece and being shipped to us here in Dallas.
Dan: Greece the country, not the game. Yeah.
Dan: Got it. So much, so much Greece.
Smitty: Yeah, because Gris is in Spain...
Erik: Yes, but the sculptures are in Greece.
Smitty: And then Gris is actually made in Spain, but we're manufacturing it here in Dallas.
Erik: Wait. So we're not dipping the sculptures in grease?
Smitty: No, no.
Dan: Hey, people can do what they want with it when they get it. I'm just saying.
Smitty: Yeah. Yeah. But I'm also very excited to have George introduced to people as an artist, because I've never been able to draw anything in my life. I sure as heck have never been able to sculpt anything. And so, it is fun. Over the weekend, this past weekend, I guess, from when this is airing, we will have released about a minute, 46 video that George and one of his filmmaker buddies shot over there. I asked him to do that, to kind of document the process of his sculpting and his inspiration behind it. So we have a 42-second Instagram version. We have a minute, 46 that's kind of a little bit... And then we have a six-minute version, where it's long.
It shows all his other sculptures, his Cthulhu-type stuff, his Frankenstein heads. And he's got a style where most of his things are sculpted from clay or pigmented clay. And then, in rare cases, he does bring another friend of his to do custom paint jobs on them. And then he really promotes his friends and advertises them, too, on his website.
And so, it's just another way to introduce a great artist that's making art that I think will have cross-over appeal. Just, he brought something of his own. It's his own art style inspired by Carrion. We didn't say, "Hey, go sculpt the Carrion monster exactly like it looks." We said, "Go look at the gameplay. Play the beta. Be inspired. Do it in your style, in the George Tsougkouzidis style, and inspired by Carrion."
And then, the whole reason I picked George, in the beginning, to do this, is because his style already, for some reason, just spoke to me as being very easy to translate to... If you like Carrion, you're probably going to like the rest of George's work. So, if I introduce him to you, you're probably going to like his other stuff. And I had full confidence that he could produce a great sculpture for us. So, anyway, I'm really excited about this as just not a cool way to sell a signature edition and charge more for it. It's not like that. We're really trying to pack some amazing, one-of-a-kind... There's no more of these sculptures, by the way. These sculptures were made. Pop. Breaking the mold. He's not going to sell them on his site. We're not going to sell them anymore. They're just done, so.
Erik: Yeah. You get it, and that's it. I was thinking about how to describe this to somebody. And you always hate to compare one artist to another because they're all so unique, and they all have these wonderful styles, as he does. The closest I could come would be, this is Cronenberg meets H.R. Giger. And that's a pretty apt description of it. But it's still such a unique flavor, and I got a chance to take a peek at some of that material that Smitty's talking about, with those videos. It is truly amazing.
Smitty: There you go. I just popped it in the chat.
Erik: Yeah, Dan. There you go. You can see that right there.
Smitty: Right there, Dan. I just put it in chat, right there, so you could –
Dan: Oh, my God.
Erik: Yeah, isn't that amazing.
Dan: That is so cool.
Smitty: And that's about the aspect ratio. It's just a little over four-and-a-half inches tall, there. So you can see it compared to the Switch game. Now, it's flat on the back of that sculpture, and that's where George signed it. And there is a hole that's cast in there, so this is meant to be hung on the wall. It's so... You talk about a reverse horror game and how we came... Well, us describing this has been insane. So it is a hand-carved wall art piece.
Dan: It's like a plaque. Kind of like a plaque.
Smitty: Well, that's what he called it. George wants to call it a wall plaque. But then I said, "Well, that doesn't translate well over here," because a wall plaque means like a crappy award you got. "Wall plaque" doesn't really even have that much pizzazz to it, but then, so we called it "wall art." And then, okay, well, do we call it "3D"? Well, it's not 3D. Well, it's obviously sculpted. It's sculpted by hand. So, we're coming into this collectible, hand-sculpted, wall art sculpture, but... It'll have the longest description in the world.
Dan: But the cool thing about it is... I can see it can either be hung on the wall or displayed on a shelf, as many people will display...
Smitty: Or flat on a desk. You know what I'm saying? I was kind of looking at that. There's areas around your desk that it could... I would call it a paperweight. It could be the coolest paperweight you have. And that's no disrespect to what it is. It's not made of glass or chicken egg... It's not going to break. You don't want to, maybe, necessarily, handle it too rough, but use it as a paperweight, if you want, just whenever you go back to the office.
No. It's meant to be hung on the wall. Most of the things that we're producing now, like the 5x7 metal prints, the acrylic prints, the things like... I think putting them on the wall is important, because, I think, the artwork of these games needs to be displayed like art.
Erik: One of the most-requested games that we put out, originally, on Switch, and people just screaming, and we've said this 30 million times, and it's going to be great. We get to have our second pressing for Gris, a wonderful game. Beautiful artwork.
Dan: Gris. Gris. G-R-I-S.
Smitty: Now, the reason that we always pronounce it "grease" is because that's the way you say it.
Dan: That's right.
Smitty: It's Catalan. These guys are from Barcelona, Spain, and that one little area, they hard-pronounce the S, so it's –
Smitty: "Gris" is "gray" in, I think, more than one language, even.
Dan: In French.
Smitty: It's just French. But then it has...
Erik: It's only French.
Smitty: It's only French. But, so the S is pronounced in this way, so that's why we call it "Gris." And we do that to honor the developers, because I said... It's kind of like somebody's name, like, "Hey, is your name Aleesa or is it Alyssa?" And so, you want to get it right after that.
So, anyway, Gris. And we're doing, the only time, a second pressing. Once again, it's un-numbered. It's a different jacket cover. Doesn't come in a reserve box like our normal reserves. It has a really great slipcover that's got some processes on it. And it's going to be an open pre-order, just like Carrion and Gris Switch single. We call these singles if they don't have a reserve box and whatnot. Those will both be open pre-orders. They'll go for four weeks, so just right up into about August 21st. That's when those two will sell.
And then My Friend Pedro PS4, which is also a wildly successful title. It's got a movie... I mean, I'm sorry. A television series being done around it. It's got all kinds of great videos that people have done. Of course, the old... What was it? Adult Swim. You can go back and kind of see where the origins of My Friend Pedro, if you go way back to a cartoon that was created, I think, for Comedy Central.
But, so anyway, we're doing My Friend Pedro PS4. It's got the great artwork on it. It's also a single, so it's got a Switch... Sorry. It's also a single, so it's got a slipcover around it. And it will be a limited quantity sale, so we'll do 1,000 of those. And then I'm also offering Limited Run Games a cover variant. They're going to have 1,500 of those.
And the reason, if anyone says, "Well, why would you give LRG more PS4 copies?" The answer is easy. They have built and grown a fantastic PS4 collector audience, and I think our audience is still Switch-heavy and not as PS4-heavy. We do have a lot of great PS4 collectors in our group, but so, if you ever ask why I would give 500 more of an alternate cover to them, the answer is that. They just have a bigger audience that collects PS4, and I want to make sure that as many guys and gals as possible get access to the game.
Erik: I should mention that both Carrion and Gris also are getting an alternate cover release from our friends over at Limited Run.
Smitty: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Thank you.
Erik: Throughout this podcast season, we've followed along as a small hanafuda shop in Kyoto stretches out across the island of Japan with their high-quality playing cards. We've seen the vision of the company's forefathers, Fusajiro Yamauchi, Sekiryo Yamauchi, and eventually Hiroshi Yamauchi, as they carry Nintendo forward from playing cards to taxi service to love hotel to home goods to children's toys and, eventually, into the growing world of electronic entertainment. We've watched as, over the later decades, the company amassed incredible talents, such as Gunpei Yokoi, Genyo Takeda, Masayuki Uemura, and Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of Mario. We've experienced Nintendo's continuous partnerships with companies such as Disney, Mitsubishi, Sharp, and CBS, combined with the drive for innovation that paid off tremendous dividends in the arcade and then the birth of the home console. We would like to thank you for listening, as we share Nintendo's journey in this conclusion of Fire Flower: From Paper to Pixels.
Following hot on the heels of Nintendo's successful Donkey Kong, they released a number of other titles during the arcade boom of the early 1980s. In Donkey Kong Jr., Jumpman becomes the villain and gains his rightful name, becoming known as Mario. Another sequel in the series is released with Donkey Kong 3, where Mario is replaced by Stanley, an exterminator. In Sky Skipper, the player controls a biplane, rescuing animals from gorillas. Reception for Sky Skipper was poor, and Nintendo had finally gained the licensing rights to be able to release Popeye. Popeye was the inspiration for the original Donkey Kong, which was changed during development due to Nintendo being unable to secure the rights, at the time.
In 1983, Mario regained the main stage in his new job as a plumber. And we were introduced to his brother, Luigi, with the arcade release of Mario Bros. The arcades weren't the only ones to experience a dramatic uptick. Home video game popularity soared, as well. The Atari VCS, also known as the 2600, had sold tens of millions of units, and video game revenues reached over $3 billion by 1983. However, over the course of only two years, revenues dropped to a mere $100 million.
There were many factors at hand, aside from Atari nearly saturating the known market. For many, the lack of significant console competition left the home technology stagnant. Most of the real technology competitors were largely found in the home computing market, with Commodore, Atari, Tandy, IBM, and Texas Instruments all releasing personal computers with capabilities seemingly making leaps and bounds beyond the 2600 on a regular basis. But, likely, the most important factor was a stale slate of games over the last few years for the 2600, with very few titles claiming the majority of sales on the console.
In fact, Hiroshi Yamauchi himself stated a few years later that quote, "Atari collapsed because they gave too much freedom to third-party developers, and the market was swamped with rubbish games," end quote. Inside of Nintendo, development began on a computer system that could bring their arcade titles home for families to enjoy on their television sets. Masayuki Uemura continued the engineering philosophy set forth with earlier Nintendo video game systems, ensuring that his designs used low-cost components. This included Ricoh's version of the MOS Technology 6502 CPU, which, by that point, was already eight years old and widely available.
The family computer, better known as the Famicom, was released for only 14,800 yen on July 15th, 1983. Three titles were available at launch for the system: Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Popeye. The Famicom utilized the plus-shaped directional pad originally designed for Game & Watch, Donkey Kong, and, unlike what we are familiar with today, the original system's controller had square buttons instead of round ones. Unfortunately, a bug that could cause the system to reset or freeze during regular game play was identified, and a recall was issued for the original units. Newer Famicoms were sold with round buttons on the controller, as well as a new motherboard design, fixing the bugs from the original release.
In the New York offices of Nintendo of America, an early mock-up was being developed with the intention of introducing the Famicom to North American audiences. This mock-up, dubbed the Advanced Video System, or AVS, included a keyboard, two infrared game pads, a joystick, Light Gun, and a tape player. The AVS was even shown briefly during the winter Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, in early January of 1985.
Nintendo of America, who had recently moved their headquarters' office from New York, New York, to Redmond, Washington, as a cost-cutting measure, was exploring the best ways to introduce this new system to the western world, under the circumstances of the video game downturn. The largest challenge Nintendo of America faced was how to market this new system. Nintendo had used a strategy within the Japanese market, while creating the Famicom, to produce the system as a low-cost and colorful toy.
But it was clear that this would not work in North America. Atari, Coleco, and other video game companies had run ad campaigns steering away from the view that video game systems were toys. Nintendo's own market analysis determined that the appearance of the console would need to fit in next to VCRs within American homes, in order to have higher acceptance by parents. Having a front-loading slot and a muted color scheme would allow the system to have a look and feel that fit right in next to other home video entertainment components.
Peripherals were a key component to Nintendo of America's strategy, as well. Both the Zapper Light Gun and the Robotic Operating Buddy, or R.O.B., were to be made available at the launch of the new system. In fact, R.O.B. was included in the first 100,000 units sold in the New York test market launch in October of 1985.
A large selection of games was critical to ensuring everyone in the family had a little something that they could enjoy. A year earlier, in 1984, Nintendo introduced a new line of arcade games based on Famicom hardware, dubbed the VS. System. The concept of the Vs. System, facing off against your opponent head-to-head, was generally well-received in the US, and the launch-day line-up would borrow from some of that success.
Erik: A total of 18 games, all packaged with the now-famous black box design, were available at launch. There were sports titles, like 10-Yard Fight, Baseball, Excitebike, Golf, Soccer, and Tennis. Zapper games like Duck Hunt, Hogan's Alley, and Wild Gunman. Gyromite and Stack-Up were released for R.O.B. A handful of arcade and action games were also released, including Clu Clu Land, Ice Climber, Kung Fu, Mach Rider, Pinball, and Wrecking Crew. But one game stood head and shoulders above all of the titles available during the North American launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System: Super Mario Bros.
Since his premiere as Jumpman in Donkey Kong, Mario continued to appear, not only in other arcade titles, but in games on other platforms, like Mario Cement Factory on the Game & Watch and the Famicom's Pinball. Already becoming a staple of their line-up, Nintendo's mascot was about to take the world by storm in this new title.
At the beginning of development, Shigeru Miyamoto set out to make an ambitious title, one that would push the known limits of the system at the time. A run-and-jump platformer seemed like a fun challenge, and the team went to work. One development came from a bug in the early code of the game, where only the top half of Mario's body was displayed. When it occurred, Miyamoto and Toshihiko Nakago thought that it would be fun if there was a small and big version of Mario. And with that, Small Mario was added to the game.
System limitations at the time were inspiration for the visual aspects of Mario, his mustache and hat, in particular. Super Mario Bros. is also the second appearance of Mario's brother, Luigi – yet again, a simple palette swap due to the limited capabilities of the NES. Level design in Super Mario Bros. is a masterclass in how to ease players into the game. At the very beginning of Level 1-1, Mario happens upon a simple set of blocks, with a lone Goomba walking towards him. The player will have to jump in order to survive, teaching a first-time player that jumping is a key element in the game.
The question blocks flash so that they can call attention to themselves, reacting to Mario jumping into them from underneath and rewarding the player with a coin or a power-up. Since the player begins the game as Small Mario, introducing the Super Mushroom early also teaches the player about how power-ups work.
Speaking of power-ups, the second stage of power-up in Super Mario Bros. is, of course, the Fire Flower. The Fire Flower grants Mario the ability to shoot fireballs at his enemies, clearing the path ahead. But did you also know that the Fire Flower is an homage to Nintendo's roots? It is a subtle nod to Nintendo's humble beginnings with hanafuda, or flower cards.
Super Mario Bros. was an incredible success, nearly singlehandedly bringing the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom into homes throughout the world. Over 48 million copies of the game were sold in its lifetime, and it held the record for being the best-selling video game of all time for over 20 years.
The Famicom and the NES were the culmination of a journey that started nearly 100 years earlier, out of a small hanafuda card-making shop in Kyoto, Japan. And it has been my pleasure to share Nintendo's journey, from paper to pixels, with all of you. The systems sold nearly 62 million units worldwide and were produced for 20 years. Not only did they spawn their successors, the Super NES and Super Famicom, they spurred competition from companies like Atari, Sega, and NEC, breathing new life into the video games industry. There's no doubt that Fusajiro Yamauchi, the company's founder, would be proud to see the worldwide phenomenon that Nintendo has become.
Nintendo continued to release new consoles, handhelds, and games throughout the years, including the Game Boy, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U. In 2016, Nintendo even revived their beloved predecessor with the release of the NES Classic Edition, a smaller version of the system with 30 built-in games and a controller. The Classic Edition sold out immediately upon launch, and even its release spurred other companies to release similar, miniature versions of their own retro consoles.
Nearly 25 years after the release of the Famicom, Nintendo continues to innovate and be a leader in the video games industry, with the release of the Nintendo Switch. But these are stories for another time.
Dan: So we're not going to be posting any more episodes. This is the end of season one, as you guys said last week. So, we're going to take a bit of a break between seasons, kind of reset for the new, kind of, fall season, I guess we could say. But, in the meantime, you guys aren't going to stop making games. You still have stuff coming down the pipelines, as far as –
Erik: Wait. Wait. We're not stopping making games?
Dan: No. That's not part of the deal. You guys have to keep working.
Smitty: No. Can't stop. Won't stop. Oh, yeah. Yeah, actually, so July 23rd, we got three games coming out. And we decided that's so much fun that we'll do no less than two games every single month, through November.
Smitty: So, coming up in August, since we'll be off the air, we do have Ruiner. We haven't announced this, yet, so this is breaking info. But, in August, we're going to do Ruiner for Switch and Hotline Miami 1 and 2, each for PS4. They'll each be on their own disk, because they didn't have an ISO for Hotline Miami Collection for PS4. So it's a Hotline Miami 1 disk, Hotline Miami 2 disk, in their own individual packaging. So that'll come up in August, and we've got a couple other games coming down the pipe, as well – stuff we might've mentioned before, some stuff that hasn't been mentioned before, but all great games.
Erik: Well, let's start with one that got a little sneak preview. We had it on the website.
Erik: No, not Joust. It's not Joust. It's Super Mario... No, wait. I can't say that. A little one on our website... had a little feature there before we shut down the website during the transition. This kind of got out a little bit. Fall Guys .
Smitty: Fall Guys is really looking fun and great and –
Erik: It is a blast.
Smitty: Geez. And very bright and –
Smitty: I think, yeah, it just kind of makes you happy, just playing it, even though you're falling off or it's hard to control sometimes. That's part of the enjoyment. But you have a lot of fun failing. That's what I'll say.
Erik: Ain't that the truth.
Smitty: But, yeah. So, we have talked about Fall Guys. We kind of backed off of a lot of the hardcore production with the team, with Mediatonic, because they have a huge task to not only finish this game, but they have gigantic servers. They are doing massively multiplayer, essentially, and that's just a whole other animal than just putting out a game and then forgetting about it.
They've got to be maintaining servers, and they also have all kinds of DLC. They have a... It's in the pre-order, already, where they have kind of a season that you can buy ahead of time that has skins, upgrades, and different things. So it's a really cool game. It's going to have continued new content through it.
So we are looking at doing a collector version for PS4 physical, for Fall Guys, coming up.
Erik: If you haven't had a chance to check that out, along with some of the other games we've talked about, go out and grab the Devolver Land Expo download, off of Steam. It is free to play, and, as you play that, you can check out some really cool trailers for some of these games.
Smitty: Yeah. It's a first-person-shooter style-looking game.
Dan: It's really cool. It's a good idea. It's a really great idea. You get to play through the demos, essentially, and get to see everything in a fun way.
Smitty: Yeah. And then, I know that, when they modeled all of that, they purposefully modeled the facilities and the structures to not actually look exactly like any one that you might go to, like Staples Center or something like that, because you needed to have its own world. It might be used later. But you feel like you're walking into somewhere that is kind of your place or whatever. It's not like you have to go... So it is a really neat concept. And, honestly, if you haven't watched the Devolver Direct video, I mean, go pull it up on YouTube or whatever and go re-watch that thing. It's –
Dan: It's a lot of fun.
Erik: No, if you haven't seen it, you need to hashtag checkalook.
Smitty: That's pretty good. But, yeah, there's a lot of cool games coming up beyond that. We're going to be very busy through the rest of the fall. So, it's going to be exciting.
Erik: What kind of stuff might happen? What are we talking about, here?
Smitty: Well, around Halloween time –
Erik: My favorite time of year.
Smitty: I think there's always these good games.
Smitty: Well, there's games around fall that just kind of set... I don't know why this one game... It was cartoonish-looking, but it had this spooky name to me, until I saw it. It was called Crossing Souls. And I was like, it's not a Halloween game. But, anyway, it's a fall game. So, I think Fall Guys will eventually... But sometime this fall, we're going to work on Crossing Souls.
Erik: Yeah. Why are we doing Fall Guys in the fall? Who chose that? Come on.
Smitty: Well, it is coming out late August or in-mid August, I guess.
Erik: That's true. We're getting there.
Smitty: But, yeah, Crossing Souls. I've talked to... Ape Out. A little bit of Ape Out. And Pikuniku.
Dan: That's a fun game.
Erik: That brings back a memory, because we actually, Smitty, you and I talked about that when we had Andy Grace with us. And we got a chance to talk on the old OTS podcast. And, boy, so that's something that you guys were interested in a long time ago, right? That's something you guys were talking about back then.
Dan: What was that – two whole years ago?
Erik: Yeah. Pikuniku. A couple of years ago. It's crazy, isn't it?
Smitty: Yeah. In fact, when I'm talking to the developer about some of the things that we need, just some of the basic stuff. I am going to have to do a long form ESRB submission, so I have to capture a bunch of gameplay footage. And just talking to him about, "Do you have a build of the game with different... like a de-bug build with dev code so I can summon things and jump to areas to make the video capture easier?" And he's like, "Man, I don't remember." He's like, "That's been a couple years ago. I think that's on another computer. I'm working on something else." And I was like, "Yeah, of course you are." But so, it's even funny that it's kind of hard. I should've collected some of those assets two years ago. It would've been a lot fresher on the mind.
Dan: That's going to do it for this season of Games You Deserve. Thanks, guys, for this opportunity. I really want to... This has just been a ton of fun for me to produce this podcast with you guys and talk about video games. It has reignited my passion for video games over the last few months.
Erik: Oh. I'm starting to get a tear, Dan. You're going to make me emotional.
Dan: We're only going away for a month and a half, maybe. We'll be back, probably, in September, I'm thinking. We haven't set a specific date for it, but... And we're going to be working behind the scenes, by the way.
Erik: That's right.
Dan: It's not like we're just going to take a vacation. I'm going to be working on –
Erik: Well, Smitty was going to go to the Caribbean, but –
Dan: Smitty deserves a vacation after all the work he's putting into this stuff, but I'm going to be working on podcast-related marketing stuff as well as sourcing guests and talking about other aspects of the show we can improve upon and change. And certainly, we invite any feedback from people on what they would like to see in season two. Let us know what you'd like to hear, anybody in particular you'd like us to speak to, or anything like that. This is wide open. We're open to doing anything. Right, guys? I should've asked you before I said that. That's a sweeping statement. Well, okay.
Smitty: Well, I don't know about anything, but most anything that's legal.
Dan: Okay. Okay. We'll keep it legal.
Erik: In the state of Texas.
Dan: Before we go, I have put together a montage of kind of some highlights over the last 15 episodes, just kind of taking a look at all the fun moments we've had. So let's give that a listen.
Erik: I've pretty much put hands on nearly every single video game system that's ever existed. At one point in my collecting history, I had over 40 different systems in hand.
Erik: Not at the same time. I wasn't holding them all at once. But they were all in my house.
Smitty: I went to Overland Trail Arcade in Enid, Oklahoma, which was conveniently located right across the street from Putt Putt. And did anyone have a Putt Putt? Those little outdoor putting greens, thing?
Erik: Oh, yeah.
Smitty: And that Putt Putt also had a little arcade inside of it, and a robot that delivered pizza.
Erik: Oh, I need one of those. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Smitty: The robot was controlled by a dude.
Dan: I loved that thing.
Dan: You guys talked about playing Tecmo Bowl and the football games that you played when you were kids being a big part of it, right? And you wanted to kind of recreate those games that you saw on TV. For me, of course, I'm in Canada, so it's hockey. Hockey is the sport of choice here. That's the only real... Nah, I mean, we do other sports, too, but hockey is the most popular one.
Erik: You've got curling, too, right?
Dan: We do have curling, yes. But I don't think there are any curling video games. I would love to see that.
Erik: There should be. There should be. Smitty, get on that.
Smitty: All those guys were also saying it. "When are you going to do Hotline Miami? When are you going to do Hotline Miami?" So, I knew it was super important. So finally, here we are, putting it out April 21st on Nintendo Switch physical.
Dan: How long did it take to sell out?
Smitty: Less than 20 minutes, total, for –
Smitty: Because we had a Limited Run Games cover variant, 4,000 units sold out in 12 minutes. And then our 7,500... We had enough orders in 17 minutes to sell out, but it seemed like it took... The store got choked up or something, so I think, realistically, if you wanted to really catch me, it probably took 42 full minutes for it to sell out of everything.
Smitty: But we had enough orders in 17 minutes to sell out.
Rob Atkins: Long story short. I'm playing their Wolfenstein 3D two years later. It's one of the coolest games of all time. And I decided to come to Shreveport and visit Adrian. I was still in college, left, came over to visit him. And he was working on a game called Doom. And at that point, it was like, "Holy shit. This is the Renaissance of gaming. This is it. This is everything." I left my last semester of college. I didn't get my degree. I'm one class shy of my degree.
Smitty: Sounds just like me.
Atkins: I went and moved in on Adrian's spare water bed that didn't have a heater. And six months after I came to Dallas, I was hired to be the creative director of marketing at Apogee Software.
Erik: I asked the Discord a question, specifically the Dogfathers. By the way, if you guys want to be a Dogfather and get in the know, super secret information from Smitty himself. He'll whisper these sweet nothings directly into your ear.
Smitty: Oh, now, that's just weird.
Erik: It is weird, but some people are into that.
Smitty: So, there was a murder attempt on my life.
Dan: Oh, my God.
Smitty: And then I couldn't leave my room without a Seal. I had to have a Navy Seal, one of the two guys, escort me out of my room. They would take me down a different elevator shaft. We'd meet up with the tour in the basement, where the parking lot was. We'd go right... And then we'd go to the concert venue, and most of that was kind of locked down in a lot of ways, but it was very scary. And we're only spending just a few days in each one of these countries. So, you literally have no time to get your bearings or anything. So I was, 100%... My life was 100% in the hands of those two Seals and some really great tour managers, as well. And I think, if we didn't have that many OGs involved, I would've been... I wouldn't've come back.
Dan: I want to know, in detail, how did they make the attempt on your life?
Smitty: Oh, he was going to stab me in the chest with a giant Bowie knife.
Dan: Just walking by you in the hotel lobby or whatever?
Smitty: Right. Yeah. Uh-huh yeah. Come up to you. Yeah.
Smitty: They wanted to kill you in front of everybody, and they wanted everybody to see it. The guy screamed ahead of time.
Josh Fairhurst: Star Wars is an old franchise, and because of that, there are people that have exclusives on the most obtuse types of things. So, if you want to make a Star Wars napkin, there's probably somebody who has the exclusive rights to make a Star Wars napkin. When we're thinking of what can we put in these collectors' editions, what can we put in these things, we basically have to find out if somebody already has an exclusive on that type of item through Disney Consumer Products. And if they do, we probably can't do it, so it came to a point where, basically, we had to think of things that honored the game but could not exist as standalone products without the game being bundled with them.
We landed on those packages for the old retro games that look like the action figure cards, but with the cartridges on them. And to me, that was kind of my a-ha moment for this, because you can't see the card pack or whatever. That needs the game to exist. So, we didn't run into any issues there. And it was the perfect play to make this product new but exciting and honor what a lot of people are nostalgic for, with regards to Star Wars.
Erik: Hell, yeah, I want to do this. I want to podrace on the giant projection screen as if I'm actually racing. There's this big pomp and circumstance going on, kind of behind. I don't know what's going on. I'm just racing and whatnot. And up comes this crowd surrounding this kid. Well, turns out, the kid that played little, young Anakin, so Jake Lloyd, he steps up. And they want to do a photo op of him sitting in the pod, playing the pod racing game, while we're doing this. So, I'm sitting in a pod next to him while they're doing the photo op. And he's playing. He's a kid. He wants to play the game. So, he's playing the game a little bit. And then, of course, smile for the camera kind of thing. And, of course, I beat his ass.
Smitty: But did everybody own the vinyl record of Pac-Man Fever –
Erik: Oh, heck, yeah.
Smitty: ... like I did.
Dan: I think I did. My parents had that one, yeah.
Erik: It was a big deal back then.
Smitty: Man, they had an ode to Centipede. And, I mean, I still remember some of the classic hits from that record.
Mike Sanders: There's these little ghost guys that sit.. The Scoleri brothers, in Ghostbusters, sit up. And if you hit them –
Dan: Ghostbusters 2. Ghostbusters 2.
Sanders: Yeah, but on the Ghostbusters pinball machine, which is just Ghostbusters. I'm with you, Dan. It is Ghostbusters 2.
Dan: There you go. That's the montage of the awesome moments. And there are many more. If you haven't listened to our kind of full 15 episodes of our podcast, kind of, they're all available wherever you would listen to your favorite podcasts. Guys, that's going to do it for season one.
Smitty: I've had a good time. Appreciate it, everybody. Hope everyone has a nice, fun, safe rest of their summer. And let's just get back to having a great rest of this year. And we'll see you, hopefully, soon. Check us out on Discord or anything like that. I'm online. Erik's online. Our whole team. If you want to communicate so you don't miss us too much.
Erik: I'd love to pick this back up right where we left off. I think we've done some amazing things this season. And, Dan, thanks to you, all the work that you've been doing on the podcast has been amazing. And it's been a lot of fun listening to all these great... Story time with Smitty. I'll say that much, so.
Smitty: Oh, my.
Erik: Can't wait till we hear more.
Smitty: I know. Thanks.
Erik: More story time with Smitty.
Smitty: Yeah. Yeah.
Erik: Well, it might... Well, you got to save that for season 2. Got to save the lawsuits for season 2.
Smitty: Yeah. Statute of limitations.
Erik: Yeah, I'll hold it down in Ohio... I mean, Indiana.
Dan: Oh, my.
Smitty: Well, good. And Dan, you keep the Great White North great, all right?
Dan: You bet.
Erik: And then, till next time, until next season, this is...Game over.