Four new Nintendo/Hudson games have been preserved!
In the past, the collective forces of Gaming Alexandria and Forest of Illusion have helped flesh out the library of Nintendo system games on various Japanese computer platforms. We’ve provided two ports of the arcade game Mario Bros. Special for the PC-6601 and the MZ-2200 as well as Donkey Kong 3 for the PC-8801. All of these ports were done by the venerable Hudson Soft, who in partnership with Nintendo ported a large number of Nintendo first and third party licensees’ games to just about every Japanese computer platform of the day.
Their first project together was on the Famicom BASIC cartridge and later a port of Lode Runner, making them the first company outside of Nintendo to publish on the Famicom. They also are known to have directly inspired the disk format for the Famicom Disk System, suggesting that Nintendo was paying a lot of attention to the potential of the computer market. It’s quite possible that part of the incentive for the deal was that Nintendo did not initially see the Famicom as the be-all, end-all platform that it would become. It was not until 1986 with the releases of The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest that the porting of Nintendo software to Japanese computers ceased.
In this brief period of time however, Hudson Soft was able to produce a seemingly endless number of ports of pivotal arcade software to Japanese home computers. Considering that these systems were far less capable than something like the Commodore 64 in the United States, the programmers at Hudson were able to work some amazingly impressive versions of these arcade classics.
The Hitachi S1 was one of Hitachi’s last personal computer releases before exiting that market. Debuting in May 1984 (I/O Magazine, 1984-05), the system was meant to compete with the Sharp X1 line and the PC 9801 as a high-powered graphical computer for creative applications like 3D Modelling. Hudson Soft’s Bomber Man was used in the initial advertisements for the system, establishing their presence on the platform from it’s inception. Prior to these releases by Gaming Alexandria, none of the 97 games for the Hitachi S1 or its BIOS have been available on the internet.
The games included in this release are Mario Bros. Special – a pseudo sequel to the arcade game Mario Bros. released on many platforms, Nuts & Milk, and Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, all for the Hitachi S1. Also included is the baseball game Yakyuu-kyou for the Sony SMC-777 platform. Both Nuts & Milk and Princess Tomato are well loved Famicom oddities by Hudson which originated on computer platforms and can now be played in glorious “hi-res” graphics.
Starting with Mario Bros. Special – which is the seventh port of the game thus far preserved – the game is comparable to the Sharp X1 port which features the same graphics as the less powerful PC-8801 version of the game. While it has no known additional features from the other ports, there remains only one remaining version of this game to be found on the Sony SMC-777 (Although unconfirmed reports claim that a version for the IBM JX was released).
Fans of the two Hudson games from this pack on the Famicom will immediately see some stark differences. Nuts & Milk is an entirely different game, having no vertical platforming elements whatsoever and instead being a maze game, similar in some ways to Boulder Dash. Players control Milk and avoid the blue characters known as Nuts while navigating a maze collecting all the fruit in order to advance to the next level. Some walls can be dug out but reappear after a time and can be used to to avoid and trap Nuts.
Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom being a text adventure suits the home computer well. The game is in the classic On-Line Systems/Sierra On-Line style first pioneered with Mystery House, with a distinctly Japanese flair. There is very little explanatory dialogue and each distinct room is presented like a manga panel with available options rather than a guessing game narrative structure. This style likely draws from the design of the Portopia Serial Murder Case by Enix, often noted as a precursor to the modern Japanese visual novel genre.
The final game, Yakyuu-kyou (AKA Play Ball), is a top down rendition of the sport similar to the Nintendo version of Baseball. There are wide and close-in views of the bases and a fully selectable team with different stats, positions, and the ability to change their names as well. For a fairly standard sports game, it was far ahead of it’s time in terms of simulation. At large each of these games are easy to play because they have a good deal of English, though one may miss out on the nuances.
This release marks another huge step in preservation of obscure Japanese media as well as a window into the fast-changing landscape of 1984. The Year of the Famicom was still 2 years away and the cross-platform experimentation as displayed by Hudson Soft demonstrates the prevailing thought that “every platform is good”. Soon afterwards, the predominant computers and consoles in Japan would be set for a long time afterwards, leaving platforms like the Hitachi S1 behind in favor of the PC 9801 and MSX.
It’s been our pleasure to make these games available, and we hope to have more for you soon! Links to the games and scans are below.
Emulator & BIOS –
Mario Bros. Special –
600DPI Scans –
Princess Tomato In The Salad Kingdom (サラダの国のトマト姫 Sarada no Kuni no Tomato Hime) –
600DPI Scans –
Nuts & Milk –
600DPI Scans –
600DPI Scans –