The NES Game Pak Chip Shortage Has Come To An End
If you’ve been checking out the local Target, K-Mart, or Sears you may have noticed that there are a lot more NES Game Paks on the shelves. That’s because the chip shortage that has plagued the video game industry is finally over. Plenty of copies of previously hard to find games like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Super Mario Bros. 2 are finally in plentiful supply. Some of the third party licensees are going back into their sold out catalog of titles to reissue them to a wider audience.
However, just because they’re now stock up at retailers right now doesn’t mean that come this Christmas you’ll easily be able to pick up a bunch of games. If you see the one you want, snap it up early as this year’s holiday season could be the biggest yet for Nintendo. As the Chicago Tribune details below, the NES is bigger than ever and Nintendo has finally become a household name across America.
THE GAME NEVER STOPS
Dennis Lynch CHICAGO TRIBUNE | June 2, 1989
A couple of years ago I asked three friends if they could guess who or what was meant by the word ”Nintendo.” Their answers included a foreign sports car, an Italian boxer and a Puerto Rican singing group. When my friends found out that a Nintendo was a Japanese computer game machine then being introduced in the United States, they shrugged their shoulders and lost interest.
They are interested now. Since its debut here in 1986, Nintendo has become a household word. More than 7 million of the Nintendo Entertainment Systems, or NES, were sold in this country during 1988, and more than 33 million game cartridges were purchased. So great has been the demand for Nintendo products that serious shortages have developed, leading to a buyer panic unlike anything seen since the early days of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze.
And those friends have become victims of Nintendo fever as well, each having bought a unit over Christmas. Nowadays one of the first things they ask me is, ”Get any new Nintendo stuff lately?” So for their benefit as well as yours, here`s the latest news from the Nintendo front.
Mario Bros. comeback
The best news of all is that the serious chip shortage appears to be lessening. The shortages have meant that popular game titles such as Super Mario Bros. II and Zelda II: The Adventures of Link have been virtually impossible to find on store shelves. According to a Nintendo spokesman, customers can expect much better availability of products this summer.
But don`t be surprised if a supply crunch hits again in October and November during the Christmas rush. Thus, if you are hoping to give Nintendo cartridges or units as presents next Christmas, figure on shopping early.
Nintendo itself is also doing some long-term planning. Peter Main, Nintendo`s vice president of marketing, said his company plans to introduce a completely new game system this summer in Japan that promises to offer much more than the NES.
The new system, in Japan called the Super Famicom, is a 16-bit machine. The current NES is an 8-bit machine. Without getting too technical, suffice it to say that a 16-bit machine is much more powerful and efficient than an 8-bit. It will run game cartridges that are even more exciting and engaging than those already on the market.
One size fits all
Supposedly the new machine will be downwardly compatible, meaning that any cartridges bought for the NES will run on the Super Famicom. Nintendo is also reportedly considering a trade-in deal for NES owners. Let`s hope so, because if the Super Famicom can deliver what is promised, it will make your NES seem as outdated as a game of Pong.
Nintendo has to offer a new system to keep up with its competition. Already in Japan there is a product put out by NEC called the PC Engine. A major attraction of this machine is that it offers a CD-ROM player as a peripheral. The CD-ROM unit not only plays standard audio compact disks but also runs games that are as much as a whopping 550 million bytes big, more than 5,000 times the size of most Nintendo games.
Sega has already introduced in Japan a system called the MegaDrive, a 16-bit machine that has CD-ROM and stereo capability. You can even put on headphones for some private play while you tackle such games as Space Harrier II, Thunder Blade and Altered Beast.
Unfortunately, don`t expect to find these systems in stores near you soon. America is usually two to three years behind Japan in getting new game systems. By the time a hot new game system finally makes it to the States, the Japanese are already playing something much better. But these are the game machines of Christmas Future.
For now, we`ll have to be content with new NES games and accessories, such as the Nintendo Power Glove from Mattel. The glove is a wireless device that takes the place of a joystick or control pad in the playing of a game. The player uses hand motions and finger movements in the glove to control the actions. The glove comes in both a child`s and an adult`s size and costs about $75.
Though the glove can be used with games currently on the market, it will be put to best advantage with releases in a Glove Gaming Series of products that will be released by Mattel starting this fall. The first release is-you`ll never guess-a boxing game, and it`s called Bad Street Brawler.
Much more peaceful new releases are Sesame Street A, B, C and Sesame Street 1,2,3 from Hi-Tech Expressions. These fun and educational packages help children develop basic reading and math skills. The cartridges are geared for children aged 3 through 6. Each features two games apiece with varying levels of difficulty. The retail price of each is $29.95.
If your math and reading are okay but your Nintendo scores are not what they should be, consider buying a copy of a videotape called ”Secret Video Game Tricks, Codes & Strategies,” put out by a local firm called MPI Video. Featuring members of U.S. National Video Game Team-yes, there is such a thing-the tape offers hints on 25 of the most challenging and popular Nintendo titles.
Games covered include Double Dragon, Contra and Indiana Jones. The tape runs for 60 minutes, retails for $19.95 and can be ordered by calling 687-7881.
Finally, one Nintendo game that the programmers could have used some hints on is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a release by a Japanese firm called Seta USA. Tom`s adventures include volcanoes, space aliens and fire- breathing monkeys. Somebody send these guys a copy of Twain.
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.