Whilst the Mario Kart series has witnessed a spectacular evolution in both presentation and content since its debut on the SNES in 1992, the core design ethos and direction has remained relatively unchanged since the early days of its conception. Thanks to a translation of an interview featured in Super Mario Kart‘s original Japanese strategy guide by website Shmupulations – who have done brilliant work in translating and compiling over 200 Japanese language gaming interviews and other media, both old and new – we can now understand and learn about the thoughts and decisions that went into the design of one of Nintendo’s most iconic multiplayer titles, straight from the men who helped to create it, including the likes of Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideki Konno and Tadashi Sugiyama.
Other notable Shmupulations translations that might take your fancy include an insightful interview with Capcom artist and designer Kinu Nishimura, who has been responsible for many memorable character designs and pieces of artwork in some of Capcom’s most standout titles. Alternatively, for any fellow appreciators of the obscure, check out this fascinating look at the development of Super Famicom cult classic Umihara Kawase, co-translated by Shmupulations, over on Gosokkyu. I highly recommend having a gander at the entire library of translations and seeing if anything takes your fancy.
From the release of the Ultra Machine in 1967 to Mario Superstar Baseball on the GameCube, Nintendo’s history with baseball has been a particularly bizarre yet very interesting one. Some may be surprised to know that Nintendo have held a majority stake in Major League Baseball team the Seattle Mariners since 1992 (although this stake was reduced earlier this year). Norman Caruso, better known by his moniker The Gaming Historian, has produced a highly informative and eloquently presented video that details Nintendo’s history with the Mariners, the controversy surrounding their investment in the team, as well as the remarkable personal motivations behind former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi‘s interest in buying a MLB team, despite having no personal interest in the sport. This video covers an area of Nintendo history you’ve likely heard little about, so for a comprehensive look at one of the more unique aspects of the company’s past, be sure to give it a watch.
Over on Attract Mode, my attention was recently drawn to a post highlighting a moving underdog story disguised as a promo video/mini documentary – the story of SNK and the Neo Geo. Released way back when to inform consumers about SNK’s console business, back when the likes of Nintendo and Sega were the more common household names, this video not only serves as an informative look at SNK’s history as a company, but some insight into the development process behind some of their most popular games.
On a non-gaming note, Attract Mode’s east coast rep Matt Hawkins has been doing some neat writing over at his other regular haunt, Fort90, about New York’s annual Asian Film Festival. Now I can’t claim to be an expert on Asian cinema (although when it comes Ugandan action flicks, I consider myself something of a connoisseur – feel free to come at me on Twitter for recommendations), but if you’re looking to discover some interesting international viewing material you might not have heard of, it’s most definitely worth a look.
This one came as a bit of a surprise – Nintendo have published a fully translated conversation between Shigesato Itoi of Hobonichi and MOTHER fame and Miitomo development head Yoshio Sakamoto, focusing on the development and potential of Nintendo’s first mobile venture. The first of a six part discussion, which was held in a casual style reminiscent of the ‘Iwata Asks‘ interviews conducted by late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, the discussion yields details about more than just Miitomo itself – tidbits about the past working relationship of Itoi and Sakamoto, an unreleased title that would eventually go on to inspire aspects of Tomodachi Collection and the origins of Mii characters make up just a few of the highlights. One of the most important revelations from this interview is that Sakamoto is wearing his hair in a different style to the one he has sported in his previous public appearances, and seemingly for quite a while. It suits him!
What do Tetris, Duck Hunt and the Vietnam War all have in common? They’re all on the label of a counterfeit Famicom cartridge label, that’s what! A nice little article over at miki800 this month gave us a look at the weird and wonderful world of ‘Pachimono’ games. Pachimono is a word used to refer to fake or counterfeit goods, but in this case it refers directly to the subject matter of Rinkaku, a small website entirely focused on knock-off gaming items, as well as those bizarre 9999999-games-in-1 carts that used to be pretty common – the site features information and photos of the games themselves, including where in Japan to find these curios of gaming’s shadier side if you’re looking to start your own collection. The site also appears to host some kind of event dedicated entirely to these weird games (which, based on the photos, I really wish I could attend!) and having helped run it, Miki herself has taken the time to photograph some of the more standout cartridges from the Rinkaku collection. Whilst these particular carts are likely lacking Nintendo’s official seal of approval, there’s almost a twisted beauty to them and their tacky, cluttered designs – a true relic of times gone by.