While we’ve sold various import titles previously, this is our first full-fledged Japanese Video Games Showcase sale. We’re excited about this auction for a number of reasons, including the attractive box art on the games and the simple fact that we are offering many of these titles for the very first time.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the sale is that several of the Famicom games listed made their debut on that console months or even years prior to their release on the Nintendo Entertainment System. To put it into baseball card or book publishing terms, these are the “rookie card” or “first print” versions of the games, making them highly collectible from that standpoint.
Here are five such historic “first edition” games:
1. Duck Hunt
Arguably the most iconic light gun shooter ever released, Duck Hunt beguiled and intrigued gamers with its laughing dog and fun target-shooting action. Did you ever “cheat” at the game by shooting at a light bulb? We won’t tell! A timeless classic, Duck Hunt is simplistic compared to such titles as Time Crisis and House of the Dead, but it still brings smiles to us retro gamers and remains an enjoyable way to kill a couple of hours (and a few waterfowl) on a rainy day.
2. Hoshi no Kirby: Yume no Izumi no Monogatari
This is the Japanese version of Kirby’s Adventure, the first game to feature Kirby as his cute pink self. More important than his hue, the game debuted his trademark ability for duplicating the moves of certain enemies. The follow-up to Kirby’s Dream Land for the Game Boy, Kirby’s Adventure is a platformer that anyone should play after they’ve had their fill of Super Mario Bros. Like that iconic game, it is a cute, colorful, cleverly programmed platformer with a fantastic sense of adventure and fun.
Karnov was popular with many NES owners during the late 1980s, but we’re a little concerned that it has slipped into the “hidden gem” category. It’s a platform shooter (or run-and-gun game, if you wish) with excellent play-action that seems to rarely make it on any best-of lists. Based on Data’s East’s 1987 coin-op semi-classic, the game puts players in the role of a Russian strongman, running, jumping, and shooting his way through nine levels of soldiers, demons, gargoyles, and other enemies.
4. Mad City
If you don’t collect imports, the title “Mad City” may not ring a bell, but it is the Famicom equivalent of (and predecessor to) The Adventures of Bayou Billy, a multi-genre game that was high-profile enough to spawn an Archie Comics comic book series. The basic gameplay is similar, but the Japanese version is harder and has four different endings. Amusingly, the protagonist on the Famicom box art looks like Crocodile Dundee, making the game an interesting display piece.
“He’s a pinball wizard. There has got to be a twist. A pinball wizard’s got such a supple wrist.” And a supple thumb as well, at least when playing Pinball for the Famicom. The game offers a fairly accurate video version of the popular pastime, especially in terms of ball physics, sound effects, and flipper movement. Adding to the fun is a bonus stage in which players guide Mario as he walks along the bottom of the screen, using a girder to bounce the ball back up into the playfield.