Growing up in a small town during the 1990s, I didn’t have access to the internet, or to the realm of import gaming either. Only here and there could I catch a glimpse into gaming from around the world, and my most coveted place to visit at the time would have been Japan. From time to time, videogame magazines would show some tantalizing screenshots and provide a meagre amount of information relating to some Japanese-exclusive videogames. I would examine the short articles again and again, trying to imagine the games in my head, and I would dream that someday, somehow, I would be able to access such marvels.
The aforementioned childhood trauma is surely what subconsciously made me decide to chase after a large set of Famicom games all these years later. To be honest though, what I had claimed in frustration years earlier, as a kid (that so many Japanese-exclusive games were Japanese) does seem to be partially true; or perhaps a better way of looking at it is that a large portion of the American-exclusive Famicom games were crap. And that is precisely what I am going to be examining today.
Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends. Barbie. Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six. Treasure Master. What do all of these games have in common? The knee-jerk answer is that they suck, but they are also American-exclusive games, which never made it to Japan. As can be seen, a lot of the games from notorious game studios THQ and LJN never made it to the east. These stinkers were developed in the States, for play in the States. So while American children were muddling through substandard games based off of popular movie and comic franchises, Japanese children were excitedly making their way through gaming masterpieces such as Moon Crystal, Holy Diver, and Armadillo. To be fair though, Japan received a lot more Famicom software as a whole, and they received more than enough baseball and mahjong games to last for a lifetime or two. So you need to take the good with the bad, I suppose.
NES Exclusives in Famicom Format
By my count, roughly 300 licensed Nintendo games never made it to Japanese shores. Besides games inspired by movies and cartoons, games based off of TV game shows and also those based off of sports were typical candidates to remain in the west. Interestingly enough though, about 100 of those games would appear on the Famicom, thanks to the help and efforts of some bootleg gaming outfits.
Today’s download is a list of the NES-exclusive games, which were later published unofficially on the Famicom due to bootleggers and counterfeiters. Of the NES-exclusive games, these are the ones that I can confirm as to having appeared also on Famicom format, albeit as pirates. If anyone can confirm other NES-exclusive titles to exist on the Famicom, please let me know so that I can update my checklist. Thanks.
fcgamer’s List of NES-Only Games on Famicom