6. Rocket Barrel (Donkey Kong Country)
Easy one this, the original Rocket Barrel appeared in Donkey Kong Country 3, where it somehow managed the near impossible and controlled even worse than in Returns. There’s a reason everyone absolutely hates Rocket Rush:
It’s just like the rocket level before Tiki Tong in Returns, except you’ve got to worry about running out of fuel and losing immediately, the controls are reversed so left controls the left thruster and makes you go right and vice versa, and Rareware forgot to put the final Kong letter in it.
It’s only sixth on the list due to being something a fair amount of people know, but hey, reviewers and writers for some gaming sites seemingly don’t know this, and neither did some of the people at Nintendo Iwata interviewed in Iwata Asks.
5. ‘Snaking’ (General)
So, here’s a nice question to gauge how much someone knows about Nintendo racing games. What was the first game ‘snaking’ appeared? Has to be Mario Kart DS, right?
No? Is it F-Zero GX?
Is it Mario Kart Double Dash?
Not quite. No, the origins of the whole gimmick is actually in Mario Kart 64 back on the Nintendo 64. Sure it was much harder and it wasn’t called that then, but people were first trying to use mini turbos/power slides on straight roads in the days before most people had ever bothered with internet forums. It’s just that Mario Kart DS brought the internet to Mario Kart, people played with people outside their town/university/family/local area for once and didn’t particularly like the idea of better people beating them up. Ah the perils of bringing online play to a series which has previously never had it…
4. Mega/Mini Mushroom (Mario series)
Surely this is an addition brought about by the New Super Mario Bros series right? I mean, the advertising for the DS game was based all around the concept of Mega Mario smashing levels to pieces in an unstoppable rage. And the Mini Mushroom must date from around the same time, because there were no tiny pipes or bonus rooms in Super Mario World!
That’s correct. It’s also inaccurate, because neither item originated in the Mario platformers. Behold, the original Mega Mushroom!
Yes, the items dated from a bonus mode in Mario Party 4, where they had roughly the same effects and were used purely to open up different routes. The Mega version actually had a pretty nifty thing you could do with it too, you know how in the DS game you can walk into a boss arena, activate one and beat them up in one hit? That happened here too, sort of:
Bowser Wrestling; most ridiculous thing ever invented?
Even the effect wasn’t too original, the whole becoming giant and smashing apart the scenery as you went concept was done twice before New Super Mario Bros was even considered. First of all was the obvious, giant Bowser levels in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door:
Then a similar but lesser effect was in Super Mario 64 DS, where you could get a Mushroom to become absolutely massive and start smashing up the environment. It wasn’t quite as powerful as in New Super Mario Bros, but it destroyed things like Bullet Bill cannons, blocks and posts on contact and led to a pretty neat way to battle Goomboss:
That’s one ‘new’ concept that turned out to be far older than even Nintendo probably suspected.
3. Luigi’s cowardice (Mario series)
It’s from Luigi’s Mansion, right? That’s the earliest portrayal of Luigi being a coward most people know about…
But again, it’s wrong. No, his first signs of being a ghost scared coward come from a comic book adaptation called Super Mario Adventures, and he supposedly had signs of being one even in the classic Super Mario Bros Super Show!
Luigi’s Mansion was merely the first time this was shown in game, and it got taken further and further in all later games to the point Luigi was a scaredy cat broken to your standard mental breakdown.
2. Dumbed Down Games (General)
Remember how many people complained the Wii was too ‘casual’ and making games too accessible to people because they could now use the Super Guide or beat levels more easily or not have to worry about advanced strategies?
Yeah, it’s dated back a long, long time. There are newsgroup postings by people claiming the SNES and Sega Genesis was too casual because games now generally had save features and weren’t filled so much with fake difficulty. People probably complained it was too easy to play games and too dumbed down the minute games actually came on discs and you didn’t have to copy down and compile code from the pages of magazines and books…
But one of the best examples was back in the Gamecube era with Mario Kart Double Dash. Gone were advanced techniques, gone were most shortcuts, the power slide system became easy to use and you couldn’t even drag items behind you. Heck, even this thing made it’s first appearance in its present form!
No, these weren’t just observations about the game either, Nintendo employees actually came out and said they toned the game down and deliberately removed expert strategies to make it so newbies could beat better players.
we have carefully selected the items or features so that the gap between the novice players and veteran players can be narrowed down.
but we wanted to narrow down the gap so that even when the novice players and veteran players are playing and fighting against each other, we really wanted both of them to enjoy themselves.
Sounds very much like Mario Kart Wii, doesn’t it? Fortunately for them people weren’t whining so much on internet forums, if the stuff from that interview was posted about say, Mario Kart 7 people would be ranting the series is ruined forever and Nintendo is evil for appealing to the mainstream…
1. Motion/Gyro Controls (General)
Especially Gyro Controls. They’ve been boasted about as a big thing in today’s game consoles as if they’re something that’s only been around a few years.
But does no one remember this?
Back in the day, where gyro controls meant the required tech was crammed in the game cartridge rather than console. It wasn’t even the most famous example, an absolute ton of people know of that one:
Motion controls even predate Nintendo. Something similar existed with the ‘pantomation’, which was created in about 1977.
Or the Smartland SL 6401, an old golf simulator device which came out in some unknown time about 20 years before the Wii:
Motion goes back a long way in video games, it’s hardly something invented by the Wii or 3DS, merely popularised by them.
And an honourary mention to the obvious, asymmetric gameplay. People think it’s some new fad brought about by the Wii U and something that’s going to massively change the way we play games… but one Nintendo series kind of beat everyone to it.
What else were the 1 vs 3 mini games people! Not all of them mind you, Tug O War wasn’t so much asymmetric as much as flat out ‘unfair’ and ‘biased’, kind of like being in a fight with an angry mob without any backup, the gameplay and strategies required didn’t differ either way. But the rest pretty much are, that’s the very definition of the crane game:
Not particularly elegant or deep gameplay, but I’d say it’d probably count as asymmetric none the less, both the single player and team have to use different strategies to win, their controls are entirely different and both sides are basically playing a different game on the same screen.
Then again, asymmetric seems to be used a lot as just a buzz word now, I’ve even seen people refer to any game where characters have different abilities as asymmetric. So apparently to some people, they’d count every fighting game on the planet, Pokemon, Mario Kart and various others as such. Either way, not as new as Nintendo wants us to believe it is.
So many a well known gaming element or gimmick actually predates the game or console it’s known for. Who’d have knew? Guess it shows you exactly how little creativity your average developer or video game company has, when they’re only willing to try something once it sells 20 million a few months prior. It’s depressing really, someone could have made the likes of the Wii back in the Nintendo 64 days…