The lights are on
On July 15, 1983, Nintendo released the Famicom in Japan. Though the console itself eventually made its way to North America (as the Nintendo Entertainment System), not every game released in both territories. To celebrate the 31st birthday of the history-making system, we’ve put together a list of five licensed games that were exclusive to the Famicom. It would be easy to fill out the list with licenses that originated in Japan, like Dragonball, Ultraman, and Akira. However, we've decided to focus on licenses that would have (theoretically) had an audience stateside.
1. The Goonies
This is why we got The Goonies II here on NES, despite the lack of a film called The Goonies II. This first installment follows Mikey as he hops through stages inspired by the film. It’s not all just about avoiding enemies and landing jumps; players need to collect keys and free trapped Goonies in order to advance to the final level.
2. King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch
Donkey Kong may be gaming’s most famous giant ape, but King Kong is the original. This game is supposedly connected to King Kong Lives!, the 1986 sequel to the classic monster movie. However, it has more in common with The Legend of Zelda than any movie, with a top-down perspective, a mix of exploration and combat, and hidden dungeons.
3. The Transformers: Mystery of Convoy
Not playing this game may be one of the best things that happened to you. This is a notoriously unforgiving platformer, since Ultra Magnus (who is searching for Optimus Prime) can only take a single hit before being destroyed. Poor controls and maze-like stages mean that the mystery of Convoy may be better left unsolved.
4. Star Wars
Capturing all of the iconic moments from the film, this adaptation is everything fans love about Star Wars. Remember when Luke flew the Millenium Falcon to different planets so he could rescue his friends? What about the time he was fighting Darth Vader, but then Darth Vader transformed into a scorpion? Unforgettable cinematic milestones.
5. A Week of Garfield
Garfield is all about being lazy, but he is uncharacteristically active in this side-scrolling platformer. He jumps over mice and spiders, and only has a pathetic kick to defend himself. Your lack of offensive options (and the swarms of enemies) make Garfield’s adventure brutally hard, so don’t feel bad about sticking to the Sunday funny pages.
To read more about games that were only available in Japan, check out our Top 10 Import-Only Oddities and our list of Import-Friendly Games.
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