GSQ5: Foreign perspectives

Amidst all of GameSpite Quarterly 5‘s gushing about how great the NES and its games were, we thought it was important to include a bit of perspective. The NES dominated the U.S. just as the Famicom ruled Japan, but it turns out people in many other countries enjoyed video games in the ’80s as well! And Nintendo didn’t command the same total collective mindlock in those faraway lands as it did in America and Japan. So, we rounded up a real live Australian to talk about what the NES era was like for those who lived in nations bereft of Nintendo monopolism.

13 thoughts on “GSQ5: Foreign perspectives

  1. As another genuine ostrayan, I must concur with the article in question. Most of my early gaming was PC based, though there was a girl at school who had a NES. I braved many girl germs to go there and play duck hunt and mario. But then I got my SNES and was no longer in such terrible danger.

  2. Fantastic article there. I’m from Ireland and it was definitely a place that if you owned a NES you were an outsider because everyone owned a spectrum, commodore 64 or a PC. Nintendos poor handling of Europe continued right up to the N64 period. I’d love to see a wellresearched article on the european N64 launch since it was a disaster of release schedules not being met, no solid release dates and then in Germany they got the N64 3 months earlier than anywhere else to the confusion of everyone because nintendo never even announced it.

  3. Being a Dutch national, I’m always surprised to hear that the NES wasn’t a huge success in Europe. It seemed to me in late 80’s that everybody and their grandmother owned a NES or aspired to get one. Sure there were some kids who played on their fathers C64, but everybody knew the cool kids had a Nintendo (or that’s what I choose to believe anyway). As far as I know, I have never even met anybody who owned a Master System or Mega Drive (or a ZX spectrum for that matter). For me and my friends, Nintendo ruled supreme during the NES and SuperNES days. Judging by the magazines from that time, this was true for the rest of Holland as well and not just the result of some regional fluke where the NES just reached critical mass in my hometown. Perhaps this was already after Nintendo took matters into their own hand by opening local branches, but from 1987-’88 onwards, Nintendo was synonymous with videogames.

    • I agree with you. I lived in Zoetermeer, Zuid Holland from 1990 to 1992 and EVERYBODY was talking about and playing the NES, toy stores had to turn off their NES multi-cartridge and big-screen GameBoy demo units because kids were hanging out at them too much, and Club Nintendo magazine subscriptions were easy to get. I don’t know if the rest of Europe was the same, but in Holland it was relatively big. I even remember asking my mom to import TMNT 2 for GameBoy from Germany because I saw it in a paper ad.

  4. That’s a pretty solid overview of things.

    It even applies a bit to some of us North American gamers.

    Yeah the NES was king after like 1988, but the C64 was roughly comparable specs wise (even without taking into account some of the programming wizardry going on in the UK at the time. The 64 didn’t need MMC chips to do wild stuff. Compare Radar Rat Race from the early 80s to Mayhem in Monsterland from the early 90s. Same hardware but the game don’t even REMOTELY look like they are on the same machine!) outside of that pesky lack of a second fire button on the joystick.

    And for more “deep” games the NES just couldn’t compare. Stuff like the Ultimas and Bard’s Tales and AD&D Gold Box games apparently couldn’t even look or play as good on the machine so why not go with the 64 for the big boy games and just use the NES for action titles or RPGs where no clue book was needed since they were easier and lower in depth?

    Not to mention Nintendo for those in the know basically seemed to treat everywhere that wasn’t Japan like second class citizens. The Genesis was out in 89 yet we Americans weren’t “Ready” for 16 bits?

    (You would think the Amiga which came out in 85 didn’t exist. And its basically a Genesis for all intents and purposes. No wonder EA’s early console efforts were mostly Amiga ports..)

    Now look at the rest of the world where Nintendo seemed to care even less.

    Add in the fact the Speccy, while being a hunk of junk, was super cheap AND homegrown and you have a recipe for the Big N to be mostly ignored.

    I mean, in the UK games for the Spectrum and C64 were roughly 5-15 bucks US equivalent on tape and who would pay 60-80 for an NES cart?

    Sure the graphics were better (and in some NES game’s cases approached early Amiga/Atari ST quality. Konami made the NES scream) and that extra button did a LOT for many game types, but the length of gameplay time was about the same.

    Course Japan had Bandai, the US had Acclaim, and Europe had Ocean all making generally terrible licensed drek so in that regard we all had a tie there. :P

    Honestly the Spectrum was kind of like the Wii or DS is today. Its not even CLOSE to high tech, but the price was SO RIGHT for its audience.

    Though the UK didn’t treat the C64 the way Japan treats the X Box. They do seem to have quite the pride in a local boy done good. (Unless yall actual UK folk disagree with what Retro Gamer says each month.)

    And the UK did show the proper love and respect for the Amiga, the machine that SHOULD have won the 16 bit wars, both computer and console.

  5. Could someone identify the game that that “ammo girl boy time scan” screenshot comes from? It looks rather striking.

  6. It’s kind of odd that you’d use Spectrum games as illustrations for this article… when I interviewed him for 1UP a few months ago, Cameron Davis of Krome Studios was telling me that the Speccy didn’t have much presence in Australia at all, getting eclipsed by the Commodore 64 in a hurry. Commodore had a whole lot of pull back in those days… the C64 was the market leader in the 1980s, before everyone suddenly decided to migrate to x86 PCs.

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