As gamers, we love collecting the classics.
The games that came out for Atari 2600 were all about high scores. Very rarely did you play one to beat like with Adventure, Indiana Jones, or E.T.. It was usually a 5-minute affair where you tried to rack up the most amount of points you could before you inevitably were killed. We love them because we can dedicate a small amount of time to playing. As adults now, we have limited time to get our nostalgia fix and then we’re forced back into our realities.
What makes NES games so great is that they also take less time to play, but most of them are games you play to beat and provide a satisfying ending. (Conglaturation!) This is why collectors have stayed committed to the system whereas the Atari collecting fad has come and gone. Acquiring a game is a +1 for your collection, but it’s often times something engaging to play, too.
Yet, aside from the game and the artwork on the label or box, Nintendo games contain other wonders that can only be found on the inside: their circuitry. Here’s a couple interesting things you can find if you buy a game bit and open up a cartridge.
Mickey Mousecapade’s Hidden Mickey
Mickey Mousecapade is a classic NES gem that’s fun to play. It’s a great Disney-themed game on the system and is also a very common one. Years ago, when kids were buying the game, they enjoyed it for what it was and then moved on to something else without ever realizing there was a wonderful secret inside.
If you’re an avid visitor of any of the Disney resorts, you’re probably familiar with the Hidden Mickeys. These are random arrangements of items or hard-to-find decorations found in their attractions that resemble Mickey Mouse’s trademark ears. (Though the sideview of Mickey at the top of Splash Mountain is a cool one, too!) They’re fun to research and find before any trip to Disneyland or Disneyworld!
And there’s one more…because did you know that if you unscrew any Mickey Mousecapade cartridge and take out the circuit board you will also find a Hidden Mickey there, too?! Take a look.
Designed by Capcom (a company we all hope Nintendo would buy sometime soon), this does appear to be the only Disney game that has one. It’s unknown who decided to put it there. Perhaps the game designer thought it would be a cute idea or maybe a rogue engineer did it secretly. Either way, it’s a great little easter egg to share with friends.
Metroid’s Battery Backup That Wasn’t
Metroid is an iconic series in Nintendo’s library and the original debuted on the NES in August, 1987. Famous for its “isolating” environment and open-world gameplay, it’s equally admonished for its bulky password-based save feature. Whenever you want to save your game’s progress, well…you have to die. Kinda blows when you have several energy tanks and full health, but it’s the only way to do it. As some sort of perverse reward, you get a 24-character password that you’ll need to write down. To make matters worse, any letters and numbers can appear in it so you have to be sure to distinguish between your o’s and 0’s, l’s and I’s and 1’s, plus the 6’s and b’s. Get it wrong, and you’ll have to start the game from the beginning!
Or use one of the well-known passwords that got shared in magazines back in the day, I guess.
The system was a nightmare and made all the more frustrating by the fact that The Legend of Zelda had come out six months earlier and did include a battery backup. So why didn’t Metroid?
Well. It did.
Released a year earlier in Japan for the Famicom, Metroid joined a group of other games that supported normal save games (either battery backup or save to disk) including The Legend of Zelda and Kid Icarus. For some reason, when Kid Icarus and Metroid were released in North America, they were changed to use a password. Most likely it was a cost-cutting measure to avoid adding a battery to the boards, but it’s still curious why Nintendo nixed it for some games…but not all.