When I first started blogging, one of many things I intended to do was showcase other great blogs. I never actually did this, until now... If you like the original Famicom, or Famicom games in general, then step inside Famicomblog.
Visual imagery generates strong emotional responses in people. For the religious the iconography is obvious, for archaeologists it could be something as simple as a broken urn in an unexpected place. For gamers the possibilities are diverse – perhaps it’s the kidney shape of a Genesis pad that reminds you of childhood. For me it’s rows of brightly coloured Famicom cartridges, the colours and labels of which enhanced considerably my early gaming experiences. I occasionally Google photos of them, such is their nostalgic quality, which is how I discovered Famicomblog: one man’s attempt to collect every Famicom game released.
Quite a daunting task considering there’s 1051 official releases, probably a few more if you count especially exotic limited edition games, where they replace main characters with bowls of Ramen and such like. It’s actually a task I’ve sometimes considered doing myself, especially if I became an overnight millionaire and had more time to spend on whimsy. I bought the LEVEL X Famicom almanac, which lists every official Famicom game, its exact date of release and initial cost, along with a photos of the box. There’s also some excellent write ups on releases of significance (such as the strange Takeshi Kitano game). It’s been a joy to read. Likewise, in an unofficial sort of way, this English language blog provides a nice companion for the Famicom fan.
Living in Europe Famicom cartridges are extremely rare (outside of conventions I’ve never seen Famicom carts “in the wild”), which really only leaves eBay and that kind of takes the fun out of it. Of course blogger Sean lives in Japan, studying at Kyushu University's Graduate School of Law in Fukuoka, so he has easy access to them, and often at very reasonable prices. The blog details his adventures to various retro stores, lucky finds, insightful opinion, surreal escapades, and other points of interest.
What makes the blog especially pleasant is that Sean posts with more clarity and eloquence than many other bloggers. The Famicom was my first system, and I write about games professionally, but were I to do something similar it would be a nostalgic, messy affair prone to deranged and eclectic tangents. To me blogging is a rapid stream of consciousness – much to the ire of those who take me absolutely seriously all the time (I tried putting SATIRE warnings on some entries, but this only angered them further).
Along with clarity of thought (which I assume is a benefit of lawyerly shenanigans), Famicomblog also manages to be both whimsical and serious when needed – the five Excitebike cartridges on tour in Fukuoka was a thing of Biffo-esque genius (Mr Biffo being the pseudonym behind Digitiser, a sort of Monty Python for gamers).
Another interesting entry was on the nature of collecting games and how they hold their value, compared to baseball cards for example. His analysis of the situation was worthy of publishing in a print magazine – as he states, games actually serve a purpose compared to other things which can be collected but only looked at. Physical media is also likely to end at some point, with download only games. Famicom games are the perfect collectible – many are cheap enough to allow regular purchase on a limited budget, and they can offer hours of fun actually being played. Then, when put away, they’re infinitely more attractive to look at than other cartridge media.
Another thing which I was reminded of when browsing the blog, is how fed up I am of the current hardware generation. This always happens to me when things progress in the industry, and I never adapt well to change. It took me a long time to make the jump to the PS3, and a little longer still before I finally bought an HD TV. Then I had to upgrade my HDD to 500gig. About £800 in total, British money (which is maybe like $1,200). Now Sony want me to upgrade to PSN PLUS, which is more money, plus a 3D TV which I don’t want, and I dunno, does this also need some kind of 3D glasses attachment? Probably two if I want two player gaming. Then of course there’s two Move controllers, a PS3 eye camera, the adjacent dongle for the Move controllers... OH, and let’s not forget that I need to buy a whole bunch of DLC content to unlock stuff which is ALREADY ON THE DISC (motherfuckers). I still don’t even have a Mic for my PS3. Anything else I need? Good thing I don’t own a 360 too, because then it’s LIVE, and Kinect, and god knows what else.
It’s not that I inherently dislike new things. I was fine getting a PS3 in the end. The problem is, I am still happy with my PS3 and willing to spend money on it, without the hassle of acquiring a whole bunch of new hardware keys to remove the arbitrary locks placed by developers. I don't believe 3D or Move will enhance my enjoyment. The fact Microsoft has apparently demanded X360 developers cater for Kinect is shameful – I don’t WANT to jump around like an ape or play STANDING UP. The Wii in my eyes has been a failure as far as control goes, since suddenly needing to the point at the screen (ala Metroid Other M) doesn’t enhance the experience, it’s a pain in the ass. The same for waving and shaking and throwing. None of it has enhanced my experience – the more layers of gimmickry and unsought complexity you place on something which is intended for recreation, the less interested I become.
Famicomblog reminded of the simple purity we had back in the day. You plug a bright cartridge in and away you go. Most of the time you didn’t even have save files. The Famicom of course had peripherals, including a lightgun, 3D goggles and an internet modem (sort of), but none of these were ever essential to getting the most out of it. Famicom was like VHS. Everyone had one, and many still do. I still use my VHS despite having a DVD and Blueray player.
I’m inevitably going to reach a point, probably in older age, where I abandon current videogames. At this stage I’ll probably go back to collecting Famicom games, since they are as they are.
If brightly coloured cartridges also make you feel fuzzy, check out Famicom blog. (either that or get a shave, you filthy animal)
The above images is NOT from Famicomblog, rather it’s a ‘random’ from the internet – possibly InsertCredit’s old forum. Maybe not, I can’t remember any more. Credit to whoever posted it.