31 years ago, this student video game impressed Nintendo so much that Mario’s parents recruited its developers! It is now playable on Switch

Game news 31 years ago, this student video game impressed Nintendo so much that Mario’s parents recruited its developers! It is now playable on Switch

Published on 06/16/2024 at 07:30

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At a time when the dragon punch of Street Fighter II was hitting arcades, a few months before Capcom’s title landed its lightning kick on Super Nintendos around the world, Japanese students achieved the impossible. By taming the technical capabilities of the NES, they inflicted such a powerful uppercut that Nintendo decided to take them under its wing to help them transform their demo into a real game.

Sources:

Nintendo.com
The Forgotten of Playhistory (Omaké Books)
Mobygames

No arms, but a raised fist!

There is a game released on the NES, on the Wii Virtual Console, the 3DS, the Wii U and which recently arrived in the Nintendo Switch Online offer that you probably don’t know. However, it pushed the technical limits of the Famicom and proved to the world that it was possible to design a truly good versus fighting game on 8-bits. This software is Joy Mech Fight, released only in Japan on May 21, 1993. What is certain is that the first minutes in its company do not allow us to identify what it will remain in the minds of enthusiasts for. . After a short introductory cinematic scene where we see two scientists assisting in the creation of a robot, the successive screens – title, game modes, world map, character choice – shine more with their simplicity than through their graphic search. It is when the first 1v1 fight begins that Joy Mech Fight commands respect.

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Before Street Fighter got its hands on the hits in terms of versus fighting, the rare 1v1 fighting games on the NES, in profile view, had fairly poor gameplay. Titles such as Karate Champ, Yie-Ar Kung Fu, Karateka and Tenkaichi Bushi Keru Nagūru bravely attacked the genre while coming up against the many limitations of Nintendo’s machine. But Joy Mech Fight will get around the problems with cleverness and talent. His philosophy is as clear as it is avant-garde: it is more important to focus on gameplay than on realism if the technology does not deliver convincing results. However, at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, developers who launched into fighting games on 8-bits used humanoid fighters, that is to say they had arms and legs. Joy Mech Fight, for its part, offers something original in order to provide a solution to the display deficiencies of the console – which struggles to show large sprites – by removing the connections between the bust and the limbs. Like Rayman, the protagonists of the software have hands and feet that twirl around their bodies.

31 years ago, this student video game impressed Nintendo so much that Mario's parents recruited its developers! It is now playable on Switch

This technique of sprites (arms/hands/feet) to be managed around a bust gives developers the opportunity to display and animate large characters fluidly while freeing up memory, which makes it possible to integrate the impressive number of 36 fighters. The designers were also able to take inspiration from what Street Fighter 2 did by delivering rich gameplay with 6 basic movements, 4 special moves, projections, secret techniques or even stunning if too many hits are taken… All to be executed via the two small buttons on the NES controller. And the worst part is that the handling is good! In addition, Joy Mech Fight has the luxury of including a well-designed tutorial, where the attacks are shown in demo and the pad buttons are placed on the screen. A first !


Champion Seed

Although the team credited is Nintendo’s Research and Development 1 (R&D1) department, these are not the usual thinking heads we find behind the project. Basically, Joy Mech Fight is just a demo concocted by two Japanese students, Koichi Hayashida and Koichiro Eto, produced during a game development seminar organized by Nintendo (the Nintendo-Dentsû Seminar).. When the Kyoto firm discovered this project then titled Battle Battle League, it decided to offer a contract to the talented duo so that they could make a complete game. All under the supervision of Gunpei Yokoi, the famous inventor of the Game Boy, please. Joy Mech Fight becomes Nintendo’s second attempt in the world of fighting games after Urban Champion in 1984, also released on the NES.

31 years ago, this student video game impressed Nintendo so much that Mario's parents recruited its developers! It is now playable on Switch

If we remove the special thanks, 8 people are credited to the design of the software. Joy Mech Fight is also the first game they worked on. The vast majority of the members of the team will not have a long career in the world of video games and will work on rather confidential titles such as Monster Rancher, Ultraman Invaders, Chocobo Racing, with the exception of sound designer Hideaki Shimizu who is his weapons on Joy Mech Fight and which we will see in the credits of more than thirty Nintendo productions. Koichiro Eto will not continue his adventure in the video game world. Koichi Hayashida, for his part, will become the main programmer of Super Mario Sunshine, then will produce Super Mario 3D Land as well as Super Mario Galaxy 2. Still at Nintendo, he recently released Super Mario Bros. Wonder where he is credited with game design. Yes, we can say that Joy Mech Fight opened doors for him.

31 years ago, this student video game impressed Nintendo so much that Mario's parents recruited its developers! It is now playable on Switch

If you want to see for yourself what’s so special about this robot fighting game, and if you want to help Dr. Little Eamon foil Dr. Ivan Walnach’s plans, you can easily do so by picking up your Switch and playing consulting the NES catalog of the Nintendo Switch Online offer. Joy Mech Fight has been there since the end of 2023.

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