We Opened Up A Brand-New NES Game From 1990

Well, this one should make collectors cringe a little bit. Believe me, it hurt to do it. We took a copy of StarTropics for the NES that’s been sealed for almost 30 years and popped it open. Then we dunked part of it in water. For history!

StarTropics, released by Nintendo in 1990 (and available on the NES Classic) is an interesting game for a variety of reasons. It’s an action-adventure with light RPG elements that was developed in Japan, but only released in the West. It was massively overproduced and cleared out for pennies—the copy we open has a price tag that reads 90 cents.


And it’s also a relic of the war between Nintendo and video game rental stores, like Blockbuster Video. The game included a letter that actually had to be dipped in water to reveal a secret code that would let you finish the game. This was a form of copy protection that also made it difficult to rent out the game. It was also so annoying that Nintendo never did it again.

But you don’t need to go dipping your own copy of StarTropics into the sink to experience this, because we did it for you on this episode of Complete In Box.

Features Editor, Kotaku. Japanese curry aficionado. Author of the books Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life and Final Fantasy V from Boss Fight Books.


This was one of my favorite games of all time. In the era of the endless remake, I’m surprised no one has given this franchise another go. A modern (as in the setting of the game was contemporary) take on a zelda game, with a jump button and mild platform elements, humor, catchy music, and just... fun. It was a wild ride.