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When Every Nintendo Game Looked The Same (And Was Better For It)

Illustration for article titled When Every Nintendo Game Looked The Same (And Was Better For It)
Total RecallTotal RecallTotal Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

Outside of budget lines, video game box and disc art these days is a unique and varied art. No two games' presentation looks the same. But for a short time, right back at the beginning of their days in the home console market, Nintendo bucked this trend. And it's a shame they never stuck with it.

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Between 1983-84, much like it did in the West, Nintendo's games for its Famicom system in Japan had the same box art template. And almost the exact same cartridge art as well (with only colour changing between games).

There's an argument that this made things a little too bland, but just look at these things. Thirty years later, and they look better than they did at the time. The simple design, the strong colours, it's all so timeless.

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This design flourish that dominates everything, the jagged bar running across the middle of the carts, was known as the "Pulse Line", and you might have seen it now and then in retro-themed Nintendo games, or on merchandise. Or even our logo for Kotaku East, which I designed a few years back with the Famicom design philosophy firmly in mind.

In all, 14 games were released with this template design, including the original Mario Bros. and a whole ton of Donkey Kong games.

You can read more about Pulse Line Cartridges at the excellent Famicom World (via Game & Graphics).

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And these amazing shots were all taken by Bryan Ochalla.


Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends. You can find more stories like this one here

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Illustration for article titled When Every Nintendo Game Looked The Same (And Was Better For It)
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Illustration for article titled When Every Nintendo Game Looked The Same (And Was Better For It)
Illustration for article titled When Every Nintendo Game Looked The Same (And Was Better For It)

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DISCUSSION

me_get_wet
laser beams

Pretty classy. I love the multicolored famicom cartridges. They look much nicer in a collection than the drab grey cartridges we got in North American for the NES. I did like the general template for early NES game box/label art, however.