Famicom: 1986

Super Mario Bros. in development!

Nintendo has, in recent years, shown more and more archival video footage of their 1980s game design processes.  One of the videos they made shows how bitmap artwork on paper gets transferred to digital form on the computer.

Initial designs are laid out on (tracing?) paper then scanned in, perhaps one colour at a time, onto a computer workstation.

The images to the right confirm what a former Nintendo employee (M. Uemura, perhaps?) has said about the arduousness of Nintendo's graphics input procedure during the 1980s.

It must be noted just how primitive and painstaking this process is -- the scanning "bed" is a 16x16 grid of LEDs and photodiodes that read the intensity of the images on the sheet of paper set above it.  To scan in a single character frame of Mario would have taken two passes.  To make a single 128x128-pixel sprite sheet for a game like Super Mario Bros. would have taken 64 separate scanning & page movement operations!


The Legend of Zelda planning documents

In 2016, for the 30th anniversary of the original FDS release of The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo released some planning documents for the game.  There was also a reprint of a 1986 magazine preview for the game which contained several prototype screenshots, quite different from any version of the Zelda game.  See below for details.

A section of the overworld map still under construction. Each screen has notes for what secret is there, how Link activates it, where each dungeon is for the 1st & 2nd quests, etc.
Some ideas for dungeon entrances and more naturalistic, sloping mountainsides & vegetation. Not used, ultimately.
Various ideas for dungeon (?) layouts. These sheets were all signed by Miyamoto.
"Inside the Cave", signed by Tezuka on Sept. 13, 1985
These look merely like experiments with vertical strip variations, which is the format in which Zelda stores its overworld maps. No signature.
A detailed perspective drawing of the dungeon by Miyamoto. Zelda's original game code seemed to be "HVC-AM"... wonder what that stood for?
Ganon's Lair, signed 12-18-1985 by "Ten" (Tezuka).

ZELDA magazine coverage in early 1986 with prototype pictures

Thanks to whoever took these pics!

We can see a slight variation in the pushable blocks of the dungeons, as well as perhaps a lack of the "brick pattern" border around the room in the beta screenshot.
A screen with a narrow corridor of trees next to a lake is never used. However, judging by the map location and rock formation, it became the one shown to the right.
The appearance of the inventory screen and several items on them changed a bit before release. Notably, the "Power Triangle", ladder, and meat (see pic lower left).

The dungeon maps are a bit of a mystery in this early version of Zelda. Well, they each have a name, interestingly, but do they really have twice as many rooms as in the final game?  I don't believe so; two room "blocks" were just joined up to make a correct, wider, room on the map, I think.

Famicom Disk System flyers

These are just a few of the flyers that came with the FDS back in 1986, though some of them are dated '85... A couple of them may even be intended for shop owners. Nothing rare or spectacular here, just some nice nostalgic reading.

LIONEX by Sunsoft

Shown at the 1986 AM (Arcade) Show in Japan (Oct. 7,8), is Sunsoft's Lionex for the VS Unisystem. 'Unisystem' means 'Famicom' in another guise, so it's no surprise that this game wasn't released on either arcade or home format. Famitsu reviewed this and other arcade games in their November 14 issue.

The caption to the right says that the graphics are "Plain. So it's probably a Famicom game" The writer goes on to say that although he played the game, he didn't understand it so well, calling it "mysterious".

Speculation puts it as a sequel to Dead Zone (FDS), or something that eventually became Meta Fight / Blaster Master.

Arcade Flyer

*NEW* Here's a video of the game in action!