Bit Age Times
Newsletter for the Second Generation
Issue #12 - December
Normally we laugh at such rumors, but this
one was posted in the NY Times and has shown up in quite a few other places
(like Daily Radar). The word is that Nintendo is in discussion with Sega
about buying the company for $2 billion dollars. Just the thought of this
is monumental and would change the face of video games forever.
It is strange to think of the two biggest
video game companies of the bit age and still the #2 (Nintendo) and #3
(Sega) video game companies in the world today as being one company. While
some people think the idea of Sonic appearing in the next installment of
Smash Bros or Shigeru Miyamota, Yugi Naka and Yu Suzuki, three of the best,
if not the best video game designers in the world, working for the same
company. Even if these ideas are tantalizing, the thought of the world
losing the most innovative and creative video game company is downright
scary. Let us imagine that this deal goes down and how it may affect the
video game market.
1. Short Term Effects
The first question would be what
would happen with the Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast. Would Nintendo
continue to support both or either? Would one go away or possibly would
they abandon both as they send all the programmers to the Gamecube and
Gameboy Advance? Since Nintendo has already moved all their key programmers
away from the Nintendo 64 (this Christmas was the curtain call for the N64),
I think that one is pretty much dead, irregardless of what happens. But the
Dreamcast is a whole different story. Would Nintendo dump a system that is
selling very well and reaching some very nice numbers? After this holiday,
the installed user base for the Dreamcast should be 4 million, which is
great for a system that is a little over a year old. Plus, with the
continued problems with the Playstation 2 and some very promising games
coming out in the next few months, the Dreamcast is poised to add further to
the number. It would be stupid for Nintendo to pull the plug on the system.
While the Dreamcast may continue to get
support, for the foreseeable future, it is doubtful that it would continue
to get great games. The best case scenario would that Nintendo would
release all the games that are in development right now and then start to
shift the programmers over to developing for the Gamecube. What that would
mean is that Yuji Naka and Yu Suzuki would probably finish up their big
projects, like Sonic 2 and Shenmue 2, but then they would take their talents
to the Gamecube. This would give the Dreamcast enough AAA software for
2001, if spread out. It would keep the systems selling for the year and
keep money rolling in. But in 2002, when the Gamecube rolls out, the
Dreamcast would be cast aside, with only some second tier software coming
Another short term effect would be
Nintendo tapping into the vast game library of Sega's to bring out a bunch
of Gameboy and possibly some Nintendo 64 games. Games like the early Sonic
the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star, Golden Axe, Shinobi, Space Harrier, Outrun,
Ecco and others would be ported over with some improvements as either single
games (for the Gameboy) or as compilations for the Nintendo 64 and possibly
2. Long Term Effects
The first and possibly the biggest
effect it would have on the game industry is the void it would leave.
Competition is a good thing and to lose the #3 video game company and
possibly the best software company (it can be debated between Sega and
Nintendo as who is the best). While having all that talent at Nintendo
would be good for the Gamecube, would Naka and Suzuki enjoy the same
creative freedom at Nintendo that they do at Sega? Would such unique games
as Shenmue, Seaman and Jet Grind Radio exist in such a family orientated
company like Nintendo or would they homogenize the Sega games? Are Naka and
Suzuki under contracts or could they flee and go elsewhere? Imagine what a
boon this would be for Sony or Microsoft to employ these guys. Or they
could possibly join a third party company or even start their own company.
I do not know about how the game market works in Japan and if they have the
same options open to them as do the Western programmers who can become free
agents and go their own way.
While the Gamecube would be positioned for
the big battle and their chances of success would be enhanced, they would
also be helping out Sony and Microsoft. Everyone knows that the Gamecube
will not ship in 2001, despite what Nintendo says. Without the Dreamcast or
a Dreamcast with limited support on the market, this would give both Sony
and Microsoft even more of the market and a better chance of building their
user base by the time the Gamecube ships.
Before anyone gets upset, remember this is
only a rumor. Even if there is truth to it, both companies have to agree to
it. While Nintendo can afford the $2 billion (they have $6 billion in the
bank), it is still alot of money to spend. But let us look at the reasons
they would and wouldn't purchase Sega.
Would Purchase Sega
1. They would get a very extensive library of games. While most
of Sega's games are not known outside of the video game market (with
exception of may Sonic), they are known to the hardcore gamers, something
that Nintendo hasn't had for quite some time.
2. Nintendo would buy a great arcade division. Granted the arcade market
isn't what it once was, but these guys continue to churn out great games.
3. Nintendo would bolster its programming talents and build an amazing
stable of people.
4. Nintendo would eliminate one of its competitors and increase its market
5. Instead of starting from square one, Nintendo would have a working online
game company and 150,000+ subscribers.
Wouldn't Want to Purchase Sega
1. Outside of Sonic, none of Sega's properties are known and not
many are marketable to the masses like Mario, Donkey Kong and Pokemon are.
2. Nintendo would be inheriting a bunch of debt.
3. Nintendo would be forced to cut alot of jobs. While the best programmers
would move over and work for Nintendo, alot of the people would get the
axe. Remember that Japanese companies aren't as enthusiastic about cutting
jobs as American companies.
4. Not quite sure how Nintendo would plan on recouping the investment. Sega
loses alot of its value if the Dreamcast and their growing online server are
dumped. But if you keep them going then you are competing with yourself and
this is not good either. While the new programmers would allow Nintendo to
make more great games, it is not like they are not doing that now.
One possibility is for Nintendo to sell
off pieces of Sega to recoup part of the money. They could sell the arcade
division, the Segaworks franchises and rights to earlier titles. A decent
price could be fetched for franchises like Golden Axe, Shinobi, Panzer
Dragoon and others.
Last year, I put together some
video-game related New Year’s Resolutions (Bit Age Times #4). It does no
good to do something like that unless you’re willing to look back and see
how you did.
For the year 2000 I resolved to:
to spend less time collecting,
shopping and pricing and more time playing
I did OK with this one. I definitely did less shopping and buying of
games. Much of it had to do with the prices and the ending of some
discount programs by some major chains. Some of it had to do with me and
my family playing more non-video games. And some had to do the lack of
availability of classic games at the usual haunts.
to find the last 2 Atari 5200
carts I need (Meteorites/Bounty Bob Strikes Back)
Thanks to my friend Rick, I was able to get one of those two
(Meteorites). I’ve seen Bounty Bob Strikes Back on ebay, but couldn’t
justify spending that kind of money (~$125) for a game just to have it.
to find the last Odyssey 2 game
I need and not sell my first born to get it. (Power Lords)
Thanks to Alan DePaulo and the Philly Classic Game show in April, I was
able to trade for this rare game. Anyone in the Northeast or
Mid-Atlantic region should plan to attend the second one.
to find out what I really have
and don't have when it comes to boxes and instructions.
This one was a major failure. With all of the classic games stacked and
stored so well, it was hard to justify taking them out. Add to that the
mobility of my daughter (now 16 months old) and you have a good reason
not to disrupt the games. To make matters worse, with the decrease (but
not termination) of acquiring games, I’ve grown lax in keeping track of
what I have.
to have at least one "Game
There’s still hope for this one. I had several false starts on this, but
it always seemed that the major players were too busy to commit. Maybe
New Year’s Eve ?
to complete at least 6
I completed 5. I played many more, but actually finished:
Pokemon Yellow (GB)
Xena-Warrior Princess (Playstation)
Strider 2 (Playstation)
Gauntlet Legends (Dreamcast)
Game Paradise (Saturn)
This doesn’t count beating several Fighting Games (Marvel vs. Capcom,
to build a vertically oriented
mini MAME cabinet.
I’ve got the necessary parts. Does that count ?
to institute a family game
(video/board/card) and movie night.
I did pretty well on this one. From January until about June, we had a
game night every Friday. We would take turns deciding what game we’d
play or movie we’d watch. Worked pretty well until vacation and the
summer busyness broke our schedule. Hopefully, we will restart it again
after the holidays.
to get a PS2 the day it comes
Upon further review, I made a conscience decision to NOT get one of
these things early. Nothing in the Japanese release impressed me and I
changed my mind about getting one on day one. The closer the launch date
came, the happier I was not to be roped in by the hype. There is still
no “must-have” games on the PS2’s roster for me.
to upgrade my MAME machine to a
more powerful processor.
Took care of this one early. Did it in January. Subsequently had to
reload my entire setup due to a hard disk crash…
to put together a video game
presentation to give to my sister's 5th grade class.
My sister teaches 3rd grade now. With all of the bad press that video
games got last year, the whole subject sort of got dropped at the family
to enjoy life more, let little
things bother me less and to be more positive.
Still plenty of room for improvement here.
So what does 2001 hold in store for me ?
I resolve to:
get back on track when it comes to
organizing and listing my games.
find out what I do and don’t
have box and instruction wise.
(Eight months is waaaay too far to be behind)
See last year.
find a better way to store my
machines and games.
With a 16 month old that loves to play with the boxes, wires and
controllers, I must find a better way to store my Saturn, Dreamcast, N64
and Playstation games in the living room as well as the machines to play
them on. She’s just about tall enough to climb over the barriers that
have thwarted her this long and she can open the entertainment center
with little or no effort.
find a copy of Bounty Bob
Strikes Back for the 5200
seriously consider pruning the
This one would be for space as well as cash. I must think long and hard
about this one. Watch for me on ebay !
complete at least 6 different
I got close last year.
restart game/movie night
We really had a lot of fun doing this. The party games got the most
workouts. To make this work, it has to be a priority on your family’s
install the new equipment on
the MAME cabinet
An arcade trackball is still in the box awaiting installation. Chances
are the only way I’ll do this is if the machine breaks sometime this
My Mappy arcade machine has been out of commission for over a year. I
was able to get a replacement board, but it didn’t fix the problem. Now
that there is some room in the gameroom, I should be able to work on it.
have at least one “Game Party”
get my personal finances in
This one might take a lot of effort and impact my gaming in a big-time
manner. But it needs to be done.
Well, here’s to a happy, healthy 2001.
As I went to Toys R Us over the holidays and looked over the shelves of the
latest games, I experienced a feeling of Deja Vu. While looking over the
Playstation games, I saw games for the Grinch, Barbie, Tonka and a ton of
other licenses. I could not help but think to the days of the Nintendo. I
thought back to games like Where's Waldo, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
and Sesame Street. I remember how I knew the Nintendo was waning and its
days as a serious video game machine were behind it. How the great games
were moving to the Sega Genesis and soon, the Super Nintendo. Well, it is
deja vu all over again! The Playstation, the most successful game console
(that is not a handheld as the Gameboy has lasted longer and sold more
systems) has become the Nintendo all over again! Come to think about it,
the Nintendo was the most successful system before the Playstation.
What is more humorous is when I think back
to an article in Next Generation when they were talking to one of the guys
at Sony about the launch of the Playstation. He was talking about how some
edutainment guys (edutainment is a term for games that are educational,
think of the Sesame Street games) came and asked about developing for the
Playstation. He told an employee to be polite to them, but get them out of
the building. They did not want any edutainment software on the
Playstation, it was a serious game machine.
How times have changed. Now the system
has become a haven for these kiddie based programs as the shelves are
littered with them. From Elmo to the return of the Smurfs (who is next, the
Snorks?), there are a wide range of games aimed at the kiddie crowd, both
the boys and the girls. Is this a bad thing? Not really, it is the natural
progression of a game system and a signal for hardcore gamers to move to
greener pastures. Once a system becomes cheap enough to reach the
mainstream audience, like the Playstation with its estimated user base of 27
million is, then more and more companies will throw their hat in the ring
and you get all kind of games out. But this also dilutes the image of the
system and suddenly it doesn't look like such a cool system when your little
brother wants to play Jungle Book on it. It is hard to feel cool about your
system when your sister is asking for Barbie games for your machine. So you
can sit back and watch the waning days of the Playstation. while there will
be a ton of games made for it over the next 3-5 years, don't look for too
many more Metal Gear Solids or Grand Turismos. Those have been moved to the
Playstation 2 and soon the X-Box and Gamecube. So you may want to pull all
your favorite games aside and play them on your new Playstation 2 or on the
Dreamcast when they finally get around to releasing Bleemcast, and then
handing over the Playstation to your younger siblings. Then you can
complete the cycle tht happened back when gamers moved from the Nintendo to
the Super NES. Deja vu!
This is my first time writing for BAT,
but hopefully not the last. For those of you who read the Retrogaming Times,
you'll know what these are about. The objects shown in the link are all
videogame related views of home video game systems, components or
paraphernalia from the Bit Age Era. That is, from TGFX, SMS, SEGA Genesis,
Game Gear, NES, SNES, Game Boy, and others. Hopefully you'll enjoy all 20 of
them, and get at least 10 of them correct. At the end of the section, the
answers are shown. So grab a piece of paper . . . Click HERE to go to the
eyeball benders . . . and write down what you think each of these are. At
the end Tom provides the answers, and a prize to the first person to
correctly identify all of them ;-) For official complaints about your eyes
being bent, or that we made an error with any of these objects, or that Tom
really isn't giving out a prize, Alan can be reached at
Click Here to Go to the Eyeball Benders!
There are alot of people who collect classic games,
just look at ebay auctions to get an idea. But what about the Bit Age
games? Are they collectible? Will they be collectible? The answer is
"YES"! But collecting classic games and Bit Age games are quite
The first thing to keep in mind with Bit Age games
is that the quality of the game is usually more important than the rarity of
the game. In the classic game market, the rarer the game, the more valuable
it is. It doesn't matter if the game stinks worse than an outhouse in July,
just so long as it is rare. But in the Bit Age, the quality of the gameplay
and the lineage of the game are more important. Some of the games that are
the most sought after and quite valuable are the ones that are still coming
out as newer games. Phantasy Star for the Sega Master system commands
$50.00 and a boxed Final Fantasy can get almost as much. These are two
series that are still having an impact on modern games with Final Fantasy IX
just released and Phantasy Star Online coming out shortly.
While lineage will play a role in game value, the
quality of the game and how fun it is definitely helps. A great playing
sports game like Baseball Stars garners $10.00-$15.00, while most other
baseball games for the NES are only worth a few dollars. Same with how
Devil's Crush for the Turbo Grafx will get anywhere from $35.00-$50.00,
where a lesser pinball game will get a few bucks.
Another thing to keep in mind is that genres are
much more important in the Bit Age than during the classic era. Role
playing games tend to get more money on the average than other genres and
sports games tend to get the least. One reason is that RPGs tend to age
better and are more fun to play now than sports games, which tend to have
archaic gameplay and feature players who are most likely retired. One would
think that the original John Madden game would have some value with the
impact the series has had on modern sports games, but it is pretty much
worthless. Go figure.
There is one major difference from the classic
games and the Bit Age ones and that is values. One thing about classic
games is that there are some seriously expensive games. Some of the games
(not counting prototypes) are worth in the $1,000 range and there is quite a
few in hundreds. But with the Bit Age games, there are only a handful that
break the $100.00 range. Probably the most expensive, non prototypes are
the Panesian Adult Nintendo games. There are three of them and they have
been known to get around $400.00 each. But one major difference is that
the average price of a common video game from the Bit Age is higher than the
classic era. In the classic era, many commons like Combat, ET, Las Vegas
Blackjack and Poker and Donkey Kong (the Coleco one) are worth a dollar or
less. But in the Bit Age, most games are at least worth a dollar and most
are worth a few dollars or more. The only real exceptions are Super Mario
for the NES and some of the sports games, specifically some of the Sega
Genesis ones. Otherwise, you are looking of an average common price of
about $3.00, unlike the classic games which are nearer to $1.00 average for
the common games.
While collecting games can be a fun and enjoyable
hobby, you need to keep a few things in mind. First off, don't expect to
get rich from video games. Unless you luck on some prototypes or a stash of
really rare games, you can at best, make your hobby pay for itself. You
should look at it as just a hobby and if your collection goes up in value,
then think of it as a bonus.
During the classic era, there was a comic book
series called Atari Force. It started off as small comics that were
inserted with Atari games and became a full fledged comic book series.
While it was the only classic game that was given its own comic book, the
Bit Age featured a handful of comics based on video games. Here is a look
at some of the ones that came out.
Super Mario Bros-The
famous Mario and Luigi starred in a handful of different comics based on
their adventures. There was Super Mario Bros, The Adventures of the Super
Mario Bros and Nintendo Comic System. All of these were released by Valiant
Comics, prior to their explosion into the mainstream with such books as
Turok, Magnus and Shadowman (two of which went on to become video games).
Sonic the Hedgehog-Archie
Comics has been doing this series since 1993 and it still comes out today,
making it the longest running video game based comic book of all-time!
There has been sequels, including Sonic vs Knuckles, Sonic and Knuckles and
Sonic Super Special.
right, the best selling handheld of all time, also was a comic book. It ran
for five issues and was also published by Valiant. Gameboy also starred in
the Nintendo Comic System series.
of the the very popular Sega Saturn series, was also featured in a comic
series. It was called, Nights into Dreams and went for six issues. Like
Sonic, it was published by Archie Comics.
highly successful arcade and later console game spawned numerous comic
books. They were published by numerous companies including DC Comics and
Malibu. Later, ones from Japan were brought over by Viz Comics.
other highly successful fighting game also spawned a comic series. Oddly
enough, it was also done by Malibu Comics. The base series ran for six
issues and there were numerous spin-offs with most of the regular characters
getting their own series.
game that spawned a horde of copies and turned the side scrolling beat-em
ups into a popular genre, was also a six issue series of comic books from
As you can see, there were quite a few comic series
based on video games from the Bit Age. If you know of any that I missed,
please email me. But let it be known that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
was a comic book before it became a video game or a cartoon or an action
For a great site with lots of information on the
Super Mario Comic Books, check out the following URL:
While I hoped to have a larger newsletter for our
return, I ran into online problems. My DSL server, Flashcom has gone
bankrupt and I have been switched to Earthlink. Of course the day of the
switch happened to be today, so I was offline for most of last night and
almost all of today. When I thought it was all smooth, the computer acts
up, so here is a shorter issue, but at least there is a new issue! I do
hope you enjoyed it and I will try to do another one in a few months.
Thanks to everyone who sent letters of thanks and encouragement to continue
Bit Age Times, they were all appreciated. I will try to do a new issue at
least quarterly and possibly sooner than that.