Nintendo Games Used to be Released on Japanese PCs

By Chris Kohler on at

Nintendo characters very rarely appear on non-Nintendo hardware, but that wasn’t always the case. For a few years after the release of the original Famicom in 1983, Nintendo licensed its games to Hudson Soft, which produced versions for the major Japanese PC platforms of the day.

As of late, many of the game shops in Tokyo’s Akihabara district have ramped up their inventory of classic PC software, and on this recent trip to the area I spotted many of these weird offshoots of Nintendo’s franchises for sale.

Above is the most notorious: Super Mario Bros. Special, a bizarre, scaled-down version of Nintendo’s ground breaking classic for the PC-8801 format. The computer couldn’t replicate the side-scrolling action of the game, so when you reached the edge of the screen, the display would just go blank for a second and then load up the next one.

This copy was about £240; it’s by far the most sought-after of these releases.

Here are two different takes on the original Mario Bros. from Hudson, both for the Sharp X1 PC format. Mario Bros. Special and Punch Ball Mario Bros. both added many different features to the basic turtle-flipping action of the two-player game. (Also note how both boxes are different composites of the same set of art assets.) These were roughly $50 each.

Finally, and getting outside of the Mario franchise, two ports of other Famicom/NES games: Excitebike and Tennis, called “Nintendo’s Tennis” for this version. These were pretty much straightforward versions of the Famicom originals, for the X1. Like the two Mario games above, they were stored on cassette tapes. Other games in this series included Ice Climber and Golf.

Excitebike was about £70 and Tennis was about £15, which was mostly because the box had not been stored well and the cover art was severely wrinkled.

It wasn’t long after this that Nintendo closed ranks and kept their game properties on their own hardware. Considering how weird some of these versions turned out, it was probably a good idea.