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We are two dudes that went all out on creating a VR game that solves motion sickness. Our game is currently out in Steam and tomorrow it will be released on the Oculus. Ask us anything!

Mar 28th 2018 by FantomDev • 58 Questions • 6546 Points

Hi and welcome to my iAMA. While I've completed the "active" response period, I will revisit this topic several times over the next few days and try to respond to as many of your questions as I can. I am the creator and former writer of Nintendo Fun Club News and Nintendo Power. Don't forget to check our my segment on the EMMY nominated series “8-Bit Legacy: The Curious History of Video Games,” available now on www.greatbigstory.com.

Q:

What do you mean by "solves" motion sickness?

A:

What was the most obscure piece of Nintendo merchandise/product/media?


Q:

Yes! Let me address that.

What do you mean by "solves" motion sickness?

There is a really big problem in the VR industry at the moment where users get motion sickness while moving in VR applications. Our game solves motion sickness by creating a new method of movement that does not cause any motion sickness to the user.

A:

The Knitting machine


Q:

This is intriguing. From my perspective VR is a total non-starter because I suffer from such strong motion sickness so quickly. I'd be impressed if this really works.

A:

Did any "heads roll" due to the graphic Castlevania image on Nintendo Power's second issue?


Q:

We would appreciate your feedback to improve our motion system.

We currently have a free demo that contains the full game if you want to try it out!

A:

Nope - it was Gail Tilden's idea and the controversy / PR was good for the game


Q:

I'll need to find someone that has a VR rig. This is something I probably can do...

A:

Do you still have contact with Nintendo? Do they ask you to test new games on the Switch?


Q:

We would appreciate it if its not too much trouble!

A:

I have a few friends still at Nintendo but they rely on a new set of eyes and fingers to do their testing now...


Q:

Interesting! Can you tell me more about how movement works in your game?

A:

Did you feel like you were personally playing with power at Nintendo?


Q:

I will be happy to do so! In this game we use the players natural movement and multiply it to move the player to their desired position. This solves the problem of movement and VR motion sickness by pairing slight real movement to in game movement.

A:

A marketing agency came up with that phrase - it didn't resonate with me but... playing with Nintendo Power (the magazine) as a companion piece made sense to me.


Q:

I gave your demo a try a little ago and I'm a little impressed by it. It didn't give any immediate VR sickness like if I was using the analog stick. However, I feel there are a few kinks to work out. I felt very imprecise with my movements and often ended up traveling too far or too short and couldn't really get a good in-between. The other part is if I wanted to travel quickly forward, I would end up actually going back and forth (i.e.: Move head quickly forward to move, then try to reset to move forward again only to move myself backwards because I moved my head back too fast.). Perhaps putting a brief cooldown period after dashing would help?

A:

Why did North America immediately lose the SNES cartridge locking mechanism just after launch while the rest of the world kept it? I suspect maybe Americans kept trying to yank-out game paks and damaged them.


Q:

I am happy to hear that you were impressed by it! Yes, we are thinking of implementing different sensitivity settings based on direction. As far as stopping at a specific place it can be done to an approximated range however the direction traveled will always be correct. We were thinking to solve this problem to add key places to stop on or even adding a cooldown.

Thanks for the feedback!

A:

Americans were pretty dopey-hard on the hardware compared to the rest of the world where players treated their systems better. One of the things we did at NOA was help Nintendo Japan appreciate just how hard American players could be on their game systems.


Q:

It is a super big problem. The first time I tried an FPS on my Vive with "movement" I went from totally ok to sick/vomiting in about 60 seconds. I was very disappointed, had to refund the game.

A:

What are your thoughts on socks? Noticed you weren’t wearing any in the GBS video...


Q:

Yeah, the struggle is real. /u/evilkalla would you mind giving our game a shot? I would appreciate your feedback on it.

We currently have a free demo that contains the full game if you want to try it out!

edit: whoops I did not mean to call your subreddit evilkalla.

A:

Socks are a winter city thing - the segment was filmed in the Summer and I live in the high but warm desert : )


Q:

Aww, that's just adorable

A:

Super Mario Bros. 2 was deemed too hard for American audiences, and we didn't see a console version of it until the Lost Levels.

Did you have any input to that decision?


Q:

Yes. Yes.

A:

I believe so - ultimately Mr. A decided but I lobbied hard that the game had some sucky bits in it. Unpredictable and so unavoidable kills like the wind gusts on jumps is not good design IMHO.


Q:

Do you mean that the game itself doesn't cause motion sickness to a person while playing, or that a person who suffers from motion sickness doing real world activities can cure themselves of that?

A:

Hi there.....were you involved with game development back then? What games?


Q:

I see where you and op are coming from.

Do you mean that the game itself doesn't cause motion sickness to a person while playing, or that a person who suffers from motion sickness doing real world activities can cure themselves of that?

What it meant was that the player who plays the game will not experience motion sickness while traversing the world in VR space. For your second statement however, really nice people in reddit have informed me that our locomotion algorithm could be used inversely to alleviate problems like vertigo. I am no professional in the medical field however we can look into it.

A:

I provided feedback on the arcade games and Game & Watch products to Mr. Arakawa (NOA) and Nintendo Japan. I also ran the test route for the arcade games. The I played all the FCS games as potential future NES games and gave feedback to Mr. Arakawa and Nintendo Japan. The I was a 2nd-party producer of sorts for the RARE NES games and the North American liason for the NES versions of the Nintendo's FCS games...


Q:

What made you choose the Oculus over the Vive?

Could you ELI5 what causes most people to get motion sickness while playing VR and what your system does differently?

A:

Have you ever watched "speedrunning", where players try to finish games as quickly as possible and if so, which games are your favorite to watch?


Q:

Thank you for questions!

What made you choose the Oculus over the Vive?

We actually released for both headsets. However, personally I find the Oculus so much easier to put on.

Could you ELI5 what causes most people to get motion sickness while playing VR and what your system does differently?

Hmm... for some people when they see movement and they do not feel movement their brain finds it weird so they get dizzy, it has some correlation with the balancing mechanism in your ear. For example, being in a boat or in a car. Our motion sickness solution makes it so you only feel movement when you move. The interesting thing is that our brain cannot tell if we are moving really fast or really slow so as long as you are moving a bit while you move in game your brain cannot tell. Our game uses this concept and does things differently by letting people move by using their natural body movement and multiplying it. We find that it is intuitive for the user and unlike any other system our game does not require any other input from the controller freeing a joystick for us developers to play around with. For example, when you are playing racing games and you lean left or right.

A:

I was always a fan of SMB speed running - this started being a thing around the office once Sonic came out - you could play SMB like it was Sonic.


Q:

Yup, noticed this immediately. I don't want strife with my gaming experience.

A:

Who do you want in the next Super Smash Brothers?


Q:

AutoModerator is forcing me to write this in the form of a question, so.. Did you know that in the first video on Steam, it says 'Zero VR Sicknes' at 0:27?

Thank you for this! I will inform my friend about this and we will fix it!

A:

User-generated characters


Q:

Have you given any thought about bringing this across to the PSVR?

A:

I'm in the middle of reading Console Wars currently. I'm actually at the part where Sega of America tried to woo you but it's from their point of view. How do you remember that dinner meeting?


Q:

Thanks for the question!

Have you given any thought about bringing this across to the PSVR?

Yes, it is part of our milestones to release our game in PSVR but currently we are still communicating with PlayStation. We have not had the opportunity yet to develop on it.

A:

The dinner meeting as described didn't happen : /

I did have dinner with Shinobu Toyoda (I recounted the story of that in the post reply below)


Q:

Did you go to college? Where?

How did you get your previous job?

What school, career, and hobbyist experiences were most critical to your ability to successfully develop this game?

A:

What is the most underrated Nintendo game in your opinion?


Q:

Thanks for the questions!

Did you go to college? Where?

I did go to college as a Computer Engineer and I stopped before starting junior year. I went to Cal Poly Pomona in California, United States.

How did you get your previous job?

Before doing this project I did student part time jobs. My previous job was as a programming intern for a winter session.

What school, career, and hobbyist experiences were most critical to your ability to successfully develop this game?

I would say that my passion for creating things was the most critical experience to create this game. I often enjoyed attending hackathons by myself and crunched away for the weekends to create new things with new friends. That is how I met my friend who used to be an app designer. If you are looking to find people, attend several hackathons, make friends and keep in contact and you will eventually grow a team of awesome teammates. Likewise being both gamers, me and my friend wanted to make something fun and revolutionary. I would also attribute my ability to develop this game to my community college professors who tried their best to answer most of my questions when I asked them about the industry.

However to anyone that is working in a personal project, persevere through it and finish it through in any current means possible!

A:

Faxanadu - a great game lost in the release of so many highly promoted sequels


Q:

I know Mythbusters isn't a show any more, but have you thought about sending it to Adam Savage? He does a lot of cool testing stuff, and he's notorious for getting sea or motion sick on the show, I wouldn't be surprised if he has problems with VR and if so maybe it would help him.

A:

What is your favorite piece of Nintendo memorabilia that you own?


Q:

I wish we could get somebody that cool playing our game. However, I will be happy enough getting anyone to try out our game.

A:

Favorite? hmm... I like the few protos I still have, the serial# 0002 Super Famicom, but I gues its my original Gameboy with my initial scratched on the back so I could recognize it and get it back when others at Nintendo "borrowed" it.


Q:

In fairness they don't claim to be pros, see "I am a student and my friend is a UX Designer"

A:

What does Gamemaster mean?


Q:

We use Unity 5.6.1 currently for this game, we are planning on updating but this is currently the most stable version.

A:

Its a term that game from Nintendo Japan - the engineers and staff there startrted telling me I was gamemaster as in "the gamemaster" - kinda weird, kinda fun...


Q:

So for me there is a SUPER friggin simple solution to motion sickness that I am surprised none of the game studios are using.

I get motion sick in any first person game as soon as I take a couple steps.

But driving games, space combat games, rush of blood etc? I can play those perfectly well (I love Valkyrie).

The only difference that I can think of is the stationary frame of reference created by the cockpits (or roller coaster cart as the case may be).

I think that if you just added a couple of vertical blue bars to the screen about 1/3 of the way from the left and right and kept them in that same screen position, no motion sickness.

So my question is, why is it not that easy?

A:

Whats the coolest/best/maybe most valuable/rarest item that you have from working with Nintendo?


Q:

Interesting! You have the right mind keep at it!

So my question is, why is it not that easy?

The cockpit is actually one of the solutions for motion sickness however how different is it playing like that than playing it in 2d from your desktop. We found that that solution removes a lot of the immersion of being there. Likewise, from my experience in VR even the cockpit solution cause motion sickness to me. From what I have found is that you have to move everything around the player while the player feels that is stationary. If that is done by putting two vertical lines on the screen or making the background never move while objects around you do maybe that could be a solution for motion sickness. Let me test it and I will give you my feedback on it ;)

edit: being there and perceiving depth perception makes it immersive.

A:

I have some detailed info on each game cartridge that hasn't seen the light of day (yet ; )


Q:

We found that that solution removes a lot of the immersion of being there.

You need to play Elite Dangerous in VR then.

A:

Hello there, thank you for doing this AMA! I was wondering if you have ever read the book "Console Wars"? If so, do you feel the book gave you, Nintendo, and Sega fair portrayals when it comes to culture? As a third party reader it seemed a bit biased.


Q:

Please enlighten me!

A:

Blake interviewed me. His retelling is somewhat reflective of what really went down. His dialog attributed to me is made up, e.g.; I never had a dinner with Shinobu Toyoda and Tom Kalinske - I did have one with Shinobu-san and it was one of the more awkward and embarrassing moments of my career - I had decided to turn SEGA down (for reasons not mentioned in Console Wars) but Shinobu-san got on a plane and flew up to Seattle before word got to him - he thought he was signing me to SEGA over dinner and I had to let him know I had changed my mind - ack!


Q:

There was a game that came around a few years back.. damn if I can remember what it was called where you were a bird chasing down other players, it was like a multiplayer VS tag kind of game, and I think they tackled the motion sickness by putting a black border around the viewing field to give that same stationary point of reference, I don't know how effective it was though.

A:

What's Nester up to these days?


Q:

Eagle Flight!

A:

I'm not sure - that an NOA question ; )


Q:

Game produces 0 motion sickness?

That video demo gave me motion sickness cancer.

A:

What’s the most memorable moment you’ve experienced in your career? Thanks for all the fun moments you helped create!


Q:

We will address the video, we have been getting a lot of useful feedback for it. Thanks for your feedback!

Game produces 0 motion sickness?

Yes, from our tests and fellow players the motion system that we implemented in the game should let you move around the environment without motion sickness. The video might cause motion sickness however, we will be addressing that. Both of us are really prone to motion sickness too!

We would appreciate your feedback, if you had time could you play the game?

A:

Getting to Bowser at the end of SMB and not being able to beat him because the draw bridge was missing - the game wasn't finished yet and Mr. A had a great time teasing me while I struggled repeatedly saying I should be able to figure it out - I must have played through to the end at least a dozen times saving lives for that final moment - I'd drop Bowser and then burn lives trying everything before the timer ran out only to lose again and again : P


Q:

Thoughts on imposter syndrome and survivor bias?

A:

Was your character Nester based on you or someone you knew?


Q:

Wow you took me by surprise.

Thoughts on imposter syndrome and survivor bias?

To be honest I am actually quite fearful that this might not be the solution for everyone and maybe that I am in some sort of denial however you never know if you never really try and innovate. Advances in technology are done by through testing and user feedback and we take user feedback really seriously, especially when it comes to our target audience.

A:

You (all) are Nester - so many of you responded to offered (and even requested) help by saying "I new that" ; )


Q:

As a VR dev I look forward to trying you game, not because I think you actually solved motion sickness but because you did something different enough it's worth checking out.

Sadly I have a Vive, so can't do the Demo?

A:

What is your favorite Game & Watch? Mine is Climber!


Q:

We have a free demo on steam with the full game. Check it out!

A:

Fire and Greenhouse. FIre because it got really hard quickly reaction-time-wise and Greenhouse because it was weirdly on the side of the Nintendo character set (Stanley!)


Q:

To be clear, your game only solves motion sickness in the game itself, correct? Someone who gets seasick would not be able to get on a boat with no ill effects after playing your game, would they?

A:

Apart from the infamous fan letter from Mark Discordia published in Nintendo Power in the 80's, what are some examples of weird fan mail that you guys just couldn't publish?


Q:

I apologize for the misunderstanding.

To be clear, your game only solves motion sickness in the game itself, correct? Someone who gets seasick would not be able to get on a boat with no ill effects after playing your game, would they?

Unfortunately not. However fellow redditors have brought it to our attention that this technology could be used inversely to alleviate things like vertigo and maybe seasickness through AR. We look forward to researching about this. I am in no way a medical professional.

A:

Really almost all of you were so wide-eyed and innocent - those that wrote in were 99% cool - on only a few occasions did I get a nasty you-suck-my-ideas-are0great letter.


Q:

Any thoughts/ideas/fixes on FPS motion sickness? I get motion sickness from first person shooters. Doesn’t matter if it’s PC or console, screen size, etc. I’ve played little VR, and that didn’t give me motion sickness.

A:

Nintendo brought over some VS Arcade games to arcades, but one game, VS Urban Champion is so ultra rare it's never been found for preservation. (until an upcoming Switch port) Did you guys ever even release that one over here, and if so, was it underproduced compared to Vs Castlevania or Vs SMB?


Q:

I am sorry to hear that.

Any thoughts/ideas/fixes on FPS motion sickness?

We do not have any solutions to desktop FPS unfortunately but we will make sure to address this problem for our desktop implementation of this game. Have you tried lowering your screen brightness? Or maybe having a transparent ish a texture in your monitor would help out.

A:

We released it on NES but I don't recall that we did on VS Arcade - the game was a bit slow for arcade


Q:

What engine did you guys use or did you make your own? Also what are some tips that you have for someone who is looking yo get into the game dev field?

A:
  1. Of all the hardware you've tested, which was your favorite?
  2. Did you test the Virtual Boy and, if so, what was your initial reaction to it?

Q:

Haha! The first fellow developer post!

What engine did you guys use or did you make your own?

We used Unity, specifically 5.6.1. We decided not to upgrade as our game became unstable after the 2017 release as some of the apis that we used were not compatible with it. For some things we made it on our own like our match service and our VR Harmony application that lets us retrieve information from the headset that is not found on other apis.

Also what are some tips that you have for someone who is looking yo get into the game dev field?

If you do not know any sort of programming start with this. After you understand above lists (although I would recommend you to keep going till data structures) move into getting sample unity games and read their code. Copy them. Then Frankenstein your own solution with copy pasted pieces of code. Eventually you will be able to tell what each line does.

As an overall tip, I would recommend you to persevere through your projects even if the code is not good and then look back on how you could improve. Use this as portafolio pieces and move on. Eventually polish them if you see them useful in the future.

A good way to get more experience is also by going to hackathons. There is a really nice and supportive community. You will be forced to learn a lot of things on the spot. You will also meet a lot of friends and work in a legit project.

Good Luck in your endeavors!

edit: google edit1: Look at the market and what you will be getting into.

A:

FCS - if you all could imaging playing arcade games for years and crappy Atari 2600-class games then to find the FCS could play games JUST LIKE IN THE ARCADE - AMAZING!!!!

Virtualboy was interesting but cumbersome and the games were overly simple and uninspired


Q:

As a game developer and motion sickness... getter, I'm really intrigued by this. So, in all your user testing, no one has ever said they got even a little bit sick playing?

A:

Nintendo Power gave away a free copy of Dragon Warrior with every new subscription. I actually got two copies for some reason and sold one for the cost of the sub, so thanks for that! About 10 years ago I booted up that cartridge and my save was still on it.

Some credit this strategy as a way to introduce North American gamers to the RPG genre.

Why was Dragon Warrior chosen for the free game, and were other games considered?


Q:

So, in all your user testing, no one has ever said they got even a little bit sick playing?

Surprisingly no. Some people in this post have tried it and they mentioned that it does not really cause them sickness. From our experience and people testing our game we get the same feedback. However, you should try it yourself if you have time.

A:

Dragon Quest tested poorly primarily due to the relatively limited action play and the dated graphics - Mr. Arakawa badly wanted to get the benefit of releasing the whole series in the US as it had been hugely successful in Japan. Unfortunately, the graphics of Dragon Quest 1 looked really dated and this helped depress expectations. After ordering manufactur of 1 million copies, Mr. A decided to give it away to promote Nintendo Power subscriptions (it was originally a free magazine!), launch the series in the US, and get rid of the million copies of the game.


Q:

By solve motion sickness, do you mean solving VR motion sickness instead of motion sickness in general? It would be great if all i had to do before getting on a boat was play a game. I get seasick, but I usually don’t have an issue with VR motion.

A:

Why was there never a Howard the Gamemaster video game?


Q:

Unfortunately our dashing system does not solve this problem however redditors have pointed out that we can inversely use our motion system to alleviate motion sickness. However, we do not have such a thing. I apologize for the miscommunication.

A:

I'd like to think its because gameplay was more important than game theme - start with novel interesting play, not some weird character : )


Q:

What is your proudest achievement in your life?

A:

Two amazing daughters and still having fun


Q:

Did you ever get to meet Shigeru Miyamoto or anyone like that?

A:

yep - when he visited Nintendo of America and at various trade shows


Q:

What was your biggest achievement you have yet do far, and what do you wish to accomplish in the future?

A:

Effective and engaging applications of game design and game theory in training and therapy - the cognitive science and neuroscience underlying play is fascinating to research and explore - I hope I can contribute to knowledge and understanding in that area...


Q:

I noticed that the SNES SuperScope and its receiver were clearly designed by Lance Barr since it matches the styling of the North American SNES. The Japanese SuperScope has the same North American style design. Other than the Super Scope and HVC-101 / SHVC-101, are there any other designs from Lance that were released overseas in Japan?

A:

Good question - I'm not sure if one or more of his controller designs made it back to the Japanese market or to Europe. Good question!


Q:

Did Asciiware have access to original Nintendo parts like buttons, pads, connectors, etc? The Asciipad for SNES seems like a first-party product in many respects, especially when compared to other licensed controllers. Also, I love the NES Advantage joystick. It has many similarities to other sticks made by Asciiware (especially the joystick shaft and removable ball), but nothing on the package mentions the name. "Asciiware" was front and center on the Super Advantage box. Can you confirm if NES Advantage is related to Asciiware at all? [edit] clarity

A:

I don't think they did - the Advantage was a roll-your-own entirely by NOA industrial designer Lance Barr


Q:

You and Nes were my heroes growing up. Which was your favorite issue of Nintendo Power?

A:

The first one!


Q:

What is your favourite Nintendo game? Mine is Super Mario 64! 🍄

A:

So many really great games - Donkey Kong, SMB, Zelda (the first one). But the list is easily dozens...


Q:

How’s it going? Also, what are you up to nowadays?

A:

Researching and writing - cognitive science, neuroscience, and play. Thinking about contributing to "the real story" of the early 8 Bit days...


Q:

What do you feel was your shining achievement while working at Nintendo? Also, Do you still play games today, if so what do you like to play?

A:

I'm most proud of helping you all have access to fun games (not sucky ones).

For fun I play more casual games today and for professional interest I play games under development, especially games that are designed to provide benefit (therapy, etc.)


Q:

Have you ever tasted the switch cartridge?

A:

no, have you?


Q:

Have you ever played "A Week of Garfield", a Japanese Garfield game for the Famicom that mysteriously didn't have a U.S. release, and if so, do you have any thoughts on it? If not, what is your favorite game for the NES which is often looked at negatively but that you've always thought is pretty good?

A:

A Week of Garfield didn't release on FCS until Spring of '89 - by then things were so hot in the North American NES market that most of my time was spent on those 1st party and 3rd party games.

Maybe Ice Climber? Challenging gameplay, interesting ice block effects, rewarding vertical progress - hmm...


Q:

Aw man, you're cool dude! Who owns the rights to the cartoon version of you? Would it be possible to make a new Howard-centered action adventure comic series?

A:

The legacy H&N is Nintendo - future comic images would belong to whoever creates them I suppose...


Q:

Hello, thank you for doing this AMA. As a kid I was a big fan of the Nester Comics that came in the Nintendo Power magazines and always wondered, did Nester ever appear as an Easter egg in any game?

A:

Not while I was at Nintendo 1981-1991


Q:

Why doesn’t The Guardian Legend get more love?

A:

It should - it deserves it - possibly because Broderbund was not strong at marketing and it didn't have a positive NES legacy to build upon - also, two words NINJA GAIDEN ; ) Ninja Gaiden came out about the same time and rocked the NES world.


Q:

What was one of the biggest games that Nintendo pushed, that you actually thought was a sub-par game?

A:

that's an easy one - Dragon Quest / Dragon Warrior - it was sub-pay because it was pushed into the Western market several years too late.


Q:

I've read that you believed "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels" was to difficult to complete for it to become the official "Super Mario Bros. 2". If you had changed your mind back then, what do you think would have happened to the franchise?

A:

Hard to know - many variables impacting that hypothetical - possibly we would have burned a bunch of players with the overly punishing difficulty and shifted interest away from the SMB series? Also, the sensibilities at Nintendo Japan might have been reinforced in a manner that resulted in most punishing games being released - alternatively, it could have been a great success - we'll never know : |


Q:

What were your hopes, dreams and aspirations before working at Nintendo? Hearing your story, it sounds like you kind of lucked into what was probably the most coveted job of many a kid of the 80s and 90s. I'm just curious what you would have liked to have done with your life had providence not led you to Nintendo and a career in video games.

A:

I wanted to work hard, accomplish stuff, and have fun while doing it. I've always been a builder and a fixer. Optimizing the use of resources and materials towards useful ends is intellectually and creatively the best job in the world... and with the ongoing tech revolution, the opportunities to do so are ever increasing. If Nintendo and I hadn't crossed paths, I'm sure I would have been building, fixing and optimizing stuff elsewhere


Q:

What are your thoughts about Microsoft's acquisition of Rare?

A:

borg

That said, i wish Chris and Tim the best - I enjoyed working with them when it was just the two of them (R.C Pro-Am!)


Q:

Have you met Shigeru Miyamoto and or Reggie Fils -Amie in person? If so how are they really like in person? Also how was it like working for Nintendo Power Magazine? I remember getting that magazine was always the highlight of my life every month!

A:

Miyamoto-san is a very nice guy who was always thinking about the gameplay and how players would experience it.

Reggie was an outsider newcomer who post-dated my time at Nintendo (I left in 1991 - 12 years before Reggie started). He came our of Proctor and Gamble marketing like Peter Main.

Working on Nintendo Power was a blast - so much new info every month!


Q:

What is your favorite flavor of Nintendo Cereal System?

A:

considering the impacts processed sugar has on mid and long-term health, my favorite is 'no thanks" ; )


Q:

I assume you played many prototype games in your day. What were some of your favorites that were never released in the US?

A:

Ack! - so many games... my favorite (quasi-)game is Ikinari Musician - not really a game, but...


Q:

What's something you believe Nintendo could do better?

A:

Get back to its roots and put more resources into play - marketing is important but the big opportunity lies in new game development


Q:

Hi Howard. Since you were (at least partly) responsible for renaming a lot of the Japanese characters and other game elements for the early Nintendo games, I have a question that's been bugging me for years: did you rename Lakitu for the U.S. release of Super Mario Bros., and if so, where did the name come from and what is the intended pronunciation? (La-KI-tu? LA-ki-tu?)

A:

I didn't - likely Gail or one of the writers from Nintendo Power did - LeslieS, ScottP, GeorgeS?


Q:

What is in your opinion the worst Nintendo game that you have ever played?

A:

A tie between several of the US-developed games released in '87 and '88 - a few LJN titles come to mind : 0


Q:

How good did you get at games with all that playing? Did you typically beat the games you were testing? I'm curious what game you think was your biggest accomplishment to beat.

A:

I beat almost every one - it was my job to do so.


Q:

The 8-Bit Legacy video mentions that in 1985 you were asked to list the 15 best games for the American market (https://youtu.be/h815ocHjbwI?t=176), do you happen to remember what games were on that list?

A:

I posted my best recollection of the list below. I think Wrecking Crew was a later addition.

10-Yard Fight Baseball Clu Clu Land Duck Hunt Excitebike Golf Gyromite Hogan's Alley Ice Climber Kung Fu Mach Rider Pinball Stack-up Tennis Wild Gunman Wrecking Crew


Q:

Any interesting stories from the days of the Nintendo Tip Hotline? My parents almost killed me for making a really long call once.

A:

Only that we HAD to create Nintendo Power magazine to preclude so many phone calls - at one point it was a toll-free 800 number and then we needed 100+ game counselors just to answer questions - Nintendo Power really helped get in front of a lot of those questions/calls...


Q:

Did you get to play new games in Japanese or were they translated by the time you played them? Do you have any favorite import games that you were disappointed never made their ways overseas?

A:

I played both FCS and NES prototypes - I played and completed the original Zelda before it had been translated to english and I didn't know Japanese so the puzzles were extra challenging and fun to solve.

There were a lot of not-so-inspired games in the later years of FCS that didn't make it to NES (thankfully). I don't recall any one that was great that I wished we could release on NES but didn't.


Q:

Were you involved with anything to do with the animated show "Captain N: the Gamemaster"? It has you written all over it.

A:

no - I was blocked out of that project - I wish I could have been asked to contribute : |


Q:

i know this is probably something i can look up online, but since you're here...

okay, i've always wondered. is the howard from the "howard and nester" comics from nintendo power you, or is it howard lincoln? if it was you, how did that whole thing come about?

you're a gaming legend, thanks.

A:

Howard Lincoln was Nintendo's corp lawyer at the time - he was older and not a game player at all. H&N was Gail and my idea as a novel way to present tip info in Nintendo Power.


Q:

Did you ever get to try out the unreleased NES game “Return of Donkey Kong”, or did that game not make it past the conceptual stage?

A:

Return of Donkey Kong

As I recall it was just early concept work ...


Q:

Did you ever work at the Great American Food and Beverage Company when you were in College?

A:

yes


Q:

What do think of the Gaming Historian on YouTube? You are mentioned in some of his videos, most notably in his Super Mario Bros. 2 and ROB the Robot videos.

On a somewhat related note, what was the weirdest game that you play-tested?

A:

I applaud serious efforts such as the Gaming Historian