What was the first third-party Nintendo console game?

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In the latest Iwata Asks column, conducted with Masayuki Uemura and Hiroshi Imanishi, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata takes a look at the development of the Famicom in 1983. At the time, Uemura was in charge of Nintendo hardware development while Imanishi headed the general affairs department, responsible for providing ancillary support.

The discussion with the two developers is quite long, so here are a few bullet points to give you an idea of ​​the kind of content you can expect to find:

  • Since the Famicom used a processing component called “6502” which was not widely used or understood by programmers, Nintendo developed the majority of games for the Famicom itself. In fact, they viewed the complex nature of the CPU as an asset as it allowed them to be the only company to develop Famicom software.
  • Shortly after its release, however, an engineer from Namco was counted among the first game developers to recognize Famicom’s processor outside of Nintendo.
  • The first Famicom device developed by a third party was created in collaboration with Hudson. It was titled BASIC family and consisted of a cartridge and a keyboard to create a game using the BASIC programming language.
  • Unsurprisingly, one of the very first third-party games for the Famicom was created by Namco in 1984. It was called Galaxian (pictured above) and was based on its arcade counterpart, released in 1979. Namco followed it up with Xevious, also based on its original arcade version released in 1983.
  • Random little piece of information: Recently, Iwata cited Xevious as the game that convinced Nintendo to re-release classic games retouched with a stereoscopic 3D effect on the Nintendo 3DS.
  • Ultimately, third-party developers resorted to manufacturing their own Famicom cartridges to develop software for the machine, as a licensing model did not exist at the time. As the number of defective cartridges increased, Nintendo established their very first licensing system whereby they would manufacture the cartridges.
  • However, the problems weren’t limited to cartridges alone. The Famicom itself suffered from a number of issues, including the tendency to heat up quickly and make fast-moving sprites invisible. The square buttons on the controller would also be blocked.
  • This despite a test of a million hits that Nintendo put the controllers through before manufacturing them. However, that made no difference, and the company’s repair department was quickly inundated with complaints. The buttons were then made circular to deal with the problem.


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