Questions about NES programming and architecture

Discuss technical or other issues relating to programming the Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom, or compatible systems.

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strat
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by strat » Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:03 pm

Pokun wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 6:29 am
You couldn't release half-complete games, super repetitive games or very simple homebrew-like games and such that you often see on other systems (especially on computers which usually has no licensing system at all, and can be programmed by anyone) simply by paying the license fee.
Yeah, Nintendo had a lot-check which is detailed in the official docs for the SNES and N64. For ex. the game must have a title screen and the start button must start the game. Lah dee dah. It was recommended but not required to keep important graphical information like status bars away from the very top and very bottom of the screen so CRTs wouldn't cut them off. Also, SNES packaging and manuals had to spell-out, "Super Nintendo Entertainment System," or use SNES for short; "Super NES" or "Super Nintendo" wasn't allowed.

(Probably because that's the name they trademarked before somebody chimes in with that.)

Pokun
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by Pokun » Mon Sep 07, 2020 3:47 pm

Such details was probably not so strictly defined right from the start though. For example on later systems Nintendo always required licensed games to have some way to pause the game, usually using START button. But on the NES there are games that doesn't do that, including Nintendo's own Punchout.

I think the quality control was more like to make sure proper games were made according to normal expectations of the time, whether the game is actually fun to play or not which is much more subjective anyway.

Some games that you might not think would pass, sometimes passes anyway for some reason though. Like Superman 64.

Oziphantom
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by Oziphantom » Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:43 am

Nintendos Quality checks are not "this is a great game with stunning game-play" but more

- The game can be completed
- The game has a mostly standard button input system A = Accept, B = Cancel etc
- The game follows software cautions so doesn't harm the console or cause issues
- The game doesn't have major game breaking glitches
- Content is mostly family friendly. No excessive blood, swearing, alcohol consumption, drug references or Religious iconography

They used other tactics to try and enforce game quality - expensive min orders of carts and limited number of games published per year

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Secamline
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by Secamline » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:10 pm

Was there any rule regarding the game's language?
Most games were either available in both japanese (only in Japan) or english (everywhere else) or only in english (Sometimes engrish). The games were rarely translated in other languages.

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Dwedit
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by Dwedit » Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:57 pm

Some PAL games were in other European languages, and Kirby's Adventure had a French release for Canada.
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Pokun
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by Pokun » Wed Sep 09, 2020 3:04 am

Shadowgate and Dejavu for NES, Shadowrun for SNES and many 16-bit sports games all got translated to Swedish (video games were more popular in Scandinavia than the rest of Europe at this time). NHL '95 for Mega Drive even got remade with the Swedish national league. But generally games were in English or Japanese (in Japan only of course) during the 8-bit era.
Earlier games like Super Mario Bros and earlier were usually only in English since a Japanese font would simply take too much CHR space (Family BASIC is a notable exception since it must allow you to type in Japanese), and only had very simple English sentences that you don't need to understand to enjoy the game.

16-bit era games generally were translated in multiple languages. Donkey Kong Country and Yoshi's Island both had English, German and French as language options, it's the first games I remember to have multiple languages in the same cartridge. From the Nintendo 64 and onward, about every PAL game had a choice of multiple languages (usually only those three though, and never Swedish).


As for rules regarding languages, I can't see any in the SNES development documents. It's the North American version so I guess English is taken for granted and a game would probably not pass if it wasn't in English or still contained untranslated Japanese text. There is a rule for correct grammar and spelling of all screen text and also you must send all of the screen text in a separate document along with the ROM on floppy disk.

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Bregalad
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by Bregalad » Wed Sep 09, 2020 3:31 am

Dwedit wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:57 pm
Some PAL games were in other European languages, and Kirby's Adventure had a French release for Canada.
The translation in French is also awful, in such a degree that peoeple that complain about "bad translation into english" have no idea what they're talking about. Most of the dialogue is utter nonsense.
Even in the SNES era, games such as Secret of Mana were awfully translated, early PS1 games were barely better; the French version of Breath of Fire III is basically gibberish, much worse than the english version of Breath of Fire 2.

Not to mention that it took Nintendo years to understand that my country, Switzerland, is not entierely German speaking, for long material was only available in German here and people wanting to have it in French had to import material from France.

Only since the late 1990s did the developers think they should stop mocking gamers and give them decent translations.
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Oziphantom
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by Oziphantom » Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:17 am

localization is mostly a economic decision and is down to the publisher. Something like an RPG where the story matters going EFIGS is kind of important, but Street Fighter II not so much. For example SFII keeps the Japanese voice samples, even Chun Li speaks Japanese even though she is Chinese, and Ken does as well.

American publishers are very fussy when it comes to localization, they insist upon American Localization, so even English games have to have an American Localization to be published, however the dolts refuse to pay for an English one for us.

As games cost more, they try to expand the market more, so localize more. PS3 was a bit intense, I don't think we did Estonian but maybe we did it as well.

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Secamline
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Re: Questions about NES programming and architecture

Post by Secamline » Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:39 pm

I just remembered that the french version of Paper Mario contains lots of swearing. It baffles me, not only is Mario Nintendo's most important franchise, but the game was released in 2001 in Europe!

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