Questions regarding some European NES releases

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Questions regarding some European NES releases

Post by DomnickLolas » Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:25 am

So I have a large collection of Nintendo games and consoles but I’ve never owned an NES or any games for it that aren’t digital re-releases. Today in my local CEX I got a boxed and complete copy of Super Mario Bros for £12 and its sent me down a rabbit hole researching stuff to do with the NES and I have a few questions for you experts!

• Some of NES games and consoles I’ve been looking at on eBay are Mattel branded and I was wondering if this was just a licensing thing back in the day and if these are worth more or less to collectors.

• The copy of Super Mario Bros I bought has a date of 1990 on the bottom of the box instead of 1987 and a lot of the copies on eBay have the same so I was wondering if this was a re-release/re-printing or something and if the 1987 release is worth a lot more

• What the hell is the version of Super Mario Bros with the original Famicom artwork and smaller box labelled “European version” and is there any differences between it and the normal European copies

Lastly I just wondered if there was a website for video games like what discogs is for records that has lists and information of different releases of old games by serial numbers and stuff like that. Sorry if any of these are stupid questions!

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Re: Questions regarding some European NES releases

Post by Pokun » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:55 am

1. Mattel was initially distributing the NES in the UK, but Nintendo was disappointed in their sales and established their own UK section and took over the distribution. For that reason, earlier UK version of games are Mattel branded. I'm not very knowledgeable in PAL-A so I don't know if they are worth more or not.

2. I'm not aware of a 1990 re-release, unless it's one of those mutlicarts with SMB and Duck Hunt that was bundled with later NES systems. But I guess that is a later re-release in the PAL-A region. I'd guess the older version is worth the most, but then again SMB is the best selling game for the system and therefore extremely common and not that expensive as a result, despite being highly popular. It's a great game to have in ones collection (I have the Famicom version myself).

3. The box with the Famicom artwork IS the normal European version. What artwork do your copy have?

Unfortunately PAL is split in several regions. PAL-A is UK, Italy and Australia, and PAL-B is for rest of Europe where the NES was released (and further divided in Scandinavian and non-Scandinavian systems). PAL-A and PAL-B cartridges has two different lockout chips which means cartridges will not boot on the wrong system without an adapter. Otherwise there is no difference between a PAL-A NES and a PAL-B NES (same CPU and PPU etc).
Then there is also a simple type of region-lockout in the controller port of non-Scandinavian PAL-B systems. This means that those systems can only use their own controllers (labelled NES-004E). Scandinavian PAL-B uses the same controllers as the NTSC NES (labelled NES-004) because the Scandinavian NES is the oldest PAL NES AFAIK. But unfortunately I don't know if PAL-A systems has this lockout or not (please tell me if you know). BTW, NES-004E controllers works on all NES systems (and Famicom systems with a NES controller port).

Take a look at your copy of Super Mario Bros. It might have the letter "A" or "B" down in the left corner of the cartridge, box and/or the manual, this means PAL-A and PAL-B respectively. Mattel version should also always be PAL-A. Somewhere on the box there should be a product code. For Super Mario Bros that is HVC-SM (for Famicom version) or NES-SM (for NES versions) and another three-letter code after it:
GBR - UK Mattel version (PAL-A)
UKV - UK Nintendo version (PAL-A)
ITA - Italian version (PAL-A)
AUS - Asutralian version (PAL-A)
SCN - Scandinavian Bergsala version (Bergsala is the Swedish Nintendo distributor) (PAL-B)
NOE - Nintendo of Europe (mostly used in Germany so probably PAL-B)
EEC - European Economic Community (mostly used in Scandinavia so probably PAL-B)
HKV - Hong Kong (not sure)
CAN - Canada (NTSC)
There are also a few others.

Super Mario Bros is one of the launch games in Europe so it should be part of the "black series", but I think you have a newer re-release. The black series have black boxes and pretty much corresponds to the Japanese "pulse line series". They normally has the Famicom artwork in Europe and Asia as far as I know and the box is smaller than later games. In North America they got some weird pixilated artwork based on graphics in the game. These games also has 5 screws on the cartridge backside, while newer games has only 3 screws.

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