Nintendo's Japanese website is secretly a crazy time-capsule wasteland from when Virtual Boy was the future of games

Written by Brandon


Have a look at Nintendo's Japanese website. Go ahead! It looks pretty nice and new and clean. But did you know that those fancy links and smooth navigational bits discretely conceal original product pages for hardware long since discontinued—some of them dating back to 1996, with what was the first version of their homepage? I've noticed these parts of the site before, but never really dug in until today, when I was looking for pictures of discontinued playing card sets. And boy howdy, I did not find any! But there was all this other crap, and then it was an hour later. As it turns out, quite contrary to the prevailing, popular belief, Nintendo not only officially acknowledges the existence of the Virtual Boy in here, but is still advertising its price and release date along with the five first-party titles they made for the thing.

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All you need to do to bask in these weird treasures is dig around in the link on the left side that says "other products," and it won't take long after you scroll past the advertisements for their trump and hanafuda cards and shogi tables for things to start getting weird. Down toward the bottom you can find the original product pages for a variety of old Nintendo hardware, literally untouched since their final game releases, preserved as though the rest of the website never ever changed. The Nintendo 64 product page, marked as "n01" in its URL, meaning it was probably the first "Nintendo hardware" section of the site to be coded back when the things was originally laid out, hasn't been added to or altered since that system's final first-party release, Animal Crossing, in April of 2001. And from that directory of games you have what amounts to an early-days Internet time machine, still accessible and directly available, holding ancient promo pages for everything from Wave Race 64 to Shigesato Itoi's No. 1 Bass Fishing: Definitive Edition. Every page is peppered with ancient, horrible-looking GIF files roughly the resolution of my knuckle.

The Diddy Kong Racing page even still hosts a promotional QuickTime video, which the site is kind enough to point out is 14.18 seconds long and 581kb in size. It is so old and outdated that none of the modern players or codecs I have installed even play it, I had to upload it to YouTube just to see if it worked. Check out the quality on this thing!

Other delights that await are a Famicom Disk System page that regrettably informs you that they are going to stop their disk rewriting service on September 30, 2003, and sections for the portable Hello Kitty toy and the original Game Boy mobile network cell-phone system. Of note to someone (who?) is that the product pages for the Super Famicom game list start to change in design with the release of Marvelous in October of 1996, meaning the original Nintendo website was probably created some time between that and the game before it (Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War) in May.

If you poke around enough, you can even find the Game Boy hardware section, which has this absolutely adorable animated GIF explaining how the Indiglo-style Game Boy Light works.

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