How the Nintendo NES Zapper gun worked (and why it doesn't on today's TVs)

My 10-year-old son Lux is a retro videogame historian who collects and studies 1980s consoles and games with the gravitas of a PhD student working on his thesis. Last year he acquired Nintendo's NES Zapper gun controller from 1984 that was used to play shooting games like Duck Hunt. (Below, a TV commercial for the NES Deluxe Set including the Zapper and R.O.B. The Robotic Operating Buddy.) Unfortunately, the NES Zapper doesn't work with modern LCD televisions. The video above from "Today I Found Out" explains the clever technology behind the NES Zapper gun. And here's a great text explanation from How-To Geek about why it doesn't work on non-CRT screens, something my son already knew but, of course, wanted the Zapper anyway for, er, display purposes:

First, it requires extremely precise timing between the trigger pull on the Zapper and the response on the screen. Even the slightest difference (and we’re talking milliseconds here) between the signal sent to the NES and the signal displayed on the screen can throw it off. The original timing sequence was based on the very dependable response time of a CRT hooked up to the analog NES signal. Whether the old tube TV was big, small, cutting edge or 10 years old, the speed of the signal via the CRT display standard was reliable. By contrast, the latency in modern digital sets is not reliable and is not the same as the old consistent delay in the CRT system. Now, this doesn’t matter in most situations.

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Super Retro-Boy plays real carts

Super Retro-Boy is a compact, minimal reimplementation of Nintendo's classic Game Boy with the look as well as the tech. It plays real cartidges, including those from the full-color Game Boy Advance—presumably this is why there are four buttons. It gets 10 hours on a charge, and will come with a 10-in-1 game from Retro-Bit this summer. Read the rest

How Shigero Miyamoto, legendary creator of Zelda and Mario Bros., designs a game

"I think that it was in my generation that people who made video games really became designers rather than technologists," Shigero Miyamoto says.

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Original development art from The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda turned 30 this year and in celebration, Nintendo posted development artwork from the game hand-drawn by legendary designers Takashi Tezuka and Shigeru Miyamoto! More at Nintendo.co.uk.

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Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto and The Roots perform the "Super Mario Bros." theme

Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Donkey Kong, Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and countless other videogame masterpieces, sits in with Questlove and The Roots.

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Now, THIS is how to sell Nintendo!

Nintendo sales training video from 1992. Er, as the fellow says, "Hasta Luigi, baby."

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Music for video games

Seth Everman distills a certain video game musical score down to 80 seconds of sheer brilliance. Somewhere in the space between Link To the Past and Secret of Mana, the perfect Nintendo role-playing game.

Previously: It is with great regret... Read the rest

Nintendo announces new hybrid portable game console

Nintendo's Switch is a touchscreen tablet with removable physical controls that turn it into a traditional handheld game console. It comes with a chunky dock to hook it up to a TV set for high-definition couch action; also announced is a traditional wireless gamepad to match the squared-off dark gray design: it's what disassembles to become the tablet's own controls.

Introducing Nintendo Switch! In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles.

Switches use cartridges instead of discs: suggestively retro, especially in the promise of instant-on gaming, but also reflective of the general decline of optical media in favor of flash and high-bandwidth internet connections.

The promo video depicts intriguing social game cultures that don't yet exist—think kids toting their no-nonsense, easy-to-use Switches around to the pub and competitive event alike. For me it lit up dormant arcade-era neurons that Sony and Microsoft (and Apple, for that matter) never get close to.

It's out in March. Read the rest

Watch a hamster clear a Super Mario Bros. level

Like an 8-bit Habitrail. Read the rest

Nintendo Power at Internet Archive (Update: Nintendo yanked it)

Every issue of Nintendo Power published between 1988 and 2001 is available at the Internet Archive. With all the tips, tricks and maps, one can "behold crudely drawn comics of Battletoads," writes Rob Dean.

Update: Nintendo yanked it. Boo! Read the rest

Fantastic DIY miniature Nintendo Entertainment System

Daftmike made a fantastic miniature Nintendo Entertainment System that's 40% the size of the original. It consists of a Raspberry Pi inside a 3D-printed case that he designed and a selection of mini-cartridges containing NFC tags that are read by the Raspberry Pi. Beautiful work!

NESPI (daftmike)

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Itty-bitty Nintendo NES with 30 built-in games coming in November

Today, Nintendo announced the NES Classic Edition, a little console loaded with 30 classic titles, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, and Kirby's Adventure. It plugs into your TV's HDMI port and includes one NES gamepad controller. It's coming November 11 and retails for $60.

Included titles: Balloon Fight Bubble Bobble Castlevania Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Donkey Kong Donkey Kong Jr. Double Dragon II: The Revenge Dr. Mario Excitebike Final Fantasy Galaga Ghosts'N Goblins Gradius Ice Climber Kid Icarus Kirby's Adventure Mario Bros. Mega Man 2 Metroid Ninja Gaiden Pac-Man Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream StarTropics Super C Super Mario Bros. Super Mario Bros. 2 Super Mario Bros. 3 Tecmo Bowl The Legend of Zelda Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

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Online banking for Nintendo's Super NES (1998)

In 1998, TranDirect Holdings created this video pitching an online home banking system that ran on Nintendo's Super NES. Ah, another 16-bit dream that didn't quite become real.

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NES Classic Edition looks like great fun—but will it hack?

Nintendo's miniature re-release of the NES is, it seems, another one of those several-games-in-one nostalgia toys. But it's a good one, with 30 classic titles, the same great design in miniature, and compatibility with modern wireless controllers. It'll be out November 11 for $60. Read the rest

How to kick Pokemon Go out of your Google account

A privacy trainwreck: Pokemon Go, the hit augmented reality game that's seeing kids and adults alike scouring the real world looking for monsters to nab, quietly gets "full access" to players' Google accounts. And check out the small print that goes with it. Read the rest

Impressive trailer for the new Legend of Zelda game

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles today, Nintendo revealed this beautiful trailer for "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild." The game arrives next year for Wii U and NX.

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EA reveals the Xbox One sales total that Microsoft prefers not to

Microsoft long ago stopped saying how many XBox Ones it had sold, but figures released by Electronic Arts expose numbers far short of rival Sony's Playstation 4.

On a financial call with reporters, CEO Blake Jorgensen said the combined install base of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 was about 55 million units. With Sony boasting of 36 million PS4s shifted, that makes for 19 million Xbox Ones.

The numbers tally with rumors, but both machines are doing well given that we're still only 2 years into the current generation of hardware. The big loser this time around is Nintendo, thought to have sold only about 11m Wii Us. Read the rest

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