In the 8-bit era video games were relatively cheap to develop. It was not unusual for a team of as little as 4 or 5 people to design, program and code an entire game. As a bi-product of this process some games were developed by smaller upstart companies, some of which that had no business in the video game industry (Broderbund, anyone? Color Dreams?).
Also because of this low cost development there were video games developed for a wide variety of purposes, especially in Japan were the Famicom was king. Everything from business training games, educational tools, to promotional material.
‘Kikenbutsu no Yasashii Butsuri to Kagaku’, (‘ The Tender Physics & Science of Explosive Materials’) was an educational training game created by Konami for Idemitsu Kosan Ltd. Never released to the public, complete copies now sell for $3000+.
Games such as The Legend of Zelda: Teikyou Charumera, which was a version of Zelda released to promote Myojo Foods’ Charumera Noodles, and Summer Carnival ’92 Recca, which was created and released for the Summer Carnival ’92 celebration are both famous examples of cross promotion in video games.
The most famous example, without a doubt, is Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic which was developed by Nintendo (and partially designed by living God Shigeru Miyamoto) and published by Fuji TV for Nintendo’s Famicom Disk System.
Doki Doki Panic was customized specifically to promote Fuji TV’s Yume Kojo ’87 festival in which they showcased their latest programs and products. The game featured an Arabic family who were the mascots of the Yume Kojo festival. This game would gain it’s notoriety for being sprite-swapped with Mario characters and released in non-Japanese markets as Super Mario Bros. 2.
A similar promotion happened a year earlier, when a Nippon Broadcasting System radio show called All Night Nippon, in cooperation with Nintendo, released a special version of Super Mario Bros. for the Famicom Disk System.
All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. was an altered version of the original Super Mario Bros. that was released for the Famicom the previous year. The game featured sprite swaps of most enemies and power-ups made to resemble Japanese idols, musicians, All Night Nippon’s DJs and the station and show’s logos.
All Night Nippon SMB was a unique marriage of the original Super Mario Bros. and the recently released Famicom Disk System exclusive Super Mario Bros. 2. All Night Nippon SMB used the basic level layout of the first Mario game, but featured the updated graphics of Super Mario Bros. 2.
There were also complete levels lifted straight from Mario 2 that added to All Night Nippon SMB’s overall difficulty. This move was very similar to the Vs. arcade version of Super Mario Bros.; however the added stages differ between the two.
Published by Fuji TV, All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. was given away in a raffle held by the radio show and was also passed out as a promotional item through-out 1986. Unlike Fuji TV’s Doki Doki Panic a year later, All Night Nippon SMB was never commercially released, nor was it available in Disk Writer kiosks. As such, it stands as the most valuable Disk System game in the current collector’s market, and it is among the most expensive in the Famicom library. Complete copies have been sold at auction for as high as $1600USD.
All hope is not lost however, if you are determined to give this gem a try (and you should). Other than emulation and reproduction carts, you can still play it on the Disk System itself, as there are pirate disk copies of the game floating around, commonly on the reverse side of Super Mario Bros. 1 or 2.
The disk I own is actually a completely pirated disk with Arkanoid on the reverse side.
All Night Nippon is an interesting take on what is surely one of the greatest video games ever made.