In my humble estimation, the only thing greater than Famicom pirate cartridges, with their colourful casings, strange shapes and stranger games, are Famicom Disk System pirate disks.
The Famicom Disk System (primer here) was Nintendo’s first dabble in over-writeable storage media. Being essentially over-writeable floppy discs. In fact, Nintendo even encouraged this practice with its disk kiosks, set up mainly in game and department stores, where players could bring in the disks they were tired of and have them rewritten with a new game.
The Famicom Disk System disk format was proprietary, but not proprietary enough. Some specialized brands of blank 3.5″ floppies could be altered to work in a Famicom Disk Drive, and a whole new world of pirating was opened up. Much like the wave of software piracy seen on personal computers of the era, the Famicom Disk System piracy had a significant and detrimental effect on the format, and even played a part in the Famicom Disks not making it overseas to North America.
In my years as a video game enthusiast, I have acquired a few Famicom Disk System pirates, and I must admit that they are really awesome. Take a look:
All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. – This is a pirate of an official tie-in promo that Nintendo made combining the original Super Mario Bros. game with characters based on Japanese radio personalities. Read my in-depth article on the game here. The original version of All Night Nippon was never sold, and as a result fetches a high price in the collector’s market, making a pirate version an attractive option for those interested in playing the game.
Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa – This is a pirate of a pretty pricey Famicom Disk title. It has been released (in pirate cart form) for both the Famicom and the NES. These carts for the most part rename the game Baby Mario. The game is a fantastic dream-like side scrolling platformer, where you play as a bubble blowing baby. It’s VERY Japanese, and by extension pretty nutty.
Mariovania – The is just the first three levels of Akumajou Dracula (Castlevania) with the Simon Belmont sprite switched out with a Mario sprite. It is a pretty neat little experiment, but unfortunately it is little more than just a sprite swap- you retain none of Mario’s abilities or game mechanics. The game also ends after just the third level, but it is an interesting curiosity regardless.
Bishoujo Sexy Derby and Bishoujo Sexy Puzzle – These are interesting little disks. Developed and released by a company called Super Pig, these are “adult only” disk system games.
Bishoujo Sexy Puzzle is a puzzle game (duh) were your wins slowly remove clothes from a posed idol, in a sexy manner. However the game is nearly impossible, and therefore no fun at all.
Bishoujo Sexy Derby, however is horse racing game where you remove articles of clothing from an idol as you win heats in a horse race. The entire game is a button masher that is impossible to beat without using the Turbo Twin Famicom, or a 3rd party turbo controller.
Super Pig was famous for the quality of their sprite work and released several “adult” themed Famicom Disk games, ranging from partial nudity to near hentai.