“It's such a horrible game, though.”
November 28, 2016 5:08 PM   Subscribe

The True Story Of Nintendo's Most Coveted Game [ESPN] “The game calls out to collectors. It is seductive because of its rarity but also a testament to the darker side of a hobby reaching new heights of popularity. It isn't a good game. It's a boring game. Released in 1987 by the Japanese company Bandai, Stadium Events [wiki] was made for a piece of peripheral hardware called the Family Fun Fitness mat. Playing it required jumping on the mat's sensors to emulate running, the characters in the game sprinting, hurdling in accord with how fast the player could go. The graphics weren't anything special. The easiest way to play was to give up running and crouch in front of the pad and slap your hands on the sensors as fast as possible -- cheating.”
posted by Fizz (25 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
A friend of mine had a copy of this game growing up, along with the pad. He was that one friend, you know, the one that seemed to have parents that would purchase anything and everything for him. He had every toy and every game. I wonder if he still has this. Probably not. Oh and the article is right...it really is a bad game.
posted by Fizz at 5:10 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


So this was apparently the predecessor to the Power Pad?

We had that. It was ... uh ... not great? Like basically every weirdo NES peripheral, interesting idea but functionally not very good. The best way to play the long jump, for example, was to jump off the pad and back on before it decided you were cheating. Also, the best way to "run" was to do this ridiculous thing where you kept the balls of your feet on the ground and just rapidly raised and lowered your heels, which I'm sure was super great for our muscles.
posted by tocts at 5:31 PM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


oh, yeah, the Family Fun Fitness mat was a pre-rebranding Power Pad. Stadium Events was just World Class Track Meet, was it not?
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:41 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is as much a story of two Americas as of a rare Nintendo game. I'm glad that Jennifer and Jeff got a ticket out of that trailer, but Jesus. Honestly, a man who spends his days wrist-deep in plaque and teenager gingivitis deserves some nice things for his work, but how can you want something you can't touch or display or wear or love . . . ? That's the difference between me and a real collector, I suppose.

I got the Power Pad sold together with the Nintendo at Christmas. We only tried playing the bundled game once or twice; it was on the same cartridge as Duck Hunt and SMB. It was too difficult to pound your feet on just the right spots on the pad, and there was nothing appealing about the game except the possibility of running on a track without being yelled at for sucking. I wonder if a Power Pad is worth a couple of bucks on the eBay. Doubt it, though.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:42 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I remember unwrapping the 'Power Set' box, the NES bundle that came with the Power Pad, Zapper and cartridge with SMB, Duck Hunt and World Class Track Meet. Christmases were pretty much downhill from there.

Kneeling in front of the Power Pad and smashing it with your hands became the default usage pretty quickly lest we puke pizza up after running in place for too long. The graphics for Track Meet weren't too far removed from the Intellivision we had before the NES and game play was pretty average. Hard to imagine someone paying the price of a new Mazda for just that game.
posted by asterisk at 5:54 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Long jump. Run. Jump off the mat. Jump on the mat. Celebrate.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:56 PM on November 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is there a German word for 'intense nostalgia that you know would be utterly ruined if you ever actually saw the thing again you are so nostalgic for, but you nevertheless feel irrational wistfulness and want to see it again, anyway'? Because that basically encapsulates how I feel about this damn mat. It was definitely crap, but oh man - my best friend in elementary school had this game, and it was by far our favorite thing to play indoors. I bet if I played it today I could still remember exactly how many seconds you jump off the mat to execute a perfect long jump. So many happy memories of carefree childhood afternoons playing 'Olympics.' I liked Mario and even Duck Hunt, a lot too... but I don't smile involuntarily at the memory of them. The mat was really something special.
posted by gatorae at 6:05 PM on November 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Is there a German word for 'intense nostalgia that you know would be utterly ruined if you ever actually saw the thing again you are so nostalgic for, but you nevertheless feel irrational wistfulness and want to see it again, anyway'? Because that basically encapsulates how I feel about this damn mat.
English has a word for it! That word is: nostalgia
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:39 PM on November 28, 2016 [30 favorites]


The World Class Track Meet soundtrack was actually pretty great. Minimalist but it had some hooks.

Also we could only beat Cheetah if we knelt down and pounded the mat with our hands.
posted by resurrexit at 7:26 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ah, my friend had this too! Mostly I remember the smell of his mom chainsmoking on the way from school to their house.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:44 PM on November 28, 2016


This is as much a story of two Americas as of a rare Nintendo game. I'm glad that Jennifer and Jeff got a ticket out of that trailer, but Jesus. Honestly, a man who spends his days wrist-deep in plaque and teenager gingivitis deserves some nice things for his work, but how can you want something you can't touch or display or wear or love . . . ? That's the difference between me and a real collector, I suppose.

I once lucked into a particularly rare Atari 2600 game, the NTSC version of X-Man (one of the adults only Atari titles, nothing to do with Marvel mutants), rarer still because it was still shrinkwrapped in the box. Not in the Stadium Events price range but pretty damned hard to find 15-ish years after release. I traded it to a fellow collector for a boxload of stuff. Afterwards, I asked him what he did with it. "I opened it up and played it, of course," he replied. Collectors with the right spirit are out there.

The rarest NES game I've ever found was the Myriad 6-in-1, which I did not know the rarity of when I bought it. I frequented a local farmers' market that housed a dealer in the back who regularly cleaned out yard sales of games, and bought it as part of a 3-for-$5 set because it was something different. Years later I saw a system rarity guide and my jaw dropped.
posted by delfin at 7:49 PM on November 28, 2016


Slip and bust your ass on that thing.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:36 PM on November 28, 2016


Long jump. Run. Jump off the mat. Jump on the mat. Celebrate.

A great way to frustrate someone (an 8 year old) to tears is to slyly tap the pad with your own foot when they jump off, so they get a pathetically short jump
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:29 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


The power pad and World Class Track Meet was how I broke my collarbone on new year's day 1995. A friend and I pulled it out for some retro-gaming, and a competitive shoving match ended up with me on the floor and my friend landing right on my clavicle.

I still enjoy telling people that I broke my collarbone playing nintendo.
posted by onehalfjunco at 10:49 PM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


And years later, Wii Sports would go on to sell 82,790,000 units.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:37 AM on November 29, 2016


And years later, Wii Sports would go on to sell 82,790,000 units.

Okay, that's not a fair number though, it was included with the console.
posted by kafziel at 1:10 AM on November 29, 2016


The rarest cart is the Nintendo World Championship 1990 cart, surely.
posted by andreaazure at 4:31 AM on November 29, 2016


The rarest cart is the Nintendo World Championship 1990 cart, surely.

The difference is Stadium Events was a production cartridge, where NWC1990 was a special cartridge with no retail release.
posted by lmfsilva at 5:33 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


(also, since there's a finite number of cartridges, many accounted for, and a thriving market for fakes, I think collectors kind of cooled down on NWC1990)
posted by lmfsilva at 5:38 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


This was an incredibly enjoyable article. I already knew almost all of the stuff discussed, but the writing made re-learning it a blast.
I want to see high-res pics of their game rooms.
posted by Theta States at 7:43 AM on November 29, 2016


Reading the article, I found myself thinking it was crazy to spend so much money on something so insignificant, but then I saw the photo of Tod's game room and I instantly felt 7 years old again. So I think I get it now. The expense doesn't seem so crazy when you realize that he didn't just buy a bunch of games, he built a time machine.
posted by mpbx at 11:43 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


This made me check how much my copy of Quadrun for the 2600 is worth nowadays. Not remotely near enough to be worth the hassle of selling it.
posted by egypturnash at 4:42 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


They only made 6 games for the Power Pad. I have them all. None of them are good. All the sports based ones are impossibly hard.

Short Order/Eggsplode is the most playable, for about 10 minutes. It's just a memory game and whack-a-mole with increasing speed.

Dance Aerobics is... an anti-game, and the one I've played the most and longest; Repeatedly trying to figure out what exactly the goal is, if there's more to it than simply... dance aerobics..., if there's something deeper... into the maze... After many hour playing all options I believe the goal is making you sweaty and tired.
posted by Sprocket at 1:24 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dance Aerobics is... an anti-game, and the one I've played the most and longest; Repeatedly trying to figure out what exactly the goal is, if there's more to it than simply... dance aerobics..., if there's something deeper... into the maze... After many hour playing all options I believe the goal is making you sweaty and tired.

I ... yes. I have that game, and the point of it is that it is a dance aerobics workout for the NES.
posted by kafziel at 1:28 PM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


"The only thing I got from this aerobics game was muscle tone, wtf"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:10 PM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


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