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Author Topic: Talkback: Super Mario's Release Date Is Missing!  (Read 12838 times)

Deezer

  • Invincible
« on: October 19, 2010, 01:13:57 AM »

Chupperson Weird

  • Not interested.
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 01:53:23 AM »
SMB cost $25, but Excitebike and Hogan's Alley cost $30?!
That was a joke.

« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2010, 11:33:38 AM »
I'm ok with SMB being released in the US ion October 31st. Halloween would be an awesome day to have a birthday (the child in me would think that anyway..)
Kinopio is the ultimate video game character! Who else can drive a kart, host parties, play tennis, give good advice and items, and is almost always happy??

« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2010, 10:21:50 PM »
Nintendo is bad with dates... check out the Game & Watch Gallery History in Game & Watch Gallery 4.
ROM hacking with a slice of life.

Kimimaru

  • Max Stats
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2010, 12:23:08 PM »
Doesn't that list release dates for only Game & Watch games?
The Mario series is the best! It has every genre in video games but RTS'! It also has a plumber who does different roles, a princess, and a lot of odd creatures who don't seem to poop!

« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2010, 12:47:19 PM »
I remember seeing the NES on the list and maybe Super Mario Bros too, it's been a while since I read it, but my point still remains nonetheless about the dates not being full and how Nintendo fails to keep up with them.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 12:49:03 PM by nensondubois »
ROM hacking with a slice of life.

Deezer

  • Invincible
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2010, 11:39:56 AM »
Updated with more info (at the end).

« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2010, 12:50:54 AM »
Someone should fix the launch title list on Wikipedia now that the ad and R.O.B. pic both prove it wrong.

« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2010, 08:23:39 PM »
The "Mario History" booklet included with SMAS Wii also lists SMB's release date as October 18, 1985.
YYur  waYur n beYur you Yur plusYur instYur an Yur Yur whaYur

« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2010, 02:22:00 PM »
David, good article and glad to see you reference our discussion on Wikipedia (including my discussion of the copyright database).  I'm the guy that's spearheaded a lot of the research and verifiability issues (along with Xenon54 who has been very interested in getting to the bottom of this).   For my background, I work in the industry as a writer and programmer.  I'm also a professional industry historian and archiver, as well as a member of the IGDA's game preservation SIG.  So I take my research very seriously.

There's actually two parts to the documented research at Wikipedia, which includes a section that happened on the video game project's discussion page as well.

As far as the Oct. 18th date, it's simply impossible given what we know.  As for the current Nintendo's repetition of it, as I reported over at Wikipedia after a lengthy networking session through reps of different divisions of NOA, they're simply getting their info from an internal database.  Nobody knows when it was created, or who gave the information for it.

Regarding Kent's followup statement on his blog that you stumbled on, that was prompted by me as well (my name over there is wgungfu) and was also a direct response to the discussion that was going on at Wikipedia.

Regarding your guess of October 31st, there's a problem with going with that as the avaliability date.  What the copyright database states is when it was first made available for public consumption. This can be off-press date, your shipping date, or your actual publication date (i.e. available for purchase). We have no way of knowing which was intended and normally in video games you want to get the copyright done as early in the process as possible. So I'm inclined to believe Oct. 31st is the off-press date (same with the slightly earlier date for the box).  Additionally it's still just the date given for the manual not the entire product. As shown by the earlier box publication date and the discussion about the chip manufacturing (42nd week of the year 1985 would be the final week of October), it simply shows a timeline of when the reources for the finished product were being produced. Not their assembly (as a single finished product), not their shipping and distribution, and not the selling of the finished product. In the end, we're still left with the only form of evidence for public availability (i.e. sales) that doesn't require any sort of interpretation being the Macy's launch.

Regardless, there is no contradiction between Tilden's statement of "shortly after", Kent's statement in his book, and the facts.  When "the launch" is being stated, that's referring to the actual official launch date "event", October 18th, when they first began hitting up retailers in the New York area - which it was not available for.  That in no way states it wasn't available during the entire test marketing process there, which is clearly shown by the Macy's ad.

Marty
« Last Edit: December 31, 2010, 02:35:12 PM by martyg »

Deezer

  • Invincible
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2011, 01:10:40 PM »
Since the Macy's ad contradicts what Steven Kent says in his blog, even after he "officially looked into it," apparently Howard Lincoln, Minoru Arakawa, and Howard Phillips all somehow forgot that SMB was available in 1985. Or Kent's records are wrong.

« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2011, 04:20:12 PM »
Steve's memory is what's wrong.  His "looking in to it" for his blog response meant quickly glossing over his large cache of old notes, if he even did that, and missinterpreting it to quikly respond (it was a response to a question I had asked him).  He's been out of video game journalism for some time, and in fact doesn't have any interest in updating his book (and couldn't even if he wanted to as he doesn't own it any more), instead focusing on Sci-fi and historical fiction writing.  The material in his book regarding this is what was correct, that it wasn't available in time for the launch - i.e. the Oct. 18th date.  That's not stating it wasn't available period during the test marketing and in fact healludes to Tilden's statement by also stating that  when they went to New York, SMB had "not yet been introduced".  He further states later in the book that development of the US version took a few months and it for sure was of course available for the Fall '86 national launch.   Several months would put it in to November for a finished product.   As stated, there is no contradiction between Tilden's statement of "shortly after", Kent's statements in his book, and the uncovered facts as presented.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2011, 04:25:48 PM by martyg »

« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2011, 06:52:12 PM »
Hello TMK denizens: I'm the aforementioned Wikipedia user "Xenon54".

I came across this article just recently, and after reading it I decided to do a bit more research in the New York Times archive.

Since this matter began on Wikipedia a little over a year ago (I think), I've been a strong supporter of the side of the discussion that believes 18 October is the incorrect date. And while this may still be the case, I've found a couple of documents that shrink the "window of uncertainty" to less than a week.

Both documents are attached to this post.

 The first is an ad from FAO Schwarz in the 24 October edition of the Times. It emphasizes the ROB of course, but the main point is that it mentions there are "15 additional game packs available". This seems to confirm Tilden's memory of 15 games being available at launch, plus the pack-ins. Assuming David's assertion that Mach Rider and Donkey Kong Jnr Math were not available,and that Soccer and SMB were the two "missing games" is correct -- and I see no reason to doubt him right now -- then SMB must have been available on that date.

The second is the registration certificate for the trademark "Super Mario Bros."

An entity can register a trademark covering multiple categories of goods. For example, A can hold the trademark "Foo" for clothing and board games, but B can make "Foo" food and not infringe on A's trademark.
The category starting on the first page and continuing onto the second covers all sorts of "games and playthings", including "video game software".

An oddity of the trademarking process, as I understand it, is that an entity may not register a trademark until it is actually used in commerce.  (Commerce is defined as anything that can be regulated by Congress under A. I, s. 3, c. 8 of the Constitution -- the commerce clause.) The date of first use in any situation, and the date of first use "in commerce" must be given when registering the trademark.

The trademark "Super Mario Bros." is recorded as first being used on a video game on 15 October, and in commerce on 18 October.

However, I don't believe the term "commerce" has to mean "sale to the public", just the transport of the game in some form -- for example, the first shipments from wherever it was manufactured. So, there is still the possibility that the game was not actually on sale until the 24th or slightly before that date. As you can see from the trademark certificate, the trademark was not registered until 1989 -- plenty of time for Nintendo to "forget" the actual circumstances surrounding the release.

In any case, this is a far cry from the "by March 1986" that I thought was correct some time ago. To quote Tom Brokaw: "We don't just have egg on our face, we have omelet all over our suits."



« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2011, 07:31:04 PM »
1) There was no egg on anybody's face.  As was stated at the time, that's why we put "by March '86" instead of "March 1986".  By the available reference material of the time, that was the earliest we could confirm and always assumed there would be an earlier verifiable date.

2)The ad doesn't mention any of the other 15 games by name and would contradict the copyright of the manual with that interpretation, as the 24th was a Thursday.  You can't have something for release before it's actually stated as publicly available, you always have the earliest available date when you file those (which is why it's usually printing dates because you tend to send out boxes and printed material for promo needs before the actual game).  Being obscure about the other "15" games is just that - advertising .  What they're really stating in subtext is 15 games besides the 2 pack ins are to be available for the new console total, not that all 15 are necessarily available at that exact point.  (And that is an early point, remember that they were going themselves from store to store setting up displays for special weekend launches, and FAO was a major one as was Macy's) .  That's a usual marketing tactic during a system's launch - and completely legit if the title or two are just going to be a few weeks behind or later than originally expected.    You wouldn't put "14 titles now and one more in a week or two."  Which brings us to point 3.

3) As for the trademark, remember that SMB was already a planned game (they were having reviewers review the Japanese port) and that the poster they gave for the console launch included it.  Hence the need to make sure it was trademarked the first time a representation of the US version of the video game (which was what the TM is referring to), was available to the public.  And video imagery and/or titling has to be trademarked, even if just used on promo material.  Look at games now, which are trademarked and copyrighted long before the actual store date - which was common even back then thanks to some of the legendary audio visual video game protection lawsuits of the early 80's.  This is also why they were able to copyright the audio/visuals back in September of '85 when just the Japanese version had been done, by sending in a VHS
tape (another common practice started under the video coin industry to copyright audi/visuals before the game was released).



Marty
« Last Edit: January 02, 2011, 11:29:38 PM by martyg »

David

  • Trusts the fungus
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2011, 09:47:01 PM »
Regarding your guess of October 31st, there's a problem with going with that as the avaliability date.  What the copyright database states is when it was first made available for public consumption. This can be off-press date, your shipping date, or your actual publication date (i.e. available for purchase). We have no way of knowing which was intended and normally in video games you want to get the copyright done as early in the process as possible. So I'm inclined to believe Oct. 31st is the off-press date (same with the slightly earlier date for the box).  Additionally it's still just the date given for the manual not the entire product. As shown by the earlier box publication date and the discussion about the chip manufacturing (42nd week of the year 1985 would be the final week of October), it simply shows a timeline of when the reources for the finished product were being produced. Not their assembly (as a single finished product), not their shipping and distribution, and not the selling of the finished product. In the end, we're still left with the only form of evidence for public availability (i.e. sales) that doesn't require any sort of interpretation being the Macy's launch.

Yes, after writing up the article, I have to admit that Oct. 31st is on the far side of "early" - but some point between Oct. 31st and November 30th seems to be the likely period.  I wonder if anyone at NCL would know the answer to this - they were the ones producing the cartridges, after all.

The other problem, of course, is that even with the Macy's ad isn't "proof" of the availability of the title -- it's just proof that the title was expected to be available.  I'd love to find someone with a receipt... there have to be some October '85 NES owners out there, somewhere.

I'd also love a full image of the ROB marketing display.

(What's interesting, by the way, is that I wasn't aware of the bulk of the research going on over at Wikipedia until I was nearly done with my own research over here.  It might have saved me a lot of time in the archives...)

Oh, it's also worth mentioning for anyone interested that I tried to avoid giving a specific date in the article - I end by giving four possible release dates/periods, and admit my bias towards something close to October 31st.  More evidence seems to point to mid November, though.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2011, 09:54:02 PM by DavidDayton »
Let's do the Mario, all together now!

« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2011, 12:03:25 AM »
Yes, after writing up the article, I have to admit that Oct. 31st is on the far side of "early" - but some point between Oct. 31st and November 30th seems to be the likely period.

Oh, I completely agree.  I certainly think we're looking at sometime in that time frame.

Quote
I wonder if anyone at NCL would know the answer to this - they were the ones producing the cartridges, after all.

They might have the records, or it may be the same situation at NOA - all the "oldies" involved in it are long gone and they just defer to the standard FAQ database.  Worth a shot if you can get answers from NCL, but just make sure and check the source of their answer.

Quote
The other problem, of course, is that even with the Macy's ad isn't "proof" of the availability of the title -- it's just proof that the title was expected to be available.

Yes, that was an issue I had with that as well but figured to let it ride at Wikipedia because it was enough by Wikipedia's standards on verifiability, and because we had previously come up with the "by March '86" because that was the earliest we could find with an actual listing and price of Mario at the time.  So this at least seemed a suitable replacement to go "by November '85" with.   Most of the other '85 ads were elsuive with actual titles, like the one Xenon just posted, and that was the only one dug up from '85 that had an actual listing with prices.  Personally though, if I were writing someting up for RetroGamer or another publication, I wouldn't use that as concrete proof without stating a disclaimer mentioning what you said - that it's still not concrete that it was there because items are often advertised that aren't in stock yet because of unexpected delays.  Really in order to have a fully concrete proof of it you'd need to see some other things as well - like photos of the actual store display with SMB, or even a sales receipt with SMB on it.


Quote
  I'd love to find someone with a receipt... there have to be some October '85 NES owners out there, somewhere.

Yes, or even some Christmas photos of someone opening it up playing it during Christmas '85 there in New York, assuming their camera had a set time stamp or they had it developed during '85 (as sometimes developers put date stamps on the back).

Quote
I'd also love a full image of the ROB marketing display.

Does Tilden have any photos?  Or she might still be in touch with someone from the original team that might?

Quote
(What's interesting, by the way, is that I wasn't aware of the bulk of the research going on over at Wikipedia until I was nearly done with my own research over here.  It might have saved me a lot of time in the archives...)

Well, you should get involved over there, in the Video Games project and the sub Nintendo project.  Really, the people that contribute to shaping up articles and their content are people like you, I, Xenon, etc.  People are familiar with how to dig up references and verify material.  And we can always use more.


Quote
Oh, it's also worth mentioning for anyone interested that I tried to avoid giving a specific date in the article - I end by giving four possible release dates/periods, and admit my bias towards something close to October 31st.  More evidence seems to point to mid November, though.

Yah, that's what I'm leaning strongly towards as well.  At the very least we can say it's certainly wasn't Oct. 18th, and it certainly was before March '86. ;)

Now what's interesting as well are the discrepancies on the success of the '85 test marketing.  According to Kent's book and the mention of Nintendo's test marketing during January '86 CES coverage, it was not a success.  Rather, the LA test marketing was much more successful.  Additionally, all three consoles (NES, 7800, SMS) were given equal billing by the time of the June '86 CES as a sign as a possibly revived industry, and it wasn't apparent until after the '86 national launch and Christmas season (i.e. early '87) that Nintendo was to be the dominant console.
If you listen to Nintendo's current PR and marketing via the database regurgitation, you would believe it was an instant success and they revived the industry right away there in the limited test market in '85.

Interestingly as well, I also have one of the only known June '85 brochures promoting the NES when they were switching from the AVS to NES format.  I have to assume it's why the actual AVS control deck is missing from the AVS display in New York, because it looks like they modded it for use in the photoshoot of this brouchre (i.e. drilled and and did a few other things, it looks like the AVS deck with holes made for wired controllers, and the AVS controllers connected to it by said wires).
« Last Edit: January 03, 2011, 12:11:38 AM by martyg »

David

  • Trusts the fungus
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2011, 12:14:22 AM »
Does Tilden have any photos?  Or she might still be in touch with someone from the original team that might?

So far we've been unsuccessful with photos.  The one image we DO have of the ROB setup does seem to show SMB as one of the 17 titles in the display, but it is blurry enough to be in contention.  However, with the other references, it was enough to show that DK Jr. Math and Mach Rider couldn't possibly be part of the original launch series and that SMB was, at the very least, intended to be part of that.

It seems like there should be a better place to do game history investigation/reporting than the Wiki subpages, though, especially given the fluid nature of the Wiki, its inability to cite itself as a source, etc. etc. etc..  I'd love to do more game industry history writing - I just haven't found a way to make it financially viable for me -- yet.  Real life and all that. :)
Let's do the Mario, all together now!

Deezer

  • Invincible
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2011, 12:56:33 PM »
This is interesting.

Since the US Copyright Office site has a publication date of 1985-10-31 for SMB's instruction booklet, I decided to check out the rest of the NES launch games, and that date came up again for Kung Fu's packaging (registration # VA0000519763) and Pinball's instruction booklet (TX0002242306). Everything else seems to check out, with publication dates on or before 1985-10-18, except for SMB's packaging, which is 1985-10-19.

So why does everyone remember 17 games at launch, when Kung Fu, Pinball, and Super Mario apparently weren't "published" until at least two weeks later?

« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2011, 12:35:17 AM »
So why does everyone remember 17 games at launch, when Kung Fu, Pinball, and Super Mario apparently weren't "published" until at least two weeks later?

The problem is that people are confusing what the context of "launch" actually is in this case.  Launch can refer to a date or a period.  As a date it can refer to the press intro date, the date when they first made if available to retailers, the date it first actually went on sale (which we know the first one wasn't sold until after the 18th), etc.

Oct. 18th was really just when they started approaching stores in the New York area to get in to them, yet it frequently gets cited as the "launch date" as if on that day you could walk in to any store in New York and find it.  The "launch" in my opinion really refers to the entire process of launching, of approaching stores and getting in to them - which took place from mid October through well in to November.  So technically those staggered releases on a few titles would still qualify as being part of the "launch" when you look at it in that context.

« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 12:39:56 AM by martyg »

MEGAߥTE

  • In flames
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2012, 08:48:11 PM »
So there's an M1 (ROB) display up on eBay. Oddly, the Super Mario Bros. screen is different from the photo that 1up got even though the rest of the display is the same. At least there's a good enough photo that you can not only make out the games, but read the descriptions!

Deezer

  • Invincible
« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2012, 11:49:11 PM »
Neat!

MEGAߥTE

  • In flames
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2015, 12:37:53 AM »
Some new (old) material was revealed. It's too late to address the release date question, but it does have at least one oddity -- Mario must save "Paula" in Donkey Kong.
http://nintendoage.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=5&threadid=142895

Deezer

  • Invincible
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2015, 03:02:44 PM »
Maybe if I show this to NOA they'll finally fix their release date for Soccer, which they still think was 1987.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2015, 10:00:42 PM by Deezer »

« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2015, 07:34:21 PM »
This doesn't really provide much, but SSB Wii U lists SMB's release in trophy descriptions as 10/1985.

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