Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Video Game That Gregor Mendel Never Asked For

I stumbled across the box art for a 1989 Nintendo game that I barely remember — I only rented it, just the one time — but the sight of the cover graphics took me back. Really, 1989 marked an aesthetic sweet spot: when the brightness of the 80s was beginning to give way to the grittier 90s.

via game abyss
I may even prefer the in-game rendering of the box art — or at least the Japanese art that clearly inspired the American box art.

via hardcore gaming 101
You can see how the American artist tweaked the original characters in an effort to better suit American gamers. It’s funny now to consider how “Japanese-looking” art would ever be considered a minus, as far as marketing to video game nerds goes. But hey, it happened: Consider the Japanese box art for the first Mega Man against the famously misguided “appealing for Americans” version, and then marvel at how much better the European release of the game got it.

The Mendel Palace art, in either form, takes me back. It will never fail to take me back. There’s even something to be said for the TV commercial.


It’s actually surprising to me that this game actually got an on-air commercial. I don’t think I ever saw it back at the time Hudson Soft was rooting for Mendel Palace to become a big hit. It wasn’t enough of a success to spawn a sequel, but the game’s developer, Game Freak, kept at it and eventually created the Pokemon franchise, and now grown people wear Pikachu hoodies out and about as if that were a normal thing to do.

The game had you solving puzzles by skittering around a grid of squares, and I have to wonder if the game’s title comes from the vague resemblance to Mendel squares. (Hardcore Gaming 101 points out that the original Japanese title was Quinty and that the original aesthetic skews way more cutesy.) With a six-by-five grid, these aren’t squares, however. Yeah, these kids are going to come out looking funny.

via hardcore gaming 101
Cute and colorful, but funny-looking nonetheless.

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