Thursday, June 2, 2011

Famicom Party Game! Loads of fun!

In this post I will introduce the latest Famicom party game craze that is sweeping Japan. Well, "sweeping Japan" is an overstatement, but at least some Japanese people are doing it (see the video linked below).

All you need is a Famicom, about 30-50 Famicom games, a cardboard box and between 2 and 10 people.

The basic rule of the game is this. You have a bunch of Famicom games. You write down the names of each game on a scrap of paper and put them into a cardboard box. Each person takes a turn drawing a game name from the box. After removing the game name from the box, the person then has to complete level 1 of whatever game that is without losing a life.

The game does not finish until the group of you have collectively done this 10 times in a row without losing a life. Each time someone loses a life before they've completed level 1 of the game, the counter goes back to zero.

This can be a really fun group activity, particularly if you have been drinking. I've done it a few times. The tension really builds up when the group has finished 5 or 6 in a row.

One of the keys to making it fun is game selection. You have to choose games that have a level 1 and in which you can lose a life (ie no baseball games, etc). The photo at the top of this post shows a selection of 20 games that are usually in my lineup for this activity. Depending on the skill level of your group you might want to avoid putting tough games like Spelunker or Sky Kid in the mix.

This is a really interesting video on Youtube of a group of Japanese Famicom fanatics playing this game. They dress up in cosplay as they do it and make an evening out of it. They have put a series of such videos up and they all make for interesting viewing if you are a Famicom fan like me. Their big mistake is choosing games that are too difficult, though it kind of adds to the fun - note the exasperation on the girl's face when she gets stuck with Spelunker. The girls do criticize the host for the poor game selection a bit towards the end of the video.

Just to add a bit of trivia I should note that this game originated on a TV show called "Otameshika" that airs on Monday nights in Japan. Nowadays it isn't much of a show, but a couple years ago they would sometimes do these really awesome Famicom themed episodes in which the two hosts (the comedians Taka and Toshi) along with a few guests would play. It would usually take them quite a few hours to do 10 in a row. If you have less time you might want to change the rule to 5 in a row or something like that.

I should also note that while I say it is a game for the Famicom, you can also play it with an NES, Atari 2600, Sega Master System or any other early console with a large library of games.

Anyway, this is a fun party activity if you have a small group of people who all like old video games. Give it a try.


  1. OK, I *love* this idea, and I think I'm going to make use of it at some point. We have a few friends who enjoy gaming -- especially retro games -- so I think they would get a kick out of it. Of course, I'd have to make sure the alcohol stays far away from my precious Twin Famicom :)

    Anyway, you've tried this game with some of your friends, right? If so, how did it go? Also, you should film it next time you do it -- it could be your YouTube debut!

  2. One more question for you, Sean: Do you know the name of the third game shown in the video you linked to (above)? It's the one that comes right before Ghouls 'N Ghosts. Also, what are the games that come immediately after Ghouls 'N Ghosts? No worries if you don't know -- I'm just curious!

  3. I'm asking about the games shown between 1:17 and 1:35, by the way, not the ones the group actually play as part of the game. OK, I'll stop commenting now! :)

  4. Thanks for the comments, Bryan!

    You should definitely give it a try, its a lot of fun. I usually just do it with my wife and we have a lot of fun. I've never tried it with more than 4 people, but I think it could work with groups larger than that. Skill level is an important factor - if you have somebody who is completely unfamiliar with video games then you'll have to make sure you only have really easy games (or give them a handicap, like they can die once or something). There are a ton of variations you can add to the game to make it more enjoyable depending on the group.

    One thing is that even if you have mainly easy games it is almost impossible to get to 10 in a row. Usually my wife and I max out at about 4 or 5 in a row and then give up after we get tired of it. We've only successfully completed 10 in a row once, which was a cause of much celebration for us.

    I'd like to film myself doing it, but in my day job posting videos of yourself drinking and doing silly things is considered career suicide, so it'll have to wait until after I retire:)

    In answer to your question, the game immediately before Ghouls 'N Ghosts is (I think) Front Line by Taito. The one just after Ghouls 'N Ghosts is (I think) Bug te Honey (an Adventure Island spin-off game).

  5. This is brilliant stuff. I often hold video game parties, but I have never tried a competition like this. I am doing this on Saturday night with a few friends.

  6. Hey, cool! Let me know how it goes! It is pretty fun.

  7. Honestly, this really needs a list of games figuring out!

    There's definitely something nice about the tactile nature of carts, but roms might work okay-ish too. Names in a hat, perhaps?

  8. Yup, even with carts the name in a hat method works best (it adds to the excitement and it is difficult to disguise the identity of Famicom carts).

  9. What a fantastic idea! I'd love to do this with my Master System collection. I just need some friends who like video games now... :(

  10. LOL, yes it would work perfect with a Master System if you can find some people who also like it!!