One of my recent Famicom purchases was another copy of Donkey Kong Jr. I`ve had the pulse line version of this game for quite a while, but I didn`t have the other version. The...uh...one on the right in the above photo.
The subject of today`s post is this duality exemplified in my Donkey Kong Jrs. Most of the Famicom Pulse line carts were released in two versions - the original pulse line version and the other version with the picture from the box art, which were released later.
As a point of nomenclature, I`m not actually sure how to refer to these versions. `Pulse line` is a convenient and descriptive term that is hard to mistake for something else. But what to call these other carts? `Picture carts`? That is short, but not very specific as most Famicom carts have pictures on them. `Box art carts`? Same problem.
Anyway, since I need to refer to them as something in this post, I`ll use the phrase `box art carts` to refer to the versions of the pulse line carts that have box art instead of the pulse line on the cover. Everybody clear on that? Good.
From a collector`s point of view, I`ve noticed some variations in the relative scarcity of the pulse line and box art versions of some of these carts. I think they can be divided into three categories.
1. Pulse Line Carts that have no Box Art version
To the best of my knowledge, the following pulse line carts never had a box art version released:
Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong Jr Math
I could be mistaken and if anyone knows of box art versions of these carts, please let me know. I have never seen one myself though.
2. Pulse Line Carts that have Box Art versions which were released in roughly equal numbers
For some games that had two versions released, each version seems to have been released in roughly the same quantity and neither is harder to find or more expensive than the other. I would include the following games in this category:
There is a bit of variation. The box art version of Mario Bros. seems to be slightly harder to find than the pulse line version, for example, but not too much harder and most shops charge the same price for each if they have them.
3. Pulse line carts that are much easier to find than their box art versions
For some reason a number of carts have box art versions that are significantly harder to find than the pulse line versions and most stores will sell the box art version for a much higher price. These include:
Donkey Kong Jr
At Mandarake in town here, for example, they have both versions of Popeye available loose. The Pulse line version they are selling for 630 yen (about 9$), while the box art version they are selling for 2400 yen (about 30$). I`m guessing that the reason for this relative scarcity of the later box art versions is that the popularity of those games declined quickly between 1983 and 1985 and thus fewer of the newer versions were sold.
This is the one cart which I can`t say for certain which category it belongs in. I have one copy of each version, so I can say that it belongs in either group 2 or 3, but I just haven`t seen enough copies of it in stores to know which is harder to find than the other. Anybody out there know?
Anyway, just thought I`d put this info I had rattling around in my head out there for reference if any of you are trying to collect both versions of these games!