Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nintendo Space Fever (スペースフィーバー, 1979)

When Taito's Space Invaders burst onto the arcade scene in the Summer of 1978, it became a runaway success. Multiple other arcade manufacturers quickly jumped on the bandwagon, including Nintendo.

In early 1979, Nintendo released an arcade game that was - let's say - inspired by Taito's space shooter. It was called Space Fever (スペースフィーバー).


Space Fever was a black and white game, that was an adequate copy of the original, but with very little to distinguish itself.

Nintendo Space Fever (1979)

It was all there: the marching aliens that are dropping bombs, the ship at the bottom of the screen firing up, as well as four bunkers that provide temporary shelter.


Space Fever offered three game modes ('Game A', 'Game B' and 'Game C'), with different marching patterns for the aliens. The game could be played by one or two players.


The exact release date was 18 January 1979.

Full Space Fever leaflet (front, back)

Later on in 1979, Nintendo would follow-up Space Fever first with Space Fever Color and then with a number of more original space games, like SF-Hisplitter and Space Launcher.

6 comments:

  1. This game changed videogames history... since it sold very poorly, Nintendo had a lot of spare Space Fever arcades, and so they asked Miyamoto to design a game (his first one) with that same hardware to recycle the cabinets... and so Donkey Kong was born.

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    1. Almost true. Yes, Donkey Kong was created to replace a poorly selling game. But that game wasn't Space Fever, but the game Radar Scope, from end of 1980. When large stock of Radar Scope did not sell in the USA, many of those machines were converted to Donkey Kong.

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    2. Uh, seems like I made a Space Fever/Radar Scope mash up in my head :)

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  2. I have a space fever and they are quite common
    In England in the last year I have seen 7 up for sale on eBay , although none of them were in working condition .
    I do have a working example and its a cracking game
    If you like space invaders your like this .

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    1. Huh, I added a proper reply before but it doesn't seem to have worked. Anyway, that report of its availability does explain one little mystery...

      There's a holiday village on the Welsh coast I'm somewhat familiar with, whose pub has a sit down cocktail cabinet arcade game amongst the amusements on offer, perfect for trying to beat high scores at 10p a time whilst having a pint. Up until 2013 the game was a classic Galaxian model ...

      But then there were the chronic storms that battered the west of the UK, the sea wall collapsed, and the lower part of town including the pub was flooded out. Everything below a height of about 3 to 4 feet too heavy to easily throw up the stairs was destroyed by dirty seawater, including the game machine.

      So the next time we visited, they'd replaced it with one of these. Was rather surprised - had never seen a Nintendo arcade cabinet before, didn't know they made them (even DK, I thought, was made under license by someone else), and was puzzled as to where they could have found it. Seems "eBay, for cheap, so long as you could fix it up" was the answer. Someone there must be handy with a soldering iron (having kept 'lax running all these years), because it works perfectly.

      It's not quite the same sitting down to (a very good clone of) Space Invaders rather than Galaxian, but it does make a change and the alternate modes offer a unique challenge at least...

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    2. Thanks for sharing Mark. Great to hear these are still out there in public spaces, in working condition. Also agree that Galaxian is a more evolved and involving game.

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