Saturday, April 30, 2016

Worth the Loading Times? - Famicom Disk System to Cartridge Conversions Worth Playing

The Famicom Disk System may offer games that saved to disk and enhanced music and sound effects, but it came at a cost.  The disks can fail, the drives' belts can snap and the disk system introduced loading times to the Famicom platform.  With devices like the FDSStick, the first two issues have been eliminated but the last issue remains.  Here I am going to list all Famicom disk system games with a later port to NES or Famicom cartridge and determine whether the extra features (if any) are worth the drawback of putting up with loading times.

First, here is the list of games :
FDS Title / NES Tile (if Different) What Is Saved? FDS Audio Sound Effects FDS Audio Music Disk Sides
Akumajō Dracula / Castlevania 3 Games N N 2
Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (Unreleased for NES) Does not Save N Y 2
Bubble Bobble Highest Level N N 2
Dr. Chaos 3 Games N N 2
Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin / Castlevania II: Simon's Quest 3 Games N Y 2
Exciting Basketball / Double Dribble Does not Save Y Y 2
Final Command: Akai Yōsai / Jackal Does not Save N N 2
Green Beret / Rush 'n Attack Does not Save N N 2
Gun.Smoke Does not Save N N 2
Gyruss Does not Save N Y 2
Hao-kun no Fushigi na Tabi / Mystery Quest 3 Games Y Y 2
Hikari Shinwa: Palthena no Kagami / Kid Icarus 3 Games Y Y 2
Ice Hockey Does not Save N N 1
Karate Champ Does not Save N N 2
Konami Ice Hockey / Blades of Steel Does not Save N N 2
Zelda no Densetsu / The Legend of Zelda 3 Games Y Y 2
Metroid 3 Games Y Y 2
Moero Twinbee: Cinnamon Hakase wo Sukue! / Stinger Does not Save N N 2
Nazo no Kabe: Block Kuzushi / Crackout 3 Games N N 2
Pro Wrestling: Famicom Wrestling Association Does not Save N N 1
Roger Rabbit / The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle Does not Save N N 2
Section Z 3 Games N N 2
The Legend of Zelda 2: Link no Bōken / Zelda II: The Adventure of Link 3 Games Y Y 2
Tobidase Daisakusen / 3-D Battles of the World Runner Does not Save N Y 2
Volleyball Does not Save N N 1
Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic / Super Mario Bros. 2 Worlds Beaten by Each Character Y Y 2
Zanac Does not Save N N 1

Bold means that there is in-game Famicom Disk System Expansion Audio music, which is rare.  




Recommendations for each game :

Akumajō Dracula / Castlevania
Yes, because you can save your game and restart at the harder levels, 4, 5 and 6 and just before Dracula.  The Famicom cartridge has an easy mode that makes getting through this game much, much easier.

Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa
Yes, FDS expansion audio music plays throughout.

Bubble Bobble
No, simple passwords (all of which are available online) serve the same function on the NES and the NES cartridge does not have the unnecessary red color emphasis tint (which makes the game look strange on a 2C03 RGB system like the Sharp Famicom TV and Famicom Titler)

Dr. Chaos
Yes, disk saving vs. 18 character passwords.  I don't really care for Dr. Chaos anyway,  regardless of save type.

Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin / Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
No, the disk loading is incredibly obnoxious in this game, there is no English language translation for the disk version and the NES music has the benefit of using the PCM sound channel.  The FDS version does not use the PCM sound channel, so its music lacks bass.

Exciting Basketball / Double Dribble
No, the music and audio do not add much to this game.

Final Command: Akai Yōsai / Jackal
No, the NES version has horizontal and vertical scrolling and also includes stage 1.

Green Beret / Rush 'n Attack
Tie, the Disk version is slightly easier and has secret hidden areas in some of the stages, but the loading is frequent, the Cart version is more faithful to the arcade machine when dying and acquiring weapons.

Gun.Smoke
No, nothing extra beyond the cart version

Gyruss 
Yes, FDS expansion audio music plays throughout the game and the scrolling intro is nice, if in Japanese.

Hao-kun no Fushigi na Tabi / Mystery Quest
Yes, although I'm no fan of either version.

Hikari Shinwa: Palthena no Kagami / Kid Icarus
Yes, but you cannot play around with the password system with the Disk version.  Also, the cartridge version has better endings.  Note that you need a Famicom Controller II microphone to haggle with the shopkeeper.

Ice Hockey
No, nothing extra beyond the cart version

Karate Champ
No, nothing extra beyond the cart version

Konami Ice Hockey / Blades of Steel
No, nothing extra beyond the cart version

Zelda no Densetsu / The Legend of Zelda
Yes, but you need a Famicom Controller II microphone to kill Pols Voice without fighting.  Even though the text is in Japanese, the game's clues were cryptic in either language.  This game was later released on Famicom cartidge.  

Metroid
Yes, the sound effects are way cool and the passwords in the cart version are a bit long and easy to screw up.  You cannot play around with the password system with the Disk version.  Load times are a bit long compared to most FDS games on this list but are fairly infrequent. You cannot rapid fire by holding down the B button or play as armorless Samus.  

Moero Twinbee: Cinnamon Hakase wo Sukue! / Stinger
No, because the cart and disk versions are the same and the only unique feature of the Japanese versions are three-player support.

Nazo no Kabe: Block Kuzushi / Crackout
Yes, because Crackout never came out in North America and the European cart is speed adjusted for PAL.

Pro Wrestling: Famicom Wrestling Association / Pro Wrestling
No, the cartridge version has more graphics

Roger Rabbit / The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle
No, the graphical changes to the game are slight.

Section Z
Yes, Section Z has an incredibly complex map and the control is a bit stiff.  The cartridge version has no saving and it is difficult to beat this game in one sitting even with the rare map Capcom offered in the first releases of this game in North America.

The Legend of Zelda 2: Link no Bōken / Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Yes, the leveling up system is more forgiving to players and the sound effects are cool.

Tobidase Daisakusen / 3-D Battles of the World Runner
Yes, but for the music only.  The disk and cart versions both use red/blue anaglyph 3-D glasses, they do not use the Famicom 3-D active shutter glasses.

Volleyball
No, nothing extra beyond the cart version

Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic / Super Mario Bros. 2
Yes, the game saves your progress for each character and getting to the end with each character (necessary to see the real ending) is a fair challenge.  The graphical and sound differences are interesting.  Super Mario Bros. 2 was later released on Famicom cartridge as Super Mario Bros. USA.

Zanac
No, unless you are a Zanac/Compile fanatic, the few differences are not worth the trouble.

Cartridge and Arcade Conversions to Disk
I have not included any games developed for cartridge and then ported to the disk format.  In virtually every case, these were straight ports from the cartridge versions with no extra features.  Two games, Super Mario Bros and Wrecking Crew do offer features over their cartridge counterparts.  Super Mario Bros. has a different and more expanded minus world.  Wrecking Crew allows you to save custom levels to disk, the cartridge version required the Famicom BASIC Keyboard and Data Recorder to save them to cassette tape.  Vs. Ice Climber and Clu Clu Land: Welcome to New Clu Clu Land offer new levels from their Vs. arcade machines.  All the above games are single sided and none require more than one load of the game except when saving.  Vs. Excitebike includes levels from the arcade machine, but offers many new features not found in the cartridge version or arcade and is two sided.

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