Part of what draws me to Famicom games is the fact that I missed out entirely on the culture around it. Not only am I of an age that would have given the Super Famicom more significance, but — and this may shock you — I’m not Japanese.

One of my biggest windows into the Famicom culture is Game Center CX, a Japanese show that involves a guy, Shinya Arino, in an office playing video games for hours at a time in an attempt to beat them. There are segments that celebrate the games of yore and explore the many arcades that still exist scattered across the country, and bit by bit, you’re given insight into the Japanese perspective.

Among the things I’ve learned is that there was a period in the mid-‘80s where players seemed to be obsessed with “secrets.” This would sometimes merely be the presence of a warp zone, a concept that was grasped by Western audiences as well. Other times it would be a cameo appearance by characters from another game. But developers would occasionally go overboard. The most high-profile example of this in the West is probably Milon’s Secret Castle or Super Pitfall, impenetrable games that are almost impossible to topple without some sort of guide. We’d also be spared from the true Super Mario Bros. 2, which equally enjoyed screwing with the player unless they knew what they were doing.

Dig deep enough, and you’ll find quite a few examples of this, but one of my favorites is the absolutely stupid Atlantis no Nazo.

Travel to the 32th zone in Sunsoft's Atlantis no Nazo screenshot

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