Nintendo resurrects two of its oldest arcade titles for the Switch

Nintendo resurrects two of its oldest arcade titles for the Switch
Credit: Game Archive/YouTube

Two very old games from Nintendo’s arcade days are getting a surprise re-release on the eShop. According to Nintendo of America, it’s the first time either one has been released in its original arcade form for consoles.

The details: Revealed yesterday during the final Treehouse Live of E3, both games are difficult to find in their original forms. In gamer years, these two are like the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first is Donkey Kong, the 1981 arcade game, which is seeing its first non-truncated release in the West.

The rarer of the two, and perhaps the more surprising inclusion, is Sky Skipper. Another arcade game from 1981, it might be the rarest Nintendo game ever made. After a tepid launch with just 10 arcade cabinets, the company is believed to have converted its existing circuit boards to play Popeye, which was released two years later. You can find ROMs of Sky Skipper online, but by and large Nintendo hasn’t often acknowledged the game existed before now.

Why it matters: It’s easy to just assume Nintendo has thoroughly plumbed and repackaged all of its oldest entries — it’s practically the company’s entire revenue model. But there are some arcade games from the early days which have never made the Mario-esque transition to the big-time. One of those is, ironically, Mario’s first adventure, which was supposedly bogged down in some kind of legal problem regarding its source code.

As for Sky Skipper, it’d long been the subject of a dedicated restoration project, run by three hobbyists determined to create a functioning arcade cabinet. According to Nintendo stalwart Don James, who revealed the games on Treehouse Live, only one of the original cabinets is known to still exist, stored at Nintendo’s HQ. It was that cabinet from which the company extracted the intact ROMs.

Donkey Kong is available on the eShop now. Sky Skipper is due for release in July.

Two Long-Lost Nintendo Arcade Games Are Heading To Switch on Kotaku

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