According to a new interview in last week’s Famitsu (translated by Nintendo Everything), barely anyone at Nintendo’s Japanese HQ thought making a miniature “classic” edition of their earliest console was a good idea. Only the manager of their sales department (who is only identified in the article as “Yomato”) had a passion for the plan.
At the time, the majority of the company’s staff was deeply invested in finishing the Switch for release. Yomato continued to press the higher-ups, insisting the NES Classic “would make fans happy” and requesting an ad budget. While he was granted some money for promotion, it wasn’t enough to air television ads, and it turned out not to matter when shortages made purchasing the item impossible.
They were warned about the possibility of a shortage prior to release. Takao Shimizu, who works at Nintendo’s planning and development department, “strongly suggested that there would be stock shortages.” At the point he said it, however, Nintendo had already decided how many units they were making available at launch (and they still believed there wouldn’t be much interest).
There’s other information revealed in the Famitsu interview. The main menu screen on both the NES and SNES Classic uses images of the game boxes…..but that wasn’t the original plan. They originally wanted to use title screens, because using the boxes would require getting the rights from third-parties. One would think the rights for the game would include the rights for the box, but….it didn’t work that way.
When other developers at Nintendo saw the version of the menu that used title screens, they didn’t like the look of it. The thing about NES games is that 99% of them have a solid black background on their titles, which turned the menu into a sea of endless black. That sight convinced Nintendo to take the extra effort and secure box image rights.
Now the Classic line is an undeniable hit, and Nintendo knows it. SNES Classics are plentiful, the NES Classic is returning to production, and we’ve gotten hints that other mini-consoles are possible. Perhaps there might even be a TV ad someday…..