A deep-dive, if you will, into Nintendo's roots

"Mommy, where do Steel Divers come from?" "Well, when a Radar Mission and a 3DS love each other very very much..."

One of the interesting things about the frequent discrepancy between U.S. and Japanese release dates, especially in the olden days, is the way the staggered scheduling makes for wildly different experiences. As a result, our perceptions of the games we played often turn out to be radically different from that of our counterparts overseas, too. I've talked about this vis-a-vis 8-bit Mario games and how Super Mario Land's place in the Japanese Nintendo library was so radically different from its place in the U.S.: Japan had Super Mario Bros. 3 and the original Super Mario Bros. 2 before Super Mario Land came out, whereas we had the oddball American SMB2 and SMB3 was still a thing we had yet to witness even in The Wizard.

Now, here's another case of localization wonkiness and scheduling at work in the form of yet another Battleship-style game for Game Boy: Nintendo's Radar Mission.

Well, I say "yet another," because by the time Radar Mission shipped, Japanese Game Boy owners already had access to the incredibly similar Navy Blue and Power Mission. They're all three just iterations on the Battleship concept.

In the U.S., though, we wouldn't even get our hands on Navy Blue for another two years, when Mindscape localized it as Battleship. Meanwhile, Power Mission arrived mere weeks before Radar Mission, which means it would have been totally overshadowed by Nintendo's own release. (Indeed, this bears out: Power Mission is extremely expensive now due to its rarity. Blame Nintendo for crowding the release schedule!) So where folks overseas likely saw Radar Mission and thought, "Again!?", over here it would have had more punch.

In any case, Radar Mission is the only one of those trio of games to resurface years later… if you'll pardon the pun. Nintendo loves digging into its old archives in search of ideas to explore in new forms, and the sub warfare mode of Radar Mission would serve as grist for the 3DS mill two decades later: Nintendo revived this game to serve as the basis of Steel Diver. That may in fact be a record for longest time in which a Nintendo property has lay fallow before being revitalized. Well, at least until a spiritual successor to Mole Mania pops up on Switch. (We can dream, right?)