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31 Years of Stanley the Bugman|
Nintendo's gaming legend reaches the big 3-1.
By Matt Cornah and Darrell Maclaine-Jones
Posted 28th December 2014
Can it really be thirty-one years since the blue-haired fellow first hit our arcades? Yes, yes it can. As the 'Year of Stanley' comes to a close, GameBest's top reporters MATT CORNAH and DARRELL MACLAINE-JONES explore the expansive history of the sprightly pest control operative; his highlights, his lowlights, and also his highlights. Through sights, sounds and smells (except smells) they relive anew the magical world of those games that have thrilled generations – the Stanley The Bugman serieses. Series's? Seriess? Games.
"Life is the name of the game, and I wanna play the game with you." So went the theme tune to Bruce Forsyth's The Generation Game, and truer words were never spoken. Ever since Goldsmith and Mann created the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device in 1947 (followed a year later by Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device 2: Cathode Ray's Haunted House), the general public have been obsessed by the gaming world.
Nintendo, a company famous for their popular wooden playing card game "hanafuda" (or "popular wooden playing card game") hit the big time in the early 1980s with arcade cabinets including the popular Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. These titles, created by Shigeru Miyamoto, featured a large, city-destroying ape being fought off by a meek plumber called Mario. The games were a success but the rather bland "Mario" character never caught on and Nintendo were forced to replace him for the third instalment. Donkey Kong 3 introduced a charismatic, blue-haired pest control worker named Stanley the Bugman who was an instant hit with the public.
It wasn't long before Miyamoto took Stanley out of his greenhouse and gave him his own spinoff game. 1983's Stanley Bros. introduced his eccentric brother Lennard The Bugman, in an action game which saw them take their pesticide guns into the sewers. Several key elements of the Stanley universe were first featured here, such as the much-loved duck-like adversaries the 'Wacko Quackoes' and the now-familiar setting of the Potato Kingdom. It wasn't till the introduction of Nintendo's "LES" console and 1985's Super Stanley Bros. however that the franchise really took shape. This iconic title shook the world as Stanley took on his biggest foe yet—the evil amphibian king Froggo—in 32 levels of crop-spraying fun that also introduced popular characters like Chip the Potato and Princess Margaret.
In Japan, the game was so popular that a sequel, Super Stanley Bros. 2 (or 'The Least Levels'), was released only two weeks later. Unfortunately this was the same game with a number 2 scrawled on the box in crayon, and it never made it overseas. Instead, the rest of the world was given Super Stanley Bros. 2 Again USA (aka 'The Less Lost Least Levels'), though this itself was just the badly-selling, previously-Japan-only LES game Super Hoshi Fun Breakout Happy Dream Game Time!! with a crudely-drawn picture of Stanley added to the title screen. Such humble beginnings would pale in comparison however to what was to come next...