Tengen: Atari Games vs. Nintendo | Gaming Historian

In the late 80’s, Tengen (a subsidiary of Atari Games) decided to challenge Nintendo over their strict policies on 3rd party licensing. How? By suing them and releasing unlicensed video games. Learn the history behind it all.

Part 1 (Origin of Heaven) – 0:57
Part 2 (The Rabbit) – 7:49
Part 3 (The Tiger) – 12:42
Part 4 (Impact) – 18:44

A big thanks to the talented Chase & Sarah for lending their voices. You can check out their channels below!
Chase – http://www.youtube.com/chasefaceshow
Sarah – http://www.youtube.com/pushinguproses

Music by Audionautix.com & Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

End music is from the Arcade / NES Tengen version of Tetris, by Brad Fuller.

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  1. Alice Vångström on December 9, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    I remember having the black cartridge Tengen Gauntlet and Tetris. I always wondered how they got past the lockout without having to have the switch that most unlicensed games seemed to have.

  2. Romerik Rousseau on December 9, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    nice book intro!!

  3. Emery Benson on December 9, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    No matter how many of Norman’s videos I really, really like and thoroughly enjoy, I always find myself gravitating back to this one, without fail. Definitely my absolute favorite. It’s a hell of a case study on Nintendo’s prior business practices and Tengen’s ingenuity for trying to circumvent them. Such an engrossing and masterfully crafted video on a crucial turning point of what would become the gaming industry as we now know it. *chef kiss*

  4. sheepy on December 9, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    Me when i here Ljn: LAUGHING JOKING NUMBNUTS

  5. TerribleVidsHD on December 9, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    I think it was obvious why Nintendo was mad since Atari killed the industry for two years with their RIDICULOUS quality control system!

  6. TerribleVidsHD on December 9, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    I found it ironic Atari has been shamed to making bad mobile games while Nintendo became a colossal juggernaut

  7. Justin Nardine on December 9, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    Cool video man

  8. Cholo Del rosari0 on December 9, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    Im glad that Nintendo didnt require now for some developers to be an official liscensee to publish their games. In fact,
    they invited all indie small game developers to develop and publish the games for the switch without any restriction

  9. James Aseltine on December 9, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    Very intelligent theses very well articulated delivery of information good work!

  10. Mike Richardson on December 9, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    Good stuff

  11. uSTAYFROSTY on December 9, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    Nintendo manufacturing a shortage? Say it ain’t so?…

  12. Donald Croswhite on December 9, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    Before this episode ended, bought a Tengen CIB Pac-Man.

  13. Matthew Cobalt on December 9, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    You know that a plan is for rebuilding a company when the owner in stated a salary cut to top level staff with only a reduction of 30 people.

  14. shoutoandsasukekilltheheroeswhobetraythem on December 9, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    Naruto is dead and link lives on bigger than him.

  15. Steef Pip on December 9, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    Though I will agree that RBI Baseball is a very good baseball game on the NES, I personally thought Little League Baseball was better.

  16. Jonathan Tang on December 9, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    Correction of Japanese game “go”. It is Chinese game of history about 2000 years….. japan import this game later during “Tang Dynasty of China”

  17. des8893 on December 9, 2020 at 10:03 pm

    And in 2020, we’re reliving this with Epic Games vs Apple.

  18. James Aseltine on December 9, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    I like the Sega logo featured time signature 4 56 or so be cool on a white skate board like a flip brand sort of style and maybe a promotional Sonic sk8 game with him on the board too paired up with home Depot might give the graphic the boards need and fund a new game project or NGP fershort

  19. jihmns on December 9, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    Great video

  20. Drumma Boi on December 9, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    gotta luv business, tengen bad ass & has my respect. were having an intellectual war against nintendo not afraid of the giant

  21. jeff jeff on December 9, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    Why does this feel like a Godfather movie?

  22. Benjamin Hausmann on December 9, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    so thats why galaga was on tekken 1

  23. Luis Camacho on December 9, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    This reminds me of the Epic Games battle

  24. ianf123 on December 9, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    It really irritates me to hear Nintendo’s claim about Atari needing access to 10NES to reverse engineer the CIC chip, and even moreso because I personally know some of the people involved, who were and are skilled and imaginative engineers. The whole idea that the chip could not be reverse engineered from the die in the early 90s is absurd, especially given that Atari was in silicon valley where reverse engineering your competitor’s products (to varying levels of analysis) was standard practice in most companies, especially those who owned their own fab lines.

    The NES CIC was a 4-bit Sharp microcontroller with no die security features, in a coarse process (even for the time) with a ROM array easily visible under a metalurgical microscope. The techniques to identify this device (which I’m told was actually the hardest part) and recover the ROM contents were easy. Total dumped ROM size was 768 bytes: any experienced programmer could determine the algorithm from that in a day or so, even if they did have to write a disassembler to do it. Amateurs now do so, and the code is readily available with reverse engineered implementations. Atari was easily able to obtain the datasheet from Sharp.

    The reality is that Nintendo’s legal team made so many nonsense "common sense" claims about the difficulty of it, and it just wasn’t. This set a bad precedent which we’re still suffering from, especially from Nintendo, who don’t even bother with a loss-leader console. But it also supports the abusive and anti-competitive store practices of Apple and others, too.

    Of course, the big question is why did Atari’s lawyer access the code? Because they were idiots too. The people I know said they had a working implementation before it happened, they didn’t need to do so, shouldn’t have done, and there was absolute horror when the team found out it had happened. It was a screw up, which probably cost them the case. They knew that at the time.

    Great video, but I think you have given too much credence to Nintendo’s version of events. The ethics of their legal team was poor, and the fact that they supported threatening retailers speaks volumes about their lack of integrity. Those actions alone should automatically cast doubt on any statement they made.

  25. Mr Hidden on December 9, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    This is like the epic apple suit

  26. Do py on December 9, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    18:52 kerbal space program

  27. Cinder Block Studios on December 9, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    You know I’ve watched this a few times over the years, but lately I’m finding an interesting parallel taking place. Even with modern restrictions making a game and getting it on a service like Steam, isn’t that hard. Granted there are user reviews, but for gamers…we’re often flooded with too many games, and a lot of them could have been killed in the beta phase…but thanks to kickstarter/indegogo we’re actually subject to bad games funded by consumers.

  28. Advocate2787 on December 9, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Dragon quest 4 is the best. Fudge Atari

  29. Nick Falkner on December 9, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    If nothing else, the Tengen NES carts are highly collectible.

  30. Gamer Masta on December 9, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Ataris got some big balls lol

  31. Timmy Menard on December 9, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    I’ll never forgive Atari for forcing Nintendo to censor their video games! It’s no wonder Nintendo played god with their video game content and nerfed Japanese content to what was socially acceptable to America back in the day. I understand Nintendo of America wanted to atone for Atari’s mistakes in the video game industry, but at the same time, I felt sorry for Nintendo of America having to censor their games to social norms content even if they were localized from Japan. Nintendo doesn’t mess around with their video game handling especially their itellectual properties. Atari lost for good because they deserve to be sorry for releasing bad quality video games and they were dumbasses in how they released their video games. I really enjoyed the history of Nintendo vs. Atari and I’d knew Nintendo would take control of the video games even if they got the wrong idea of what was family-friendly at the time when the gaming industry was recovering from the video game crash done by Atari. Nintendo wasn’t fooled by Atari’s trickery and Nintendo got their well-earned victory.

  32. Sir Adam Gaming on December 9, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    few years late but this was fantastic.

  33. Joshua Jones on December 9, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    I used to buy Tengen over NES.

  34. Davno on December 9, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    Me gustan tus vídeos, pero no todo el vídeo está en subtitulado, 😔 hay partes que no tienen subtitulos en español.

  35. Party4Keeps on December 9, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    Was that Pushing Up Roses I heard voicing the judges comments?

  36. Oneness Seeker on December 9, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    bloody hell

  37. The Heavy Truth on December 9, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    I have that tetris game in my grandma’s garage. That’s crazy. I’m going to sell it…

  38. Save The Tumors on December 9, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    7:35 Go was invented in China, not Japan.

  39. stylus850 on December 9, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    The funny thing….RBI Baseball was the best NES baseball game, their Tetris was superior. Yet what they did was illegal.

  40. hypercube33 on December 9, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    John Deere is inspired by Nintendo for their tractors

  41. Ariel Borjas on December 9, 2020 at 10:37 pm


  42. Alexander Crocker on December 9, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    Akklaim is LGN!!!

  43. Paul Richards on December 9, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    How does he learn all these details?

  44. Eduardo E on December 9, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    I just subscribed to your channel after watching this amazing work

  45. REAPER SOVEREIGN on December 9, 2020 at 10:40 pm


  46. Carl Rygwelski on December 9, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    TenGen says JeneSys what?

  47. Ben DC4L on December 9, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    I liked the games of the crash period it never affected me lol 🤷‍♂️

  48. zap circuit on December 9, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    atari: went through all that process just to crack the nes chip
    china: WE MAKE OUR OWN NES

  49. XtremeZero on December 9, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    Looks like EPIC GAMES VS APPLE but 20 years older

  50. رقاوي عافيتي on December 9, 2020 at 10:47 pm


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