An Alternate History work by RySenkari and Nivek on AlternateHistory.com, Player Two Start is a pop culture timeline that focuses on the Console Wars with one significant change, a change that promises to not only impact the landscape of gaming, but all of pop culture and beyond.
As everyone well versed in the gaming world knows, Nintendo partnered with Sony to release a CD add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, only to break off the deal after Nintendo discovered a clause in the contract that would have given Sony's 100% of the software royalties for every CD game sold. Sony would eventually launch the PlayStation, causing Nintendo to struggle to stay relevant in the console space, but would also contribute to Sega leaving the hardware market and becoming a third party developer, and lead to the rise of Xbox. Now many have wondered what if Nintendo decided to continue working with Sony and made the Super Nintendo CD a reality?
In this timeline, Hiroshi Yamauchi, president of Nintendo, decides the technology offered by Sony is too good to pass up, and decides to renegotiate Nintendo's contract with Sony, using the on-going talks with Philips as a bargaining chip...
As of February 2016, the timeline is finished, covering a timespan from June 1991 to May 2000. A sequel, Massively Multiplayer (covering May 2000 to October 2012), began in August 2016 and ended in December 2019. The second sequel, Battle Royale began in the same month.
A recap of all the changes to gaming, culture, and the broader world featured in the game can be found here.
This work contains examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The Secret of Monkey Island is ported to the SNES-CD with additional puzzles, locations, and songs. It is considered more well known than the original PC version, and its success would inspire computer game developers to port their software to the SNES-CD, and inspired Naughty Dog to create Tales of the Seven Seas.
- Allohistorical Allusion:
- Super Mario World 2 is similar to both New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U in terms of Excuse Plot. It starts at Princess Peach's castle with a party like Wii, only it's for her return. Bowser and the Koopalings than come in and capture the castle, kicking the Mario Bros. and Yoshi out, ala U.
- In our history, Sega and Bandai considered merging. In this timeline, Sega buys up Bandai in 1998 when the latter is put up for sale.
- Joe Quesada joked that he would have Peter Parker sell his soul to Mephisto in order to make him Spider-Man again.
- Sega of America's president notes in an interview that the higher-ups in Japan wanted a May 1995 release of the Saturn to coincide with E3, which in his opinion would've led to a disastrous launch.
- Avril Lavigne never becomes a pop singer, and instead becomes a professional skateboarder, even being featured in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. In other words, "she was a Sk8er Girl, he said 'see you later, girl!'"
- A very dark one comes up with Christian Weston Chandler's mass murder spree. Many of the facets of his OTL life, including an alternate version of Sonichu and his "love quest", are reflected here — and take on much darker overtones in light of the fact that he killed 21 people at his high school. Furthermore, the real Chandler was notorious for using his autism in order to deflect criticism and responsibility for his own mistakes; here, it's concluded that Chandler wasn't autistic, but incorrect early reports that he was lead to a wave of stigmatization against people with autism in the early '00s (similar to OTL's anti-goth backlash post-Columbine).
- When Steve Jobs hears that the Nintendo Reality will have VR capabilities, he takes it seriously because "in what reality would Nintendo ever willingly release a bad VR product?"
- The COVID-19 Pandemic inspired an update about a computer virus known as the Corona virus, so named because it apparently originated from pirated copies of Corona del Sol.
- Antagonist in Mourning: After Shigeru Miyamoto died, even Sega acknowledged the designer's contributions to gaming at their E3 2000 Press Conference.
- Axes at School:
- Columbine still happens, except that with Polly Klaas's influence and Dylan Klebold refusing to participate, Eric Harris's attempt fizzles out with only two deaths, one of them being himself.
- A far more deadlier school shooting occurs later on in the timeline, during February 2001; it takes place at Manchester High School and its culprit is none other than Christian Weston Chandler.
- Reading the timeline chronologically up to February 1995 leads the reader to think that Nintendo and Sony are going to split. Then March 1995 comes along, revealing that Yamauchi accepted Sony's condition of backwards compatibility, meaning they're staying together for the fifth generation.
- On a GameTV episode, Lyssa Fielding reads yet another request to show her boobs, and finally decides to do it. She goes over, points at fellow co-hosts Ted and Alex, and calls them both her boobs.
- Bowdlerise: Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War was localized as Fire Emblem: The Holy War. Unfortunately, as any fan of the series knows, the game contains several plot-relevant incest subplots, which horrified Howard Lincoln and led to him delivering the memetic quote, "Goddamnit, it's full of incest!" The translators ultimately had to make several controversial changes to the story to remove the incest and make it palatable for Western audiences and the ESRB.
- Canon Welding: Star Fox, Super Squadron X, and Squad Four would be established to be taking place in the same galaxy. Super Squadron X: Critical Dawn for the SNES-CD would hint at a shared universe, but it wouldn't be until the '00s that the series officially cross over.
- Celebrity Endorsement: Al Gore mentions in an interview that he saw the redeeming value of video games after trying out Secret of Mana, and hopes there would more games like it rather than Mortal Kombat.
- Cliffhanger: The June 1999 update ends with a news report on the Olympic Pipeline explosion, with the fates of the members of Nirvana, whose tour bus was knocked to its side by the explosion, unknown. This was followed by the 1999 Pop Culture post, which begins with a follow-up news report that the band members only suffered minor bruising while the equipment crew had more serious injuries.
- Compilation Re-release:
- Square decides to do remakes of the three NES Final Fantasy games for the SNES-CD. The collection gets localized as Final Fantasy Origins and is released before Final Fantasy VI, meaning that game is the first in the series to retain its original numbering. Later on the SNES-CD versions of the first six games will be put together as the Final Fantasy Collection in 1999.
- Early 1996 will see Konami release a compilation of Metal Gear 1 and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake for the SNES-CD.
- Sonic Jam as in OTL, except it also includes Sonic CD, considering the wider audience of this timeline's Saturn vs the Sega CD.
- Contested Sequel: Seiken Densetsu 3, which gets localized in the US as Elements of Mana, is acclaimed as a very good game, but fans will argue over whether it or its predecessor, Secret of Mana, was better for years to come.
- Continuity Reboot: The Valis series gets a reboot for the SNES-CD. Three games are made for that system before doing a Video Game 3D Leap with Ultra Valis: Knight Of Light for Nintendo's SNES-CD successor, the Ultra Nintendo. The success of the reboot series would establish its developer, Telenet Japan, as a second party for Nintendo.
- Creative Differences:
- What almost splits the Nintendo/Sony alliance, due to Sony wanting to make the next Nintendo system backwards compatible. Yamauchi ends up accepting that condition as he figures Sony needs Nintendo more than Nintendo needs Sony, and backwards compatibility wasn't really that much of a concession.
- Enix, feeling their games weren't given proper treatment by Nintendo, opted to develop for the Sega Saturn for the fifth generation.
- Working Designs left Sega's camp for Nintendo's after the debacle surrounding the Mega Charger version of Lunar: The Silver Star.
- Death by Adaptation:
- Aunt May peacefully passes away in this timeline's version of The Clone Saga, and has stayed that way ever since.
- This timeline's version of 'Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie'' has Blue Zeo Ranger Rocky pull a Heroic Sacrifice, saving the rest of his team from Divatox midway through the film.
- Downplayed in the case of Final Fantasy VII: while it is possible for either Tifa Lockhart or Barret Wallace to die in the Multiple Endings, the canon ending is the one with Aerith Gainsborough dying just like in OTL.
- Darkseid and most of the New Gods were killed off in a 1995 DC Comics Universe storyline called Fall of the New Gods.
- The direct sequel to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Castlevania: Second Symphony ends with Alucard pulling off an Heroic Sacrifice.
- Resident Evil 5 culminates in Chris Redfield mutating, forcing his sister Claire to put him out of his misery.
- Non-fictional examples that occur in this timeline include Shonda Rhimes (killed by Christian Weston Chandler, who also killed himself), Angelina Jolie (killed in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami), Gordon Ramsay (died in a fire at Las Vegas's Caesar's Palace) and Shigeru Miyamoto (hit by an automobile while riding his bicycle).
- Demand Overload: The launch of the Ultra Nintendo in the US is the first console mentioned in this timeline to sell out at launch, even with 2 million consoles available on launch day. Nintendo had to apologize and explain that they weren't artificially limiting the number of available consoles on sale but they could only manufacture so many at a time. Just like the Wii in OTL, there is still considerable demand the following year.
- Didn't Think This Through: A Sega Venus owner remarks on how he kept changing batteries on his Sega Venus without thinking on how much they cost. He ended up using 40 of them in one sitting, causing his mom to take the handheld away and sell it.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation:
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies from a stroke in August 2010, ten years before her actual death in OTL.
- Philip Seymour Hoffman dies four years early.
- Different World, Different Movies: With the Super Nintendo CD on the market, brand new franchises have come into being, as well as different sequels to existing games.
- There are also cases of games that existed OTL that don't even have an equivalent in this timeline. Due to Tale Phantasia lacking the Executive Meddling of OTL, Star Ocean is butterflied away, as its creators didn't leave Wolf Team. The Tales Series goes outright in a different direction as well. And with Squaresoft still a Nintendo-aligned developer, Nintendo teams up with them again for a Super Mario RPG sequel instead of doing the Spiritual Successor Paper Mario with Intelligent Systems.
- Outside of video games, we have Nickelodeon's Phineas and Ferb, which premiered in 1995; meanwhile, OTL's Nickelodeon staple Avatar: The Last Airbender is a Toonami staple ITTL.
- Owing to butterflies affecting the development of the internet, Reddit is instead known as Rootalk, with "roots" instead of subreddits, while Tumblr is known as Skywave.
- Miraculous Ladybug makes it debut into TTL pop culture as a video game.
- Divided We Fall: Sega is working on averting this, namely the conflict between their American and Japanese branches that contributed to their troubles in OTL. With the Sega CD not even being a niche success in the US, Sega of Japan is convinced not to push the 32X as a stopgap for the Saturn, and instead develop the Mega Charger as a cheap cartridge-based accessory for the Genesis. It also helps there's no true fifth-gen competitor for the Saturn to release against during 1995. To aid in mending their differences, a corporate retreat is held in April 1995.
- Domestic Abuse: An alternate version of the OJ Simpson case, combined with Andre Rison accidentally killing Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes when a dispute crossed the line into a fistfight, leads to a much earlier controversy over off-the-field domestic violence among NFL players, twenty years before the Ray Rice scandal did the same in our world.
- Doorstopper: Even if one were to cut out the sequels, the timeline is huge with over 171 individual chapters spanning the 1990s and 2000s. In fact, it's so extensive that the TV Tropes page of Player Two Start has its own Recap section to keep track of every major trend and change affected by Nintendo not reneging on the deal with Sony.
- Dream Team:
- The entire story is based on a classic What If? dream team in gaming history: Sony and Nintendo working together to make the CD peripheral for the Super NES, instead of Nintendo pulling out of the deal.
- Nintendo enlisted the Jim Henson Company to create FMV cutscenes for this timeline's version of Star Fox.
- Dude, Not Funny!: The GameTV review of Tetris Attack involves the reviewers having a moment of silence for the victims of violence resulting from Tetris Attack matches. The show gets called out for being tasteless in the light of the 1996 Olympics Bombing.
- Dueling Products:
- Mega Man X2 and Pulseman had North American launches in January 1995, so naturally, there were comparisons made due to their similarities.
- During the 1993 holidays, Sega positioned Ultima Underworld II for the Sega CD against Secret of Mana for the SNES-CD, hedging their bets on Ultima being a recognizable name in the RPG world versus an unknown like Secret of Mana.
- Midway had the confidence to launch Mortal Kombat 3 against Killer Instinct in the month of September 1995. Killer Instinct would outsell the former while Mortal Kombat 3 would not live up to the sales of the previous games.
- Several role-playing games get released on the SNES-CD as part of Nintendo's "Year of the RPG" campaign of 1996. These games included Chrono Trigger, Tale Phantasia, Super Mario RPG, Fire Emblem: The Holy War, and Elements of Mana. Of these games, Chrono Trigger and Tale Phantasia are the highest acclaimed for the year, with Tale Phantasia being the best selling game for the year and Chrono Trigger being second best. Tale outselling Chrono is significant as it was released in the summer while Chrono dropped in March, and Tale was from the lesser known Telenet Japan while Chrono was from Squaresoft. Arguably, Nintendo publishing Tale helped it in its favor.
- Superhero movies become big about a decade earlier than in OTL, and as such, the DC and Marvel cinematic universes — and their respective film studios, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox (News Corporation bought out Marvel after its bankruptcy ITTL) — become bitter rivals.
- While Vintage Speed Series on the Saturn and Gran Turismo 2 on the Ultra Nintendo were conceived independently of one another, the circumstances — two racing sims exclusive to competing consoles — inevitably leads to comparisons.
- Everyone Has Standards: Before the 2008 presidential debates begin, Jon Huntsman explicitly apologises to his Jewish opponent Paul Wellstone for all the Anti-Semitical attacks leveled against Wellstone from all over and condemns all the comments made as such, and then hugs Wellstone on stage.
- Faking the Dead: How Gary ultimately won the Celebrity Deathmatch GameTV special: when it was down to him, Ted, and Brittany, he pretended to hang himselfnote , waited until Ted killed Brittany, and then blew him away with a bad video game bazooka.
- Flagship Franchise:
- Nintendo's usual flagships IOTL (Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon, and Super Smash Bros.) retain this status ITTL. Joining those franchises, however, are Squad Four (a series original to TTL), Killer Instinct, and Velvet Dark (Perfect Dark but renamed), with the latter two keeping this status after Nintendo acquires Rare ITTL.
- Sony's lineup of flagships, however is remarkably different from OTL's. Their flagships are Ballistic Limit, Tales of the Seven Seas, Twisted Metal, Dog Dash, Gran Turismo, and Mystic (a fantasy counterpart to Uncharted), with most of their IPs from OTL being butterflied away. Their characters even get into Super Smash Bros. ITTL.
- Follow the Leader: In-Universe:
- Not only is Secret of Mana more successful and more notable, it got the attention of one of Tom Kalinske's daughters. The Sega of America president, not wanting to buy a competitor's product for his daughter, gets Sonic! Software Planning to develop a similar game, MagiQuest, as a Saturn launch title. In the end, however, the game's critical reception isn't as good as Secret of Mana's.
- Sonic gets an RPG spinoff entitled SoniQuest for the Saturn in 1997, presumably in response to Super Mario RPG.
- Foregone Conclusion: At April 1995 in TTL, as the new MTV series GameTV is taking off, the hosts are introduced and described in an article from January 2015, which also says that one of them, Brittany Saldita, had passed away the previous September to ovarian cancer. Indeed, when TTL reaches 2014...
- From Bad to Worse: Despite Sega promoting Sonic CD on its November 1993 release, the game fails to be a Killer App for the Sega CD, selling to mostly existing Sega CD owners. A week later, Nintendo announces pre-Thanksgiving price cuts of the Super Nintendo CD and PlayStation combo set, killing whatever remaining interest anyone had in Sega's CD add-on.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Christian Weston Chandler goes from one of OTL's biggest internet laughing-stocks to the culprit of TTL's Columbine equivalent.
- Full Motion Video: Having two major optical-disc consoles in the early '90s leads to a larger boom in the FMV industry. Unlike OTL, where "FMV" became a byword for shovelware, some of these games are actually pretty good, most notably Star Fox made as a collaboration between Nintendo and the Jim Henson Company that leads to further partnerships down the road (including a popular FMV Muppets game in 1995). The popularity of FMV also produces an entire genre of "detective games" that are known for their sharp writing and crafty puzzles, and which outlasts the medium of FMV, enjoying a renaissance in the '00s. The novelty wears off by the end of the Fourth Generation, with the 1996 detective game Dark City: A Death In The Family considered the last great FMV game as pre-rendered cutscenes took over, though it doesn't become Condemned by History like it did in OTL. That said, there is still quite a bit of notorious crap; some games that only exist in TTL are bad enough to give the Nerd nightmares.
- The timeline is scattered with interviews and comments made in the future by various people. Notably, one of them is from Bill Gates of Microsoft, who notes he considered suing to break up one of the major players like how Microsoft was sued, hinting that Microsoft was a bigger underdog when entering the console market.
- Another future interview reveals that Mark Cerny is creative director at the Nintendo Treehouse by 2012.
- Game Changer: With Shigeru Miyamoto's sudden death, Nintendo now founds themselves dealing with an unexpected challenge. It would eventually result in Nintendo creative direction changing dramatically.
- Game-Breaker: An In-Universe example with the First-Person Shooter game The Pact and its so-called "Rambo mode" (which pits one overpowered player against several others), which is so skewed in favour of the one-man-army that if a half-decent player is controlling him, it's impossible for him to lose no matter how good the other players are. To illustrate in his review, Alex Stansfield says he managed to get all nine GameTV hosts together in a 9 vs. 1 match against Brittany's husband Chris, who is fair at FPS but not compared to his wife... and they could not beat him once. No wonder the game was a disappointment.
- Genre-Killer: The "Son of Beast" disaster, combined with Cedar Fair and Six Flags going bankrupt, put an end to the Amusement Park industry in the United States.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Bandai decides to go all in as a competitor to Nintendo/Sony and Sega, using the Pippin technology from Apple. The Bandai Solaris becomes a massive money sink for Bandai, ultimately failing in 1996, and would later lead to the company's liquidation.
- Gunman with Three Names: TTL uses this to horrifying effect, taking a real-life person commonly known by their full name (Christian Weston Chandler) and turning them into a spree killer.
- HeelFace Turn: Dylan Klebold manages to see Eric Harris as what he truly is and cuts contact with him, and this significantly changes what happens on April 20, 1999."Did he say anything else to you?" Polly asked Caitlyn.
"Nothing," Caitlyn replied, shaking her head. He's said...nothing to me since we broke up. When we pass in the halls, he doesn't even look at me. Is he still hanging out with Dylan?
"No...I don't think they're friends anymore," Polly replied. Has Dylan told you anything?
"Dylan doesn't even mention Eric anymore. Actually...the last time I did mention Eric to him, he looked kind of...scared."
"I know they used to be so close," said Polly, shaking her head.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: In our timeline, Christian Weston Chandler is a controversial webcomic creator. This timeline's version of Christian Weston Chandler is a school shooter.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Valentine's Day 2001 has Christian Weston Chandler shooting 21 people dead at Manchester High School, then shooting himself.
- I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: There is considerable skepticism to the trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Hero Eternal on account of it being transitioned to Urban Fantasy in the modern day. Then it comes out in 2004 and blows everyone away. GameTV host Alex Stansfield's first impressions say it all:Oh god dammit, is that a fu- a skateboard? A skateboard in The Legend Of Zelda? ....I.... ugh. The Railboard, that's...that's a dumb name. All right, all right, you know what, fine. ....grrr.....ugh....ggggh.... ....heh. ....whoa, that's....okay, that's actually pretty cool. ....oh, oh man, this is actually...this is awesome! I...can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm skateboarding in a Legend Of Zelda game and this is awesome! This kicks ass! This game kicks ass! Oh man, I don't even care anymore, I'm having the time of my life! Hahahahaha.... YES!
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Howard Lincoln eventually bows down to this in the aftermath of Christian Weston Chandler's rampage, as he has to go to a Congressional hearing in regards to violent video games and the backlash over Chandler's video game habit.
- In Memoriam:
- The May 1997 update, posted on July 15, 2015, features a sizable segment involving Satoru Iwata and Masahiro Sakurai, in response to the former's death on July 11, 2015.
- In-Universe, an episode of GameTV and the E3 2000 show had tributes to Shigeru Miyamoto, who died unexpectedly in early May 2000.
- Also In-Universe, Summer 2014 brings the passing of someone foretold all the way back in April 1995 - the death of GameTV host and Gamer Chick icon Brittany Saldita to ovarian cancer.
- It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The general reaction to Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, especially in comparison to the Saturn's brand-new Sonic 4.
- Killer App:
- Super Mario Kart and Final Fantasy: New Generation are this for the SNES-CD at launch. Later killer apps for it include Super Mario World 2, Mortal Kombat, Star Fox, Secret of Mana, Squad Fournote , Donkey Kong Country and 2, Ballistic Limitnote , and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Dreams.
- Sega doesn't have a killer app for the Sega CD, which plays second fiddle to the SNES-CD for its entire lifespan; they hoped that Sonic CD would be that game, but while it got rave reviews, it didn't sell many consoles. They did, however, have a big one for the Mega Charger: Sonic the Hedgehog 3. While it also released on the Genesis (where it became the first game in history to sell a million copies in one day), the Mega Charger version featured a massive amount of new levels and bosses and pushed more Mega Chargers than any other game. Later attempts at killer apps for it failed, however, as the ports of both Star Wars Arcade and Doom turned out to be fairly sloppy and rushed.
- At launch, the Sega Saturn's killer apps are the so-called "Virtua Trio" of Virtua Fighter, Virtua Racing, and Virtua Cop, with the latter two games also helping to sell the Saturn's steering wheel and light-gun peripherals respectively. (A bundle of the Saturn, all three Virtua games, and both peripherals is a top seller around Christmas '95.) To a lesser extent, Ridge Racer is also a killer app, though its greatest legacy is in helping to build a working relationship between Sega and Bandai Namco. But it wouldn't be until the April 1996 release of Resident Evil, combined with a price cut a month earlier, that the Saturn would begin to outsell the Genesis in North America and get closer to the SNES-CD in sales. Following that is the late August 1996 release of Virtua Fighter 2, where for the first time the Saturn beats the SNES-CD in weekly sales, and the release of Tomb Raider in October. Finally, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is released in November, at which point the Saturn consistently outsells the SNES-CD on a monthly basis. Other killer apps include Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Fighters Megamix, and Vintage Speed Series (a racing sim revolving around classic cars).
- The Ring, a peripheral designed to boost the power of the Saturn to compete with the Ultra Nintendo, has Shenmue and the platformer Spare Parts as its killer apps at launch.
- The Game Boy Color's killer app is a puzzle game called World of Color.
- When the Ultra Nintendo is launched, its killer app is Super Mario Dimensions, TTL's version of Super Mario 64 that leaves a similar impact on gaming. Later killer apps include Final Fantasy VII, the Gran Turismo games, GoldenEye (released here in 1998 instead of '97), The Legend of Zelda: Temple of Time (TTL's version of Ocarina of Time), Squad Four: Rebellion, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Metroid: Darkness, and Velvet Dark (TTL's version of Perfect Dark).
- The killer app for the Game Boy Nova is Pokémon Sun and Moon, TTL's version of Pokémon Gold and Silver.
- The Nintendo Wave's killer applications are Killer Instinct 3, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Ken Griffey: Hall of Fame, Thrillseekersnote , Beyond Good & Evil, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Final Fantasy X (A substantially different game from OTL's Final Fantasy X), Squad Four: Upheaval, Metroid: Homecoming, Big Bad Heronote , Kingdom Hearts, The Legend of Zelda: Hero Eternal note , Metal Gear Solid II: Children of the Patriotsnote , Super Mario Shadesnote , Final Fantasy Onlinenote , Lash Outnote , Velvet Dark: Conspiracy, and Star Fox: Heroic Universe.
- Kung-Fu Jesus: Divine Wrath 4 (think SMITE if it was a Fighting Game) has God (yes, that God) as a playable character, in all his old-man, Old Testament glory. Needless to say, the game series is controversial.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Although it's not clear if this was intentional or not, in the wake of several forum members assuming Nirvana were among the casualties of TTL's Olympic Pipeline explosion, the 1999 pop culture update opens with a continuation of the Wolf Blitzer report of the explosion (which ended the previous post)... where Blitzer repeatedly tells the viewers that "all three members of the band Nirvana are in good condition".
- Legacy Character: Spider-Man was made into this, with Peter Parker retiring to focus on his marriage to Mary Jane and Ben Reilly taking over the role.
- Millennium Bug: Tom Kalinske makes a joke about Y2K while watching the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve 1999. Given that Sega, by that point, was a clear second to Nintendo, and that he was probably going to lose his job as a result, he quips to his wife that he was hoping the Y2K bug was real just so there would be something to slow Nintendo's momentum.
- Moral Guardians:
- Jerry Falwell's reaction to Shin Megami Tensei is to call it "the most insidiously devilish thing I've ever seen." Unfortunately, since it only sold 20,000 copies in North America, he couldn't whip up a good moral panic over it.
- He tries again with Superman: Man of Tomorrow by attacking Magog's origins in the Book of Revelations and attacking the Man of Steel as a false messiah. It backfires spectacularly as critical quip from Jerry Seinfeld inspires "What Would Superman Do" to mock evangelical Christians and makes DC Comics even more money through merchandising.
- Eric Rudolph, who bombed the Atlanta Olympics in both OTL and TTL, tries to bomb a Sonic the Hedgehog 4 launch party in Los Angeles due to the Saturn having Devil Summoner available on it. Afterwards, the Parents Television Council finds itself in hot water over comments seen as defending Rudolph, and winds up falling apart within a year due to the backlash.
- Jack Thompson also enters the Moral Guardian arena in a shocking fashion, as he files a mega lawsuit against both Nintendo and Sega for violent video games in the wake of Christian Weston Chandler's school shooting rampage.
- Jerry Falwell's reaction to Shin Megami Tensei is to call it "the most insidiously devilish thing I've ever seen." Unfortunately, since it only sold 20,000 copies in North America, he couldn't whip up a good moral panic over it.
- Most Gamers Are Male: An attitude that's slowly butterflied away over the course of the story. With gaming's emergence in the mainstream happening roughly five years ahead of schedule, the mass influx of women and girls into gaming begins in the mid-'90s. As such, instead of the White Male Lead becoming the default video game protagonist and gaining the strength of inertia behind it, developers begin adding more prominent female characters into their games, initially as a case of The Smurfette Principle to appeal to girls but later evolving into a trend in its own right. One of the major themes of the story is that the aggressively masculine video game culture that took off in the late '90s and early '00s in OTL (or, as some readers have called it, the "dudebro-ification" of gaming), with all the associated problems concerning the portrayal of women in video games, never takes root, and the idea of women as gamers is something that's seen as perfectly normal, having never been particularly unique or strange.
- Ms. Fanservice: Lyssa Fielding, the sexy host of MTV's Singled Out, gets brought over to host GameTV in 1997 to serve as this. MTV executives wanted someone who could bring more male viewers into the show, as it was noticed that the show's lone female host up to that point, the fiery and opinionated Brittany Saldita, was more popular with the girls. It backfired, though, as Lyssa turned out to have a lot in common with Brittany in terms of being an actual gamer who knew her stuff. The moment when many fans felt that she really came into her own was with her impassioned defense of Syrielle, giving it a perfect score and getting into a fierce argument with Ted Crosley over its merits. Lyssa soon became close friends with her fellow hosts, who backed her up in her opposition to MTV's attempts to make her into this trope.
- With that being said, she does occasionally enjoy doing sexy things on the show, such as allowing Brittany to blast her with a water gun while wearing a tight wetsuit during their Wave Race review.
- Multiple Endings:
- This timeline's version of Secret of Mana has three of them, depending if the player decides to side with humanity, the guardians of Mana, or seek a balance between the two.
- Inspired by the above game and Elements of Mana, this timeline's version of Final Fantasy VII has three endings, dependent on Cloud's Relationship Values with Aeris, Tifa, and Barret. The character with the highest affinity to Cloud is the one who gets killed (with Aeris's death following the OTL storyline and is considered the canon path ITTL) which dictates how the threat of Meteor plays out in the ending.
- Murder Simulators: The Senate hearings over video game violence still happen, three months earlier than OTL thanks to the uncensored release of Mortal Kombat on the SNES-CD. Resident Evil also attracts controversy of a sort that it never saw in OTL due to its status as one of the big killer apps on the Saturn, with Bob Dole criticizing it during a 1996 Presidential debate with Bill Clinton.
- O.J. Simpson kills Nicole Brown before killing himself. Ron Goldman in this timeline would discover the bodies.
- Later on in TTL, after shooting dead 21 people in the Valentine Day's Massacre, Christian Weston Chandler turns the gun upon himself.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Higher ups at Nintendo felt conflicted after the Mortal Kombat controversy exploded and led to Congressional hearings, wondering if allowing an uncensored release was the right thing to do.
- Mythology Gag: Everything about Christian Weston Chandler's rampage has references to the life of OTL's Chris-Chan, such as the fact that Chris won a contest tied to the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon and the fact that Chris drew a story with Sonichu in a custom-made Nintendo Power issue. Chris is referred to here as "Christopher" here, which is what Chris-Chan's birth name was before changing it to "Christian" as a child, and eventually "Christine" in the mid-2010s.
- The '90s: So far, the entire timeline takes place here, though there are occasional references to future events.
- Nintendo Hard: Well, it's a story whose Point of Divergence is in '90s gaming, so it was inevitable that this would come up.
Tomonobu Itagaki: "These dogs, they think they should be entitled to win a game simply because they bought it. I'll never make my games that way. Absolutely not."
- Ninja Gaiden IV: Escape From the Forbidden City. The entire section describing it is about how ridiculously difficult it is, complete with a painful instance of Easy-Mode Mockery and a Harder Than Hard difficulty that unlocks a secret ending (which also requires beating the game without dying).
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: One of the bosses in Naughty Dog's Dog Dash was a evil game show host that was seen as a parody as Bob Barker. More specially, one of the main characters is a dog, and the boss is obsessed with having said dog neutered, referencing Bob Barker constantly telling the public to have their pets spayed or neutered. Needless to say, the real Bob Barker didn't find it funny.
- Nostalgia Filter: An in-universe retrospective review of Sonic 4 in 2010, while acknowledging the game's impact and recognizing that it's still a good game, makes the daring claim that this trope is the only reason why it's still considered a classic. He argues that it hadn't age well, especially in comparison to Super Mario Dimensions, and that it was too dependent on level designs and gameplay from past games in the series.
- Oddball in the Series: Super Mario World 3, which has an Isometric Projection viewpoint and fewer total levels compared to its immediate prequels. While still highly rated, it would immediately become a Contested Sequel upon release, with debates on whether it was better than previous Mario games or not. It would however serve as the stepping stone to the fully 3D Super Mario Dimensions.
- One Steve Limit: Averted in the cases of the Saturn's NiGHTS into Dreams... and the Ultra Nintendo's 1998 RPG Fairytale, both of which have major characters named Claris.
- Renamed to Avoid Association: In-Universe.
- This is the reason why Rebecca Chambers in Resident Evil is renamed Abigail (or Abby) — Squad Four already featured a popular character named Rebecca.
- This is also the reason for the renaming of Ash Ketchum in Pokémon, named Satoshi 'Sato' Ketchum in ITTL, to prevent confusion with the Ballistic Limitnote protagonist, Ash Beckland.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: The SNES-CD add on so thoroughly overshadows the original SNES that Nintendo eventually drops the requirement that publishers must release a SNES cartridge game for every SNES-CD game they plan to release, and eventually releases a stand-alone version in November 1995.
- Overshadowed by Controversy: Following the fallout from the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal, the Cleveland Browns are described as "mired in infamy".
- Player Punch: In the Dog Mode difficulty of Ninja Gaiden IV, Ryu only gets to fight the first stage of the Final Boss, which is followed by the villain beating Ryu into submission, and then killing Ryu's love Irene Lew right in front of him.Shogun Gatsu: You DOG! Did you truly think you were worthy of challenging me? You are pathetic! Ha ha ha ha!
- Polished Port: The Director's Cut version of Resident Evil released for the Ultra Nintendo, which has new music, graphics vastly improved over the original Saturn version, and an epilogue chapter leading into Resident Evil 2 that details the beginnings of the Raccoon City outbreak. (The Saturn also got the Director's Cut, which contained a demo for RE2, but lacked the visual improvements, the new music, and the bonus chapter.)
- Porting Disaster:
- The SNES-CD port of Alone in the Dark (1992). Ads for the Sega Saturn show footage of the SNES-CD version of Alone in the Dark side-by-side with the gorgeous Saturn exclusive Resident Evil in order to highlight the SNES-CD's perceived lack of power.
- The Mega Charger version of Lunar: The Silver Star, which leads to a falling out between Sega and Working Designs.
- The SNES-CD port of Phantasmagoria. Porting a game that spanned seven CDs on PC over to the SNES-CD (where, up to that point, there had been only three games that spanned even two discs) proved to be an impossible task without making huge changes. While the plot was kept fully intact, the FMV cutscenes were replaced with in-game rendered graphics that really didn't have the same impact, and the game became one of the SNES-CD's biggest disappointments. The Saturn port, on the other hand, survived intact, as players there had more patience for the six discs the game used.
- Precision F-Strike: Used twice, both by the President of Sega of America and just the singular word.
- Tom Kalinske does one in 1993 when Nintendo undecut the Sega CD by a Thanksgiving price cut and killed any remaining interest in the device, throwing a piece of paper in his office at the wall in response.
- Later, Reggie Fils-Aime (who replaced Kalinske as President) does this also when he realised that Christian Weston Chandler was a superfan of Sega, played Arbiter of Sin 2 and purchased the aforementioned game before he committed the Manchester High School shooting.
- Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: A number of figures from OTL go on different career paths.
- Voice actress Jennifer Stigile wins the first season of American Idol instead of Kelly Clarkson.
- Alex Hirsch, instead of going into animation, becomes an indie game developer — together with his twin sister Ariel.
- Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are elected President and Vice President in 2000. It is mentioned that Lieberman is Vice President in 2006, implying that Gore wins a second term.
- Avril Lavigne becomes a professional skateboarder instead of a pop star... in other words, a Sk8er Girl.
- infamously bad webcomic Sonichu in OTL, here becomes a spree killer, responsible for TTL's equivalent of Columbine (the actual Columbine massacre wound up fizzling out ITTL). Many of the details of his life, including his "love quest" and an alternate version of the Sonichu comic, take on a far darker meaning. Christian Weston Chandler, creator of the
- Christina Grimmie is mentioned in passing as being one of the hosts of the relaunched GameTV in 2017.
- Later on we have Nevada senator Penn Jillette and Georgia congressman Jonathan Smith.
- Sonny Bono becomes Vice President to President Jon Huntsman Jr. in 2008.
- George W. Bush is the commissioner of Major League Baseball in 2015.
- The Scrappy: Steve Horton, a new host added to the GameTV lineup in 1999, comes to be fairly unpopular with the show's fans. While he was just as passionate a gamer as the other hosts, his crass, party-hard demeanor was seen as a clash with the show's style and emblematic of the "new MTV" of the late '90s and early '00s.
- Sleeper Hit:
- Tales of the Seven Seas, a game by Naughty Dog released in 1995 for the SNES-CD, gets such a great word-of-mouth reception that it manages to outsell the home version of Killer Instinct in the long run (despite that game's better first-day sales) and eventually becomes a Flagship Franchise. And it was originally a side project while they attempted to come up with what would become Crash Bandicoot (1996).
- Cult Classic thanks to the twelve characters you can play as, each of whom has their own strange, quirky personality. It does well enough to get a sequel on the Ultra Nintendo and Saturn, as well as an animated series and a comic book. Road Storm, a motorcycle racing game on the SNES-CD, has only moderate sales but soon becomes a
- The 1997 sequel to Sam & Max Hit the Road, Sam and Max: Freelance Police, for the SNES-CD. The port of Hit the Road did underwhelming numbers in comparison to the Monkey Island SNES-CD ports. And yet Freelance Police which was originally developed exclusively for the SNES-CD, gets more than double the sales of Hit the Road. This would lead to a PC version in 1998 and a third installment in 2001.
- So My Kids Can Watch: The reason why Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske commissions MagiQuest as a Killer App for the Saturn. His daughter wanted an SNES-CD so that she could play Secret of Mana, but her father, what with his job, couldn't have any Nintendo products in the house. To make it up for her, he promised her that the Saturn would have an RPG even better than Mana. The result? Kalinske's eldest daughter appreciated the gesture, but she still preferred Secret of Mana.
- Spared by the Adaptation:
- Valis: Rebirth, the SNES-CD retelling of the first Valis game, had Reiko, friend of the game's protagonist Yuko, survive at the end. Reiko would become a playable character in the sequel to Rebirth.
- Schala can actually be rescued in an optional sidequest in this timeline's version of Chrono Trigger, which includes being the game's 8th playable character.
- Non-fictional examples: Chris Farley, Tupac Shakur, and Jonathan Brandis avoid their historical deaths.
- The biggest example of this trope in Player Two Start would have to be Polly Klaas. She is never kidnapped by Richard Allen Davis since he tripped over her SNES-CD console, giving her father enough time to catch and subdue him until police arrive. Her survival in this timeline has massive implications for a certain infamous mass shooting (see HeelFace Turn above).
- Spiritual Adaptation:
- The Ubisoft RPG The Darkest Ritual is described as being heavily influenced by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. In turn, when the TV series premieres two years later, Joss Whedon mentions having been inspired by The Darkest Ritual.
- Planetary Probe, an RPG on the Saturn, gets compared by Alex and Ted of GameTV to Star Trek: The Next Generation, which makes them long for a proper Star Trek RPG.
- Take That!: In-Universe. After Gary won the Celebrity Deathmatch GameTV special, here's what Johnny and Nick had to say about it:Nick: But... now that all the good hosts are dead, what are people gonna watch on this network?Johnny: Well... us, of course.Nick: Oh, right! (laughs)
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Averted in regards to SEGA during the Nineties. IOTL, one of SEGA's undoings in the console market was that their American and Japanese branches were incapable of getting along, and in some cases, did their own things entirely without telling one another, such as developing hardware and making deals with third parties. ITTL, SEGA instead decides to take substantial steps to avert this after the SNES-CD's success, such as having a corporate retreat in order to iron out both sides' differences. As as result, they end up staying in the console business ITTL.
- That One Achievement: Getting the Secret Ending in Ninja Gaiden IV involves beating the game's unlockable Harder Than Hard difficulty while losing no lives.
- Those Wacky Nazis: "Mr. Hiller" from Commander Keen: Mars' Most Wanted is a thinly-veiled parody of Adolf Hitler.
- Trilogy Creep: The fifth Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Dreams for the SNES-CD, would be the direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, forming what would be called the Link to the Past Trilogy. Not only that, Link's Awakening serves to setup the events of Ocarina of Dreams, in contrast to OTL's Link's Awakening where it was a filler story within the series' mythology.
- Tuckerization: The protagonists of MagiQuest are named after Tom Kalinske's daughters.
- Unexpected Character: Or rather, Unexpected Localization, as in this timeline, Konami actually chooses to bring over the first Tokimeki Memorial game to North America (under its subtitle Forever With You) on December 1995.
- Updated Re-release:
- Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy V get released for SNES-CD with improved graphics and sounds In the case of IV, it also has multiple difficulties (the original difficulty, the Easy Type version, and a new harder difficulty), the ability to switch party members for the endgame (introduced in OTL's Game Boy Advance version), and for the West, a new localization from Ted Woolsey (while retaining "Spoony Bard").
- Super Punch-Out!! gets an update for the SNES-CD that includes an additional four opponents (with Donkey Kong as the final boss much like Punch-Out for the Wii), a bit more voice acting, and a split screen two player mode. However, it isn't exactly a compelling purchase to those who already own the SNES version, so Nintendo had a $30 rebate towards Super Punch-Out!! CD for those who provide proof of purchase of the SNES title.
- Phantasy Star IV updated to include Mega Charger additions, including a bonus ending that hinted at Phantasy Star V for the Saturn. This version would be the basis for the North American localization in 1995.
- Sonic Jam happens, but several levels Dummied Out of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (including Hidden Palace and Wood Zone) are completed and reinserted into the game with all-new bosses as part of an unlockable Directors Cut. This updated version of the game is also given an extremely limited Genesis release as the final Mega Charger game.
- Wham Episode:
"...well, something had to balance out how much I wanted to live in this world, and I guess that's it."
- The May 2000 update ends with a major gaming figure dying early. Shigeru Miyamoto was riding his bike home after picking up a copy of Dragon Quest VII, when a speeding car suddenly struck him.
- Christian Weston Chandler's killing spree, and especially the stigma against autistic people that emerged from it, wound up hitting very close to home for a large number of readers, many of whom were themselves on the autism spectrum and were children or teenagers around the time that this incident happens ITTL. A frequent point raised was that their childhoods likely would've been destroyed overnight if they lived in this world, their lives turning out for the worse. To quote one reader:
- The Spring 2006 update features the Son of Beast roller coaster at Paramount King's Island crashing due to a catastrophic structural failure, killing 22 people and injuring a further 6, due to shoddy, negligent maintenance. King's Island is closed down after the incident, with Cedar Fair going bankrupt from the resultant lawsuits and selling its remaining parks to Six Flags.
- Wham Line:
The next day, Bill's boss would be hearing all about what he'd seen his son and his friends having so much fun playing together. Bill's boss? Senator Joseph Lieberman.
- During September 17, 1993 we get this line:
I have a feeling it's all going to depend on Donkey Kong, said Arakawa, forcing himself to smile. Just like it did 13 years ago.
- August 24 1997 has this line:
Announcer: Coming up next, the award for Favorite Male Athlete of the year! And remember to stick around after the Kids Choice Awards for a special preview episode of our newest Nicktoon, Phineas and Ferb!
- From a clip of the 1995 Kids' Choice Awards, we get an... interesting announcement:
Burnie, help me get this mattress over us! screamed Michael's* friend over the rapidly loudening roaring of the tornado.
- A look at the Central Texas Tornado Outbreak of 1997 reveals an interesting casualty to the list:
Across town, Eric Harris was sitting in his room, flipping through a magazine. He saw an ad for next month's Doom: Inferno for the Ultra Nintendo, and his eyes lit up.
- Behold. The most ominous ending to date:
"That looks fucking sweet," he thought, eyeing the advertisement which was filled with detailed screenshots from the game and emblazoned with artwork of the game's demonic monsters.
Then his eyes glanced at the release date, and he let out a long sigh.
"Too bad I'll never get to play it."
The game's release date? April 20, 1999.
There is a man working with one of Nintendo's software companies, Rareware. He has acute business sense and is very talented at promoting games and may be just what we need to get people excited about the Katana. Under his leadership, Rareware's games have been extremely profitable.
- Exactly how bad was Woodstock 1999 ITTL? It convinced Kurt Cobain to retire from music. Kurt charged from the stage to prevent a gang rape, and got his nose broken from one of the would-be rapists as a result."I'm fuckin' done with music after that bullshit."
-Kurt Cobain, to Dave Grohl, backstage at Woodstock 1999 while being treated for a broken nose
- The end of the October 1999 update as the Sega execs discuss who to target as Tom Kalinske's replacement as head of Sega of America:
Do you think this man would leave Rare and Nintendo to come and work for Sega? asked Nakayama.
The position of chairman at Sega of America is far more lucrative than what he's making at Rare, said Irimajiri. A generous offer would easily prompt him to jump ship.
His contract with Rare doesn't expire until the end of March 2000, said Nakayama.
Which is only a few weeks before we'll be unveiling the Katana to North America at the E3 trade show.
The other executives seemed open to Irimajiri's suggestion, and Nakayama agreed to consider it. Irimajiri handed him a folder with information about the man who he hoped would soon be succeeding Tom Kalinske.
- What an Idiot!: Discussed In-Universe, Bandai choosing to market the Pippin hardware after Apple decided to drop the whole Pippin initiative.They ended up making the same mistake that Phillips, Pioneer, Atari, and 3DO had made before them: the combined juggernaut of Nintendo, Sony, and Sega was just too tough of a nut to crack.
Tropes Impacted by the Timeline
- All Family Guy related tropesnote : Family Guy doesn't get made ITTL due to Steve and Larry being turned into a full-fledged show.
- Due to Sony's E3 2006 press conference being butterflied away, the following tropes are impacted:
- Gainax Ending: The television version of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the show that indirectly named the trope, ends up having a more straight-forward and Bittersweet Ending in this timeline, thanks to the extra funding from Sega and their Executive Meddling.
- Gamer Chick: As noted above under Most Gamers Are Male, women and girls playing video games never comes to be seen as unusual, thanks to the mainstreaming of video games happening about half a decade ahead of schedule when the culture wasn't quite as male-dominated.
- Lethal Lava Land: Interestingly, the trope is named due to the Commander Keen game "Into the Inferno"'s volcanic mining world, Savarrg, despite TTL's "Super Mario 64" equivalent still having the original trope naming world...
- I Know Mortal Kombat: This becomes "I Know Street Fighter" due to "Passing of the Torch" having Ashley spout the memetic/trope-naming line.
- Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros.": As In-Universe, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem is actually localized in this timeline, this trivia trope cannot apply to Marth anymore, much less be named after him.
- Pirates vs. Ninjas: Due to the combination of the mini-pirate boom in 1995 popular culture and Power Rangers running a ninja-themed arc that year to coincide with the movie, this trope winds up intact ITTL... albeit with the trope-naming meme starting up a decade earlier.
- Super Title 64 Advance: Nintendo's follow-up consoles are the Ultra Nintendo and the Game Boy Nova instead of the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy Advance, so this naming trope would be named differently (more than likely becoming "Super Title Ultra Nova").
- Zerg Rush: Becomes "Garg Rush" after the mooks from Commander Keen, specifically the final part of "The Universe is Toast".