Brazil has been in the gaming news lately thanks to the fact that Tectoy is planning on releasing a new version of Sega's Mega Drive next year, but the country's fixation with gaming goes way back to the birth of the industry, and a excellent series of video features by Red Bull highlights how the Brazilian game industry has evolved over the past few decades.
The series covers the birth of the arcade sector in the country as well as how piracy and mods have kept the scene alive in more recent years, with consoles either being too expensive for the average player or simply not available for distribution in South America. However, it's the second episode which will be of most interest to budding Nintendo historians, as it looks back on the 8-bit era and how Brazil became the first territory outside of Japan where the NES was manufactured.
While Tectoy's links with Sega go way back and the company was responsible for selling the Master System in Brazil - arguably one of the most popular machines in that country - Nintendo's association with the region is a little more convoluted. When the NES was at its height there was no way to officially purchase the machine in Brazil, so engineer Marcos Santos decided to reverse-engineer the console and create a clone which would be compatible with NES software, and this system was eventually picked up by Brazilian firm Gradiente. The Phantom was such a hit that Nintendo even visited Gradiente and made the company an offer: stop making the Phantom and we'll allow you to be the official manufacturer and distributor of the NES in Brazil.
The video also details the interesting tale of how Sega's Master System classic Wonder Boy in Monster Land was adapted for the Brazilian market in the form of Mônica: No Castelo do Dragão, which replaced the original sprites with characters from the incredibly popular comic and remains one of Brazil's most enduring contributions to the video game scene.
The video is well worth a watch, as are the other two features which can be found on Red Bull's site.