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Not to be confused with the Samuri, a 2000s console by Hummer Team.


The Samurai - Electronic TV Game System is a variant of the Nintendo Entertainment System, released in India in 1987. The console was initially licensed by Nintendo; but following the rise of gray market Famiclones, the Nintendo partnership was dropped, and the Samurai was sold as a bootleg product instead.

Overview[]

The Samurai is virtually identical to the "Asian Version" NES, save for the branding. It was created due to trade restrictions of importing Japanese goods to India (similarly to the Hyundai Comboy released in South Korea). The consoles were assembled in India, though the electronic parts were sourced from Nintendo themselves. The Samurai products generally featured a byline reading "Designed by Nintendo of Japan", with the proper Nintendo logo. It is unclear how many original Samurai units were produced and/or sold; estimates have ranged from as high as 50,000 units.

Samurai cartridges were in the proper 72-pin format, and their plastic shells were colored in light gray or black. Some cartridge labels had the proper (typically PAL) artwork for the games, while others merely had a cheap piece of tape stating the game's name. However, pirated cartridges (not from Samurai themselves) were commonplace, and are difficult to differentiate from the "official" Samurai releases. As such, it is unclear exactly what games were officially produced for the Samurai.

History and Bootleg Connections[]

The launch of the Samurai system was led by a "Mr. Mahesh"; a resident of India who discovered the Famicom during a trip to Japan. Mahesh found that his friends and neighbors were amazed by the Famicom console, and felt that it could have great potential on the Indian market. Mahesh contacted Nintendo in attempt to gain the distribution rights; and, after roughly a year of negotiations, Mahesh received these rights and began selling the licensed Samurai systems in 1987. The agent of Nintendo in Asia was Mr. Suresh S.K.Lal, CEO of Maxsoft/Active Boeki.

The Samurai and Nintendo partnership lasted for around seven years. According to an interview conducted with Mahesh, Nintendo was aware of a rising piracy market in India. Mahesh claimed that, despite heavy losses from trying to "fight piracy", all Samurai products were officially sourced and licensed from Nintendo.

However, in 1990, Samurai Electronics registered the trademark for the term "Micro Genius" in India.[1] Following this, a consoles known as the "Samurai Micro Genius" appeared on the market; which were effectively a rebranded variants of the Micro Genius Famiclones. Furthermore, it was determined that cartridges which verifiably originated from Samurai had seemingly bootleg chip sets inside. This effectively proves Mahesh's claims were, in some form, false, and that Samurai both produced their own (bootleg) stock and licensed from clone manufacturers on the side. It would seem that Nintendo was either unaware of this form of piracy, or perhaps "turned a blind eye" towards it (as they did with their Steepler Ltd. partnership).

The end of the Samurai-Nintendo partnership was in 1994 when trade restrictions of importing Japanese goods to India were abolished. From that year, Mr. Suresh S.K.Lal got along with Media Video and distributed new consoles like Super Nintendo under its original names with stock taken from Active Boeki. In the next years Active Boeki changed distributors several times and distributed nearly all Nintendo consoles released in Asia, but number of retailers was always small and the company had a competition in form of unlicensed systems and parallel imports. The last information about Nintendo in India comes from 2017. Samurai Electronics on the other hand was selling VCD, digital cameras and famiclones under its brand until 2007, when it was closed, but it's founder created a new company called Samurai Games.

Trivia[]

  • In 2008, Samurai Games and HCL was in consideration for becoming the official distributor of the Nintendo DS Lite and Wii in India.[2] Unfortunately, it is not known how it went further. Some sources say that the contract was not signed, while others, such as Bhagwati Electronics (authorized distributor of Samurai), mention that the consoles were actually imported to India[3][4]. However, this and next consoles were distributed from 2010s, surely by next distributor for India - Sunder Electronics[5], until 2017.
  • There is one documented copy of a Samurai Ice Climber cartridge with a gold-colored shell (similar to The Legend of Zelda's cartridge shell). It is unknown where exactly it came from, or if its gold coloring held any significance.

External Links[]

References[]

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