Somebody’s celebrating a milestone birthday…..The NES turns 30!!
It’s been a long time since that christmas morning that I unwrapped my action set and started my love affair with the Nintendo.
After 30 years the love hasn’t faded one bit.
The Nintendo entertainment system brought the dead video game market back to life in a major way. Nintendo really took a big marketing risk and launched the NES by marketing it as a toy instead of a game system.
By 1985 in North America the video game market had collapsed on itself due to large quantities of cheap, crappy, unplayable games and a multitude of systems. The market finally had enough and crashed in on itself bringing with it giants of the time like Atari. People were done with video games, confidence in developers had vanished much like the garbage games that were now relegated to $1 bins.
Out of Japan comes a company called Nintendo with something different, not a game system, an entertainment system. Oh, and it came with a robot!
Things started out slow, only being sold in New York and New Jersey, often by salesmen standing around pop up shops trying to pitch what they claimed would be the new “big” thing. Oh, and one thing to remember: yeah it plays video games…but it’s totally not a video game system.
Kids didn’t care, it was like nothing ever seen up until this point, Super Mario Bros didn’t need your imagination, all you had to do was look at the vibrant mushroom kingdom and those plucky Italian plumbers from the Bronx and you were ready to stomp goombas and save the princess.
Son of a bitch.
The NES was launched everywhere for christmas 1987, and kids everywhere had one on the top of their list to Santa. The system released with a few titles, mostly sports games, a few action games, shooters and best of all…Mario Bros/Duck Hunt.
I remember being blown away by the graphics after my previous experiences being with Atari and the Commodore 64, the NES was like having an arcade in your living room. After the initial black box games the library continued to grow, everyone was getting in on the action and it saw the rise in popularity of companies like Konami, Taito, Sunsoft, etc. These companies brought arcade classics to the system like Galaga, Pac man, and Q Bert home, Nintendo also jumped in the ring with in house classics like Mike Tyson’s punch out! and Super Mario Bros 3.
Many developers like rare and acclaim really cut their teeth creating games for the NES, games came out a steady pace and although not all were gems, devs were trying new things to see what could be done with this new system. Because of this desire to create, the NES has one of the largest and most diverse collection of games covering all genres.
Oh yeah…they made “games” too.
The system had many peripherals most notably the power glove and power pad, but there were so many more: the fourscore, roll n rocker, aura pack, game genie, the nes max and advantage controllers, and so, so many more…if you can think of it, they probably made one for the NES.
Suddenly Nintendo was everywhere: cartoons, cereals, t shirts, stickers, action figures, magazines, books, etc. Everywhere you looked there was Nintendo merchandise and people had Mario Mania.
Nintendo turned it’s Nintendo fun club newsletter into Nintendo power magazine and it became your main source for tips, tricks, maps, reviews and news about upcoming games. Nintendo had become a marketing juggernaut and wasn’t about to stop rolling.
The road ahead for Nintendo wasn’t always easy…there was competition starting to rise up in the form of the Sega master system, Sega had an advantage in the fact that most of the popular arcade games at the time were Sega properties. However, Nintendo kept pushing forward and has weathered the many competitors who have come and gone and has gone on to stand the test of time.
30 years later the NES has only gained more fans, has the honor of being one of the most sought after retro systems and not only kickstarted the heartbeat of video gaming but without the NES there could have been a very different future for video games. Fortunately though there was the NES…and the rest is history.
Now to save that princess…
Again?….son of a bitch!!!