The Nintendo Entertainment System (1986)

It’s July, and for a gamer that means three things.

  1. Less and less excuses to stay inside and play games.
  2. Less and less holidays for gamers to give or receive new games.
  3. Less and less and even less reasons for publishers to release brand spanking new games to retailers.

These are the ingredients to the ever dreaded summer draught that plagues the industry annually like a migrating flock of money eating locus. True, the vast majority of gamers are no longer teenagers and children, but until the big players in the current industry mold adjust their business models to compensate for that, most of the big budget games aren’t going to be released until at least October. That includes the vast majority of the titles I showed you on my E3 bulliten are in that pile, and on top of that, the last PS4 contest I ran left my wallet bone dry. So here I am – no games to buy and no money to buy them with. At least not from the triple A world. That’s why I’m going to do something different this summer; Today, on the first day of July, I will begin what I like to call Retro Month. From now on, every July, I will be unearthing games that have been out for a while and reviewing them based on both their historical merits, and how they stack up to today’s standards. August, meanwhile, will from now on be Indie Month. The theme there will be nothing but reviews of Indie titles; games that have a low budget, come from a small, obscure team, and/or can be found on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstaion Store, Steam, or App store exclusively. I might even be able to get an interview with an Indie dev with insights on how to break into the industry. This way, I can save my earnings by playing games I already own and then buying games for cheap quickly and swiftly.

Let Retro Month…Begin!

 

2011-11-12 16.50.28

If the title of this article and the big picture wasn’t enough of a hint, we are going to review a certain kind of system for you today. It’s the system that resurrected the game industry from what was then certain extinction. The crash of the 80s was a kiss of death for companies like Atari, Colecovision, and the likes of which you will never hear of because they died before they went public. To this day, they are unearthing the remains of E.T. for Atari, a game so bad that they literally took all the unsold copies and buried them in the desert. Such stories are not only common then but are common in the now, and history would repeat itself had the people who changed it for the better not become the kings of the new world.

For you see, after the games market collapsed, mainstream america and it’s media declared video games a dead fad. A reasonable estimate at the time, since fads that come and go have pretty much illustrated both the latter half of the 70s and the early 80s (Pet Rock, anyone?). It was the general consensus of just about every pundit on 1984 prime time that the video game fad had come and gone and the world was ready to move on to more important things, like computers. The fact that computers usually had interactive games on them was rarely discussed. What was normally discussed was the booming economy of Japan and the corporate powerhouses whose imported goods were quickly flooding the US markets. Products that came from the land of the rising sun were quickly starting to outnumber American made products, and no more was this apparent then the arcade. Among them, a great and ambitious game called Donkey Kong was king of the pizzeria, and was making a killing for the toy company that made it. You may have heard of that company; they call themselves Nintendo these days.

To make a long history lesson short, the designer of the game Shigeru Myamoto wanted to try something ambitious, CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi (died fairly recently) went along with it, and one extremely clever Market campaign and 60 million sales later, the game business was back and made Nintendo it’s king.

2011-11-12 16.50.28

DSCF0497

DSCF0497

This little system that could is what started it all; the Nintendo Entertainment System. NES for short. For many of you, it was probably your first real taste of what video gaming is all about. Join the club, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t mind the crowd. My professor for video game design Ryan Morrison said it best when he described us as the Nintendo generation. Like generation X, we proud ourselves on being different and often define ourselves by our entertainment choices. We also tend to have our views shaped by the technologies that made our generation possible, and which continue to affect our world. The ballads of Super Mario, Metroid, and Zelda have repeated themselves throughout the ages, and they all had their first adventures on our TV with this little cartridge machine.

I won’t lie to you; unearthing this thing from my mother’s basement was a blast from the past. Games I fondly remember playing over and over again in the days of yore resonated within my mind as I search through each cartridge. I had it hooked up to my room fairly easily, and it took a lot of patience just to get the thing working. Not surprising, since the game is almost as old as I am. For the record, I turned 27 this year, and I started playing this thing when I was two years old. As Gabe from Penny-Arcade once said, this system is old enough to drink.

God, that was a long introduction. Is everyone still with us? Good. Lets begin the review then.

Real quick though; this isn’t about the quality of the system. Period. For it’s generation, this machine was a revolution in gaming. The review is more for what that revolution was, and how it might affect you if you get the same nostalgia bug that bit me and decide to unearth your own. Enjoy.

 

Beautifully Simple

 

Often Unreliable

 

Gaming History Piece

 

That’s it. If your wondering where the rest of the review is, know that this time I’m trying something different. I have a seperate article linked to each line of words on the Seven Word Synopsis, and all you need to do is click on one to see a better description of what I mean. If the hits come off this thing pretty well, I will model all my reviews after it.

Next review will be about the game that made this system a legend. That’s right; a retro review of

 mario-bros

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *