30 years on, and the Nintendo Entertainment System is still a king

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Thirty years. That’s 10950 (give or take, damn leap-years) days ago, that Nintendo hit the jackpot with their home console. Aptly named the Nintendo Entertainment System, the humble NES was released in the US two years after the Nintendo Family Computer from 1983, the Famicom became a Japanese hit.

On its own, the NES wasn’t that ground-breaking. The hardware was alright, the controller was basic and the console was about the size of a lunchbox that was about to burst. But it’s the fact that Nintendo was willing to gamble a future by releasing the device in the North American market that made it a success.

You’ve got to remember, that 1985 was a notoriously crappy year for gaming in the US of A. The market had crashed in 1983, arcades were going bust and development of new games was now an afterthought at best. Launching a new console in that market was the equivalent of marketing vegan meal options at a Rugby World Cup finals braai.

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And Nintendo knew that. They originally planned to use Atari, a giant in the industry back then, to help them sell the NES. But that never panned out, and negotiations were scuppered. Nintendo decided to go it alone, with a market test in the toughest of US cities, New York City.

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And thanks to Nintendo managing to convince retailers to stock the units (by only taking a cut of NES consoles sold), they managed to establish a foothold in the US. It wasn’t the greatest of beachheads established, but it was a solid start. Good enough to expand operations throughout North America.

1986 saw the NES take off properly, with the family-friendly device reinvigorating a market that many analysts had written off entirely. If you thought the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 generation of gaming went on for too long, then you clearly weren’t around for the NES generation.

A generation which lasted until 1991, when the Super Nintendo Entertainment System finally replaced the aging legend. And with 60 million NES consoles sold, Nintendo had become a giant that paved the way for other consoles to also make a splash.

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But that’s a decade of gaming when you look back at the NES. A decade of some of the finest video games ever made.

Castlevania, Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden, Metal Gear, Duck Hunt, Gradius, Final Fantasy, Contra, Excite-Bike,Tetris…The list just goes on and on and on. Sure, realising that the NES is now 30 years old may make you feel a bit ancient today. But that’s a good thing.

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Those are good memories. Recollections of bosses fought, platforming sections mastered and a Contra code memorised.

So what’s your favourite NES memory?

Last Updated: October 19, 2015

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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