Review by katamari_roller

"In my opinion the best console!"

The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short, was the best console out during the 80s. The Atari 2600 was leading the video game market, but released some of the worst games in history at that point, like the infamous 2600 port of Pac Man and *shudders* ET. Also, anybody could make and sell a 2600 cartridge, so there was a surplus of games, sadly, a lot of them ended up being junk. Thanks to these factors, the video game industry looked to be a passing fad much like the Charleston and the Macarena. It was at this bleak moment in history that an unknown company from Japan called Nintendo thought, "Hey, video games are still fun! Let's start playing again!" In Japan, they marketed a console called the Famicom. Being very successful, Nintendo decided to sell Famicoms in America. The US was in the bleak situation described above at this point and weren't going to buy it. With some clever moves by Nintendo, video games once again erupted into popularity, the industry saved for decades to come.

When you opened your NES, you were greeted with a very nice looking console. Although it is pretty bulky for today's standards, where the public mentality is "smaller, sleeker, more powerful", it fit the bill perfectly in the 1980s. Americans at this point, were not interested in video games. Since the 2600 and other consoles at the time had top loading cartridge slots, Nintendo made the NES like a VCR, where you have to insert games from the front. Also, the look of the NES was very futuristic. The cartridge slot had a flipping lid, something never seen on a video game console. Also located on the front are the Power and Reset buttons, like on every video game system ever created. While people were impressed by the initial hardware, they were stunned when they saw the controller. The NES's controller was also a piece of hardware that took conventional video game principles and threw them in the trash heap. The joystick, the primary method of control, was gone. Nintendo introduced the world to the D-Pad, a cross shaped pad that could do everything the joystick could, but now could be operated with minimal thumb movement instead of using an entire hand. Also, the controller used not one, but TWO buttons used to play games, labeled A and B! Also on the controller are the Start and Select buttons, used to start/pause a game and select modes respectively.

Of course, you can't have a video game console without any games. The NES had a great library of games, a lot of them being the start of franchises that still live on today like Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Bubble Bobble, and several more. Who doesn't remember the first time they played the magnificent game Super Mario Bros? Even people today who have moved far beyond video games will tell you about their fond memories playing NES as a kid. A lot of games introduced brand new concepts, many of them still used today. For example, Zelda 1 was the first game to use battery saves to save your progress. That way, you could play a game, turn it off, and continue at a later time. Just like the Atari 2600, the NES had its fair share of arcade ports. While they weren't on par with their quarter consuming counterparts, they were decent and playable games. They even got the home version of Pac Man right! Many games were also designed with peripherals in mind. The NES was home to many accessories. Every NES was even packed with 2: the ROB and Zapper. Known today as a huge scam, the ROB, or Robotic Operating Buddy, was marketed as the reason to own an NES. The public wasn't stupid and refused to buy any form of a video game. Nintendo stepped in and said, "This isn't a video game system, it's a way for you to play with ROB!" Back then, robots were an interesting concept, and who wouldn't want to play with a robot? Ironically, only 2 games ended up being compatible with with: (Gyromite and Stack-Up) The Nintendo Zapper was a light gun. Although the most remembered Zapper games today are Duck Hunt and Hogan's Alley, there were a total of 16 Zapper compatible titles. Other peripherals like the Power Glove and Power Pad were released, but did not operate very well.

Although the NES was certainly a great console, it does have its flaws. If you've ever seen an NES cartridge, you can see it a massive piece of plastic. The design of the games made it extremely easy for games to collect dust. Although each NES game came with a protective sleeve, they weren't a 100% guaranteed method of keeping dust away. It was very frustrating to put a game in, not have it to work, and take it out just to blow into it. Even so, blowing into your cartridges will destroy them in the long run. On the back of each NES game, it tells users to never use alcohol to clean games. Ironically, this is the only way to clean them. Even Nintendo sold equipment to clean NES games. The pack was pretty much a bunch of Q-Tips and a bottle of rubbing alcohol that you used to clean the connectors. Another problem occurred long after the NES's lifespan was over. Let's say you wanted to dust off your old NES and play some games. You connect all the wires and plug in the cartridge, but all you see is a flashing screen. You take out the cartridge and clean it off, but still there's no progress. There is a problem with the 72 pin connector. You see, the NES worked by pushing down the cartridge, creating some kind of electrical current, which let the NES read the game, letting you play it. As time goes by, pushing the games down over decades will bend the 72 pin connector slightly until it reaches the point where it no longer reads games. You can buy replacement 72 pin connectors online at places like eBay and Amazon, but you still have to perform some surgery on your beloved Nintendo.

In closing, the NES was a great system. It single handedly saved a dying industry and introduced some radical, but great concepts, many still used on modern consoles and handhelds. It's dust collecting cartridges and the infamous 72 pin connector keeps me from giving the NES a perfect score, but I award it a 9/10.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/04/08

Game Release: Nintendo Entertainment System (Version 1 Front Loader) (US, 08/31/85)


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