Review by Chunkey Simmons

"One of the worst system setups ever made."

The Nintendo Entertainment System was something that was original, and legendary. Most game franchises like Mega Man and Super Mario Bros. got to shine first on the NES. The NES in general was a huge break through with the nice graphics, all the great color, and the system's capabilities. The NES was remarkable to the point where many new system releases were made to support NES games. Not only that, but reproduction cartridges and homebrew games are still being made for the system, which shows the love and devotion that fans still have for the NES. However, there's one thing that the NES flaws on, and it's this specific NES model (the version 1 front loader) which is seriously a huge problem.

I'll be honest, the flaw is the only real reason that I gave the NES hardware a shabby rating, because it's such a big problem. Otherwise, the NES has great capabilities, and it's hard to get mad at such a great line of video games.

The NES was made in a fashion, unlike the SNES, the Sega Genesis, the Gameboy, and the Nintendo 64 (although some of those systems were made after the NES), the game cartridges wouldn't have to be hammered in, or pressed in really hard. Instead, you had a system where all you had to do is set the game in the system, turn the system on, and play it. It worked very well. The only problem, is the asinine way it was set up caused the 72-pin connector to eventually be bent too far to cause the games to not function correctly. This is a huge problem that needs to be addressed. This is why your old NES doesn't work anymore. This is why your NES has been stuck in the attic all these years. This is why everyone bought the top-loader, or the Yobo portable NES system made 20 years later.

Sometimes, I'll admit, it's fun seeing the game spas out and glitch up. Sometimes the system makes its own levels, and it's fun to run your way through a level that your NES system puked up. But honestly, when you have a game that you can't play seriously, sometimes you wish you could play the game for real and enjoy the game the way it was supposed to be played. However, I'm giving the NES the benefit of the doubt saying that the games glitch up and function terribly, because some NES systems don't work at all.

Honestly, it's that bad. This deserves a third paragraph. When you're trying to beat a game, or trying to do a speedrun, or trying to play the game seriously, don't expect this system to be reliable, because the system is nowhere near reliable. I should probably mention that the system works great when it's new, because the 72-pin connectors are not bent and there's no dust anywhere inside of the system. There will be no problems, but after 5-6 years of use, have a nice time blowing on the cartridges in desperate hope that the game will function correctly.Yeah, you heard all the tricks, blow on it, put two games in the systems, yeah, they all worked at first, but once those methods stopped working, you were scribing for more possibilities, like throwing the system in the garbage. There's two ways to fix your NES. Either:

1. Bending the 72-pin connector back in place. This is probably a better idea, but good luck bending those small teeth back. I tried bending mine with a paper clip, and some of them were bent in every direction but back where they were supposed to be. Most online tutorials recommend to use a small flat-head screwdriver to bend them. I tried that and made it nowhere because my smallest screwdriver is too big for these small teeth. It helped the NES a little bit, but it didn't cure my NES by any means. It may be because of my failed attempts at bending them back. With this method, you would have to unscrew, and open your NES up every 5 years, depending on how often you play it.

2. Buying a new 72-pin connector. They sell these things on Ebay. They're not terribly expensive. I think they make some 72-pin connectors that don't bend easily, so they may last forever, although I'm not 100% sure of this. If they do, that would be great.

There are other methods of playing your NES games without any hassle, and that is buying a new NES. Now if you have any brains, you're not going to buy the same model as you have, because they have the same problem. Instead, there are other systems, some made my Nintendo, and some made by third-party companies, that can play NES games.

Top loader. These things are set up in a similar fashion of the Sega Genesis, or the SNES, or the Gameboy. You hammer the cartridges in the slot, you play, no ingenuity, no glitches, no problems.

Yobo (third party developer) Yobo is a pretty good company which makes new counsel releases for old systems like the Sega Genesis, the SNES, and of course, the NES. Some of these were combined into one system. I can tell you right off the bat that I recommend the 2-in-1 NES/SNES, because that's the only NES system where the sound isn't altered. On all the other Yobo NES systems, from the original small NES, to the 3-in-1 NES/SNES/Genesis, the 2-in-1 is the only one that has no alterations in the sound. There might be more, but I haven't seen any. I also have the handheld Yobo NES, and that has altered sound too, but I tend not to care since portable is awesome! :D

Basically, I went into way more detail about the malfunctions of the NES than I was supposed to, so let me explain everything else. I heard that the NES is capable of holding 16 colors, which is pretty nice to see. It's great to see how the NES games use line shading and dot shading as methods of transitioning color. It looks nice, and can sometimes create texture. Some NES games have a tremendous amount of effort put into them, and those games show how powerful the NES hardware is.

The NES can hold up to two players, and it comes with a gun which is used for a limited amount of games. The guns sometimes malfunctions, but with a variety of games this good, you're not going to care about the gun. There's also some sort of hook-up for four players, but not very many games support this hook-up. The paddles are really good, the buttons all work, and it's not hard to maneuver your hands. The paddles consist of a pause button, a select button (which was used a lot in the 1980s but was mainly abandoned later in the NES library when the 1990s came along).

The NES can't parallax scroll. Parallax scrolling is when the background in a game moves slower than the foreground, which creates a sense of depth. This means that the background scrolls with the foreground. The NES technically can parallax scroll, but it can be costly, because blocks and obstacles can't get in the way of the slower-scrolling background. Meanwhile, some games use a clever technique of using sprites to parallax scroll (like having stars in the background or a moon that are all sprites), or having some blocks animate in a way where it appears that the game is parallax scrolling. Some game companies are clever with their games.

Speaking of clever companies, some take advantage of the incapabilities of the NES, and make games that are not licensed by Nintendo. In order to make an NES game, your company had to run it through Nintendo of America, assuming you live in the United States. If you lived in Japan, you could make any game you wanted, I think. Anyway, if they accepted your game, they would give you a specific gray cartridge design to have it match the other official NES games, and you would get the seal of quality. However, some companies in the United States knew how to override the chip in the NES that read whether or not it was an official NES game or not. Companies like Tengen, American Video Entertainment, and Color Dreams knew how to override the chip. You'll notice the minimum effort that was put into most unlicensed NES games (for an example, see my "F-15 City Wars" review, also hosted on GameFAQs). My point is that the NES technology was fairly new and just became being used. It would later improve with newer releases like the Super Nintendo, and the Nintendo 64.

As a result, great games, great capabilities on this system, but huge problems. If you already have the Version 1 Front Loader NES, try fixing the thing, or at least have some fun with the convoluted levels and glitchy gameplay. If you don't have this system, I recommend to totally stay away from this system and buy a different NES release, like the Yobo NES systems they have available at EB games, Gamecraze, or Ebay. The NES shouldn't be docked for having old technology, but rather the fatal flaws the system has to make it almost unplayable. I assure you that a system also shouldn't be deducted for being radical for it's time. New ideas always bring improvements. However, the 72-pin connector being depressed in a bad fashion is not some sort of casual thing that happened with every game system in the 80s. It wasn't a fact of life. This didn't happen with the Atari 2600, which I warn you is way older than the NES. Overall, great capabilities, bad flaws.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/06/10

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


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