Review by Sour DieseL
"We owe everything to it!"
After the nasty second video game crash, a former card game company by the name of Nintendo decided to try it's hand in the dead gaming industry. What followed could not have been foreseen. The release and popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System brought the industry back to life. The company's flagship title, Super Mario Bros., became the most popular game of all time, and other companies, notably Sega, would join the fray with promises of improved graphics and more enjoyable games. Ever since, there have been constant console wars and the industry continues to thrive to this day, 25 years later, and Nintendo continues to thrive among them.
Game Library: 10/10: The Nintendo Entertainment system is filled with tons of classics that spawned series, most of them continuing to this very day. The first of which being Super Mario Bros. It was a fun and addictive game that saw you playing once again as the protagonist from Donkey Kong, Mario and his brother Luigi. The NES saw several Mario and Mario-related releases, and were the first of many. Konami would soon contribute the first Castlevania game, which was almost as addictive and certainly had an ample amount of difficulty. The popular Mega Man franchise also began it's life on this console. The NES is known for having some of the most difficult video games to date, such as the aforementioned Castlevania series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the side-scrolling beat-'em-up that had kids everywhere throwing their controllers through a screen long before the Wii ever came along, Battletoads. Honorable mentions for difficulty include Contra and Friday the 13th. The console also was the birthplace for popular RPGs, such as Dragon Warrior/Quest and the original Final Fantasy. The NES housed a ton of games, and almost all of them were really fun to play because Nintendo was pretty choosy back in the day with what was released for it. Some third party companies even created un-licensed cartridges to try to capitalize on the consoles popularity, though most of these games weren't very good. Overall, the NES has one of the strongest libraries of all time.
Controls: 10/10: Nintendo decided it was time to ditch the joystick for a while, in favor of the Directional Pad, which still comes with even the most current consoles' controllers. The controllers also featured to gameplay input buttons, A and B. This allowed games to have more options. Instead of just jumping or just shooting, you could now do both. It also featured the Start button which was used on most menus to start your game and could even be used in-game to pause in case you needed to take a break for whatever reason. You could pause your game, turn off the TV, and leave it unattended for a lengthy amount of time. The Select button, which sat between the Start button and D-pad was often used on menus to select "Start Game, Options" and the like. The controls were really simple to grasp and learn, and yet for most games, also had a timing or precision curve that still made them difficult to totally master. The buttons were pressure sensitive as well, meaning in some games, holding down the jump button harder or pressing it harder would make your character jump higher. The controller was fairly small but not to small, fitting into the hands of people of all ages.
Graphics: 10/10: The graphics were in 8-bits, which was standard fare for the era. They often looked good though and tried to be as multi-layered as possible, pushing the console to it's graphical limits. While it looked great, it contributed to a well-known problem with gameplay on the NES. Often times upon firing up the console, you would get a constantly resetting screen, or the game would look extremely glitched. A lot of us older gamers remember a time when you had to blow into a game cartridge to get it to work, because the smallest bit of dust on the external part of the game chip could screw everything up. Sometimes dust, nicotine, and dirt would get caked onto this portion and required more drastic measures. Kids and parents all over the country disregarded the warning to not use a cleaning solvent or rubbing alcohol on the exposed portion of the cartridge, as it would permanently damage the game. The debate as to whether or not it really does still continues to this day. So long as you kept the cartridge in a clean environment though, you shouldn't run into this problem. It's also worth noting that the few cut scenes some games had looked very well drawn.
Game Difficulty: 10/10: The Nintendo Entertainment System as I stated earlier and am about to go more in depth with, is home to some of the most difficult games ever known to grace the planet. Battletoads and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come to mind. In this day and age, the difficulty of modern video games has been drastically reduced. Some say it's because the companies wanted to appeal to a more casual market. Others believe that it's because video games are created to be longer, so they don't have to depend on a bunch of cheap deaths right in a row. Either way, the difficulty in newer games is almost non-existent except for a few gems and nothing can hold a candle to the NES library. One of the most common instant death tactics were bottomless pits that would automatically sap an extra life if you fell down it. Variations include water and lava-laden floors. Some games, just a simple hit would kill you instantly. Spikes were another implement of death, most notably in the Mega Man series where they were placed absolutely everywhere. It's somewhat of a lost art as most games these days unarguably hold the players' hand.
Audio: 10/10: The NES spawned several chip tunes that are still remembered to this day, such as the catchy Super Mario Bros. theme song. Others include songs in the Castlevania series and Mega Man as well. Nowadays to some they just sound like a series of bleeps and bloops, but a lot of games orchestrated soundtracks can't hold a candle to the catchiness of the games of old. Thankfully these days, there exist online communities that compose their own original 8-bit pieces. Some also excel in converting more modern day songs into 8-bit chip tunes. So this genre of music certainly hasn't died yet and hopefully it never will.
Overall: 10/10: The Nintendo Entertainment system is responsible for the creation of Nintendo's Big Three (Mario, Zelda, and Metroid) franchises, saved the industry from another video game crash, and there hasn't been one since. The NES was also the birth place of many successful video game franchises outside of Nintendo's ownership, such as Castlevania, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Warrior/Quest. A lot of games from the NES are still popular and continue to be released on the Wii's virtual console. It's a console that is most certainly worth owning if you can find one around, which you should be able to at a local used gaming store. They're still around, hoping someone will pick them up once again.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/05/10
Game Release: Nintendo Entertainment System (Version 1 Front Loader) (US, August 1985)
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