Review by del20nd

Reviewed: 02/06/07

~Great Games, Great System, But Poor Hardware Architecture Takes It's Toll.~

The Nintendo Entertainment System. Probably best known for great hits such as Super Mario Brothers (1, 2, and 3), The Legend of Zelda series, and Metroid. Perhaps you remember other games such as Tecmo Bowl or R.C. Pro Am. However, there is a common memory that every true NES fan also relates to the system, and that is blowing into the cartridges until your face turns purple as the TV screen blinks at you mockingly. Here I will cover all topics about the NES with as little bias as I can, and I hope you can relate to and enjoy the review.

Yes, probably the highlight of this system is the vast library of outstanding games out there. On top of those mentioned earlier on, there were other great hits such as Rad Racer, Battletoads, the Mega Man series, Excitebike and so many more. If I left out your favorite game, insert it here ____________.

On top of the games being great, in this day and age they are highly affordable on any budget. I once walked into an EB Games (which recently stopped carrying NES games) with 10 bucks, and walked out with about 7 games.

Now, all this being said, you may be wondering why didn't this section get a perfect score. Well as with any system, not ALL of the games were good. A few crappy games like Spelunker, anything by TH*Q, anything by Wisdom Tree, and a couple others ruin the perfect score for everyone else. But, seeing as these games are highly out numbered and drowned out, collectability still receives an excellent score.

What would a video game system be without any peripherals. It would be a big gray box, that's what. Fortunately, the NES has a unique peripheral for everyone! You could go with the now iconic rectangular NES standard controller. Or, if you are feeling crazy, go for the NES advantage with it's extra buttons and features. Perhaps you like shooting people like a homicidal maniac, or jumping on a giant pad, or even interacting with robots! Well this is all good because the NES is here to satisfy (okay, maybe the review is just a little biased.)

Ahem, anyway, while there were a few ugly looking controllers for the NES, the real bring down is the lifespan of some of these peripherals. After getting my cousins old NES, (I never actually owned one as a kid, but my friend did and I played his enough to qualify as review worthy) I had to do some major re constructive surgery on the inside of those little NES pads, sacrificing my extra Sega Genesis controllers. Also, from what I understand, not all of these peripherals made it through the lifespan of the system. R.O.B. was discontinued very early on, and most did not live on the market for over three years. All said and done; good peripherals, but sub par quality, and low lifespan.

GRAPHICS-- 7.5/10
The graphics for the NES, while not the very best, were still up there with the elite. It had all the Atari systems of the day beat by a long shot, and most home computers didn't even come close. The only system to really beat it graphically was it's little tiny unknown adversary, the Sega Master System.

Nonetheless, Nintendo offered very good, yet limited, graphics for it's debut year of 1983 in Japan. While great picture could be achieved by using the system to full ability, there was a restricting amount of on screen colors and sprites. Games notable for having good graphics include Kirby's Adventure, Super Mario 3, most games in the Mega Man series, and (at leastin my opinion) NES Play Action Football. It's too bad that games like Home Alone 2 and Jaws had to have such terrible graphics, but this could've been solved with a little more work and less laziness. All in all the graphics shine for the time period, but don't out shine everybody.

ARCHITECTURE (the big detriment) 2/10
Well, lets get rid of the good up front. It looked neat, and the loading mechanism set it apart from any other system (actually, this really "good" as you will soon read).

Okay, now that the good is out of the way, let me introduce you to the absolute mess of a design flaw that was the physical NES. Firstly, in order to set itself apart from other floundering consoles at the time, Nintendo came up with the great idea of a front loading cartridge that pushes and clicks into place. Little did they realize, metal actually bends and gets dirty over long periods of time, and cartridge connector pins are no exception. Slowly, with each passing use, the pins in your NES get contorted and bent further and further until you get the famous blinking screen.

To add to the misery further, the games are friggin dust magnets. This means the already bent pins now get a nice layer of dust too!! Your only line of defense against this, apart from clean rooms and airtight anticontamination biospheres, are these little plastic sleeves that came with most every game. Firstly, probably 90 percent of people who bought the NES just tossed these things out thinking something along the lines of "hey, this isn't a game, what the heck do I need this thing for?" Secondly, the fact that every game came with dust protectors sends me the message that the people at Nintendo already knew that dirt was a problem for the system before release. They should've done something sooner if this was the case. Thirdly, the sleeves don't even work that well! My advice is to clean your games as well as you can, and keep them in storage totes or (if you're an insane clean freak) keep them in individual Ziplock sandwich baggies only to be taken out seconds before usage. Seriously though, no system but one with games like the NES deserves this much work.

Yeah, front loader looks cool, but the end result is you passing out on the floor either from blowing in the cartridge until your blue in the face, or from the fumes of whatever solvent you tried to clean those pins with. Mind you, these techniques won't help forever, and ultimately you'll end up going inside the beast itself to try and pry the pins back up with an X-Acto blade like I did (it works to a degree). Furthermore, those cartridges, when you see them, look like they should contain vast amounts of wires and circuitry when in actuality, the boards are smaller than those found in Sega Genesis carts. This is due to the fact that Nintendo wanted their "Game Packs" to look different and cool. All this really does is eat up allot more shelf space than needed. Overall, the desire to look cool and different led the NES down a path of prone problems and a short lifespan. The good news? Nintendo actually learned from past mistakes and listened to their consumers in this field, and all subsequent Nintendo systems are known for their durability and long lifespans. However, this does not change the pitifully low rating that had to be given in this section.


Seeing the above segments, you may have noticed that the bad is much more prominent than the good. Don't get me wrong, I am a big NES fan. I feel, however, that reviews are meant to advise people of problems as well as well as praise. Nearly every other review on this board tells you about how the NES had no flaws and, if you wanted to read something like that, you would not have gotten this far though my review.

Overall, weighting the factors, lets see.. carry the two.. we get a grand total of 6 out of 10, which I think is fair.

If you are thinking of buying this system, go ahead but beware. Broken systems are everywhere and unless you have allot of free time on your hands, make sure you get one that works, and take extra care to keep everything in it clean.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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