Review by Shirow

"I had fun for about 8 years!...A new high!"

In 1985, after watching the Atari being literally blown off, Nintendo decided to release their Famicom console to the US. In order to do so, they changed the name round and came up with the name of the Nintendo Entertainment System which would soon be commonly called the NES. Initially, Nintendo and Atari were to work together on yet another project but again, this was abandoned and thus saw Nintendo trying to get a place in the video gaming industry by themselves.

After thinking of the new name of the console, it was finally released in a completely new packaging and reached the shores. The launch title was Super Mario Bros which was offered with each system sold such that people actually got a game to play without having to choose another one at first. In a very short time, stunning sales were observed as millions and millions of copies were sold and as the demand for the system kept on increasing.

The 8-bit marvel was a real success and quality games kept it afloat while Nintendo sat back and got a lot of money from the sales of both the consoles and the games. The popularity of the console was never put in doubt and while new and better games were released, Nintendo didn't even have anything to do since the system didn't even need any advertisement.


As the first good system, the NES had excellent graphics for its time. The games were, on the whole, good and although a few ones were particularly ugly, some actually had excellent backgrounds and details. Its measly 8 bits and limited color palette didn't prevent it from sporting some excellent games. Even the first games were well-drawn and highly colored.

From there, a lot of progress were achieved and soon, games were converted from the Arcade to the NES. At first, this sounded like a crazy idea with people thinking that such a thing would never be possible and would only result in crappy-looking games but Nintendo again managed to live through. The conversions were good and some titles were as fun as the original without practically any changes. Who could ever forget the classic TMNT Tournament Fighters which, as unbelievable as it may seem, was better on the console ?!

More games were soon released with Super Mario Bros 3 and other companies' titles like Top Gun 2 or the Disney titles having exceptional graphics and improving on the originals. Of course, this didn't apply to all the titles. The first Final Fantasy was really ugly but heck, that was just like one title against about 5 titles and the NES graphics just kept on getting better.


In terms of audio, the console was quite good but was limited by the fact that the sound went fuzzy after a while. Probably due to the console and the games alike, the sound seemed to fall down after hours of playing. Of course, some games had good soundtracks but the fuzzy effects weren't particularly enjoyable.


Nothing much but the little there was was well enough and worked wonders. The original joypad had only 2 buttons, A and B, besides the START and SELECT buttons and the directional buttons. More joypads were released afterwards, some were quite good and some were horrible. A nice feature with some of the other ones was the turbo buttons which made shooter and other games easier but you didn't really need those and the original pad was well enough.


Quite a number of peripherals were released but most of those never really managed to become popular and to make substantial sales. The best one was, without doubt, the Zapper Gun which got a perfect launch title with the classic Duck Hunt. More games were eventually released with it and the gun soon became essential as those games were really fun. When Nintendo again changed the console's names and release it in other countries as the Family Game, the Zapper Gun even came free with it !

The Game Genie was also created but actually started as an illegal device. Nintendo sued Galoob for their activities but lost and thus, the Game Genie devices soon started selling like bread. This was understandable by the fact that these devices were really handy and since they didn't cost much, people would buy those without hesitation.

These little devices enabled people to cheat in their games by putting codes which would tamper with the game's memory. Having infinite lives in games like Macross were no longer a dream and pretty soon, games could be beaten in only 1 day.

As for saving, there were no real devices but the games came with their own back-up memory when they didn't have a password feature. This was nice but also posed a problem. The fact remains that the cartridge wasn't resistant enough and the file could suddenly get erased and you'd have to start the game all over again.


The best feature of the NES, it had tons of games in very possible category. RPGs, sports games, adventure games, action games, platforms, puzzle games and even crazy titles, you could find them all on the NES and they were never alike and annoying. Most of all, the surprise hits which made the NES sell like cakes are still being produced on 32, 64 and 128 bits which is just proof of the important role played by the NES in the video gaming industry.

Examples of such cases are Final Fantasy and Metal Gear which are now seen as 2 of the best series to have been created. Even better, the NES Metal Gear is actually seen as the best of the series and even the PS2 title hasn't managed to top it in terms of gameplay.

There are many other excellent titles like Zelda, TMNT Tournament Fighters, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, the first Dragon Ball Z games, classics like Tetris, Arkanoid or Excite Bike and the crazy Captain Tsubasa series which were the pinnacle of the system's visual capabilities [they were better than their SNES sequels].


Without the NES, the gaming industry wouldn't even exist today. Nintendo managed to give people a good system which wasn't too expensive and the high quality games kept things flowing smoothly. The best series also started here and the classic games which have had such impact on the genre also started here. THE CONSOLE, that's what the NES is !

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/29/01, Updated 11/09/02

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