"Second only to the Super NES for the title of best system ever."

The Nintendo Entertainment System is by far one of the best video game consoles ever released (in my opinion only the Super NES out shines it) and even though the system is over sixteen years old it is still a very popular platform for many gamers even today.


The Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES for short) was released in 1983 in Japan and in North America in 1985. The NES is an 8 bit console like the Sega Master System and Atari 7800 (it's competitors), it was the first in a long line of stellar console systems to be released by Nintendo.
After the crash in the video game market during the mid 1980's it was feared that the entire industry would become obsolete but as millions would later discover it was not the end but in fact just the beginning of something big. Nintendo's console is credited with single handedly saving the industry and pushing the popularity of video games to new heights. So why was Nintendo so successful? well there were several reasons (some good some bad) but it seems that quality software was the main factor in it's success. Back then the abilities of consoles to create good graphics and sound were extremely limited, so developers concentrated on the most important part of games the game play. Simply put games were fun to play and in many cases replay many times over. Games were usually more challenging as well which was great for the serious gamer but not so great for casual gamers. The other major factor that lead to the success and domination of Nintendo's machine was a lack of competition. Nintendo made companies sign exclusive contracts stating that the developers could not make games for other platforms like the Master System or Atari 7800. The iron grip that Nintendo had would remain strong throughout the entire 8 bit video game era and although they would eventually be forced to let companies develop for other platforms (ex: Sega Genesis) they would continue to dominate with the NES and it's 16 bit counterpart the Super NES for over a decade. The NES had the longest run off any console system ever with it's first games coming out in late 1985 and it's last coming out in early 1995. It enjoyed the majority of it's success between 1987 and 1991 however with a string of excellent titles constantly being released including the legendary the Super Mario Bros. 3 the best selling game of all time and hailed by many as the best game ever made (personally I think Chrono Trigger is the best game ever but SMB3 is still very good in my books). The NES is somewhat of a legend in the video game industry and as you can tell for good reason, but thats enough about history on with the review.


As I mentioned before the NES is not exactly the most technologically advanced system out there but despite this the system did produce some great graphics and sound. The NES has a relatively weak color pallet at least when compared to the Master System but hand it to the developers who still managed to make this system shine. The graphics in some games were great (some that come to mind are Mega Man and Super Mario Bros. games) and when you compare the graphics in early games to those in later games it is clear that the system advanced a great deal during that time frame. The Sound capabilities of this system were for the most part very poor as well, but once again the developers came through and were able to produce some truly great music (remember Super Mario Bros, Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden). Even though the graphical capabilities and sound capabilities were poor (thanks to Nintendo who wanted to save money on expensive parts) this system proved that a system can still shine if it is just given a chance. And of course the Master System was released after the NES so for the time the graphics and sound were very good compared to the Atari consoles before it.


The control scheme is deceptively simple yet amazingly effective. The NES controller is square shaped and consists of a control pad (a new feature back then), a Start and Select button, and two action buttons labelled A and B. The controller was easy to use and one could become easily acquainted with it after playing for only a short while. The lack of buttons rarely hindered game play and in fact because the design worked so well for the NES the same button scheme was used for the GameBoy and GameBoy Color and similar ones have appeared on nearly ever console that followed (ex: Super NES, Genesis, N64, etc). A great control scheme well done Nintendo.


While there were some very cheesy games released for the NES (ex: Heroes of the Lance, Where's Waldo, Hydlide, Deadly Towers, CastleQuest, etc) it is also home to some of the best games and series the world has ever known. The Super Mario games started on the NES as well as games like The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Metal Gear, Dragon Warrior, Contra, Metroid, Ninja Turtles, Bomberman, Ninja Gaiden, Tetris, Crystalis, etc. Action games seem to be the best represented genre on the NES (not surprisingly given the huge popularity of those kind of games and the limited abilities of the NES) but you should be able to find excellent games in any genre that you are interested in on the NES. The NES has by far one of the best libraries of quality titles available and despite their age the appeal of many of these great classics never seems to fade away. Best of all nearly all of the NES's great titles can be had for bargin bin prices, allowing you to easily gain a massive library of games for very little money. And because of it's great popularity many of the NES's excellent titles are also easy to find even today because so many copies were produced.


The system design is not exactly breath taking and it is not exactly the hardiest system either (darn side loading cartridge slot) but hey games make the system and it is certainly not as bad as a lot of other systems that come to mind.


You won't find a built in CD or DVD player, Internet capabilities, or other features common in today's system but there are a number of excellent accessories you can get. The NES blaster light gun is a must have accessory if for no other reason than to play the great Duck Hunt shooting game, but you may find a few other good light gun games out there if you look hard enough. There is also a cool little robot type thing that you can get called a ROB which although only compatible with two games (neither of which are spectacular) is also a pretty cool thing to have. There is also a multi player adapter that will allow you to get more than two players in certain games compatible with it. Overall the NES has some cool accessories but the light gun is the only one that I can really recommend as a must have.

(As it would have been a the time of it's release)

SOUND: 8/10
CONTROL: 10/10
GAMES: 10/10

Overall 9.2/10
Rounded to 9 for Gamefaqs


If you don't already own an NES I highly recommend you buy one it's a great system with great games that is well worth adding to your collection. Sure the system is old and no new games are being released but like many of the other great systems of yesteryear it is still king when it comes to great games and grat game play and of course thats the reason to play video games after. Relive the days of classic gaming with the NES.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/03/01, Updated 11/03/01

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