Review by KasketDarkfyre

"The legacy starts here..."

With the strangle hold that the Nintendo Entertainment System had on the video game world throughout the mid to late eighties, it’s a wonder why everyone hasn’t played this system at least once in their existence. Having brought to life some of the most infamous games, characters, titles and series to ever grace the video game community, it’s hard to find another system that has actually done what this one has, and created a legend to go along with it. Nintendo actually goes back about a hundred or so years, when the main stay of the company was to produce playing cards. While this may not seem like such a big deal, there is something to be said about a system that has gone through the years and stayed a powerhouse right up into the digital age! Throughout the library of games that are available for this system, you’ll find such hits as Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Metal Gear and Castlevania, all of which have attained legendary status among gamers and have been featured on the consoles that later paved the way for what we have now.

To go into the technical specs of the machine itself would be more or less filler for this review, and I’d just assume work on the merits and the demerits that the system has rather than bore you with technical details that really don’t tell squat about the system. Most of what the Nintendo Entertainment System is, revolves around the types of games and accessories that have been created and released with the system throughout its glory years. You’ll find that the controller featured with the NES really isn’t set to any particular style with certain games featuring special controllers to use with different styles of games. Some of these controllers and accessories, you cannot find anymore due to the limitations on releases, but if you’re lucky enough to have some of the innovative controllers, then you’re a true collector. Here is a run down of some of the more influential accessories:

NES Advantage: The first true arcade stick that was more or less a bulky accessory that could be used with any of the games available on the NES. Although it was heavy, and could be cumbersome, you could find use for the various buttons such as the turbo and the slow motion, and it could be more than useful in some gaming situations. The only downside to this was that the Advantage was that with too much use, it could be easily broken and unrepairable through the normal wear and tear that gamers would put on it.

Power Pad: An innovative, if not strange device that allowed you to play a limited few games that featured running or some other sort of exercise. Possibly an attempt at creating a ‘healthy’ mindset for the gamers everywhere, it appeared in the late eighties during the big fitness craze. Originally a pack in device, you couldn’t find this without buying a NES with the Super Mario/Duck Hunt/Track Meet game. The downside to this device was there was a weight restriction on it, and if you were too heavy, you risked destroying the device through wear and tear.

Power Glove: Another innovative, yet seemingly useless device, it was actually a glove that fight on your left hand and was more or less designed and released with the opening of The Wizard in which it was featured. Giving you most of the button controls that the other devices had, it also came with a small sheet of paper that allowed you to input codes for different games so that you could use the device to play. However, the main problem with the Power Glove is that it had seemingly limited functions and was too heavy to actually use for more than an hour at a time!

U-Force: This is a little known, and little used device that actually used sensory equipment to play certain flying games. Although there was no real use for it outside of this, it was a neat little addition, abet expensive to have in your collection. The downfall to this device is that if the sensors were dirty or smudged, then you would have complete disorder with the way that the game you were playing handled. I’ve managed to get my hands on one of these, but the limited amount of games that you can play it with makes it more of a conversation and show piece than it does anything else.

ROB the Robot: Another interesting device, this was actually a game tool that could be used with only a couple of games such as Gyromite. The support for the Robot was limited and died out, as the production of games that used this interface seemed to be too costly to continue. If you can find one of these in working order, and you do have the few games that it could be played with it, then consider yourself lucky.

Zapper: There was only one light gun that was available before this, but the Zapper is probably the only light gun that gamers seem to remember. As a standard pack in with the NES, the Zapper marked the beginning of light gun games in the eighties and also created controversy later on which forced the colorization change to the plastic coating. Reliable up to fifteen feet, the Zapper had a single problem and what was the fragile nature in which it had to be handled. Too much use and the trigger broke or the gun stopped responding altogether.

Moving onward into the games that were available and what sort of visuals, audio and game play that you could expect, you’ll find that the NES library is full of games that both set the standard and seem to have been wastes of time and effort! As with any video game system, you’re bound to have your good and your bad, but the NES was one of the first to truly create genre’s and make names of characters such as Snake, Mario, Link and Samus truly legendary. Most gamers will remember games from this era with a bit of fondness and a decent amount of respect. While the library is far too large to list in a single review, some of the more innovative and groundbreaking titles range in games such as:

Super Mario Brothers: Run and Jump action gaming that featured the previously dubbed Mario as an adventuring hero looking to save the Princess from the clutches of the evil Bowser. While not the most visually impressive game at the release, it did feature an action setting in which you played as the ever-vigilant hero trying to save the girl.

Legend of Zelda: Possibly one of the most infamous games on the NES, it is a story is that is more Camelot in nature as well as an intriguing and rather well presented. Adventure, action and playing as the hero striving to rescue the Princess Zelda from Ganon. One of the few games that I would deeply recommend to anyone who is looking to play something that is truly a fairy tale.

Metroid: Action and Adventure set in the far future, with elements of role-playing and otherwise placed all in one single title. Perhaps the first video game to feature a female as the starring role of hero, this adventure takes the highs and lows throughout the entire game and leaves you wanting more towards the end.

Baseball Stars: For the sporting games fanatics out there, this was one of the best Baseball games that you could find in the early NES days. With options that give way to exceptionally well done game play and otherwise, this is the prime example of what the early NES baseball games should all have been like.

With a library that could boast games well into the hundreds, there is literally a game for every type of gamer out there. Even though the visuals on the early games were not the most impressive by today’s standards, you’d have to step back about 17 years now {US Release} and really take a look at the what the little gray machine accomplished! Games that came along later and fed into the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System simply pushed the limits of the machine’s hardware and churned out some of the most spectacular games that an eight bit system could produce. This isn’t to say that the NES had an easy time during its reign, because like all other systems, there were games that just didn’t cut the mark {Action 52 anyone} and those can be found in rather numerous abundance during the early years of the system.

Audio wise, some of the games that you’ll find here in this system library feature shadows into the future of what we have now. While there is no voice to any of the games on the NES, some of the best known theme songs that have been re-mixed and given life in the present all started here. Most of the music that you hear throughout the games is your standard MIDI format tones with sound effects placed onto them to attempt to give you a better sounding experience. Even though there is nothing here that can be called stellar {well, a few exceptions} you’ll find that there is something for everyone in this respect!

Regardless of whether or not you’re a next generation gamer who has all of the systems available with the texture mapping and the three-dimensional abilities, there is something to be said about this little gray dinosaur. Even though the popularity for this system died out long ago, there are a ton of great games that you can find in used games stores to play on this gem of a system. Limitations and the need to step into the next age is what really killed this old beast off, but if you’re really into the older systems and you like what it is that you see, then take a step back in time and check out this ageless system. It really is worth it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/10/02, Updated 01/10/02

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