Review by EPoetker

"The testing ground for all of the best ideas in video gaming."

NES. Three little letters. One awesome workhorse of a system. There's a GOOD reason why this system has had the longest market run of any system yet. Not even the Playstation is poised to outlast it. It is now and will always be the benchmark for a ''quality'' system. Let's put the features together, Epo-style!

GRAPHICS: With 8-bit, you can display a maximum of 16 colors on the screen at once. ''What's the big deal with that?'' you ask? ''Even the Atari 5200 could display a bunch of colors!'' Ah, but this was during the time when those aforementioned colors were shown in pixels which tended to be roughly one-eighth of an inch square. Functional, but not clear. With the Nintendo, not only were you able to shrink those pixels down to where real detail could be shown(even Heroes of the Lance, with horribly bad gameplay graphics, had some cool 8-bit pictures of the heroes at the beginning) but you could also animate those things fast enough to fool the eye into thinking they were really moving. If you look closely at the sprites, you can still see the repetition of simple 2-4 frame animations, but because of the smaller pixels and quick animation, these things become invisible during gameplay. Which left you free to comment on other things, such as the

SOUND/MUSIC: FM sound, which was a HUGE step up from the blips and bloops of the legacy systems. Suddenly, we started seeing the names of ''composers'' appearing in the credits! Y. Hirai? N. Oematsu? We'd get to know them soon enough. The Nintendo not only allowed the production of sounds which actually sounded like INSTRUMENTS, but allowed up to three of them to be played at once! We had syncopation! Rejoice! I'll only go through my short list of cool game music here: Mega Man 3(and most of the rest of the series)Zelda, StarTropics 1 & 2, Castlevania 3, Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy, and many, many more too numerous to count. With the best, it was as though we got a free tape(CDs weren't as popular back then) with our game. Since I'm a real cheapskate, I'd often rather listen to the video game music over whatever was popular during that time. And considering what was popular(late 80s, early 90s,) I consider it a fair trade. But the one category where Nintendo beat EVERYONE, and even beats a few today, was

GAMEPLAY! First, the controller. Two ''main'' action buttons, one enormously intuitive control pad, and two extra buttons in the middle for peripheral functions made this platform MUCH more versatile than most others. The controller held well, since the buttons didn't have the ''loose'' feel common to those on some earlier joysticks and the Sega Genesis. The peripherals were actually USEFUL, since the Zapper and Power Pad were supported by games that came with the system, as well as other games on the open market. In fact, the key word here is SUPPORT. Good licensing and even better marketing enabled Nintendo to quickly gain a HUGE market share, which meant that any budding game company with any sense would immediately sign up with the platform which would reach into the homes of America. The saying wasn't ''Johnny's playing video games,'' it was ''Johnny's playing Nintendo.'' And soon a few no-name companies like Capcom, Konami, Acclaim, and Rare were coming up with some real cool stuff. With hundreds of titles, the NES still has one of the biggest game libraries ever(let's not talk about those $3-a-shovelful Atari games.) It's a little late for me to advise on buying the console, but if you can get one used and have $10 left over for game, go for it! For the rest of you(cheapskates like me) there are several varieties of emulators available. NESticle is the reigning king, with perfect music/sound, spot-on graphics, and a variety of options, but there are certain games that either don't run or run with trouble(Wizards and Warriors 3, Castlevania 3, Deadly Towers) so try out a couple of other emulators just for testing purposes. Then laugh at the numerous instances of

Nintendo Logic: Some common rules:
1. You can jump up through platforms, but they're solid when you stand on them.
2. 30-foot falls don't usually hurt you. Unless the fall terminates at the bottom of the screen, then I don't care if you've just fallen one inch, you're DEAD. Various theories have been suggested on this, the most prominent being the idea that there's a deadly electronegative field down there that eats pixels for breakfast.
3. Spikes are evil. A bazooka blast to the face will take off one or two hit points, but spikes'll almost always kill you right out.
4. The fact that enemies turn into helpful object when slaughtered doesn't seem to bother people. Neither does eating the aforementioned objects.
5. When in doubt, jump!(Mario's motto.)

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/18/00, Updated 04/18/00

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