Today marks the thirtieth anniversary for the console that brought back the western console market from the ashes of the crash in 1983. From the ruins of a dominion once ruled over by the likes of mighty Atari and the Colecovision came a gamble by Nintendo that would change the world of video games forever.
It wasn’t quite an immediate success — it reportedly met with a somewhat cool reception at CES ’84 by retailers who were still smelling the burned ashes of what used to be a vibrant market in video games. Stores still had memories of stacks of discounted Vectrexes and Atari 2600s to work through.
But Nintendo was determined to fill in the vacuum left behind and, after a little rebranding and finding help to talk up the new console as something different from what came before, returned in 1985 today. For a few more details, I did a longer writeup taking a short look at how it started. There was no question, however: the NES was here to stay.
A few of my first memories included seeing Ghosts ‘n Goblins for the first time and being amazed at the arcade-like graphics that were far beyond anything that I had ever seen. From that point on, I was hooked to Super Mario Bros. which came packed in with the system and it was an avalanche of adventure from there stretching from The Legend of Zelda to games like Zanac.
For me, this was an amazing doorway opening up worlds of the imagination from shooters to adventures. It did everything from RPGs to sports games and introduced an eager audience to the likes of Capcom, Squaresoft, and Konami whose games would become legendary in the decades to come. It’d inspire developers, writers, and even movie makers eager to capitalize on what was quickly becoming something retailers were leery about to a system whose games they couldn’t do without.
For many, the NES was a dream system with games that they still fondly remember. It exploded onto a devastated scene and did as many of the right things as possible to bring back a form of entertainment that some had written off as a “fad” and a brief fantasy. The industry today would probably be a very different place without that first step.
Happy 30th, NES (in North America)!