Message Board
Sign up Calendar Latest Topics

  Author   Comment  

Avatar / Picture

Super Moderators
Posts: 2,354
Reply with quote  #1 
On this day: October 18, 1985 Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

It’s October 18th, 1985, on a chilly Autumn day in Manhattan, New York City. The mid-80’s made for an interesting time to release a video game console because there’s nothing purposeful about the date at all. Back in those days, to sell a console, Nintendo had to convince retailers to display their product in store windows and on show floors next to stacks of systems and hope parents would buy it for their kids for Christmas. October 18th was simply the day they happened to get that setup completed in our particular store.

There was no Internet.

Commercials were expensive.

The market had been stung by the Atari crash of 1983.

Yet, here we are, at the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System at FAO Schwartz — just 3 years before the store would be made famous in the movie Big. (Wow, I feel old.)

You’re a young kid walking through the store with your family when you see a display unlike anything you have seen before. The first thing that catches your attention is the large eyes of our favorite robotic operating buddy, R.O.B. It’s a pyramid display showcasing an NES Deluxe Set covered in game swatches.

Nearby are interactive kiosks allowing people to play one of the games. There was always one system set up with a Zapper and Duck Hunt, that was for certain. The other could’ve been anything, but it wasn’t Super Mario Bros. for one simple reason: it didn’t exist yet.

Nintendo didn’t launch with Super Mario Bros. There’s some debate about when it was released, and Nintendo did promote it at launch, but the game wasn’t available for sale anywhere until much later. (It had only recently been released in Japan and hadn’t been ported over yet.)

What might be even more incredible to realize is that there was only one SKU to buy the system itself. The Deluxe Set came with a R.O.B., Zapper, and two controllers along with the NES and two games on a single cartridge: Gyromite and Duck Hunt. The box had a mostly black front with only a large image of R.O.B.’s eyes, the Nintendo logo, and the words “Entertainment System” written in yellow.

To own an NES on launch day was to own this set. And those words, Entertainment System, are interesting themselves. Nintendo was terrified to associate their product with Atari, Intellivision, or Colecovision. They wanted to be an “entertainment” system.

Let’s go one step further. Upon gazing upon the NES for the first time, what’s another interesting thing you notice? The way you load the game is sideways and unlike any of the other systems you’re familiar with at the time. (This mechanism was dubbed as Zero Insertion Force or ZIF.) Contrast this even with the japanese version of the NES, the Famicom.

So, why would Nintendo change the way games were loaded when their own system did it vertically as well? Well, again, why did they call it the Entertainment System? As it is, Nintendo wanted US consumers to associate the NES not with other video game consoles, but another product that was more beloved at the time.

The VCR.

That’s right, the iconic look and bundled accessories of the original NES were all meant to make you think not of a video game console…but a movie player. Incredible!

And now you’re hooked! You’ve played the demo games and you want one. “Mom, Dad! Can we buy it? Please! PLEASE?!” Dad looks at the pricetag. It’s $149.99. That sounds like a good price now, but in 1985 this felt like what $314.52 is today. So, right in line with the cost of systems like a Wii U or PS4.

While mom and dad chat quietly, you walk over to the games hanging on the wall. (Nearby the literal stacks of system boxes!) You’re in luck, all 14 of the launch titles (that were sold separately) are there. They are:

  1. 10-Yard Fight
  2. Baseball
  3. Clu Clu Land
  4. Excitebike
  5. Golf
  6. Hogan’s Alley
  7. Ice Climber
  8. Kung Fu
  9. Pinball
  10. Soccer
  11. Stack Up
  12. Tennis
  13. Wild Gunman
  14. Wrecking Crew

Wow, 43% of them are sports titles.

Every single game had a look you’ve grown to love today. They all have a black background with slightly altered (enhanced) pixelized details of the game above the title, affectionately known as black-box gamesEvery game looks like this and you won’t see anything that looks different for four more months when The Legend of Zelda gets released….

That’s right. There’s no Legend of Zelda at launch.

In fact, that’s everything. There are no controllers sold separately because you’re already getting two so why would you need more? There’s no Zapper or R.O.B. in its own box because you are already getting those in the package, too. (Those would only be sold separately a year later when the Basic Set is released.) The NES Advantage won’t come until 1987. The MAX in 1988.

Another interesting tidbit is that Pro Wrestling wasn’t a launch title. It would come out in March, 1987, as part of the 4th wave of black-box games by Nintendo. In fact, the first wrestling game to appear on the NES is also the first 3rd-party title the system would ever see published: Tag Team Wrestling by Data East.

(But Pro Wrestling is still the best wrestling game in NES history, we all know that.)

Console launches have come a long way since Nintendo of America executives had to hit the pavement convincing store owners to market their product in their stores. Toys R Us almost refused as well as they’d been hit hard by the game crash. That leads us to the most amazing factoid of all.

The NES wasn’t sold nationwide until one year later!

By the time the entire country outside of NYC and other big cities got NES systems in their stores, all three Donkey Kong titles were already released. (They arrived in the summer of 1986.) There were about 28 titles available for the system (and sadly Chubby Cherub was one of them). Also, nationwide, you could buy the system in a smaller bundle that included just the NES and two controllers. (This is when Gyromite and R.O.B. became standalone products available in those sweet, sweet boxes.)

Truly a magical time.

Oh, and look over there…your parents said yes and are in line right now. Conglaturation !!! You’re about to own your first NES! Enjoy it!



Avatar / Picture

Super Moderators
Posts: 2,354
Reply with quote  #2 

On this day: October 18, 1985 Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
October 18, 1985 Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Turns 30

OK, I’m old. You’re probably feeling old. Let’s get that out of the way. Done.

The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) turns 30 today, as it was officially launched in North American on October 18th, 1985 to a limited portion of the US. I mean, where do we start on how amazing the NES was, and still is? I’ve got one in my closet complete with the Duck Hunt gun.

The most memorable game is Super Mario Bros. It changed everything. I used to have friends over and we’d play for hours trying to beat it. We weren’t competing, we were in it together. It wasn’t about the graphics or the people who made the game, it was all about the gameplay. It was as immersive an experience as I’ve ever had, even to this day. Forget VR, forget AR, the original Nintendo’s gameplay just…grabbed you:

I can beat the first level with my eyes closed, that’s how many times I’ve played it. At this point, it’s embedded in my brain and I can pull it off like a well-choreographed ballet.

I used to stand in line at my local Erol’s (which turned into Blockbuster) to rent Double Dragon. I’m not sure why we didn’t just buy it, because I rented it so much I could have gotten 10 copies instead. It didn’t matter, though. The excitement of grabbing it and literally running home to play it is a memory that I’ll never forget.

Also, when I think about the NES, the unique, but kinda the same, opening screens stuck with me. I can remember so many of them, but here’s one that might give you the feels:

Plus, all of the quirks that came along with the aging system didn’t matter. I didn’t care how many times I had to slam the top of the NES, blow in the game cartridge or quick-flicker it on and off to actually work.

The NES was, and is, ours as a generation. Happy Birthday, NES…I can’t wait to show you off to my kids. Even Xbox superfan Major Nelson loves you dearly:

Previous Topic | Next Topic

Quick Navigation:

Create your own forum with Website Toolbox!