Depending on how old you are, you may or may not remember what some refer to as “The Dark Times.” What is that you might ask? It’s that age of anarchy, chaos, and utter lawlessness that was life before the debut of the light…The Nintendo Entertainment System.
Hyperbole aside, there is a distinct marker and dividing line of life Before NES and after. Today we take for grated this fun age full of promise and innocence as we wait for the latest Arkham, Halo, or Mortal Kombat, but there was once a time when the expectation of a satisfying home video game experience was barely a reality.
The world of video game entertainment certainly wasn’t born with the introduction of the NES, but it was its introduction that caused the shift we see today in which video game consoles rule the roost.
The early 1980’s was known for its Arcades, rows and rows of video game cabinets lining the walls, and standing before them were crowds of pre and post pubescent warriors waiting to prove their worth in pixel showdowns. Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Centipede, these were the machines that started the craze that called us in droves to drop quarter after quarter into coin slots across the world.
When the Nintendo Entertainment System made its debut, it was the very first time that the experience of the arcade met the experience we could have at home. Sure there was Atari, Colecovision, and even the Commodore-64 before it, but the NES brought Video Arcade graphics, and imaginative fun into the home. This boom in accessiblity at home marked the first steps in the decline of venturing out to the arcades. The proof? If you look around now, the only arcades that exist are as attractions or hold-overs from a bye-gone era. They are no longer destinations, they are mostly museums.
The creation and proliferation of the NES also gave rise to smaller video game studios and companies as there was increased demand for content. No longer “stuck” with a limited number of cabinets, the market for games doubled and tripled as even niche experiences were able to find their way into the hands of gamers. The extreme fun of gaming could be experienced for hour upon hour sometimes into the dead of night. We were taken away to vistas and dreamworlds that we never before dreamnt.
The NES was revolutionary because it brought power to match the most powerful systems around, coupled with ease and availability. It sparked a 30 year (and counting) evolution of interactive entertainment that will only keep expanding as time goes on.
Thirty years on we look back on those days with nostalgia and from time to time dust off the classics just to remember what it feels like to get back to basics. Here are just a few of the old school standouts that made the NES the cultural phenomena that it was.
1) Super Mario Bros
It feels like the grand daddy of them all even if it really isn’t in terms of video game history. Others may have come before it, but only Mario still dominates as the face of the company into present day. Appearing on hundreds of different titles and variations since, Mario and his cast of characters are powerhouses that look to be around for years to come.
2) The Legend of Zelda
Zelda was the introduction for most US gamers into the world of adventure and fantasy gaming. The epic ongoing struggle along with its ability to let us continue our quest gave rise to a love for Link and all his struggles. Appearing on nearly every Nintendo system since, and with rumors of it having its own Netflix show, Zelda’s first steps into greatness on the NES will never be forgotten.
3) Duck Tales
Coming along later in the life of the system, Duck Tales is still a favorite for anyone you’d ask. A popular television show at the time, the video game helped recreate some of the zany fun and take it to our consoles. The first in a line of Disney games such as Tiny Toons and TailSpin, Duck Tales will always be the one that we hold the fondest memories of playing.
What is your favorite NES memory/game? Share them with us in the comments!