Happy Birthday to the Nintendo Entertainment System
It feels like there are a lot of birthdays this year* and today (18th October) marks the 26th birthday since the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the North America regions. The console was released in Europe the year after and the Japanese console was released on the 15th July 1983 but as the Japanese console was named the Famicom today is the day I shall celebrate the NES.
After the 1983 release and recall of the Famicom the console became the number one selling console in Japan in 1984 so Nintendo thought they should attempt to try and get into the North American market. It was announced on the 18th June 1985 at the Computer Electronics Show and a partial release started on the 18th October 1985 in New York (the toy capital of the world) and the console was rolled out nationwide by February the year after. If you would like to know more on the history of Nintendo of America I suggest the great book Super Mario: How Nintendo conquered America by Jeff Ryan.
The NES launched with a huge mix of games including the strange Stack-up, Donkey Kong Jr. Math and Gyromite. The console also started out with the classic Duck Hunt, Ice Climber and Excitebike whilst we were also treated to some original named titles such as the baseball game Baseball, the tennis game Tennis and the pinball game Pinball. It was November 1985^ when North America received a game about two plumbers sent to the Mushroom Kingdom to save the Princess Peach from Bowser king of the Koopas.
I don’t think any game defines the NES more than Super Mario Bros. and I would even argue that nothing epitomises gaming than Mario. I’m sure that 95% of gamers have played a Mario game and it was the NES that really showed us what a platformer is capable of. The console also made the debut of the Zelda series, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Mega Man, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Metal Gear.
For me the NES reminds me of my childhood, spending my rainy Saturdays playing with family or friends with my personal favourite at the time being Super Mario Bros. 3. So pick up a cartridge and give it a blow as we celebrate 26 years since the release of the NES.
*I feel the need to explain that this is a joke though.
^ Incidentally I was born in November 1985.