The video game industry crashed in 1983. News stories had declared the fad over. Fortunately for gamers, the industry was not only reborn but it grew to the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. The defibrillator that shocked video games back into the hearts of Americans was a console known as the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES for short.
The NES was originally the Famicom, or Family Computer, and it was released in Japan in 1983. There, it sold over 2.5 million units during its first year on the market. Developer Nintendo, a former collectible card company, then decided to expand its interests globally. Executives knew Western markets would be difficult to utilize. The video games industry was in shambles so stores would be hesitant to stock a new console that likely no one would buy. Nintendo planned properly. Firstly, Nintendo agreed to buy back unsold consoles so that stores would not be liable. Secondly, they developed a peripheral known as R.O.B. the Robot that could be used with two of its games (Stack Up and Gyromite both are awful but they served their purpose). With R.O.B, the NES was disguised as an electronic toy, not a video game system. Finally, they redesigned the Famicom and renamed it the Nintendo Entertainment System. The console was released in the United States on October 18, 1985. It was an instant success in no small way due to one of its launch titles: Super Mario Bros.
- History of Nintendo: NES
- Nintendo Official Website
- A History of Video Games Timeline
- Nintendo History
- 1985 and the Nintendo Entertainment System
There are countless differences between the Famicom and the NES. The color scheme is perhaps the most notable. While the NES is mostly gray, the Famicom was white with red buttons and controllers. It was also much smaller than the NES. The game cartridges were of different shapes and sizes, but they did tend to be smaller than the consistent gray boxes that all U.S. titles were presented in. Also, the controllers on the Famicom each had a microphone built inside.
- TSR's NES Archive
- History of Video Games
- Inside Nintendo's Classic Game Console
- Nintendo Entertainment System
The Nintendo Entertainment System was the home for the debut titles of many franchises including Nintendo's Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, Square's Final Fantasy, Konami's Castlevania and Capcom's Megaman. The most popular game on the NES was Super Mario Bros. To date it has sold over forty million copies, making it the second-best selling video game of all time (behind Nintendo's 2006 console pack-in, Wii Sports). Other top sellers for the NES included Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros 3. Many of the most popular NES titles have since been re-released for the Game Boy Advance or as $5.99 downloadable titles via the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console service.
Competitor Gaming Systems
The NES's main competitors were two other 8-bit consoles. The first was the Sega Master System. Released in the U.S. in 1986, it was a superior gaming experience with a higher processor that allowed for better graphics and sound. While it sold in the United States and Japan, the Sega Master System's only real success was in European markets. Nintendo's other competitor was Atari. The company had originally reached out to Atari with the interest of reviving the video game industry together. However, Atari did not comply and released its own console to compete with Nintendo. Atari's 7800 intended to right the company's prior failure with their 5200 console. However, the console was first released during the video game crash. It was re-released in 1986, but the NES was so popular by this point that it stole all of Atari's sales. There seemed to be no place for Atari's system. Both the Atari 7800 and the NES were built with a chip (Nintendo's was called the 10NES) that prevented unauthorized software from being played on their consoles.
- Console Wars
- Ctrl F for Nintendo in this. There is a short passage about the 10NES (PDF)
- Gaming Den
- History of Computer & Video Games (PDF)
When the NES launched in 1985 it was priced at $149.99 and came complete with Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, a light gun accessory for Duck Hunt and an extra controller. As the console became obsolete with the release of the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the early 1990s, the price diminished. However, in recent years retro video games have found a market. Independent used video game stores sell the NES for around $40.00. The price is rather cheap because the console itself is still a common find. As for games, they range in price based on rarity. One of the rarest titles, Stadium Events, was sold via eBay.com for $41,300.