Classic Consoles: NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (NES) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The year 1983 marked a significant turning point in the history of video gaming with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This iconic console, developed by Nintendo, not only revived the video game industry but also established the foundation for modern gaming as we know it. In this retrospective, we will delve into the development, release, legacy, and games of the NES, exploring its profound impact on gaming culture.

Genesis of the Nintendo Entertainment System

The Nintendo Entertainment System, often referred to as the NES, was originally released in Japan as the Family Computer (Famicom) in 1983. It featured a custom 8-bit CPU and a Picture Processing Unit (PPU) responsible for rendering graphics. What set the NES apart was its innovative design and the inclusion of a robust, square-edged controller known as the "D-pad."

The NES was officially introduced to North American audiences in 1985. It underwent a visual redesign, with a sleek, gray appearance, and it came bundled with the game Super Mario Bros., a title that would become synonymous with the console. This move proved pivotal in winning over the hearts of gamers.

Benefits and Limitations of NES Hardware

The NES's hardware, while modest by contemporary standards, was groundbreaking in its era. Its 8-bit processor, which ran at 1.79 MHz, delivered improved graphics and sound compared to its predecessors. The NES's library of games utilized these capabilities to create more immersive experiences.

One of the key benefits of the NES was its expansive library of games. Developers embraced the system's hardware, leading to the creation of classics that remain beloved today. However, the NES's limitations were evident in its graphics, which were less detailed than those of competing consoles like the Sega Master System. Despite this, the NES thrived due to its strong software lineup.

Popular NES Games

The NES boasted a treasure trove of iconic games that captivated players of all ages. Let's explore some of the most popular and enduring titles:

  1. Super Mario Bros. (1985): A landmark in gaming history, Super Mario Bros. introduced players to the adventures of Mario and Luigi as they embarked on a quest to rescue Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. It set the standard for platformers and remains a timeless classic.

  2. The Legend of Zelda (1986): An epic adventure that introduced players to the fantastical world of Hyrule and the hero Link. The Legend of Zelda pioneered the action-adventure genre, offering open-world exploration and challenging puzzles.

  3. Metroid (1986): A groundbreaking title that blended exploration, action, and platforming. It featured the iconic heroine Samus Aran and became a cornerstone of the NES library.

  4. Mega Man (1987): This action-packed series allowed players to take on the role of Mega Man, battling a variety of Robot Masters in non-linear stages. It set the stage for sequels and spin-offs that continue to captivate players.

  5. Punch-Out!! (1987): A boxing game that combined strategy and precision, featuring memorable characters like Little Mac and Mike Tyson. It exemplified the NES's ability to deliver diverse gaming experiences.

Comparison to Contemporary Consoles

During the NES era, it faced competition from consoles like the Sega Master System and the Atari 7800. While the Sega Master System boasted technically superior graphics, the NES outshone its competitors in terms of its robust library and groundbreaking titles. Nintendo's strict quality control and licensing agreements helped ensure the NES's dominance.

Public Reception and Sales Figures

The NES was met with resounding success upon its North American release. By 1988, it had captured 80% of the video game market, thanks in no small part to the release of games like Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. The NES revitalized the video game industry, which had experienced a severe downturn in the early 1980s.

The public's response to the NES was overwhelmingly positive. Gamers were captivated by the console's innovative titles, and the NES became a fixture in households across the country. Its affordability, coupled with a growing library of games, ensured its enduring popularity.

Marketing Strategies and Pricing

Nintendo employed clever marketing strategies to promote the NES. The "Now You're Playing with Power!" campaign highlighted the console's advanced graphics and memorable characters. The inclusion of Super Mario Bros. with the NES Deluxe Set made it an enticing package.

The NES was priced reasonably at $199 for the base system, with additional games costing around $30 to $50 each. Adjusted for inflation, the NES's launch price would be approximately $480 today, making it a competitive option for gamers.


The Nintendo Entertainment System, with its innovative hardware and groundbreaking games, played a pivotal role in shaping the video game industry. It rekindled the public's love for gaming and introduced iconic characters and franchises that continue to thrive today. The NES's enduring legacy can be seen in the countless gamers who fondly remember their first adventures with Mario, Link, and Samus.

As we reflect on the NES's impact, we celebrate its contribution to the world of gaming. It was a console that not only saved an industry but also laid the foundation for the rich and diverse gaming landscape we enjoy today.

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