If you’re an 80’s kid like myself the chances are your first gaming experiences happened on the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was a much simpler time, when game developers were forced to be creative instead of relying on flashy presentation. The graphics were 8 bit, the music was incredible, and the games were addictive. Let’s get a little nostalgic and take a trip down memory lane and take a look at some of the things that made the Nintendo Entertainment System so great.
The Box Art
The year was 1993 and I was at the local convenient store renting a few games for the weekend. Unlike today, I couldn’t make a decision of what game to pick based on website reviews or other media outlets so I decided based on one factor: the box art. When you look at a game case today you probably don’t think much of the game’s cover, but back then the box art was incredible. Every NES box featured badass 80’s action heroes and drew your attention to the game. The box art that struck my eye that day in the convenient store was Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. I remember looking at Ryu Hayabusa crouching and unsheathing his sword and not being able to resist grabbing a copy. Anyone who has played the Nintendo Entertainment system has a favorite box cover, whether it’s the Megaman series, Double Dragon, or Iron Sword which featured Italian beefcake Fabio.
The Nintendo Entertainment System had many great games in it’s library, and it excelled in two genres: Platformers and Beat em’ ups. The NES of course introduced us to a little Italian plumber who would become the face of Nintendo. The Super Mario games on the NES are some of the best platformers ever made (Super Mario Bros. 3 is arguably the best Mario game). The NES also had some amazing Beat em’ up games. Games like Double Dragon II, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Battle Toads, and River City Ransom were always a ton of button-mashing fun you could have alone or with a buddy.
Not only were the games creative and addicting, there were also challenging as well. Some NES games took weeks to beat, some I never beat at all. When you completed a game on the Nintendo Entertainment System you felt a sense of accomplishment. Today you probably beat a game and shrug it off like it was nothing, put it on the shelf, and forget all about it. When you beat a Nintendo game its a totally different story. You couldn’t wait to brag to all your buddies that you conquered a game and challenge them to do the same. Very few games currently have that same feeling (with the exception to the Dark Souls series). Of course if you needed some assistance in beating a game you could always count on your buddy Game Genie to help you out.
Nothing is worse than coming home from your local game store with a newly purchased game, putting it into your console, and having to wait for updates and patches to download. The older the game, the longer you have to wait to play it. This can become even more annoying when the game finally boots up and you have to make some sort of account. The Nintendo Entertainment system doesn’t have this problem. You can take a 25 year old game off the shelf, maybe blow into the cartridge, wiggle it into your system a little, and you’re playing Blades of Steel in no time.
Sometimes its nice to take a minute to plug in an old console and just soak in all the nostalgia. It makes you think back to a much simpler time when gaming was an all new experience. I suggest after you’re done reading this article, go dig through your old boxes and bring out that old console for a few hours. It doesn’t even have to be an NES, it could be a Sega Genesis, a Game boy, N64, or even a PS2. You’ll thank me later.