30 years ago, after the huge video game crash of the 80’s, the relatively unknown at the time Nintendo appeared in the scene with a huge game changer: the Famicom, known in the western world as the NES.
Back in 1983, it seemed that society in general was done with video game and electronic consoles after the huge recession of the video game industry known as the North American Video Game Crash of 1983. This crash set back profits for every company out there and is almost single-handedly responsible of the end of several companies, and the diminished returns of many others out of which Atari is the most well known name. While everything was chaos in the west, a card & toy company (responsible for a couple hits in the video game market here and there) by the name of Nintendo was releasing their first console to the market.
The Famicom (NES, Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe and the Americas) was released on July 15th of 1983 in Japan and was a fantastic hit with the Asian gamers, to the point where it turned into the best selling console by 1984. Encouraged by the success of the gaming machine, Nintendo eventually brought the console to the States in 1985. While analysts were unsure about what would happen after the crash, and the possibilities of survival of “just another gaming console”, Nintendo quickly dissipated all doubts by single-handedly revitalizing the video-game market and elevating it to new, unknown heights. The video game industry was now a multi-million dollar business! The NES had 18 launch titles: 10-Yard Fight, Baseball, Clu Clu Land, Duck Hunt, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Excitebike, Golf, Gyromite, Hogan’s Alley, Ice Climber, Kung Fu, Mach Rider, Pinball, Stack-Up, Tennis, Wild Gunman, Wrecking Crew, and a platformer by the name of Super Mario Bros, featuring the guy from Mario Bros and Donkey Kong.
Super Mario Bros’ incredible success secured Mario’s place as Nintendo’s mascot, of sorts, and most recognizable face. The hits didn’t stop there, and lots of the most acclaimed franchises of today launched in the NES, such as Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Punch-Out, Double Dragon, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Final Fantasy, Contra, Dragon Quest, and so many more. And we owe all that to this 8-bit machine with mere 2kb of ram, underpowered even when compared to the most basic smatphone devices on the market. Ah, how times change…
The NES went on to be the best selling console of its time, and kept the title until it was eventually surpassed by the Nintendo DS and Sony’s PlayStation 2. It was finally discontinued in Japan in 2003, well into the Gamecube’s cycle.
Since 1983, the world might have changed a lot, but Nintendo is still out there fighting the good fight with the Wii U, still releasing new entries in some of our favorite franchises, after a long line of successful home consoles and portable consoles too which includes the Gameboy, the Nintendo DS, the SNES, Nintendo 64 and Wii amongst many other successful and not-so-successful systems. Here’s to 30 more years, thanks for everything, Nintendo!