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Nintendo NES Console
CLAYFIGHTER is a serious hand-to-hand combat game, but with hilariously wild antics. There's plenty of violence to be found, but you... Read More
CLAYFIGHTER is a serious hand-to-hand combat game, but with hilariously wild antics. There's plenty of violence to be found, but you won't see any blood and guts since all the characters are made of clay! If things start to get a little stale, try to discover the hidden moves and combos that will put a whole new wrinkle in the action. Minimize
0 Review from Epinions.com
Mar 10, 2008
Top loader is the way to go!
Pros: Great exclusive games; fun and simple gaming; the top loader is a durable system
Cons: The common front loader is troublesome; a lot of terrible games
The Bottom Line:
Perhaps the only early console more significant than the Atari 2600 is the NES, a great system from the 1980s that remains popular.
Those folks over at Nintendo sure knew what they were doing when they released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to the U.S. in 1985. This console showed up at just the right time as the video game market was still reeling from the crash of 1984, causing some people to believe that the console market was dead and the real future was in computer gaming. Nintendo proved that people were still willing to buy consoles and managed to establish itself as the premier gaming company on an International level (the company is still around today, in fact, selling Wii units like they are going out of style).
Prior to getting into the specifics of this machine, I've got to mention a couple of things that could save people looking for an NES a lot of time and trouble. First of all, get a top loader (also referred to as the NES 2). Most NES systems are of the front loader variety and they can cause headaches like crazy. There is a problem in the design of the front loaders in that the massive, 72-pin cartridge slot tends to get dirty or corroded over time and wears out pretty quickly. New NES systems worked like a charm, but the flaw in the front loaders became evident as they aged -- a real problem if you're thinking about picking up a system that's about 20 years old. The top loader, on the other hand, is much more durable -- that system of huge, bent cartridge connectors is gone as carts plug directly into the mother board on the top loaders.
Picking up a top loader is a problem in itself, however, as they tend to be a bit rare and expensive (about $70 to $100 on eBay). Also, the handy RCA plugs on the front loaders isn't included in the top loaders. That's fine with me, however, as I've found the stock Nintendo RF adapter to be very solid.
Second, there's a nifty little console out there called the Yobo FC Twin. Those are available for around $40 on eBay, from merchants on Amazon.com and from a slew of Internet retailers. I don't own a Yobo so I can't comment on whether they are great or not. If you do your research, you'll find that a lot of people swear by them, however. The FC Twin is a top loading console that plays both NES and Super NES games, so I figure I'll buy one before too long as my SNES has been broken for years and I've been to busy (working, raising kids) to get around to replacing it. From what I can tell, the FC Twin might be a good alternative to finding an actual NES. Again, do some research and decide for yourself whether it's great or terrible.
So, back to 1985 again...
One thing fascinating about video gaming history is how bad of a company Atari was. It seemed that for every great decision the company made, it made about 10 horrible ones. One of the worst decisions the once mighty Atari made was blowing off Nintendo's offer to brand the NES as an Atari unit and market it in North America that way (and maybe Europe, too -- the exact story has become convoluted over time). Nintendo had been doing very well with it's gaming console in Japan (called the Famicon) since 1983 and wanted to bring it to the U.S. However, the company was worried about competing against the mighty Atari. Sadly, Atari declined the offer, so Nintendo introduced the NES on its own and simply stomped Atari into the ground.
In terms of technical specs, the NES was pretty impressive at the time. The heart of the system is a modified 6502 CPU (the same thing that powered eight bit computers such as the Apple 2, Atari 400/800 and Commodore 64) and the whole thing could display bright, large characters and manipulate a number of them on the screen at a time. The controllers were revolutionary in that a directional pad that could easily be manipulated with a thumb replaced standard joysticks (you can still find the trusty "D-pad" on modern game controllers, in fact). The flat controller was little more than a D-pad and a couple of action buttons. The sound, great for its time, sounds a bit cheesy today -- you're limited to six sound channels, which was great when compared to the one or two channels commonly available on consoles back in the 1980s but very limited compared to what we have today.
Of course, games sell a system and there were more exclusive titles developed for the NES than you can shake a stick at. Nintendo wisely chose to ship the NES with Super Mario Brothers, a side scrolling platformer that was unlike anything most of us had seen before and introduced the world to Mario the Plumber (a character that is still around today). Yeah, you also got that annoying Duck Hunt game, but that one is fun for about five minutes (it was mostly included to take advantage of the light gun that was shipped with the system -- blasting ducks out of the air with that little zapper gets old in a hurry). At any rate, Super Mario Brothers got people addicted to the NES, and that game was just the beginning.
Nintendo, over the years, introduced a ton of games featuring beloved characters that still pop up in games from the company. The Zelda series (a wonderful set of role playing games) started on the NES, as did the Metroid franchise and the vastly underrated Kirby games. You had hits from third party vendors that couldn't be had anywhere else -- Square Enix's Final Fantasy (another RPG) started on the NES, as did the Exidy Castlevania series, sports games from Tecmo and the Capcom Mega Man franchise.
The licensing scheme Nintendo used also contributed in a major way to the success of the console. The scheme, which was considered brutal by some, simply chained developers to the console -- if you wanted to access Nintendo's huge customer base, then you had to meet a few conditions. Those conditions typically required developers to make exclusive games for the system, thus keeping competitors (such as Sega with its Master System) from offering the same games that were available for the NES. In other words, if you wanted to play Mega Man or Castlevania, you had to purchase an NES. There were thousands of games produced for the NES that you simply couldn't get anywhere else, thus making that system the one to purchase for years.
Of course, there are a lot of nonlicensed games floating around out there for the NES, too. And there were plenty of classic arcade games produced for the system, too -- you can't make games like Pac-Man exclusive to the NES, can you?
A lot of NES games stink, of course, as is the case with any popular system. Sites like VideoGameCritic.net, fortunately, help the unwary gamer sort through what's good and what stinks. The problem with NES games is that the price of a game doesn't determine whether it's good or not -- most games for the system are dirt cheap on sites like eBay whether they stink or not. Some of the best games are cheap, but there are also some expensive ones and a lot of them are terrible. You really have to do your homework when buying games you aren't familiar with for the NES.
By remaining the dominant console on the block until the Sega made it's own licensing agreements and released the Genesis in 1989, you simply can't think about video gaming in the 1980s without considering the NES. The bright, colorful cartoon like games, simple but addictive game play and exclusive characters made this system a winner that is still enjoyed by a heck of a lot of people. In fact, one of the major selling points of the Wii is that a lot of NES titles are available for the system online. The NES, simply put, is one of the most important consoles developed and introduced the world to the licensing schemes and the D-pad that are now common.
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