It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since the original Nintendo Entertainment System came out. Perhaps the object of more nostalgia than anything else from that period, the NES helped define a generation and primed us for a life in which gaming was more than a way to pass an idle half hour. In honor of the classic console’s 25th birthday, we’re briefly recalling our favorite NES games and associated memories. Feel free to add your own.
Devin: This game really had it all, and I still play through it maybe once a year. The open-world design, unique controls, constant upgrading of your guy, and the totally awesome music easily place it among my favorite games. The remake was actually quite good as well, though it’s not complete without the hilarious translation errors and the classic animation (which Nintendo must have missed) of Hitler’s head exploding horrifically.
John: As a young Polish boy, I was never really proud of my Slavic heritage. Sure we had pierogi and submarines with screen doors, but we never had a hero I could look up to. Then along came Karnov. Karnov, the “eastern Russian/Siberian” circus freak who breathes fire and is really muscly, can jump around and kill genies and stuff. I think the real value in this game to me came specifically from the adherence to Slavic myth (kind of) and had less to do with the gameplay, which was abysmal. Although this game was roundly panned, I still remember getting it at a weird computer store somewhere near my grandma’s house in Wheeling and bringing it home to play for a few hours straight. I liked Karnov because of how it made me feel back then, not because it’s the greatest game ever.
Greg: Why? Because it was the first game that ever invoked a rage quit out of me.
The best part: the game’s developers totally knew how frustrating it was. Seriously, look at the slogan on the game’s ad: “Get the title that might just drive you crazy!”. You see that kid’s smile? That’s the look of a kid who has just snapped. 3 seconds later, that kid punched Lurch in his big stupid TV face.
Kyle: When I think NES, I think of cartridge blowing. I was only three when my brothers let me play Duck Hunt. I was so excited to shoot the gun. From what I can remember, I was quite the ace shooter. Before long, I was sneaking into their room trying to get the damn thing working. But, I was missing something, and after careful watching, I watched my brother blow into the cartridge. It was like magic, I blew into every game to be sure for the next 10 years.
Simon: Yes, I know this is a predictable entry, but this game changed my life. I remember getting it for my 7th birthday (along with Duck Tales), and I lost my shit. The graphics were awesome, the music unforgettable, the gameplay addictive (and long), and was a massive improvement on the confusing Super Mario Bros 2 (which wasn’t really Super Mario, anyway).
I remember (back in the days before save games) having to leave my console turned on for days as I made my way through every level. I also remember a major tanty when I turned on the TV one day, ready to attack World 8, only to find the screen garbled due to an overheated console. Heart. Broken.
A few years ago, I found my NES console deep in a cupboard at my Mum’s house, complete with teeth marks in the side of the controllers, as my brother would bite the controller out of frustration when he lost. I don’t know if he still has a rage bite habit on his Xbox 360.
We could probably go on for hours this way, but it’s really satisfying enough to just sit back and remember a bit. Of course, you can always fire up the old emulator and relive these great games. I wrote a little guide for that a while back. Yeah, sure, it was in 2008, but do you really think NES emulators have changed that much since then?
Happy birthday, NES. Here’s to another 25 (of me playing Mega Man II).