It has been over 25 years since I first dragged my parents to the toy store to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but I still have fond memories of the front-loading machine that used mostly gray cartridges and did not use a joystick controller.
A Simple Design With Some Complexities
It offered a simple design with controllers that was shaped like a brick. Offering a button layout with “A” and “B” button, along with Select and Start buttons and a joypad with four directions, which were Up, Down, Left and Right. Other controller-like accessories that were commonplace for use with some of the more popular games were a light gun, a pad that would sense by requiring the use of your feet and a glove that also offered a modified controller over the wrist pad. The light gun was known as the Zapper, which was most famously used for the Duck Hunt game. The floor pad was known as the Power Pad and was used for dancing, fitness and track and field games. The glove accessory was the Power Glove, which attempted to use hand movement as the primary controller of the game and a controller pad as a secondary control device. Though only a couple of games were ever released specifically for the Power Glove, it was a significant advancement from the point of a joystick and a button. Arguably, the most enjoyable accessory was a robot known as R.O.B., who was limited in its usage, but it became an iconic part of the Nintendo legacy because it created such a physical connection to the human user.
It’s Gotta Be the Games!
What Nintendo always did better than previous systems up to that point was offering a vast library of high-quality games. There were many different types of genres, from role-playing to action to sports, the games would get better by the day and the options to play different games were into the hundreds. Some of the Nintendo characters became cult heroes, such as Mario, Luigi and Yoshi of the Mario Bros. Series. The legend of Mike Tyson grew because of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out because many of his fights were on Pay Television and were not seen by may of the game’s fans, such as myself. Even quite a few references have become popular in 1980’s pop culture, such as the 30 lives codes from Contra, one of the best two-player games that the NES offered.
Many will say that Nintendo saved the home video game business, but with all of the new consoles that have made that thought a memory, I will always have a soft spot from the first console that brought me joy and excitement for many days.