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NES History

Nes Sector

This article was obtained directly from N64 Gamer magazine issue 15 with minor editing.

In 1983 the NES was initially only released in Japan, under the name, “Famicom” (being a shortened version of “Family Computer”). The Japanese version looked much sleeker than the grey-brick inside machine that was released in Australia, America and Europe two years later.

Video Game consoles had invaded in a big way in the late seventies with machines like the Atari 2600, Intellivision and Celcovision. By 1984 home consoles were believed to have been a fad which had had its day. Computers were making their way into homes and were seen as the natural progression. The earliest NES games didn’t seet any new standards in graphics or gameplay, They were mostly single screen games like Balloon Fighter or the original Mario Bros game. All games at this stage were programmed by Nintendo themselves. However, by the time of the worldwide release, the games had advanced to platform games with smooth scrolling visuals. Super Mario Bros was a game of this era, which although still far from the machines capabilities, it was miles ahead of anything that had been seen before in the home.

Mario had already starred in three Donkey Kong games and Mario Bros but it was the “Super” version which made him a household name and sold more consoles than any other game. Donkey Kong was the first platform game so it was fitting that Mario take the genre to the next level. The Nintendo Entertainment System had become a phenomenon, particularly in the USA where one in every five people owned one. Nintendos sold so quickly that by the time Sega released their 8-bit console, The Master System, it had to share its ten percent of the video game market with the Atari 7800. Part of the popularity was due to the wide variety of games available. Whereas Atari had fought third party developers, to prevent people making money from their systems, Nintendo encouraged third parties to programme for the NES.

By the time NES development was discontinued, over one thousand games were available. The next generation of games included password and battery back up save features which made more involved RPG-type games viable. The Legend of Zelda 1 and 2 were released, as well the firsts of many other popular series. Castlevania made its first appearance on the Nintendo 8-bit.

The NES had many accessories which included plenty of third party controllers to choose from, ROB (Robot Operating Buddy) which was for gamers with no friends as ROB helped you out in games that supported him, which were only a few. The Power Glove was probably one of the saddest peripherals. It was basically a control pad you wore on your hand. It was supposed to improve your control in games, sadly it just singled you out as a sad loser for paying the price of two games for a controller.

By 1988 Nintendo was s popular that unlicensed third party developers started making games for NES. Until this time, third parties had been paying a fee to Nintendo for security chips to put in cartridges so the games would work. The unlicensed developers either created their own version of the chip or worked around it by using adaptors which involved plugging in an official cart as well as the unlicensed cart, much like adaptors used for imported games.

1990 was the beginning of the end for the NES. Sega recently released their 16-bit Megadrive (Genesis), and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was not far off. Super Mario Bros 3 was one of the last games released, which pushed the 8-bit system to its limits. The NES enjoyed a huge popularity in its peak that nothing got close to at the time.

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