Exactly 25 years ago today, Nintendo released their now-classic video game system: the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The NES brought about a new age of home gaming and was the first video game system to feature Mario.
Mario first appeared in two arcade games: Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. Super Mario Bros. was one of the first games ever released for the NES, and it was the best-selling video game of all time until 2009, when it was overtaken by Wii Sports. The NES also introduced us to video game franchises such as The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Metroid, and Final Fantasy.
Of all the video game manufacturers, Nintendo has probably been the most successful. Atari and SEGA tried to compete with Nintendo in the late 80s/early 90s, but Atari has now relegated itself to museums and the collections of bearded nerds, while SEGA gave up on making consoles in ’98 to focus on game production. On IGN’s list of the top 25 video game consoles, five Nintendo consoles are on the list, the SNES (Super NES) is at #4, and the NES is at #1.
Nintendo has pioneered many of the biggest advances in video game technology. The Game Boy was the first real handheld video game console. The N64 led the fifth generation of video game systems in 3D graphics technology, with hits like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The Nintendo Gamecube was the first system to use optical discs instead of video cartridges. The DS was the first handheld to use touchscreen technology, and the Wii was the first game to take advantage
With the rise of the Playstation in the mid-90s and the Xbox in 2001, Nintendo’s competition has been fiercer than ever. The Nintendo DS is the second most best-selling console in the world, while the PS2 takes the top spot. And the competition is only getting bigger.
Panasonic, the big electronics company best known for selling giant TVs, is actually trying to get back into the video game business with a product currently code-named “The Jungle.” Panasonic’s first and last attempt at creating a console was in 1994 with the 3D0. And, of course, the fact that you can play games on your iPhone or iPad is creating competition from a company that isn’t even that invested in gaming!
But Nintendo’s still doing well. The DS continues to outsell the PSP in Japan, the heart of video game-dom. And Yoshio Sakamoto, one of Nintendo’s top game designers, said the following in an interview last month:
“At Nintendo, we always have the obligation to surprise users with each new console. We have never simply followed our competition.We prefer to create something new that catches your attention, and I think this will continue at this time. The new Nintendo console will leave you all with your mouth open.”
So happy birthday, NES! To celebrate, here’s a fun video highlighting 100 classic NES games.