In 1985 the cockroach of gaming systems, The Nintendo Entertainment System, was released in North America, just in time for Christmas purchase. Since then, PTSD has become a commonplace phenomenon, even for those who never spent a single hour in combat. My eye still twitches with anticipation whenever someone mentions Metroid.
Psychological trauma aside, there are countless reasons why this is one of the greatest Christmas gifts of all time. Got friends? No? Fuck ‘em! Who needs friends when an 8-bit sprite’s existence hinges upon your every whim? You’ve got a nintendo entertainment system!
Got emotional control? No? That’s ok, because the NES can take a beating . . . and shots from pump BB Guns, dips in vats of acid, whatever. The cartridges were virtually impervious to everything, except dust. I have seen them survive gun shots, get dashed against walls, get stomped, survive spearing with N64 paddles. But you take one of the CD’s from the newer systems, they won’t survive the abuse those old cartridges did. Just ask my old copy of Resident Evil II, or any of the games my friend had for his Sega Saturn, except the movie edition of Street Fighter. That game has nothing to tell, and deserved to be destroyed, regardless of difficulty.
Nintendo wasn’t just an entertainment system impervious to nearly all damage, it taught people the value of venting. I have watched so many friends lose a life, take a game out of the system, stomp/smash/bite the cartridge and then calmly stick the game back in their system and start it up like nothing ever happened. Alright, maybe that was just me.
The NES was also like Mr. Dressup’s tickle trunk.
It let you be anything you wanted to be:
Years later, talk of the Nintendo Entertainment System brings folks of different backgrounds together. How many of you reading this blew a cartridge clean, or blew inside the system? How many drew an alcohol-covered Q-tip across the innards of a game? How many of you wedged one of your paddles into the system to hold the cartridge down, or snapped the cartridge off the edge of the system and you pressed it down into the innards of the machine? There were hundreds of tricks used to make the NES function properly. And like the 100th monkey syndrome, those tips and tricks spread. Even the less conventional methods of getting the NES to properly function–leaving the system on and pulling the cartridge out, smashing the game into the top of the system, and throwing the paddle at the television–caught on, which is probably why my system will now only play Mighty Bomb Jack.
Speaking of tips and tricks, anybody else spend their allowance on calls to Nintendo Power? I sure as hell did. And who can forget the ultimate film homage to the NES, The Wizard:
So this Christmas, as I play through the first Super Mario Brothers game yet again, I want to take a few moments out of my game time to thank Nintendo for their decision to stop making card games for Yakuza and start making video games. May you kick Microsoft and SONY in the ass for years to come.