So, I was sitting at home, minding my own business, attempting to think of ways to entertain myself besides throwing water balloons at the people meandering down Sabado Retarde at 1:30 in the morning, when a little ditty popped into my head. It was pleasantly familiar and brought back warm, fuzzy memories of sitting in front of the television like a little zombie. That thought was of Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo Entertainment System.
The NES was the first commercially successful home video game system that, for all intents and purposes, introduced video games to the masses. It was relatively cheap, was well designed and didn’t look like a turd sitting next to the television. Its controller had a classic design, bursting with simplicity in its “form over function” mantra. Furthermore, that controller was damn-near indestructible, as evidenced by the fact that my family never had to replace the original controllers that came with our NES, and the fact that I am still using the original controllers that came with my NES.
However, as cool as the NES and its controllers looked, the best part about it, obviously, was the games. They were exceedingly difficult, and without the option of saving your progress, ensured that they remained entertainment for hours upon hours. The simple two-dimension Mario running across my screen, squishing the Goombas, and jumping on top of the Koopa Troopas to send their shells flying toward the great unknown that was the left side of the TV screen, was enough to keep me occupied for days. Other games, like MiG 21, a game that was not actually licensed by Nintendo, or Duck Hunt, which was by far the second most popular game of any NES owner, simply because you got to use a bad-ass gun, were considered the founding fathers of modern video games. The idea of a first person shooter like GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 could clearly derive its existence from Duck Hunt, much in the same way that Doom could when it was released for the PC in 1993. These attributes are the reason that, for more than five years, the NES dominated the home video game market until the arrival of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis.
Modern consoles today, for lack of a more flattering description, completely suck donkey balls. They rely almost completely on the graphics that the games display to drive their sales, and have extremely complicated controllers, which are not ergonomically designed and make playing the few actually decent new games less fun. One of the best parts about the games on the NES was that they were extremely difficult to beat. This was because there was no way in hell that the developers could market them based on their looks because, let’s face it, they looked like ass. In order to make a game popular, they had to make it hard. Definitely not like today’s consoles, like the Xbox 360, which, other than Halo, has, at best a craptacular selection of entertaining games to play. The simple graphical abilities of the NES forced the developers to make games that had extremely good gameplay and good storylines that were difficult to beat because they could not rely on spectacular-looking graphics to squeak by.
For these reasons, I still think that the NES is the best video game system that I have ever used. It has a place of honor next to my TV, thanks to the countless hours that I have wasted playing such wonderful games. It really breaks my heart to see the new PlayStation 3 being sold for more than 500 bucks, with games that will cost more than $60 dollars, when they really won’t be all that great in comparison to the Super Mario Bros. that I still play. Long live the NES!
Daily Nexus columnist Matt Suedkamp can kick anyone’s ass when playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.