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Nintendo Entertainment System Turns 20

NESThe NES turns 20 years old this week, and GameSpot has been readable for perhaps the first time ever as they get all misty-eyed for the NES, the little grey console that’s graced us with a generation of 8-bit gaming goodness.

I still fondly remember the frenzy of Christmastime, 1985, as people lost their marbles trying to get their hands on the system for their children. My friend Joel’s parents had managed to score one, and we would spend every day in school drawing Metroid maps, going over the finer points of Rush n’ Attack after school, and leaving the game paused all night so we could pick it up again in the morning for a few precious minutes of Kid Icarus before school.

20 years later, I STILL have not beaten Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, with its weirdly offensive ethnic stereotypes, though I have spent the last 20 years trying to do just that. I made it to the second round vs. Mike just once in all this time, immediately panicked, and lost, even though everyone knows that’s all you need in order to beat him. Just imagine if I had devoted twenty years to studying something like, I dunno, physics.

In college, one of my first websites, NintendoSlut, was purely devoted to NES fandom and emulation. I didn’t know that the tinkering in my dorm room with screengrabs of Princess Peach would turn into a career.

In my early 20s, I designed the “Know Your Roots” Nintendo controller t-shirt, and licensed it for sale through Hot Topic stores nationwide. I still smile when I see someone wearing one of those shirts, even though by now Nintendo has taken the design and slapped it on everything you can think of.

I go through 4 year cycles, where I amass huge NES hardware collections, and then sell them on eBay, only to start again a few years later. This videogame system, unlike any other, captured my generation’s imagination, and for some of us, still is a driving influence in many aspects of our lives, creatively and otherwise.

NES, this is my love letter to you. Thank you so much for the time we’ve spent together. Here are a few of my favorite links from the last several years:

  • Seanbaby’s NES Page: Sure, SeanBaby’s famous now, all writin’ for EGM and hanging out with the SuicideGirls, but we knew him when. And his NES pages are some of the funniest commentary on the NES classics that anyone has ever read.
  • “We Want the NES Back” Petition: Who hasn’t dreamed of a re-released brushed-aluminum anniversary edition of the hardware?
  • GrandTheftendo: Proving that the next generation is both smarter and has more free time than we do, here’s a full port/conversion of Grand Theft Auto III running on 8-bit hardware. It’s breathtaking. Developers, hire this guy immediately. Kthx.
  • The Ultimate 8-Bit NES Test:“A warning before you begin. This test is hard. Unless you’ve spent a good deal of time playing various games on NES there’s no way you’re going to do good. It probably helps if you’re over twenty.”
  • Mario Twins: With crudely rendered Flash animations and a hilarious soundtrack by Group X, this video clip is probably partially responsible for a former dotcom I worked for going bankrupt and me speaking in a terrible Arabic accent for several months.
  • Generation NEX: With the patent on the original hardware expiring, Messiah Entertainment was quick to introduce this remodeled NES. It LOOKS incredible, and it’s amazing to see an older console reimagined…unfortunately, according to VintageGaming, the NEX, well, SUX.
  • Nullsleep’s “Her Lazer Light Eyes”: Incredible NYC musician mixes entirely new music using vintage NES and Game Boy hardware. Just listen…it makes you feel good. Though as Jillian points out, it’s kind of a cheap shot, since it sounds like childhood happiness. Can’t wait to see their live show.

There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. Do you know that Maggie and I saw the “Know Your Roots” with controller design spray painted on a bridge over the Farmington Canal? It was pretty neat.

  2. No way!?! That is unbelievably rad.

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