The original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is one of the most successful pieces of commercial hardware of all time. Although it was released almost 30 years ago, it still remains a popular and entertaining household item. Let's take a look at what made this console so great.
At the time the NES was released there was really nothing like it on the market. Atari had developed a home gaming system (the infamous 2600) but the graphics and game play were quickly becoming out dated. Many developers in the late 70s were releasing low quality games, which caused a video game market crash in 1977. The NES revived the falling industry. The NES was released in Japan in 1983 (under the name Famicon). It had a much more powerful processor which allowed for high quality game development. Home video game consoles had become very popular in Japan, and the NES was finally released in North America in 1986.
For the North American release in 1986 the NES base model retail price was $129.99 US, there was also a premium package that included extra games and controllers for $249.99US. At the time this was much more affordable than a home computer system (which was still very new). The pricing point of the NES led most middle and upper class families to purchase the console. This led to over 60 million consoles sold worldwide during its nearly 10 year production. This was exponentially more than previous home video game systems.
The NES games were sold as large 72 pin grey cartridges that contained 'read-only' memory. Initially Nintendo released only a handful of self produced games, including the popular Mario brothers and Donkey Kong. Over the next several years Nintendo began licensing third party development. This led to a large variety of entertaining games from many different developers. This also promoted competition, so that there were fewer 'low quality' games produced. The many different styles of games entertained all ages, from young children to adults. The most popular game is Super Mario 3, which was released in 1990 in the united states. This game was highly anticipated and went on to sell over 18 million copies. Becoming one of the best selling video games of all time.
The Nintendo Entertainment System changed the world of video games and home computers. Its superior design saved a failing market and propelled it for almost 10 years. It was a major commercial and technological success and set the standard for all future video game hardware development.