30 Years of Nintendo

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is 30 years old today! Hard to believe I was seven when it came out. It went on to play a significant part of my life, as I’m sure it did for many other people my age. When I look at my kids and see what they have available to them as they’re growing up, it’s hard for me to imagine where gaming will be 30 years from now. But for today, I just wanted to take a minute and go over my fondest NES memories.

I first saw an NES at my cousin Dave’s house at a sleepover. It was pretty much the best thing ever. Those graphics! That sound! The gameplay! He had a few games for it, including the requisite Super Mario Bros and Duckhunt, plus a wrestling game, and . . . some other ones I’ve forgotten. My gaming up to that point had been on the Atari, so pretty much anything was a step up. (Sorry Pitfall Harry. Just keepin’ it real.)

After being exposed to the wonder of 8 bit gaming, I immediately went into wheedle mode. How could I get my parents to get me one of those things?

Long story short? I couldn’t. Not for several years. (Was it years? I’m not honestly sure. It felt like decades.) Until, that is, the family bought a conversion van. You remember those? The behemoths that had TV/VCRs built into them? Not to mention an NES? Car driving would never be the same. My siblings and I burned through many a happy game in that van. I remember pleading for a drive to last a little bit longer so that we could find a save point in the original Final Fantasy. Going to the video store to rent a bunch of games before a long trip. Teaching my brother Wilson how to play Big Bird games.

Those were heady times, my friends.

Zelda, Mario, Final Fantasy, Metroid, Double Dragon, Contra, Duck Hunt. I still own a fair number of my old game cartridges. Because pack rat. Amazing that 30 years later, my son would recognize those same games, and many of those series are still going strong. (I don’t miss blowing into the cartridge to get it to work, however. Glad those days are behind us. Now we just have to deal with scratched discs occasionally. (Though the last few games I’ve bought have been completely digital, so I suppose the only things left to worry about are bugs and crashes and corrupted save files.)

I remember getting every issue of Nintendo Power and devouring it for cheat codes and strategies. Swapping gaming stories with friends at lunch in sixth grade. Wondering in awe at the glory of the Konami cheat code. (UUDDLRLRBA, baby!) Watching The Wizard, stunned by the brilliance of Mario 3.

We’ve come a long way, peoples.

In any case, happy birthday, NES! Thanks for countless hours of time successfully wasted. Any of you have any particular memories of the system stand out?

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