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The History of N-Evolution

Autumn Years of NES

by the NWR Staff - February 26, 2001, 6:55 am EST

Although the NES was one of the biggest and most important video game consoles of all time, it couldn't last forever.


By the late 80’s and early 90’s the name Nintendo was well established and their console, the NES, was a household name. Nintendo continued to expand their well-loved games with sequels and as well as introducing new ones. The sequels may not have been as ground breaking as their originals but most introduced enough new ideas and concepts to propel them into the market and be hailed as masterpieces.

Nintendo had key partnerships with companies such as Pepsi that helped them achieve their goal of widespread recognition. High rating TV shows like the Super Mario Show and Captain N drove the name “Nintendo” and its characters into the spotlight.


Super Mario Bros 3 - SMB3 remains one of the best selling games of all time and is still hailed as one of the greatest; it's plain to see that the success and impact of this game was enormous. This was truly the first (but not the last) game that reached as wide an audience as a Hollywood blockbuster. It took the aspects of the original Super Mario Bros. and evolved them into to what I believe was the pinnacle of platform gaming. The graphics were great, the gameplay was both familiar and original, and this was the game that made Mario fly. Thinking about the game brings back so many memories: the whistles, the raccoon, frog and Tanookie Mario, the huge worlds, the boss ships. I could go on and on, Super Mario Bros 3 was a masterpiece of platform gaming and one that will continue to be remembered for a long time.

Evolutionary Rating: 9 - How many platform games appeared that borrowed idea from this game? Too many to name, and this proves that this was not merely a sequel but a natural progression that took platform gaming to the next level.


Nintendo in the 80’s were pure innovators when it came to their wonderful games, these being a handful that I’ve selected to illustrate this. Of all the companies that have shaped and evolved videogames to how they are perceived today in my mind Nintendo stands tall amongst the rest, they brought games to the masses and established it as a medium and not merely a time-killer.

By 1990, Nintendo’s main competitor Sega had well established their 16-Bit Mega Drive in the Japanese market, and was the first to release their console in the US with their new mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega were touted as having more “attitude” than Nintendo and this won them many supporters. Nintendo had already stated that it would only enter the 16-bit market when it was good and ready, and with Sega quickly gaining recognition the time was right to unleash the SNES.

When Nintendo had finished development on the SNES, it was much more powerful than the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. It could generate more colours than the Mega Drive (32,000 vs 512), could create more detailed parallax scrolling backgrounds and had a maths coprocessor that allowed the hardware to do some of the work normally done by software, making it easier to create huge games.

Naturally all these specs were meaningless without a killer game to push the system. Thankfully, Super Mario World was the game Nintendo fans had always wanted.


Super Famicom                 



SNES (PAL and Japanese version)                  

The SNES as seen in the US

Coming Soon: A look at the SNES and its role in the evolution of videogames, which some people believe to be the epitome of 2D games, and the controversial Nintendo 64 and its role in shaping 3D games.

The Theory of N-evolution, written and maintained by Kostas Andreadis

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