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Our NES Memories: 30 Years of Famicom

Brian Davis, Next Level Games

by Neal Ronaghan - July 19, 2013, 3:26 pm EDT

The Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon developer has quite a few delightful NES memories.

I have an Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) on my desk here at Next Level Games. As I look at it, it brings me back to the days of VCRs, dual-cassette decks, and word-of-mouth tales of upcoming video games from Japan.

My first experience with the NES was at my older cousin’s house. This is where I was introduced to Tecmo Bowl, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! and Mario Bros. -- I played as Luigi.

My family purchased the NES Action Set, which included a Control Deck, NES Zapper, two Controllers, and the Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt dual Game Pak. In those days, rather than consoles we had Control Decks that used Game Paks -- this terminology made our video games feel indestructible (Note: Dust and dirt later surfaced as its weakness).

NES was the first video game system where I practiced my game-playing skills and eventually surpassed my Dad’s high scores. The NES got me into reading more often, too. At the time, I didn’t have much interest in books but the monthly issues of Nintendo Power got me into appreciating the written word!

The neighborhood kids all seemed to get the NES around the same time. The parental network would consult regularly to keep the local game library diverse; all of the kids had different games. This strategy worked out, as visiting a friend’s house would lead to playing different games and trading. The NES really brought many people in our neighborhood together to play!

Now that I’m a few years older, it’s exciting for me to see NES games being released on the 3DS and Wii U eShop. The hardware limitations back then drove innovation in game design, leading to some amazing games on the NES. Releasing these classics on current hardware gives gamers an accessible way to experience the roots and influences of modern video games, and also give game developers, like me, a reminder of why we love what we do.


CericJuly 16, 2013

I played To the Earth with the Zapper Headset that you spoke to activate.

StrawHousePigJuly 16, 2013

I heard he was a total Star Wars nerd.

A nerd! :o

ejamerJuly 16, 2013

I remember buying To the Earth due some confusion. We were supposed to buy Solar Jetman, but hey, the games are probably almost the same right? Both involve... well, space.

After the initial disappointment, I sat down and started playing To the Earth. Eventually we could get through the first 3 or 4 levels, which seemed pretty substantial. Even though the game was tough, it was really quite enjoyable once you had enough practice. I liked how you were forced to be accurate with your shots since every miss was costly and would reduce your fuel level. The one downside is that Duck Hunt became almost unplayable - the pace was just so slow.

Have thought about reacquiring this game now... but not sure my adult self would have the persistence (or time) required to build up the skill and memory required to get through each level.

Quote from: StrawHousePig

I heard he was a total Star Wars nerd.

A nerd! :Q

This is another true statement. But that didn't happen until 1994! I send out a big "Thank you" to USA (the TV channel) for having marathons of the movies around Independence day back then!

You know, apparently The Lone Ranger also used the zapper in the first person areas, but we could never get the thing to work properly.

xcwarriorJuly 19, 2013

Top 4 all worthy selections. Never played Darkwing Duck. But the omission of Legend of Zelda/Final Fantasy/Tetris/Baseball Stars 2/Duck Hunt/Mega Man 2/MM3/Double Dragon II and probably others is sacriligious!

So many good NES titles.... I normally am for NES games being on Wii U VC and not 3DSVC, but I would pay $5 in a heart beat for Baseball Stars 2 on 3DSVC.

Ian SaneJuly 19, 2013

I like Brian Davis' story about the parental network in the neighbourhood making sure that their kids each had a distinct library of games between them.  In the NES days I figured that in regards to videogames parents fell into two categories:

A: parents that thought videogames were evil.
B: parents that would buy their kids games but had a knack for zeroing in on the worst game in the store 99% of the time.

With videogames it seemed like us vs. parents.  So Brian's story was refreshing, showing that that wasn't the case every time.

TheFleeceJuly 21, 2013

Justin, our stories are so very similar it's almost scary! I always think about that event almost everyday, it's one of my favorite memories. These stories are awesome, I've enjoyed them all.

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