January 12, 2016

Nintendo Entertainment System (Vibe, January 2006)

"In October 1985, fear of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union kept Americans up at night. Little did those adults know that while they fretted, the Japanese staged a peaceful invasion - right into the minds of their children - with a new gaming product called Nintendo Entertainment System. By 1989, one out of every four American homes had one, making previously popular pastimes (like playing outside) for the birds, literally. Really, how could you go for a bike ride when King Koopa was holding Prince Toadstool hostage? When you became Mario, you took an oath, and it was your sworn responsibility to squash as many Goombas and  boot as many Koopa Troopas as you possibly could - rain, sleet, hail, or snow. Or sun. Of course, Nintendo wasn't the first home gaming system. Pong had pinged into homes in 1975, but it only allowed you to play that one game. Atari had us grippin' the grain into the early '80s with the faux-wood-paneled 2600, which supported a plethora of cartridges. So when Nintendo came along with its 8-bit processor (and the then high-definition graphics it enabled), glorious gray box, and rectangular controllers (which truly took the joy out of joy sticks...), it was basically a wrap. The competition was nil." Cont'd below...

"You wanna sip Mo' on my living room flo' / Play Nintendo with Cease and Nino."

"It was more than the bits, however, that kept the biters at bay. Sega made a run at Nintendo in 1986 with its own 8-bit machine, but Nintendo and its colorful characters had already won our hearts and minds. Whether it was the Mario Bros (who really were super), Link and Princess Zelda, or Samus from Metroid (as a child, beating that game was like living The Crying Game, if you smell me), we felt a personal connection to the characters and their plights. Which is why, 20 years later, these same titles live on in their fully rendered, 3-D sequels on Nintendo's latest mech warrior, GameCube. And with the home gaming now a $10 billion industry, we're finally seeing the fruition of the quiet foreign invasion staged two decades ago. Damn you, Mario! Damn you!" - Vibe, 1/06.