Nintendo Entertainment System (1985)
The Japanese video game giant Nintendo emerged as a global leader in the video game industry when it unveiled the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. The NES went on to become the best-selling gaming console of its time and thirty years later, the NES still play a major influence on the entire industry. Now I’ve heard the argument that the admiration toward the NES is largely due to nostalgia, but one can make that very same argument towards anything we hold dear, including any one of the consoles appearing on this list. However, the Nintendo Entertainment System stands the test of time, proven by the simple fact that gamers still purchase and/or play NES titles to this day. And even though Nintendo stopped production of software for the NES, the aftermarket library keeps growing, with countless new titles made by many diehard game designers who’ve studied the nuts and bolts of the Ricoh 6502 processor and put their practice to good use. Some even go the extra mile and produce cartridges, boxes and manuals and sell their creations online.
The console helped revitalize the US video game industry following the video game crash of 1983; it introduced a plethora of now iconic video game characters, a ton of accessories and it forever changed the relationship of console manufacturers and third-party software developers. The NES was the first true must-have video game console, and if you couldn’t afford one, Nintendo also changed the rental market by allowing video stores to rent their systems and games. But put aside how it saved and changed the industry, what makes the console great is the library of games.
The NES boasts a grand total of 826 titles to choose from (713 licensed and 113 unlicensed games), including a number of groundbreaking hits. Super Mario Bros. pioneered side-scrollers while The Legend of Zelda helped popularize battery-backed save functionality. Metroid was lauded for being one of the first video games to feature a female protagonist, and Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! is still regarded as one of the greatest sports games ever made. Has there been any other console that released hit after hit at the rate Nintendo did during the NES days? Along with these titles, there is also Castlevania, Mega Man, Metal Gear, Mother, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Contra, Kid Icarus, Fire Emblem, Ninja Gaiden, Kirby’s Adventure, DuckTales, and lest we forget the many sequels that outdid their predecessors; Take for instance, Super Mario Bros. 3 which leaps and bounds beyond any other game released back in the day, not to mention the five Mega Man sequels which are still considered the very best in the franchise.
Here’s a console that changed the industry as a whole, and continues to inspire and entertain in 2015. For all these reasons and more, the NES is, in my opinion, the greatest video game console ever made, Nintendo or otherwise. (Ricky D)