After 33 years, Nintendo is giving the older generation of gamers something to be excited about while their kids go wild with Pokémon Go: the all new Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Classic.
NES, also popularly known as the Family Computer, is the quintessential parent of every home console gaming device that we know today.
If you’re a millennial, you’ve probably heard about what the NES is, during hushed conversations between your parents who are no longer as familiar with the games you play on your PlayStations, Xboxes, and Wiis that they bought for you. They spoke about a legendary console that game them hours of fun playing pixelated sprites of monkeys, ghosts, plumbers, Eskimos, vampire hunters, elvish warriors, and female cyborg fighters.
Powerful machine – 30 years ago
It was called the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or Family Computer (Famicom) in its native Japan. Back in the day, it was an 8-bit gadget powered by a 1.79 MHz processor. If that number seems small, it’s because it is. Your smartwatch would have more processing power than 1000 of these things running at the same time.
But the NES had a reason for being. It was the starting platform of many video game characters that are remain popular to this day. The Super Mario Bros started on the NES, Donkey Kong’s first home version was on a NES, Mega Man first shot to fame on it, and people saw the fantastic world of Hyrule of the Legend of Zelda series on this machine.
The NES operated games on cartridges – storage devices that are older than tape, itself a device that many young people of cloud services would most likely call “Jurassic.” But the hard plastic game cartridges featured cover images that were as good as artwork, which is why owners would keep the original packaging pristine.
Its controller only had a total of five items to press: 4-way direction button, A and B buttons, and Press and Start buttons. Plus, it needed to be physically attached via a 2-meter long cable. Compare that to the gazillion buttons, knobs, and switches on a wireless PlayStation 4 controller. It was as simple as it could get but more than enough to provide hours and hours of 2D fun.
Retro is back, baby!
The new NES Classic is a miniaturized version of the NES console that had once been a staple appliance underneath a CRT TV (that’s cathode ray tube for you, millennials). It’s so small that it can be carried with one hand. In fact, it is the size, weight, and thickness of two NES cartridges put atop each other.
While it still looks and feels like the real NES, the NES Classic no longer uses the near-extinct yellow RCA port (who still uses these ports, anyway?!) but now sports the extant HDMI cable so you can play it on your ginormous ultra high-definition TV.
The NES Classic also no longer needs a cartridge; it comes pre-installed with 30 of the most renowned NES titles during its time (Pac-Man and Punch-Out! are already worth the price tag, which we’ll come to in a few).
The classic black-white-gray-red design of the controller is also back and is still the same size as the original. Most youngsters now would have a hard time even fathoming the solid square design of this controller, especially the perceived threat of the sharp corners, but older generation of gamers know that you’d never stop playing on this controller even if you already are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
And now for the price. According to Nintendo this retro gaming device would sell for US$59.99 (about Php2,700) or about the price of a current generation game. Surprised? You should be because this thing cost US$300 when it was launched in 1983 -- nearly US$800 in today’s money. It had the price tag of three Xbox Ones.
The NES Classic would be officially sold in stores on November 11.