The NES Turns Two
Can you believe the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is celebrating its second birthday already? That’s right! Nintendo launched the NES two years ago on October 18, 1985 in New York. It was a test market to see if video games could be brought back from the dead. After selling a reported 100,000 systems during that holiday season alone, Nintendo decided to go nationwide in 1986. Of course, it’s much more difficult to do gather retail support and sales and marketing for a huge rollout across the country, and so it took some time. Los Angeles was first during the spring of 1986 and then by the end of the summer Nintendo had product in stores across the country.
With a bunch of television commercials, print advertising, circular promotion, and point of sale marketing, Nintendo was able to secure a substantial lead in the video game market. Sega and Atari didn’t stand a chance once the NES secured special third party licensees to make games exclusively for Nintendo’s 8-bit console. As 1986 ended and 1987 began, some of our favorite games for the NES were being created by great developers like Konami and Capcom.
This year we’ve seen the birth of the Adventure Series of Game Paks. It all began with Rygar in June, but in July The Legend of Zelda took retailers by storm and soon began to sell out across the country. With a marketing blitz like no other, gamers were eager to try out this new type of game, complete with gold-colored cartridge and a new battery back-up to save your quest. No more starting over from the beginning! In August we got to play more huge and sprawling games like Kid Icarus and Metroid. As we go into the holiday season more arcade hits and even The Goonies II are on the way to keep the adventure alive and kicking.
From its launch in October of 1985 through the end of August of 1987 Nintendo has sold a whopping 2.22 million systems. We know that it has tripled production in anticipation of this holiday season, and retailers are eager to get more stock to meet the ferocious demand. There are now over 75 games available for the system, with a projected 90 available by the end of this year. Granted, not every store will carry every single title. In fact, Nintendo has been keen to retire certain games as they begin to slow in sales to clear room for the new titles.
Although the NES was originally packaged with R.O.B. the robot and the Zapper, we’re hearing the most popular way to buy the system is just the console itself packed in with the hit Super Mario Bros. Game Pak. The suggested retail price of this set is $99.99, but it’s very common to see it retailing for $79.99 – a fantastic deal for what you get. We agree this is the best value for your money, unless you absolutely must have the light gun, which we feel is a bit overrated, especially since there aren’t many games that make good use of it.
Wondering which games and accessories to pick up for your NES this holiday season? We’ll have our NES Holiday Buyer’s Guide posted next week. Watch for it!
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.