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NES On Top Because Of Graphics Quality & Challenge – Among Other Things

It’s no secret that the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) has completely revitalized the video game market. It’s become so popular that shortages on games and consoles regularly occur. With the game library at about 150 strong (although you’d have a hard time finding all of them in a single store – Nintendo regularly pulls slow sellers out of production), there’s plenty of titles to choose from. But what makes the NES so popular? A number of things, actually!

First up, Nintendo maintains strict control over the number of games a third party publisher (licensee) can produce every given year. This is to help control the quality of titles that make it to consumers. If a hit third party gaming company like Capcom has 15 games it could bring out, but has to whittle it down to only 6, you can bet they’re going to pick the ones that have the potential to sell the best – which are also hopefully the most fun. Of course this doesn’t stop some real stinkers from hitting store shelves from companies not graced with amazing developers, but for the most part the games are lightyears ahead of what the beginning of the decade offered up with the likes of Atari.

That leads us to the second reason the NES is so popular: its games look fantastic! Graphically they are more colorful, bright, and sophisticated than prior systems. Competitors like Atari and Sega struggle to keep up, although technically Sega’s Master System is more powerful. The problem is they don’t have the same amount of developers creating games, and thus the pool is limited to a few standout titles. Sega hopes to leapfrog Nintendo later this year with its 16-bit super powered futuristic home console dubbed the Genesis. But with a price tag of $200 and games running upwards of $60, we don’t think Nintendo is losing any sleep over Sega – at least not in the short term.

The third reason the NES and its games are so popular is because they are way more sophisticated and offer up hours and hours of gameplay. A game like The Legend of Zelda can take first time players over 60 hours to figure out all of the puzzles and secrets to make it to the ending. Games are no longer single screen affairs like Donkey Kong, and now offer up wonderful worlds to explore with dazzling graphics, kicking music, and impeccable play control. Tecmo’s recent Ninja Gaiden is an excellent example of a game that simply wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago. It features a compelling narrative that is expressed via elaborate cinema scenes, with huge sprites and edge-of-your-seat hardcore action. It’s lighting up sales charts and players can’t get enough!

Finally, another important part of the NES phenomenon is Nintendo’s marketing. They have done a fantastic job of creating commercials and driving up demand for their products. They’re not shy about advertising third party offerings. They communicate directly with consumers via their bi-monthly video game magazine Nintendo Power – a 100-page periodical that offers up first looks, tips, strategies, and maps that every Nintendo player craves. They’ve got game play counselors on hand to answer questions from kids that get stuck in their games. From cereal to pajamas to sticker books – Nintendo is everywhere and soon they’ll even be on your TV even when your NES isn’t turned on via new cartoons. World of Nintendo stores within a store are popping up at retailers nationwide to offer up the full experience and the question that remains is just how big can Nintendomania get?


Graphics Quality, Challenge Of Game Called The Reasons Players Can`t Stop.

May 29, 1989|By AMY STROMBERG, Business Writer



So what is it about this toy — an oblong plastic box perched atop a TV set with more than 100 interchangeable game cartridges — that makes both kids and adults Nintendo fanatics?

“Once you get hooked on Nintendo you can`t put it down,“ said Charlotte Shaffer, assistant manager of FAO Schwartz in West Palm Beach.

“I hate to use the word addictive, but it really is.“ Rick Veingrad, president of Video Software Dealers Association of South Florida and co-manager of the Video Connection in Hollywood. The store stocks the full Nintendo line, now about 120 games.

“People like to conquer the game,“ Veingrad said.

The most popular Nintendo game, he said, is Super Mario Brothers 2, the sequel to the original and also well-played Super Mario Brothers.

The popularity of Nintendo games far outlasts hit movies his store rents. Movies, Veingrad said, only maintain peak consumer interest for several weeks, he said.

Blockbuster Video stocks about 100 different Nintendo games, and on any given night, all 100 are checked out, said Kyle Turner, Southeast regional product manager for the chain.

Turner, who thinks the game does well because it models itself after classic video arcade games and because of quality, said that before investing in one, most people want to try out a game by renting it first.

Customers may balk at spending $35 to $55 to buy a software cartridge — about the going price of a Nintendo game — but they don`t mind paying $5 or $6 for a several-night stand with one, Veingrad said.

“The graphics of the game are so great. And there is so much imagination that goes into them,“ Veingrad said. “It`s not just a kids` game.“

In Nintendo`s Simon`s Quest, the player becomes a medieval baron trying to reach a castle. Along the way, he encounters monsters and dragons. “The graphics are so good that you can see pupils in the eyes of the characters you are fighting,“ Turner said.

As for any fear that Nintendo players will spend their days parked before their TV sets, Shaffer said it`s less doubtful now. One new action control set, which allows players to jump on a pad to play the games, is now out. By Christmas, another control set that uses a glove and hand motions is due out.

“It gets kids off their butts, which makes parents feel good,“ Shaffer said of the power pad.


Craig Majaski

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.

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