GameSpite Quarterly Issue 5
Fall 2010 | The NES Turns 25

GameSpite Quarterly 5 is now available in both the standard paperback edition ($21) and a fancy hardcover deluxe edition ($43). Both editions contain identical contents: 440 pages of NES history, retrospectives, analyses, and -- yes -- syrupy nostalgia.


My first encounter with the Nintendo Entertainment System didn't quite happen a full 25 years ago, as I wasn't fortunate enough to live in the select locations Nintendo chose for the console's 1985 U.S. test launch. But it was nearly that. In 1986, a Federated Group outlet had just opened in my town. For those who don't remember, Federated was an early attempt at creating a "big box" electronics retail superstore. The chain didn't last long, I don't think, but it paved the way for more successful ventures like Best Buy (and less successful ones, like Circuit City).

Enduring or not, the store certainly seemed amazing at the time, a massive warehouse-sized space, huge and roomy, but simultaneously elegant. All manner of electronics were given their own spacious display areas, be they stereos, appliances, and computers. Sleek new CD players were set up proudly, proclaiming the future of music on tiny silver discs. The management aimed to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy by giving away vinyl albums to customers, not-so-subtly indicating that the old-school LP was worth little more than a door prize. This was fine by me, since my father scored a free Mr. Mister record for me in a raffle.

On the other side of the building, shoppers could choose from a wide array of microcomputer software, from Apple II to IBM PC. The lion's share of the computer space, however, was given over to the new Amiga platform. Shoppers were confronted with a brilliant Amiga demo display that demonstrated the machine's jaw-dropping graphical prowess, flanked by a host of employees eager to tell you that, yes! This computer was absolutely worth the bafflingly huge price tag. Its high-resolution, full-color video demo made a pretty good argument on its own when you saw the sad amber-screened Kaypros and monochromatic Macs on the other aisles.

Still, my awe at the Amiga lasted only long enough for me to pry my eyes away and drift a couple of rows over, where some brilliant soul had set up a NES display unit to let browsers try their hand at Irem's Kung-Fu. The Amiga had impressed me in an abstract, hopeless sort of way, filling me with the same sensation one experiences when they meet a celebrity they admire and realize that they are, in fact, less than an insect to that person. The Amiga was powerful, but it didn't care about me.

Not so the NES. I could tell that the NES wanted to get to know me. It wanted me to take it home and spend quality time with it. It took a year and a half before I was able to save up enough cash to claim an NES of my own, but eventually I did. And like millions of other American kids, the NES defined gaming for me.

Now, as the NES celebrates the 25th anniversary of its initial U.S. launch, we NES kids are looking back on the American Nintendo experience. This issue is not about the Famicom, or about how badly Nintendo neglected Europe back then. It's about the collective experience that NES fans shared all across the country, our mutual memories of afternoons spent in front of a small grey box that quietly reinvented games. We're a lot older these days than we were back then, but the torch we carry for the NES still burns bright.

Jeremy Parish, September 1, 2010

In This Issue

Section Zero: The Prehistory of NES

Section One: Birth By Stealth

Section Two: The Fun Club

Section Three: Playing With Power

Section Four: Aging Gracefully

Section Five: An Active Retirement

Section Six: The Apocrypha of NES

All text �2010 its respective author. All copyrighted images property their respective creators with all respect to their ownership. Layouts and edits: Jeremy Parish. Copy edits: John Roach.