"It was twenty five years ago today, Shigeru taught us how to play…"
OK, so I didn't get my NES when it was first released on October 18, 1985. It did appear under my Christmas tree that year and things would never be the same. To be fair, the NES was neither the first console in our house nor is it my favorite console of all time. What it did do, however, was provide the stage for a collective gaming consciousness for a generation.
I've always wanted to tackle the "video games as art" debate, but I never quite had the time and energy to do so. What I think about though is that games, like cinema or television or literature, provide seminal moments of shared experience. Yes, I understand that as a game, reaching that moment is not the same for everyone. Likewise there always exists that possibility that one may never even reach that moment based on the difficulty of the game. Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that there is no shortage of titles in the unfinished list, games I have enjoyed playing no less. But what the NES did was provide a canon of sorts that most gamers will remember and will continue to use to shape our gaming experiences of today.
What I mean is this… think about the following: The Super Mario Bros. theme song; doing the 100 Extra Man trick on World 3-1; the Duck Hunt dog snickering at you and you trying to shoot him with the Zapper; up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A; finding out Samus was a girl; mapping dungeons for Legend of Zelda; loving that Bo Knows Tecmo Bowl; Starman's flying elbow; launching a missile with your R/C car; that first time you flew with Mario in SMB3; using Mr. Quick's boomerangs to defeat the dragon; watching your mom try to play Tetris; feeling the frustration of the faster than a flash of a Mike Tyson uppercut; reading the poor localization/translation of Bionic Commando.
Have you had one or more of those moments? NES was where it all happened. And for that, we have reason to celebrate. Happy birthday!
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