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Games that defined… The NES

4 August, 2012 - 3:33 pm by
About 6 mins to read

There are a lot of video games in the world each of the main current generations of consoles can boast between 700-1200 games. These are mostly made up of sequels, remakes and multiplatform titles. In this series of features VGamingNews takes a look at the games that defined the consoles that they first featured on. The first system on our list is the great granddaddy of consoles: The NES.

The NES as many know redefined video games and set the blueprint to the consoles we see today. It was released at a time where video games weren’t mainstream and people were laughed at for admitting to playing them. What Nintendo created with the NES also gave birth to many series of games that we still enjoy today.

You cannot mention the NES without talking about Nintendo’s flagship game and main man Mario. Super Mario Bros took the fat little plumber from arcade machines trying to save Pauline from Donkey Kong and brought him to the mushroom kingdom for the first time. Facing off with King Koopa and watching the immortal text “Thank you Mario, But our Princess is in another castle” was the start of Mario and the footprint of what he would become.

A two dimensional platform game, simply running left to right and jumping on the heads of walking mushrooms and turtles walking on two legs was the aim of Mario, and after 26 years he has evolved with the times. Now, with an extra dimension he is spinning through the galaxy but still jumping on walking mushrooms he is a symbol of long standing care and attention to detail that the magic that was first created all those years ago and will remain to pull in new fans for Nintendo.

Why Mario defined the NES: It was a game everyone could play, a simple structure and great learning curve meant that the game did get more difficult but didn’t alienate the younger crowd.

Later in the same year Nintendo had managed to create another hit that will stand the test of time. The Legend of Zelda was born and even though it was from the same mind of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto decided a top down adventure was the way forward for this rather than the side scrolling platform game of Mario Bros.

It quickly became Nintendo’s best selling game on the NES and the series still continues to perform strongly today. It is known for long adventures with many side quests that borrow elements from Role Playing games as well as the traditional Action and Adventure games. A little known fact is that the first NES game that had the ability to save game progress directly to the cartridge.

Why Zelda defined the NES: Zelda took the best elements of the very unpopular Role Playing Game such as expansive story telling, building Link to be a stronger hero and combined it into an in depth Adventure game that no one at the time saw. Its formula has been emulated many times over.

Final Fantasy was the last throw of the dice for a struggling company Square. An even bigger risk is that the land of Role Playing Games were not a favourable genre in an already unpopular entertainment industry. However Square managed to pull off a Cinderella story and it became a success. This was down to the epic story contained in the 2 megabyte NES cartridge.

The series continues to go from strength to strength and is easily the most popular franchise for Square Enix even after 25 years of the game being on the shelves. The reason for this is that 14 titles down the line, Square Enix always manage to create a story different to the last with characters that take you through the new worlds. So from a title that was against all odds to a multimillion series of video games that are popular in each of their own individual rights is an amazing feat that only Final Fantasy series have pulled off.

Why Final Fantasy Defined the NES: RPGs were unpopular by a considerable way. Square managed to in corporate the epic feel of an action game and make a simple to use battle system to give gamers a title that will last for hours upon hours.

Other notable series that was spawned on the NES include:

  • Kirby: the pink fluff ball with a not so healthy apatite for anything that moves and apples is turning 25 this year and while it may not be up with Mario and Zelda, but the pink blob still holds his own.
  • Like most of Nintendo’s game franchises Metroid also started life on the NES. This took the best elements of the platform style of Mario and combined it with the sprawling adventure style of Zelda.
  • Metal Gear was originally a NES game before it became Solid on the PlayStation. It also introduced us to the world of Solid Snake, although this was more action based than the tactical espionage game it became 10 years later.