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Behind the Console: A History of the NES

Truly, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is an iconic console. Regardless of your age, the little grey box is one that's evoked every emotion from joy to frustration for millions of children and adults. Even today, veteran gamers love to bring out the NES and flash through cartridges that need to be blown out for dust.


Bolstered by great success in Japan, Nintendo looked at North America to distribute its new Famicom system. In 1983, the company turned to Atari as a potential distributor, but the deal eventually fell through. By the 1985 Summer CES, however, Nintendo opted to strip down its console, getting rid of the home computer idea it originally had.

Now, it had a console known as the Nintendo Entertainment System. It didn't have all of the features of the AVS, but it now had the iconic grey box design. Nintendo also opted to take a new approach by advertising it as an entertainment system, making it more of a toy rather than a video game console. With an initial library of just 18 games, the NES was first launched in New York City on October 18, 1985, shipping 100,000 systems in a bundle that cost $149.

Top Games on the NES

Though it started with just 18 games, the NES eventually saw over 750 games with the Nintendo of America seal. The following are three of the most popular games ever to hit the console -- and that continue to be played today.

Mega Man 2

Release Date: 1989

Fact: Capcom only let the team make this game while they worked on other primary projects since the original game didn't perform well. Considering they didn't have their full attention on the game, it's done surprisingly well.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Release Date: 1990

Fact: In a 2008 survey, a committee of game journalists, developers and scholars listed this game as one of the 10 best of all time, allowing it to be forever listed in the Library of Congress as "game canon."

The Legend of Zelda

Release Date: 1987

Fact: The Legend of Zelda was the first to have batteries to permit storing a save game file. Nowadays, the batteries are likely dead, but they can be replaced by the daring enthusiast.

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