Over two years after its Japanese debut, the Nintendo Entertainment System has finally arrived on our shores. Or, at least, one shore, as it is being test marketed right now in New York and surrounding areas. If it’s a success, Nintendo hopes to start a nationwide rollout sometime in 1986. The video game market has been on life support the past few years in the U.S. with computer gaming taking a bigger chunk of the pie and the console market having crashed and burned in part to low quality software.
The question is, can Nintendo turn the market around? They aren’t new to the game scene, having created arcade hits like Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Popeye, and Punch-Out. Can they take their arcade expertise and apply it to the home sector with just as much success? With juggernauts like Atari, Coleco, and Mattel quickly scattering out of the market, it’s hard to imagine a small company like Nintendo being capable of reversing the trend. The March, 1985 issue of Electronic Games had a similar sentiment:
Considering that the videogame market in America has virtually disappeared, this could be a miscalculation on Nintendo’s part.
They’ve had massive success in their home country of Japan, with over 2.5 million Famicom (NES over here) systems sold in two years. The market is really heating up over there with more companies signing on to create games. I guess we’re about to find out whether or not they can replicate the phenomenon in the west.
We’ve covered what to expect at launch for the NES, but there appears to have been a few snags and a couple revisions to what games are currently available at select retailers. Also, the pricing seems to have been reduced on the system itself. We’re not sure at this point if it’s permanent or if it’s just because of the test market, but for now, many of the stores are selling the NES for $139.99, down from the original price of $179.99. It comes packed with 2 controllers, the Zapper light gun, R.O.B. the interactive robot, and 2 games: Gyromite and Duck Hunt. The system features advanced graphics chips to make the games look significantly better than previous home efforts.
So, what can you buy if you walk into a store today? In addition to the two games that come packed with the system (Gyromite and Duck Hunt) there are a total of 14 Game Paks being sold at most locations. You have plenty of choices with this selection of titles, most priced around $29.99:
- 10-Yard Fight
- Clu Clu Land
- Hogan’s Alley
- Ice Climber
- Kung Fu
- Wild Gunman
- Wrecking Crew
Although scheduled to launch alongside the system, we haven’t found anyone who has been able to find a copy of Super Mario Bros. on day one. It should be available shortly at most stores in the next week or so. It’s the newest of the games, having just launched in Japan last month, so perhaps there was a slight shipping delay.
We will have reviews of many of the games in the coming days and weeks. Were you able to score a system? If so, let us know your impressions, what store you found it at, and what your favorite games are in the comments below or via e-mail on the contact page.