Retro Video Games and Consoles
Megalong Games > Nintendo NES
Nintendo saw firsthand how successful videogames were in the late 1970's. They also saw the success the Colecovision, released in 1983, had with their own game, Donkey Kong, as a pack-in. Nintendo wanted to get into the console race. At first, they distributed the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan, before they decided to make their own console. Hiroshi Yamauchi, then CEO of Nintendo, wanted this console to outperform the other consoles. He decided to let Masayuki Uemura make this console. At first, the console was supposed to be a 16-bit machine with a disk drive, and average for 75 U.S. Dollars. However, the price was too high due to component prices, and so they made an 8-bit system. The disk drive would be an add-on exclusively in Japan. In the wake of the video game crash of 1983-1984, many said the video game console industry was dead and that Atari had killed it. While the American videogame market might've been in shambles, in Japan, Nintendo was enjoying a great success with its Famicom (Family Computer) system. In 1984, Nintendo wanted to bring this console to the States. Originally, Nintendo had been negotiating with Atari to have the Famicom released under the name "Nintendo Enhanced Video System" with Atari's name, because of the perilous market conditions of the time. But this deal fell through, and Atari decided to concentrate on the Atari 7800, leaving Nintendo to itself.
In June 1985, Nintendo presented the console at the CES to skeptical gamers. Nintendo was forced to promise to retailers that Nintendo will buy back all unsold consoles, since they were afraid that they might not sell. Nintendo released its system in the US in 1985, a decision that was to prove hugely profitable for the company. The system had first been test-marketed in New York, New York, where its 100,000 systems sold out.
Treading carefully after the crash, Nintendo decided to release the system as an "Entertainment System" as opposed to a "Videogame System" (hence its name); it used "Packs" and not "Cartridges." If they had not done this, most retailers, seeing that the NES was a video game system and knowing the current status of video games, would not have accepted it in their store in fear of losing money. Nintendo drastically redesigned the casing of the Japanese Famicom: its playful red and white color scheme was muted to an A/V component grey, and the cartridge was made to be hidden inside the console when inserted (the Famicom's cartridges popped up from the top of the unit, much like the American Super Nintendo). These modifications served to make the unit much less "toy-like" in the eyes of its designers.
Additionally, Nintendo revived the R.O.B (Robotic Operating Buddy), a plastic robot that connected to the NES and was moved around as part of an on-screen game, to unveil along with the NES at the Consumer Electronics Show of 1985. R.O.B was alredy dead in Japan (with only two games, Gyromite and Stack-up, ever released for it), but it would demonstrate the NES's technical superiority above other consoles of the time. Packaged with the NES were Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt.
The console could be bought with the ROB, a light gun, and three games for $249. The console with Duck Hunt and Mario Brothers only was sold for $199. Different packages came along as the NES went worldwide.
These games had proven themselves in American arcades, and the prospect of a home console powerful enough to handle arcade-perfect versions of them was cause for some excitement among gamers. Despite favorable reactions from both industry critics and early American testers, Nintendo had a difficult time selling stores and distributors on the idea of another videogame system, so they hired Worlds of Wonder (makers of Laser Tag and Teddy Ruxpin) to handle the NES's marketing. Worlds of Wonder was successful: the NES had sold over 20 million units in the US alone by the end of its production run.