They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it can when it’s powered by nostalgia. While some remakes and reimaginings don’t always pan out, some blasts from the past manage to make a huge splash a second time. Nintendo is hoping to catch that lightning in a bottle and cash in this Christmas season with the re-release of the NES.
The Nintendo Entertainment System, first released back in the mid-80s became the eponymous “video game system” in tens of millions of American homes. For GenX kids, growing up meant making memories with Mario, Zelda, and Castlevania.
Now those kids, who are grown and have their own kids, can experience the love and share the joy of nostalgia with the NES Classic Edition.
Critics who have seen and played the system already say there’s a lot to love about the machine. First, its size is incredible. Nearly pocket sized but packed full of 30 truly classic video games.
But the new generations of NES gamers won’t have to deal with the one frustrating aspect of the system all gamers remember – having to blow in the cartridge to get it to “play” or having to put the cartridge in “just right” in order to get the system to work. This is because, with the NES Classic Edition, there are no cartridges. Just a Netflix-esque selection screen.
There’s no doubt this holiday season that millions of households will be opening up a similar box and, a few minutes later, the familiar strains of 8-bit music will fill the house, transporting the parents back 30 years and making the kids wonder why mom and dad are smiling like that.
Some have said this is a limited step backward, a nostalgia gimmick without any real long-term appeal because it can’t connect to the ‘net and it can’t be upgraded. Nintendo doesn’t seem concerned, though. It has the Switch coming out for dedicated modern gamers. The NES is strictly for the grownups who want to be kids again, and the kids who want to know what mom and dad loved to do when they were their age.
That won’t save Nintendo from some who will complain about the built-in shortcomings of a system that was designed back when most kids were still playing games at the arcade. But the NES fans won’t pay any attention. They will be too busy saving the princess, who’s almost always in another castle.