Nintendo’s new console isn’t an innovative take on gaming tech, it’s a Greatest Hits collection of classic 8bit titles, lovingly curated and reproduced
It is not a ridiculous overstatement to suggest that the Nintendo Entertainment System saved the games industry. Back in early 1980s, when the company released its fledgling console in Japan (where it was known as the Famicom), the business was undergoing a crisis. A flood of competing consoles and an unregulated, uncontrolled publishing model meant that there were too many machines and too many mediocre games. Some pundits in the US even suggested that video games were just a fad and that the bubble had burst.
Then came the Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in Japan in the summer of 1983, and in the US two years later, it was stocky, toy-like and not exactly over-powered. However, the product brilliantly combined the industrial design genius behind the Game & Watch handheld devices with the creativity of game designer Shigeru Miyamoto and the sheer consumer marketing genius of then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi. Instead of allowing a free-for-all for third-party software support, Yamauchi placed strict quality control measures on would-be game publishers, tying them into restrictive licensing agreements. The result was a console with excellent homegrown titles and very little shovel ware. It was a gigantic hit.