What if I love you, baby?
GOOOOOOOD morning/afternoon/evening, Leaguelettes!
It is I… The Chairman!
Anyway, I certainly hope the first week of September has been kind to the lot of you. And if it hasn’t– allow me to be your collective beacon of hope for a better tomorrow…
Or at the very least– allow me the chance to help you forget… Or remember, as the case may be…
Enough rambling. On with the show!
As many of you may have noticed, Console Mega-Wars Month was just not long enough to contain the shear tonnage of material the topic had in store for us. And as a result of that, we’re now in the midst of Console Mega-Wars II: The Sequaling…
I really need to get my marketing team on that…
Well whatever– today I’m going to be discussing with you, the many joys brought to me by Nintendo’s flagship console: The Famicom/NES!
Take me on (Take on me)
Ahh, the 80’s. A decade wrought with fate and just oooozing with eventfulness. Just oozing…
Like– I mean– reallllllly just; dripping with happenings. Sopping, if you will…moist even…
From the Challenger space shuttle blowing into thousands of pieces, to Chernobyl doing pretty much the same– and even going as far as spawning me unto this earth– in the SAME YEAR.. well the 80’s was indeed in need of respite.
But fret not! You heard me, cease fretting immediately.
For earlier in the decade, a good SO pure was wrought unto the world, that it would serve to balance the karma of the universe.
On July 15th, 1983, a Japanese consumer electronics company named Nintendo, would unveil the device that saved the gaming industry from collapse.
The Famicom (Family Computer) and the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) were the Japanese and International versions of the same console. This bad boy revolutionized what home gaming was, and ultimately lead to a golden age in the industry that is still going strong today.
Now, why do you suppose that was? What set Nintendo’s flagship console apart from the others?
Well– at the time, the Famicom/NES boasted a Ricoh 2A03, 8-bit microprocessor. Clocked at 1.79MHz, and combined with 2 kilobytes of on board ram, and up to an additional 8kb granted by game cartridges– it completely evicerated the competition.
The console was also one of the first to base its color palettes off of NTSC rather than RGB values, granting it 48 colors and 6 variations of gray, with 25 simultaneous colors on screen at once without the need to write new values mid-frame.
This granted seamless, crisp and colorful graphics that just could not be found anywhere else at the time.
You could hardly blame me if I fan-boy out, over here…
The Ever Growing Beast
If it’s base, internal capabilities weren’t enough to impress the 80’s gamer– surely the slew of attachments and gizmos available for the Famicom/NES would do the trick.
And why not? The controllers alone, were some of the most advanced designs of their time; choosing a D-Pad style to the more common and FAR less durable joystick.
But what were some of the other peripherals available? Let’s take a look!
The Power Pad –
Yes friends– it’s basically a fabric DDR pad.
First released by Bandai in 1986, this nifty little add-on served as a dual-sided floor mat game controller. It’s 12 pressure sensors allowed for control of various physical games that would often test a players timing.
R.O.B. The Robot –
The Robotic Operating Buddy, Or R.O.B. for short– was launched in 1985 as a means of showcasing the Famicom/NES as more than just a console. Nintendo wanted to give their hardware the same appeal and staying power that toys of the time had– and R.O.B. was their secret weapon.
This amazing peripheral, just shy of 10 inches tall– would receive commands via optical flashes on the screen. Utilizing the unique method in which CRT televisions produce an image– it would respond by performing up to 6 commands that varied by accompanying software.
The NES Zapper –
While the idea of ‘Light Guns’ had been around since the 1930’s, it wasn’t until October of ’85 that Nintendo would release their take on the novelty.
Utilizing the same technology R.O.B. did in sensing CRT flashes– the NES Zapper allowed players to fire at enemies in a variety of games specifically designed for the device.
Duck Hunt, is of course the first that comes to everyones mind– but other lesser known titles existed, and brought me much joy. Hogans Alley, for example– which was a cross between a carnival game and an old mobster movie.
And of course…
The Power Glove –
One of the most obnoxious peripherals to ever exist, in my opinion… God how I love it.
Released in 1989, and subsequently discontinued in 1990– the Power Glove was an entire NES controller and thensome, attached to your forearm. Beyond this– it also had some of the first forms of motion control technology, allowing players to perform hand motions to control on-screen characters.
When it worked…
Rather unreliable, and a bit costly for the time– it wouldn’t be long before it was forever shelved in the banks of the human mind. But– not really anywhere else.
It DID however seem to spark quite a bit of attention in the Pop Culture scene. As anyone who’s ever seen The Wizard which happened to have come out the very same year.
To be fair– there are still more peripherals I could go over. Japan saw some rather interesting exclusive hardware that the rest of the world never got to enjoy.
That was the way of things back then. Risk and reward were weighed using vastly different scales– but few could argue Nintendo’s strategic prowess.
As far as my biased ass is concerned; they paved the way for the massive success that gaming has become.
But what say you? Do your opinions differ from mine? How so?
Tell us. Or don’t– whatever~
Until next time!