I was one of those kids that got an NES system for Christmas in 1985 – the first year of its release. The funny thing was I didn’t ask for one, and I didn’t even particularly want one – my mom just knew it was the “hot toy” of that year, and she knew I’d been a fan of game consoles since the original Atari VCS, so she assumed it’d be the perfect gift. What she didn’t know was that at that point, I’d moved on to playing games on my Apple IIc, and I felt like the NES was for children (same argument you hear about Nintendo today).
I was, in short, the exact type of person responsible for the video game crash of 1983-84. I had no interest in game consoles by that point, and felt PC’s could offer deeper and more mature gameplay. (Of course, I’d change my mind again some years later.)
Anyway, I appreciated the sentiment, and I kept the system around and even got a few games for it, but I didn’t play it much. In fact, I eventually sold it when I went off to college. No, that is not my original NES pictured above – it’s a replacement.
I always felt bad about selling it, though, and I got bit by the nostalgia bug eventually anyway. (It also became obvious to me at some point that the NES did have quite a few great games.) I decided to seek out the exact system package I’d sold – and in fact, for all I know this is my original system. It is the same set (the “Action Set”) and it includes the box, all manuals, even the original Nintendo poster catalog. It is in about the same condition (i.e. mint, barely used) as mine was when I sold it.
The Action Set was, I believe, the second NES package released, but the first widely available. Prior to this, Nintendo offered a package including ROB the robot in the New York area – the Action Set was released as a lower-cost alternative and became the standard set for a while. It included two gamepads, a light gun, and the Super Mario Brothers/Duck Hunt cartridge.
I love a good old-school game system box, and the NES box had a lot of info and a lot of cool pics on it – here’s the box back, for example:
It’s hard to believe the NES was released more than 30 years ago (I originally posted this in 2005, but it’s now 2016!). It does seem like a different era than the Atari VCS, Intellivision, Colecovision, Atari 5200, even the Atari 7800 (though the 7800 actually was released after the NES!). You can already see the change in the industry; the marketing, the sales imagery, everything is looking much more modern and refined. It’s hard to believe the NES and Atari 5200 were only released three years apart, they seem so different… yet if you look at Nintendo’s marketing for the NES 20 years ago, it’s not all that much different than what you see from them today. The NES was definitely the start of the modern era.
Here’s the poster that shipped with the Action Set:
And another close-up view of “the toaster”: