Nintendo Entertainment System Celebrates 30th Birthday Of Classic Gaming Goodness

For many people, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) helped define their childhood with games Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. If it helped define yours, you might find it a punch in the gut that the NES is three decades old, having been introduced in the North American market on October 18, 1985. Time flies, doesn't it?

Two years prior, Nintendo released the same console in Japan, only it was called the Famicom. However, the North American launch of the NES is a more significant blip in the history of gaming because it came during the tail end of the video game crash that rocked the region beginning in 1983. Gaming companies were going bankrupt while Atari could be found dumping unsold E.T. cartridges and other hardware in a New Mexico landfill.


Console gaming was dead, or so it seemed, and here came the NES to give it CPR. It didn't take long for the 8-bit system to breathe life into the market while simultaneously propping Nintendo up as the market leader. Comparable perhaps to only the Atari 2600 in popularity and historical significance, who can't look back and rattle off game after game that they remember playing on the NES?

We're talking classics like Metroid, Duck Hunt, Castlevania, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Excitebike, Kid Icarus, and the list goes on seemingly forever. If you owned an NES, you can probably remember blowing the bottom of cartridges -- called Game Paks -- for each of the aforementioned games before trying to load them.

Now 30 years later, gaming is the biggest entertainment industry around. It's expected to generate over $91 billion this year, and according to market research firm Newzoo, it could fetch $107 billion in 2017.

Nintendo is still very much a part of the booming games industry and still releasing consoles, the next of which will be the NX. Meanwhile, those of us who grew up playing games on the NES are now watching our own children control some of the same characters on consoles like the Wii and Wii U.