On October 18, 1985, the first Nintendo Entertainment Systems went on sale in New York City. That makes today the silver anniversary of the most important game system ever made, and fans and enthusiasts are going down the nostalgia rabbit hole as a result. But one outlet has remained conspicuously quiet: Nintendo of America.
Publicly, the company has completely ignored the milestone. Their press site's major announcement of the day details a new way to download NetFlix for the Wii. It's a weird bit of silence; their Nintendo Wii has finally begun slumping, and their other current rivals, Microsoft and Sony, are trying to steal some motion-controlled thunder this Christmas season. Why not revel in the good ol' days?
That's because the earliest days of the NES were, in truth, kinda scary. In 1985, home video games were considered a dead market. Atari, Coleco, and other companies flooded U.S. toy stores with too many bad games in the early '80s, and after their flops, nobody wanted to stock the things. To get Nintendo games into stores for that 1985 launch, the Japanese company pared down: they focused solely on New York City, and when department stores proved skittish, Nintendo's execs had to promise to buy back all unsold units.
Of course, its nefarious history makes the 25th anniversary that much sweeter; the NES's raging success made "play Nintendo" the de facto verb for the pastime, and Nintendo spent the following 25 years mining its Super Marios, Zeldas, and other '80s franchises to great effect. But if you really want to celebrate the earliest NES days, this history-lesson video tells the story better than any other on the Internet.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.