Almost any gamer can look at the block outline of the NES controller and immediately recognize it. The simple looking controller is easily one of the most iconic symbols of gaming out there. Initially released in North America in 1985, this console arrived in the wake of the video game crash that followed before it. A lot of people were passing video games off as just another fad. The funny thing about the NES is that its impact on the gaming world rippled further out than anyone could have realized. For a lot of gamers, this was the start of their love affair with games and the source of a lot of solid inside jokes used in adulthood.
The NES was my first console and I can remember the first game I played on it which was Knight Rider (1989). I had never seen the show in my life but all I knew was that I was driving in a car that could shoot missiles and that was good enough for me. After that, my dad got me the game most synonymous with this console Super Mario Bros (1985). I was very late to the party, but man it was still a fun party when I got there. I didn't know it at the time, but I playing on something that would jump start an industry. By the time I was playing the NES in the 90s, it had already out sold every gaming console previously released. The systems that came after it like the Sega Genesis, SNES, Playstation, and N64 got better and better and it all started with the NES showing the world that video games aren't just a passing fad.
What was it like to play it, though? It's hard to look back on it without rose tinted glasses, I'll be honest. The graphics by today's standards were rudimentary but the games were fun. Also, the thing came with a Light Gun which lets you shoot at targets on the screen for supported games. I only had Duck Hunt growing up, but playing it with my friends and cousins is still one of the fonder memories of my childhood. Plus I never missed because I was a natural marksman (aka. I stepped right up to the T.V. and put the gun to the screen). Oddly enough, this game was also my first encounter with bullying because that dog was a douche. Snickering at my failures like it could somehow do better. Who did he think he was?
By 1990, 30% of American households had an NES and the systems popularity was backed by several iconic series like The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, etc. It showed that you didn't have to go to the arcade to have quality games, you could have them at home and that gave birth to a new generation of gamers that carried that love of video games for the rest of their lives.
There's no doubting the impact of this console and its importance. Beyond the numbers and other industry influences, it was just really fun. When it worked, it worked well. When it didn't work, you suddenly became a technician and troubleshooter. I felt like a bad ass when I got it to work again via the universal solution of blowing on either the cartridge or inside the console (or both if you were really stumped). With objective numbers and subjective nostalgia, the NES is easily one of the most important consoles ever made and probably the reason why gaming consoles are still even a thing.
[ Source: Wikipedia ]