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old 20/20 story on NES "Nuts for Nintendo" 1988


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At the 6:27 mark: "Is the shortage real or are they holding back supplies to increase the mystique?"

 

Hmmm… that sounds AWFULLY familiar…

That's what I was pointing out. They had artificial shortages before and even pulled them on the Japanese as well.

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I remember the article in NP mag in the day and stuff I think earlier on the chip shortage was the truth if anything as you want to short neither of your two best IPs by far. But I also think that very incident taught them to milk the shortage hype to mess with people on various but not many/all occasions later.

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Watching this made me realize that there is actually a generational divide between these kids and those of us who grew up with Atari/Intellivision/ColecoVision or those before them. The kids in this video are like 8 years old, in 1988. I was playing video games before some of these kids were even born.

 

I guess it should be obvious, but I've always wondered why there are some people who at this point seem close to my age who are *so into* Nintendo, while I really couldn't give a rat's ass about them. To me they're still a newcomer, just one of many who entered the industry late, and they're the vulture that swooped in to feed off the carcasses of the US video game crash. But to these kids, they *are* video games. They never knew anything before Nintendo. Before the video game crash, they'd have only been 5 or 6. They'd be lucky to even remember any systems on the market when they were 3 or 4.

 

The TV show itself also seems mostly oblivious to previous video games having existed, although they do mention the crash at one point. But it's kind of weird how they talk about the NES being the "hot new toy" in 1988. And John Stossel talking at the end about trying it out for the first time as if he's never heard of a video game before. I mean, I know this was always a show that's kind of for old people, but sheesh. I actually cringed when Barbara Walters said she knew he'd be "watching Nintendo" over the holidays.

Edited by spacecadet
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My first console in the early 80s was an Atari 2600 but when I got an NES it became a whole new ball game. The Atari didn't keep me from wanting to play outside with my friends but once the NES arrived Christmas morning you couldn't get me outside for those first few months. It grabbed my attention like no other along with my friends. We all would hang out and play games at each other houses. The Atari just never captured that magic in my neighborhood, so I have fond memories of the NES unlike the 2600.

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Watching this made me realize that there is actually a generational divide between these kids and those of us who grew up with Atari/Intellivision/ColecoVision or those before them. The kids in this video are like 8 years old, in 1988. I was playing video games before some of these kids were even born.

 

I guess it should be obvious, but I've always wondered why there are some people who at this point seem close to my age who are *so into* Nintendo, while I really couldn't give a rat's ass about them. To me they're still a newcomer, just one of many who entered the industry late, and they're the vulture that swooped in to feed off the carcasses of the US video game crash.

 

Of course there's a generation divide.. but if you grew up in the arcade era of the 70's and early 80's and liked "video games" in any capacity, I'm not sure how you would dislike the NES when it came out.

 

I grew up an arcade kid, engorged myself in VCS/Colecovision/5200 but let's face it.. the games dried out. Then I fully remember being in Japan and seeing for the first time.. a famicom running Mario Bros. (not "Super") on a display tv and being absolutely BLOWN AWAY that the japanese had this console that from the graphics to the animation and the music, looked so much closer to the arcade than anything I had ever seen. How could anyone who was a video games fan not be on board. :)

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... I fully remember being in Japan and seeing for the first time.. a famicom running Mario Bros. (not "Super") on a display tv and being absolutely BLOWN AWAY that the japanese had this console that from the graphics to the animation and the music, looked so much closer to the arcade than anything I had ever seen. How could anyone who was a video games fan not be on board.

 

This is how I fell the NES should have stayed.

 

The system was originally from 1983. And it played the '80-85' arcade games awesome. It really should have retired in 1988 (which IS when Sega released the 16-bit Mega Drive in Japan) but instead, just like the Atari, it took long to really fill mainstream American homes, and it's true heyday was when the system was basically out-of-date. But people didn't want to buy a new system already!!, so game-makers of course supported the systems people had.

 

Imagine it, 1984-85 maybe 86, a kid with a stack of Atari carts at home, visits his wealthy/lucky friend who imported a famicom, (or maybe famicom games and a converter for his NES) and watches THAT thing play the same games he had home, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Defender/Stargate, Galaga/Galaxian, Pac-Man, Popeye, Centipede/Millipede... only damn near arcade perfect. Plus the Nintendo originals like Balloon Fight, Excite Bike, Super Mario Bros.!!! That had to be mind blowing.

 

then by around 1989, they had pumped out some great games, much like how they squeezed the VCS so well. And that should have been it... Arcade ports were anything but "perfect" anymore. Sure decent games were still being made, but so many games being made for it, should have been being made for 16 bit systems. I think Nintendo should have pushed a Super NES sooner. But, business is business, and they certainly did well... I just think the NES stuck around TOO long; there were barely any good games (if any?.... excepting Kirby!) after SMB 3.

 

Hell, even by 1987 the library was 50/50 great/garbage.

Edited by Torr
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Yeah once the Genesis and TG16 came out I barely payed any attention to the NES anymore unless it was an ultra AAA title like SMB3 or something. But I was old already. Obviously there was a market for the vast number of kids who had an NES and weren't getting a 16 bit system anytime soon.

 

I think shortly after 1990 I stopped buying NES games altogether, but I'm glad it continued on although we did kind of miss out on a number of games that pushed to it's limits like Gradius II or Recca here in the states. I do think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II and III turned out to be pretty slick. :)

Edited by NE146
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Watching this made me realize that there is actually a generational divide between these kids and those of us who grew up with Atari/Intellivision/ColecoVision or those before them. The kids in this video are like 8 years old, in 1988. I was playing video games before some of these kids were even born.

 

I guess it should be obvious, but I've always wondered why there are some people who at this point seem close to my age who are *so into* Nintendo, while I really couldn't give a rat's ass about them. To me they're still a newcomer, just one of many who entered the industry late, and they're the vulture that swooped in to feed off the carcasses of the US video game crash. But to these kids, they *are* video games. They never knew anything before Nintendo. Before the video game crash, they'd have only been 5 or 6. They'd be lucky to even remember any systems on the market when they were 3 or 4.

 

The TV show itself also seems mostly oblivious to previous video games having existed, although they do mention the crash at one point. But it's kind of weird how they talk about the NES being the "hot new toy" in 1988. And John Stossel talking at the end about trying it out for the first time as if he's never heard of a video game before. I mean, I know this was always a show that's kind of for old people, but sheesh. I actually cringed when Barbara Walters said she knew he'd be "watching Nintendo" over the holidays.

Well bare in mind that the writers and producers were probably born in the 1930s and 1940s. They weren't too old when the segment aired but definitely too old to have given a shit about Atari, INTV and others. One of the things that the show seemed to portray also was that the Nintendo craze was bigger than the pre-crash games, in part because the kids identified emotionally with the 8-bit protagonists.

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One of the things that the show seemed to portray also was that the Nintendo craze was bigger than the pre-crash games,

 

Was it really, though? The Atari VCS sold 29 million units, and that was almost entirely in the USA and Canada. The NES sold 34 million units in the USA and Canada (though it was a much greater success worldwide). Between the launch of the VCS and the launch of the NES, the US population increased from about 220 million to around 240 million, so it doesn't seem like the NES was really much more of a cultural phenomenon in the United States. Almost the exact same percentage of the population bought one.

 

I'm (just) old enough to remember how huge the Atari VCS seemed at the time - I didn't feel like the NES craze was any bigger. And I actually knew a few people who owned the SMS instead.

 

btw, I've had an NES since 1985. I just don't care about it like some people do. It's just another console to me, and probably not even in my top half.

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Was it really, though? The Atari VCS sold 29 million units, and that was almost entirely in the USA and Canada. The NES sold 34 million units in the USA and Canada (though it was a much greater success worldwide). Between the launch of the VCS and the launch of the NES, the US population increased from about 220 million to around 240 million, so it doesn't seem like the NES was really much more of a cultural phenomenon in the United States. Almost the exact same percentage of the population bought one.

 

I'm (just) old enough to remember how huge the Atari VCS seemed at the time - I didn't feel like the NES craze was any bigger. And I actually knew a few people who owned the SMS instead.

 

btw, I've had an NES since 1985. I just don't care about it like some people do. It's just another console to me, and probably not even in my top half.

 

There's more at play here than raw sales numbers- the big difference between the Atari VCS & the NES from a cultural standpoint was marketability. You could point to the knight on the box & say that's what the square in Adventure is, but it's a bit of a mental leap to make the connection. It's hard to get that far enough into the cultural consciousness to sell T-shirts and toys and lunchboxes. With the NES, though, you had a large selection of characters that could be easily recognized in-game & on the promo art. This made it much easier to push licensed crap- which, in turn, meant you could be a fan of Mario or Zelda without actually owning an NES. I think that's what made people think the NES was so huge- it wasn't just videogames. It was comic books, and Saturday morning cartoons, and clothes, and breakfast cereal- it was everywhere. It's Disney-style marketing in full force: be in every part of their life, so it gets ingrained.

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Wow, I've been trying to find this clip for AGES...I remember watching it back in the day. What can I say, I actually watched 20/20 all the time, lol. This was a really special bit for many reasons. For old farts like me, I don't need to explain, but to any younger dudes, you gotta remember: you just didn't hear ANYTHING in the mainstream media about video games, so when this was on TV, it was...validating? Because it truly hit the nail on the head about how HUGE the NES phenom was at that time. In my neck of the woods, the system was pretty well known as 'the' system. Ok, so maybe there wasn't a lot of choice back then (and Genesis was around the corner) but NES was huge.

 

Yes, Barbara Walters probably STILL doesn't know how to 'watch' Nintendo but this was how things were back then. The media knew about the games of the early 80s, but IMO (and many others I know who were there with me), video games were still looked at as a fad. Like the hula hoop! Where we young people all knew that we just LOVED games, regardless of the source, but until the NES came onto the scene, you were stuck either playing computer games and older systems (I was still rocking my Colecovision WELL into that year, and many years after). So it was new, it had killer games and everybody your age knew about it.

 

But video gaming was still subculture. Yet most of the guys I knew loved them...it was weird. Anyways, this segment was great because your parents could see that there was 'something' going on in the world of video games, and you weren't the only one out there going bonkers for this stuff. I remember that by the time I saw this segment, SMB2 hype was over, and it wasn't the big title we were all talking about, playing about. But then I was older than the busload of kids they had here, too. I still have memories of those girls talking about SMB tips, lol! Thanks for this great find.

 

What some have noticed here, I agree with: the NES was a huge force, but as far as TV advertising and coverage, the golden age of the early 80s was just as big, if not BIGGER...which is why it was so strange in retrospect to see such little coverage on mainstream network tv about video games. Saturday morning cartoons were FILLED with Atari commercials, Coleco...hell even Odyssey! And it had ALL the crossover appeal that the above poster mentioned, but even more so. It took Nintendo quite a few years before they'd get that kind of saturation. Examples: Pac Man and Donkey Kong board games...McDonalds video game promotions (scratch and win, I think?)...breakfast cereals...cartoon shows, entire hours filled with Saturday Supercade! Captain N paled in comparison, really...and never really scaled those heights, IMO.

 

Which is why the crash, the thing that so many seem to disregard these days (revisionist history, perhaps?) was such a noticeable shock to me and my friends. You went from ALL that popularity, all that coverage...for crying out loud, they had an ABC "Video Games Played By the Stars!" thing where sitcom celebs competed against each other playing games like Burgertime!...you went from ALL that...to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

 

Like nothing, until that 20/20 show. For me, anyway. We were following along with the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter, then the magazines, and then the floodgates opened with the 16 bit gaming revolution. There was no going back to hula hoops after that.

 

For some reason though I always thought there was a screen shot of Jackal for the NES on this 20/20 thing...the show used to use 'bumper' segments to advertise interest throughout the one hour show (four 15 min segments, but this was twice that, lol...again, very awesome)...and I remember looking at the nasty flicker going on, lol. Even then you could see that we were looking for the next big thing, something that closer represented the arcade games we loved. I remember being pretty ticked that 1943, for instance, was only one player (as was Double Dragon). But in retrospect you see why it was the way it was, and they made for better games all around.

 

Thanks for this clip!

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I was in high school in 1986-1988. I don't remember any talk at all about Nintendo/NES. And these same kids would have been all over the arcades a few years back. Some kids still played the arcade games at the doughnut shop, they had Ms PacMan and a karate game. So to me and like the 20/20 video the NES was for younger children, and computers were very geeky at the time. [Computer/video games became subculture.]

 

I don't think anyone disregards the North American crash of 1983. There is some disagreement of the nature of the crash. But by 1985 people talked as if videogames never existed just like in this video.

 

In 1985 you couldn't compare famicom/nes to a 1977 atari2600 the tech was night and day. The 1982 Colecovision tech was more comparable to NES but the game programming on the Colecovision was poor. I don't see how making NES Double Dragon one player is better.

 

Edit: The technology in the 1982 Vectrex was pretty comparable (to NES) as well but of course its a different type of machine.

Edited by mr_me
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I also recall seeing this as a kid. Thanks for sharing!

 

I was 12 in 1988 so the NES -- which I got for Christmas in 87 -- was right at the sweet spot for me, which is why it's still my favorite console of all time.

 

And my parents somehow found both SMB 2 and Zelda 2 for me cause I had them both for Christmas 1988. :) Makes me wonder what they went through to get them.....(ponder)

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In 1985 you couldn't compare famicom/nes to a 1977 atari2600 the tech was night and day. The 1982 Colecovision tech was more comparable to NES but the game programming on the Colecovision was poor. I don't see how making NES Double Dragon one player is better.

 

...Double Dragon only 'worked' in the arcades because of the two player gimmick, the difficulty (not that it was really that hard), but if they kept that same formula for the home version on NES, it would have stunk like the Master System version: a good arcade port, but thoroughly lacking for a home title. It's just the same enemies over and over, gameplay was shallow, and nothing really changed. NES DD should have at least been two player, but the hardware probably couldn't have done it well. That's why I still really like to play it today, with the experience levels, and the adventure game aspect the arcade game didn't really have. It's a good game, but if you're a diehard fan of DD in the arcade (which I was at the time), you'd have laughed at how 'bad' DD on NES was in comparison (and I laughed too...thought it was a joke, until I rediscovered it again in the 90s and really had fun with it for what it was: a fun beat em up adventure game for one player).

 

I also recall seeing this as a kid. Thanks for sharing!

 

I was 12 in 1988 so the NES -- which I got for Christmas in 87 -- was right at the sweet spot for me, which is why it's still my favorite console of all time.

 

And my parents somehow found both SMB 2 and Zelda 2 for me cause I had them both for Christmas 1988. :) Makes me wonder what they went through to get them.....(ponder)

 

Christmas 87 was the year most of the people I know got one..followed by 88, where it peaked. I got mine in Christmas 89, when the console prices must have been dropping because that's when my parents finally gave in :D My first two carts (three, actually) were Cobra Triangle, Fester's Quest and Ninja Gaiden...odd how the cost of those three games alone would have been pretty close to the system itself! Parents work in mysterious ways :D Fester was a buy on pure speculation: people talked about it, it had some mystique to it, it wasn't a 'bad' game but it wasn't stellar. I hadn't ever watched the tv show (it wasn't broadcast in my neck of the woods, through syndication) but again, hype was real in dem dayz :D I call it Blaster Master 'Jason' sequences with different graphics, lol. Still good for nostalgia but no way would I suggest it to someone to try today. The other two are titles that I adore to this day.

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I don't remember the exact time I got Zelda 2, but I remember Nintendo claiming the 'chip shortages'. I was 13-14 at the time, and called Toys R Us one day, they told me they had one in stock, asked them to save it for me, and I biked up 2-3 miles and got it. Had the allowance money saved. I was the first in the neighborhood to get it!

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What some have noticed here, I agree with: the NES was a huge force, but as far as TV advertising and coverage, the golden age of the early 80s was just as big, if not BIGGER...which is why it was so strange in retrospect to see such little coverage on mainstream network tv about video games. Saturday morning cartoons were FILLED with Atari commercials, Coleco...hell even Odyssey! And it had ALL the crossover appeal that the above poster mentioned, but even more so. It took Nintendo quite a few years before they'd get that kind of saturation. Examples: Pac Man and Donkey Kong board games...McDonalds video game promotions (scratch and win, I think?)...breakfast cereals...cartoon shows, entire hours filled with Saturday Supercade! Captain N paled in comparison, really...and never really scaled those heights, IMO.

 

Which is why the crash, the thing that so many seem to disregard these days (revisionist history, perhaps?) was such a noticeable shock to me and my friends. You went from ALL that popularity, all that coverage...for crying out loud, they had an ABC "Video Games Played By the Stars!" thing where sitcom celebs competed against each other playing games like Burgertime!...you went from ALL that...to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

 

I think this nails it. I think the first video game boom was more than just one thing. It was ubiquitous and hard for anyone to focus on just one aspect of it back then. In a lot of ways it was bigger than Nintendo. If video games made the news (back then and it did from time to time) it had to do with how bad they were and that they were a public nuisance. By the time the NES became mega huge (87-88 time frame) video games and NES were practically interchangeable for a lot of younger gamers at that time. That one system became almost ubiquitous. I think the NES was huge, but it didn't compare to the cultural change of the original video game boom. I think today we don't look at the first video game craze the same way and the NES because there was not one overall winner back then. If there was a winner it was the arcade (which is made up of many different "systems").

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...Double Dragon only 'worked' in the arcades because of the two player gimmick, the difficulty (not that it was really that hard), but if they kept that same formula for the home version on NES, it would have stunk like the Master System version: a good arcade port, but thoroughly lacking for a home title. It's just the same enemies over and over, gameplay was shallow, and nothing really changed. NES DD should have at least been two player, but the hardware probably couldn't have done it well. That's why I still really like to play it today, with the experience levels, and the adventure game aspect the arcade game didn't really have. It's a good game, but if you're a diehard fan of DD in the arcade (which I was at the time), you'd have laughed at how 'bad' DD on NES was in comparison (and I laughed too...thought it was a joke, until I rediscovered it again in the 90s and really had fun with it for what it was: a fun beat em up adventure game for one player).

 

 

Now, that I think about it, you know what an "arcade perfect" DD for NES would have looked like? It would have looked like Super Double Dragon for SNES and that game is pretty meh.

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btw, I've had an NES since 1985. I just don't care about it like some people do. It's just another console to me, and probably not even in my top half.

 

 

 

I'm curious... do you recall how you acquired one in '85?

 

I got mine in Feb. of '86 (bday); Parents needed help from relatives out east to get it. (Dad wanted it as much as I did :-D)

Edited by schuwalker
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I'm curious... do you recall how you acquired one in '85?

 

I got mine in Feb. of '86 (bday); Parents needed help from relatives out east to get it. (Dad wanted it as much as I did :-D)

 

This brings up an interesting point (and I'm not saying he didn't have an NES in 1985, he may have been one of the lucky few that did) but, it seems a lot of people on the net claim to have gotten an NES in 1985. The issue is 1985 was only a test market at least here in the states (I believe in New York city only) for the NES. So unless you lived there or knew someone who lived there or you just happen to be visiting, it was very difficult to purchase a NES in 1985 (not impossible but, difficult). Keep mind Nintendo didn't sell all their systems during that test market either. The vast majority of video gamers didn't even see a NES until X-mas 1986. Yes, I know the NES was released earlier in 1986 but, most didn't see them in the stores until that X-mas season. Remember, by this time video game magazines were not as common as they were just a few year prior.

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