With the release of the NES Classic Edition just a couple days ago, I can’t help but reflect on what makes classic Nintendo games so special. Since those 8-bit days years back, technology has advanced an exponential amount, but yet, we keep going back to the hits of yesteryear. Why is this? In the present day and age of 4K television sets, Nintendo is releasing a system with games over 30 years old. This seems very ironic, and at the same time, it just seems right. For those who don’t know, the NES Classic will include 30 classic NES games, all in HD. It could, of course, be a Holiday filler for Nintendo in what otherwise may be considered a drought, but nonetheless, it’s something I am personally pumped about!
I have to admit that I own 95% of these games already, most of them through virtual console and the ambassador program. That being said, I am still getting an NES Classic. Maybe it’s the fact that all of the games are in an incredible looking shrunken NES, or because you can experience them with a replica NES controller, or maybe because I am way too quick to throw my money at Nintendo. Regardless, this is such a great way to appeal to seasoned gamers who can never get enough, and new gamers wanting to experience these games for the very first time.
These titles never really seem to age, and when I say “age,” I mean go out of style. Once in a while I go back to a Nintendo 64 game and the frame rate is just so bad that I have to stop. But NES games (most of them) don’t seem to bother my eyes as much. On top of that, the 8-bit style seems to be trending; that is, it’s cool again. I feel like the classic style is viewed as an art form today. Not only the graphics, but the music as well. Whenever I play a really old game, I always admire all of the limitations that the developers were up against, yet they still managed to provide a fun experience. Some developers are still taking advantage of this. Yacht Club Games recently developed Shovel Knight. I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed my experience with that game. Despite all of the advances in game development techniques and top notch engines, they made Shovel Knight with a very classic feel, sound, and challenge. It sold well – REALLY well. This just supports the argument that graphics are not everything, and in fact, I view them as secondary (but that is a rant for another time).
Not only do these games capture an art style that never gets old, they provide a level of challenge that almost goes unmatched today. I can’t even count the number of times that I spent 40 minutes trying to get through a stage in Kid Icarus and collecting as many hearts as possible to power up, while missing the final jump in a level by a pixel and falling to my death (I’m finished!). The games can be relentless, they can be mean, they can make fun of you, and they can even be unfair. But I feel like this only adds to their personalities. I will never forget the feelings of accomplishment that I achieved when I first defeated Medusa, Mother Brain, and Ganon for the very first time. You have to WORK for it. If you are having a tough time beating a level, there will not be a character pop up to offer help. You have to get better, or there will not be any progression. I understand that Nintendo has to appeal to a much broader crowd now days, and I have absolutely no problem with the helping systems they put in place, but sometimes it’s nice to play a game that respects one’s level of skill.
Nintendo knows that they are sitting on a gold mine of classic games. In my opinion, the NES Classic Edition is a fantastic idea, despite the fact that most of these games have been released countless times in the past. It’s something that old and new gamers alike can enjoy. These games are like wine and cheese. They only get better with age.