VHS Revival’s Jason Breininger shares his NES memories from Christmas of 1987.
I am not going to bore anyone with previously well documented historical details, facts, stats and the like for Nintendo’s first home gaming console, the Nintendo Entertainment System.
There are hundred of blogs, webpages, YouTube channels and even hardcover books devoted to this iconic console. Everyone already understands the NES’s impact on video gaming, the reviving of the home video game market and the plethora of iconic games that have stood the test of time 30 years or more after their release. Everyone knows how IMPORTANT this console was to a generation, my generation. My memories of owning and playing a NES likely mirror millions of other kids who grew up in the ’80s. Instead, I am going to share my own specific childhood memories associated with getting a NES for Christmas in 1987.
30 years ago to the month I received my very first home video game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System. I remember as a 12 year old that 1987 was the year I received the greatest present in my short life, and the one and only item on my Christmas wish list. Up until this time, I had exclusively been playing on friend’s NES consoles, as well as getting my Super Mario Bros. fix at the local bowling alley’s Playchoice 10, but after 12 long months, that was no longer going to suffice.
I begged and pleaded but my parents weren’t exactly thrilled to spend over $100 on a single Christmas gift. I somehow convinced them that it was truly what I needed – notice I didn’t say wanted – and explained to them that no additional gifts were necessary as long as I got a NES. I was with them the day they picked it up at the Kay-Bee toy store in the local mall sometime in late-December, and assured them I didn’t NEED the more expensive Deluxe set that came with R.O.B., the light gun, Duck Hunt and Gyromite. All I wanted was the control deck with Super Mario Bros. and I was good to go.
The long 40 minute drive back home didn’t help with easing my anticipation. It was evening and the car was too dark so I couldn’t even scan over my console box and review the game titles and screenshots on the back. By the time we arrived back home, it was much too late for me to open it up and play. I was forced to wait until the next morning before I could carefully and meticulously open the box, remove all of the contents, read the instructions and eventually play my Nintendo. I recall it being a long, restless evening of sleep. I guess I should be thankful my parents didn’t make me wait until Christmas day to open up my gift. I don’t remember exactly how many days prior to Christmas I received my NES but it wasn’t Christmas Eve, that’s for sure.
The next morning I was completely consumed with playing Super Mario Bros. over and over again. I had spent a lot of my paper route money playing it at the arcade and was pleased to find that the home version was a bit easier. I invited a friend over to join me in my Super Mario marathon on my first day as a Nintendo owner. I wanted to share the joy of this new toy with my best friend. Fortunately, I had a birthday coming up in a few weeks so I was planning on asking for a second cartridge, but wasn’t sure which one to get. It didn’t matter. At that moment, I had in my possession the greatest video game ever made! For the remainder of 1987, the arcades in my town would not see another quarter from me. I now had a potential arcade machine at home. I was playing with power!
The NES shaped my gaming future, and the types of games I enjoy today all have something in common with games I enjoyed then. I have more NES titles in my gaming collection than I do for any other system. It’s also the console I still play the most to this day, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
The NES is one of the most iconic gaming consoles of all time, and it has transcended my generation as to what younger people think of when they think of classic or retro gaming. The Atari VCS/2600 used to hold this title, but that torch has now been passed onto the NES. There will be a day in the not too distant future where the NES will be considered a bygone relic, and retro gaming’s face will take the form of a different console. Maybe it will be the PlayStation 2? Maybe it will be the Nintendo 64? Maybe it will be the XBox 360? It’s hard to guess as it ultimately depends on how well these consoles and the games associated with them hold up over time, and who in the gaming community will continue to fly those systems’ respective flags.
All I am certain of is that the Nintendo Entertainment System will be the one console I will cherish above all others, the one I will collect for and continue to play. Thanks mom and dad and Merry Christmas!
Jason Breininger: Author and Chief Games Writer
Retro gaming enthusiast and blogger that grew up on the classics from the 80’s and 90’s. Enjoying the process of documenting my extensive video game collection & providing personal retro gaming experiences on my Cartridge Corner blog.
My wife and two daughters, classic video games, Alien franchise, the music of Prince, the films of Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan, and Jack Nicholson, indie rock, classic hip-hop from the golden era of ’87-’94, musician related biographies.