16 bit world in a 21st century

On August 23, 1991 the Japanese electronics company Nintendo released its Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the U.S. There were no around the block lineups, no pre-sales, and no general interest in the future of the gaming market in Northern America. On the day of its release, there were only three games available for the console, and only two on shelves. It was a hard sell, fellow 16 bit game consoles, the Sega Genesis and the Turbo Grafx-16, had a two year lead. Many believed that at home gaming devices, primarily Nintendo consoles, were on the last leg of their hay day. Parents had seen the rise and fall of the Atari, and were wary of shelling out 200 dollars for something that appeared to be dated.

Writer Philip Elmer-DeWitt wrote an article in Time magazine entitled “Hold On to Your Joysticks” about the console stating that, “When it becomes available in September, Super NES will cost $199.95 (twice the price of the old NES) for the basic game machine, two hand-held controllers, the latest Super Mario Bros. adventure and a $50 coupon for another game. More worrisome for Nintendo are signs that the video-game frenzy the Japanese-owned company stirred up over the past five years may be starting to fizzle. Sales of the old Nintendo system have fallen off sharply (down 46% in the first half of 1991), and discount tags have replaced SOLD OUT signs in toy stores across the U.S.

“I played all the games so much, I just got bored with them,” says Tomas Romano, 9, of Brooklyn, N.Y. He and his friends now prefer Little League baseball…”

In 2012, we are now on the 7th generation of Nintendo systems which are sold worldwide. Our surgeon general issued numerous calls to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity in children due to the increase of time spent indoors instead of say, playing Little League Baseball. It’s safe to say gaming systems won over our hearts. And with its rich history, comes present day nostalgia. Those who remember purchasing early 8 and 16 bit consoles with their hard earned paper route money or racing over to a friend’s house to play the various quests each game cartridge would possess are now adults with a strong sentiment for the earlier years of gaming. And some have never let their passion for these dated consoles die.

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