As cool as the Virtual Console is, there’s no denying that for all its super emulation, component output, and steady flow of downloadable games, nothing can come close to the feel of the original systems. In particular, I’m talking about the NES.
But there’s good news if you’re among the many who’d love to own a mint condition NES again (or for the first time). For the system’s 25th anniversary (which is July 15, 2008), the Big N will be releasing a “Limited Collector’s Edition” replica of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The console will come with two controllers but as of yet there’s no word on which games will be included.
While part of the reason for the release of this 25th Anniversary console is to commemorate a giant in the gaming world, one can’t help but wonder if Nintendo’s hidden agenda is to help combat the rise in popularity of cheaply-made NES clones.
In its heyday, the Nintendo Entertainment System sold well over 61 million systems worldwide. Unfortunately due to inherent problems with the console’s design, not many of them could withstand repeated use of the front-loading, supposed “zero insertion force” cartridge mechanism. This resulted in undesired wear on the pin connectors: a problem that many tried to solve by blowing on the cartridge contacts.
Nintendo is addressing this problem in the Limited Collector’s Edition by eliminating the press-down part of the cartridge insertion. While this may deter some hardcore old-school gamers, Nintendo’s North American President Reggie Fils-Aime has his own spin on it:
Reggie Fils-Aime is the man.
“Gamers who were practically raised on the Nintendo Entertainment System will be so happy to have an authentic and functioning NES once again that the removal of the spring-loaded game dock will be a negligible difference. In the end, what matters is that they’ll finally be able to play their original Nintendo Entertainment System games as well as a line of budget-priced re-issues of Classic NES games.”
In addition to offering a limited run of reissued games in packaging reminiscent of the originals, Nintendo also has plans to release a Zapper peripheral to be sold separately. The Limited Collector’s Edition Nintendo Entertainment System will also feature component-out jacks as well as the standard RF and RCA jacks. The RCA jacks that used to be on the side of the system have been moved to the back to accommodate modern entertainment unit set-ups.
And yes, this new NES will still be able to play all your old NES games and use all your old peripherals, so you don’t have to worry about having to buy the same games again (though it would be nice to not have to blow on them to get them to work).
The NES re-issue is set to be released in stores this June with an MSRP of $49.99 CDN. Re-issued games will be priced at a modest $19.99 CDN each, which is four times as expensive as a Virtual Console title, but each one will come with a download code to download that same game through the Wii’s Shop Channel.
Stay tuned to Toronto Thumbs, as we’ll be on top of this story as it unfolds.