It’s one of the most popular video game products in years, perhaps since the release of the Xbox One and PS4 in late 2013. This is despite being fuelled entirely by nostalgic urges, feeding into the Gen Y gamer’s childhood memories: it was the console that introduced them to gaming.
The NES Classic Edition was always going to be a highly sought-after little piece of hardware, but no one expected things to get as crazy as they have. The system — which houses 30 classic NES games on an internal drive — may just be the hottest Christmas gift this busy holiday season, which goes to show just how relevant Nintendo still is (not that anyone doubted it). That the company can release something of this nature and generate such hype, discussion and — as a product of low supply — frustration goes to show just how much power they still have over the masses.
Why are people clamouring, lining up, and flooding websites to buy a console so old, so aged, bordering on forgotten? It may be harder for younger generations to understand, but the NES exemplifies the average gamer demographic, the person that grew up during the “Nintendo vs Sega” wars, and sat through the cultural phenomenon that was a chubby little Italian plumber from Brooklyn. Nothing as innocent, as simple, as strangely relatable could last the test of time for modern audiences. We forget too quickly, smothered by a constant stream of information and “news”. The NES existed in a simpler time, when it was easier to forget the real world and just enjoy life.
People certainly aren’t rushing to buy an NES Classic Edition because they want to play the original Super Mario Bros., as they can already do that on their smartphones, on the countless emulator options available. There are millions of people with a Wii U that could just buy a copy of it today. People are spending $100 on it because they want to play Super Mario Bros. on an NES. It’s the console itself that invokes that nostalgic rush of memories and comfort.
What the NES and this re-released bundle represent is an idealised view of a generation’s younger years, when having a gaming console wasn’t so common as to be an afterthought, but rather a luxury that established friendships and reignited a medium that, at the time, was in the midst of an identity crisis.
For the many millions that grew up surrounded by everything Nintendo — when that word was used to broadly define and represent video games — the NES Classic Edition isn’t just a mantle piece to have for the sake of having. Its blending of familiar retro looks with standard digital features shows that how it works doesn’t matter: it’s how it looks and feels, and what it represents that matters.
Existing almost as caricature of our materialistic senses, the NES actually represents something purer, that feeds into nostalgic urges of a forgotten era. And now we all want to remember.
The NES Classic Edition will be available for pre-order (December shipment) today from 12pm AEST on the EB Games website.