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Thursday, September 01, 2005
  best- Mario's still on the go
Almost anyone who lived through the mid 1980s knows that plumbers aren’t just handy. They’re entertaining too.

The run-and-jump game Super Mario Bros with virtual plumbers Mario and Luigi came delivered with the Nintendo Entertainment System video console, known as NES for short.

The grey, rectangular boxes represented the first experience for many videos gamers in a realm that at that time involved rough pixels, tinny synthetic sounds, and two-dimensional landscapes.

The NES is now considered the granddaddy of the multi-media obsessed, and sometimes ridiculed, Nintendo Generation.

When the console hit stores in Europe and the United States in 1985, it struck a nerve with many consumers.

Unlike other expensive and fragile units, players saw in it a family-compatible toy for the living room or the playroom.

It was cheap and stable device that everyone could operate.

For its manufacturer, Japan’s Nintendo, the NES represented a global breakthrough. Including the sister device sold in Asia as “Famicon” more that 60 million units were sold during 1994.

Outside of Japan, the NES was without competition: Nintendo climbed in the ring just as many others were leaving.

A rash of low-quality newcomers to the field had led to a collapse of the videogame market in the West.

Many firms cut back on their business or migrated to home computers. The NES brought on an ‘astonishingly quick” comeback for the sector.

Perhaps the biggest arguments in favor of the machine are the excellent games that it spawned: gamers on many more modern consoles have a sense that there’s not enough good and original games.

NES gives both. That’s what makes the consoles so timeless. A number of games franchise that found their original success on the NES – Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario – are still being continued on current consoles.

Others constantly enjoy new versions in retro design. A dozen NES classics are currently available for the Game Boy Advance, for example. Yet there are genuine commercial reasons for this careful tending of tradition: studies have shown that pixelated hero Mario is just as well known to children as Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny.

The NES itself has long since given way to more powerful successors. Yet many fans have been unwilling to part with their copy, in some cases because it was the first console of their own.

Others enjoy the challenge of finding something new, Nintendo reports that more the 500 NES games were published, and meaning that even the most passionate fan is unlikely to have played them all in their entirety.

Some 20 years after their first release, the consoles have held on to an astoundingly large fan community: there are still a lot of people who play NES, and not just for nostalgia.

Devices, software and accessories like the light pistol and the fitness mat are routinely listed at online auction houses.

A console with the basic game package can usually he had for US$50 on eBay.

For an uncommon and well-preserved game, collectors will sometimes pay twice that much.

-fun plumber-

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