I don’t think anyone could argue that nostalgia has been a button that can be pushed to initiate a reaction from those whose memories, whether embellished or not, are often associated with joy. Sometimes when we are given an opportunity to revisit a person, place, or thing which we associate with joy it jumpstarts a rhythm of recollection. Whether or not the same joy we recall will actually manifest upon our actual interaction is often a unique experience left to one’s individual emotional construct being tied tightly to the way in which we process memory. Yet, when things like the NES Classic Edition are dangled in front of us like the proverbial carrot on the stick, I have to wonder if Nintendo is cashing in on the anticipation of joy we may experience, or the actual joy of the interaction.
The fact is that as much as I want to embrace the NES Classic Edition I have reservations. This platform isn’t necessarily new. I’ve seen packages like this over many years, usually around the holidays here in the States, for other game systems from a bygone era. The last two I encountered was for the Sega Genesis Classic Game Console and the Atari Flashback. Neither of which were met with the same fanfare as the NES Classic Edition. Neither of which I purchased. So, why then this hype for the NES Classic Edition. This probably has more to do with the original NES’s place in the zeitgeist of gaming in the late 20th and early 21st century along with a hefty dose of generational group dynamics grounded in the sphere of nostalgia.
I will not argue there is not a fan base for classic game systems and classic games. For decades you’ve been able to download emulators for your home PC to play ports of classic games from a variety of gaming system platforms from the 1980’s and 1990’s (most of them unlicensed and often involving a trip into torrenting). There are plenty of online dealers and local brick and mortar Mom & Pop stores who trade in classic systems, cartridges, CDs, and accessories. eBay has notoriously had dealers flinging cloned systems for years. Even at most genre conventions you’ll find one or two dealers trading in the classic game systems and classic games market. And then, Nintendo has made a lot of their classic titles available on their Wii platforms form their online store as well.
Again, why then is the NES Classic Edition appearing to be such a big deal?
I’d find it tough to argue they haven’t put together a roster of games built into the unit that wouldn’t satisfy anyone who’d played with an NES in its days of reign. This may be it.
It comes packaged in a unit and controller which is a replica of the original game system’s. From a tactile and visual sense, it certainly has the potential to push the nostalgia buttons. This may be it.
It promises to deliver the games in High Definition. This may be it.
Or, is it something more simple. Maybe it’s the anticipation of owning a replicated piece of our past? Maybe it is simply the anticipation of joy we may experience, rather than the actual joy of the interaction.
Joy = It’s the memory of a young boy who didn’t ask for a Nintendo for Christmas because he had already asked for a new bike. A Christmas that was never to be repeated in the terms of the generosity his parents bestowed upon him, and the serious financial sacrifices that were made to do so, only to be understood and appreciated by the boy later in life. There beneath the tree was a new bike that was so important to the young boy, and a large rectangular present, wrapped with great care, that was not meant to be there.
Nintendo, shut-up and take my money.
Until next time I bid thee love and merriment.