Retro Weekends – Nintendo Entertainment System

NES RF switch

The Downfall and Revival

Of all the downfalls I’ve detailed on Retro Weekends, this one is by far the dumbest. This can best be summed up as “I wish I could tell my young self not to do that.” It was around 1993-1994. So as we all know, the NES had two ways to plug the console: RF and AV. We didn’t have AV cables (nor did we have the know-how to connect AV to the VCR). So we only used the RF cable to connect the NES to the TV. One day when I tried connecting the NES to one of the TVs in the house (it was probably mine), for some reason nothing was showing when I turned the NES on. I mean, the console was on, but the TV was still on Ch. 3 static. So I checked the power brick, that was fine. The NES’ power light was still on, so this thing was most likely working. Then I check the RF, and much to my dismay, the pin that connects to the TV was broken. That pin was always flaky as hell, so I always made sure to not break it and to show others how to connect it to the TV. Once I told my mom this, she tried checking herself to make it work, but to no avail. Thinking that it was done for and broken, I proceeded to throw out the NES! If only I knew then what I know now, all I would’ve had to was get a new RF, not get an entirely new NES.

But that’s exactly what happened. Having no other console in the house, like the little brat I was, I begged and pleaded to my mom to get me a new NES. The only way to do that was with good grades. So I did just that. And since money was tight, it was the only way to convince her. One P/T night later, my mom agreed to get the new NES. But unbeknownst to me at the time due to just not processing that thought after watching many commercials, the SNES was already out. NES consoles were scarce since the SNES and Genesis were the new shit. My mom caught a break at an electronics store further down Third Ave. that was selling an NES, and for pretty cheap ($75 to be exact). On the car ride home (my uncle drove us), I looked in the bag and wondered if she even got the right thing. When we came home, I finally got a full view of the box and… I was confused. I think I was even on the verge of tears thinking that she got the wrong thing and that she got some knock-off console (you know the ones I’m talking about). She inserted an NES cartridge from the top to show me that it was really an NES. I was somewhat convinced. All I saw on the box in big letters was “Control Deck”, not knowing that the red “Nintendo Entertainment System” label  on the top marked it as the real thing. It still felt like I was playing a knock-off, but liked what I was playing. It didn’t occur to me until my pre-teen/early teen years (and access to the internet) that this was the NES 2/Top Loader, one of the hardest to get consoles in Nintendo’s lineup. That’s when I realized how much of an ass I was when I was younger when doubting the legitimacy of the console I had now owned.

NES games

Today, that NES is still alive and well and still getting played on. There are no CRT TVs here anymore, so connecting an RF to an HDTV is a pain in the ass because of the inherent lag HDTVs have, or their inability to broadcast in analog, the only signal NES consoles can display on, since they were made after the switch to digital. But I still find time to play the NES, especially since I haven’t jumped to the next generation yet (still not convinced). Besides, that Dragon Warrior cart isn’t gonna finish itself.

NES games (3)

The legacy of the NES/Famicom itself was strong, giving birth to many of the franchises that lived through many years, like much of Nintendo’s roster of IPs, as well as Castlevania, Mega Man, Megami Tensei, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Earthbound, Ninja Gaiden, Gradius, Contra, and more. The 8-bit style of many NES games (as well as the Master System) became iconic, adorning things like clothing and apparel. Ironing beads became the go-to medium for creating  physical 8-bit art. And games like Retro City Rampage and Shovel Knight sought inspiration from the NES days in both look and challenge.

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