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NES Launch Hype Stateside

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A while back I had asked if there was any literature regarding the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System.  I was told the NES never became popular to the American public until 1987.  Considering the official American  release was in the fall of 1985 I figured there had to be something out there.

 By late 1984, the Famicom had already sold millions of units in Japan, shadowing the market 9 to 1.  Knowing the collapse of the videogame industry left by Atari and Coleco, the retailers and the press stateside told the public that videogames were only a fad and home computers were going to be the future.

At the Winter Consumer Electronics Show held in January 1985 in Las Vegas, Nintendo’s booth demonstrated Rob the robot along with other peripherals such as keyboard and data cassette along with the base unit calling it a Advanced Video System to avoid being dismissed as a video game only toy because of the industry crash in America during the last 2 years.

This is the brochure they gave to attendees at the Nintendo booth.

 

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Brain Breaker of Nintendo Age has provided the only known photos from this booth.

 

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Between February and June of 1985, there are currently 6 different sources of media coverage.

 

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The Summer CES of 1985 was held June 3rd in Chicago. Nintendo had dropped many of the expensive peripherals and began to focus more on what was eventually released to the American public.

 

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The official American release was in late October 1985 but only for select markets.  New York first, then Chicago, L.A. and San Francisco in early 1986.

 

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These photos were taken late 1986 but they were built for FAO Schwarz Oct 1985 release.  They are the only known photos of this display.

 

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Steve Lin was one of the first customers during this period and he has recently discovered some public relation materials and order forms he had and scanned it for preservation.  He also scanned the results of a survey Nintendo released in January - February 1986.

 

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In the May 1986 Issue of Computer and Videogames they review the Deluxe NES set as well as the current popular games.

 

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Edward Semrad wrote a column for The Milwaukee Journal on Saturdays.

On August 9th he wrote his opinions  on the NES and again the following weekend which were quite unfavorable.

 

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Nintendo would make another appearance at summer CES in 1986 but nothing is available besides this Ad they created for it.

 

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Edward who would later go on to become a senior editor for Electronic Gaming Monthly must have either succumb to the charms from the growing 3rd party games arriving from the orient or he was influenced by the mass hysteria growing on the street by children of all ages despite the attempts from the media to block the success because by December of 1986, he was beginning to favor the lunch box shaped magic box.

 

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In 1987 the Nintendo Fun Club News was published and this year Nintendo really learned how to market their golden goose.  There was a scarcity for the system as well as the games.  It was word of mouth at this point and that mouth was hungry for more of Nintendo.  

C&VG issues from 1987 are missing although I suspect they will contain more literature on the NES.

The Milwaukee Journal once again casts light on the NES in January 17 1987 with columist Edward Semrad.

 

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Nintendo returned to the winter CES in 1987 and not much is know except this official trade ad.

 

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Edward soon wrote about it on June 6th 1986.

 

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1988 became easier to find NES coverage with Electronic Game Players and Nintendo Power.  By 1989, the mainstream realized that videogames were here to stay in America.

From what I remember kids used to go outside and play.  They loved the clean air and excercise.  The day kids discovered the Nintendo Entertainment System and especially before 1990, instead of going outside,  looked forward to going indoors and playing their Nintendo.  Kids would be driven to disobey their parents and stay up till 1 AM on weeknights, 4 AM on weekends.

I watched an episode of 20/20 from 1988 that interviewed children who owned the NES and felt as though I was looking in the mirror.

***Credits***  

Milwaukee Journal, Author Edward Semrad
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=jvrRlaHg2sAC&dat=19860809&b_mode=2&hl=en

Steve Lin, San Francisco California
https://twitter.com/stevenplin/status/660502774182907904/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc^tfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.techtimes.com%2Farticles%2F102129%2F20151102%2Foriginal-nintendo-entertainment-system-press-release-includes-some-surprising-statistics.htm

Frank Cifaldi, Game History Org
https://gamehistory.org/nes-launch-collection-1985/

Brain Breaker, Nintendo Age, Jan 1985 CES Exhibit
http://nintendoage.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=5&threadid=148124

Contributors to Game History Org’s “The NES Launch Collection” , Google Drive
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0By3fjn1rWdp3Sk81a3FpLUpVSVU

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It's funny how they came up with all of these crazy ambitious ideas for the US launch that they promoted in their initial literature, but all they ultimately ended up doing was put a different casing on a Famicom and give it detachable controllers.  Well, and make a ridiculous and completely unsupported robot accessory.

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On 1/9/2018 at 3:47 AM, kitsunebi77 said:

It's funny how they came up with all of these crazy ambitious ideas for the US launch that they promoted in their initial literature, but all they ultimately ended up doing was put a different casing on a Famicom and give it detachable controllers.  Well, and make a ridiculous and completely unsupported robot accessory.

unsupported? there are TWO WHOLE GAMES that ROB is compatible with!

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Great job with the post.

Living in NY, I was very lucky to have owned a NES (non) Deluxe Set back in 1985. My parents bought one for us as a "Back to school" / and more specifically, as a birthday gift for me.

As soon as Super Mario Bros. came out here (Feb 1986), I added it with the rest of my boxes and snapped this picture. 

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If you look closely you can see the NES (non) Deluxe Set box, as well as my R.O.B., who I've designated to hold my Duracel flashlight by this time. 

And here is  my original NES gaming setup.

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I was also a card carrying member of the Nintendo Fun Club... Too much fun!

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I used to call all of the video game companies I could locate the phone numbers for, back in the mid-80's, and request any type of advertising they could send me. I loved collecting it, and still do!

I received a lot of neat pamphlets.

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