The Nintendo Game Plan – How the NES Slowly Conquered the United States


Much has been written about the 1983 video game crash; Needless to say, after the events with Atari, North American retailers found themselves with their hands burned, so launching a new console was a risky proposition. We recently took a look at the small steps Nintendo took at CES in 1984 that provided useful feedback to the company and changed its entire marketing strategy with the product that would become the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, ridiculously successful for its friends. .

We have also briefly touched on regional NES test launches in 1985 in the past; Initially, you could only get an NES in New York and LA in a very limited number of stores. Shedding more light on the days of yore, King Solomon on the NintendoAge Forums now has unearthed old documents sent to consumers which makes for a fascinating read:

This information file, dated April 24, 1986 and addressed to a Robert Dahl from Wisconsin, reveals the state of play. Young Robert was told that the NES would be slated for nationwide deployment in 1986, but until then he could order the system by mail order at recommended stores in Costa Mesa, California, Chicago, or New York.

The pack also contains lovely descriptions of the hardware and games on offer. Our favorite is the description of the arcade classic Donkey Kong:

Mario climbs ladders and dodges barrels to save Paula in this thrilling maze game.

It’s interesting to look back on those old days and marvel at when Nintendo struggled to launch a product and keep up with demand. Fortunately, those days are behind us, aren’t they?

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