Cover Story: Retronauts Looks Back 30 Years to the NES Launch

Jeremy hits the mean streets of Portland to talk to expert game historians about Nintendo's "hail Mary" attempt to bring its Famicom console west.

Back when Bob (and Ray) and I first relaunched Retronauts back in 2013, we kicked off by looking back at the Nintendo Famicom, which had just celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Japanese launch. Now, we're revisiting a closely related topic from a different angle: The Famicom's transformation into the Nintendo Entertainment System.

While we skirt around some previously covered ground in this episode, this is by no means a rehash of the older show. Besides focusing entirely on the NES's launch rather than the Japanese side of the business, Episode 51 also brings into the fold two experts on the system's early days in America: Former Retronauts cohost Frank Cifaldi, and avid game historian and collector Steve Lin. (Rounding out the cast are NES fans Gary Butterfield of Watch Out for Fireballs and, of course, Bob.) We all happened to be in Portland last weekend for the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, and it also happened to be the actual 30th anniversary of the NES's test launch in New York (October 18, 1985). So we turned coincidence into serendipity and chatted at length about the early days of the NES, touching on both hard-to-come-by facts and personal anecdotes alike.

As with the Tokyo Game Show episode from a month back, I recorded this episode on the fly as a series of one-on-one conversations. There's a small amount of overlap on points, as was bound to happen when chatting about the same topic with four different people, but every conversation stands on its own while also supplementing the others. I hope you'll agree that it's a pretty interesting look back at the launch of a landmark system, even if the episode format's a bit unconventional.

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Episode Description

Live at Portland Retro Gaming Expo, Jeremy speaks one-on-one with podcast friends Frank Cifaldi, Gary Butterfield, Steve Lin, and of course our own Bob Mackey about the weekend's big commemorative event: The NES's 30th anniversary.

Music in this episode comes from various NES games. Can you spot them all?

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Tagged with Column, frank cifaldi, gary butterfield, NES, Nintendo, Podcasts, Retronauts, steve lin.

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