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Gaming giant Nintendo enters fourth decade of creating fun

The red and white video game console kept in a locked display case at The Save Point in Westminster is a relic from a bygone era.
Two controllers are attached, each with two circular buttons and a directional pad. A floppy disc drive is positioned near the bottom.
Japanese text is inscribed on the front.
The console is called a Famicom. It was Japan's version of the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Thirty years ago, video gaming giant Nintendo released the Famicom in Japan. It was Nintendo's first home entertainment system. The Nintendo Entertainment System, based on the Famicom, was released in the United States two years later.
The Famicom's popularity in Japan paved the way for the NES and its wildly popular video games in the United States.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Famicom, The Save Point, a video game retailer in the Town Mall of Westminster, gave away one of the systems last week in a promotion.
They expect a shipment of still-working Famicom gaming systems from Japan later this year, sales associate Jordan Stahley said.
Original Famicom system games included "Donkey Kong," "Donkey Kong Jr." and "Popeye."
The Nintendo Entertainment System debuted with games like "Super Mario Bros." and "The Legend Of Zelda." The system eventually dominated the marketplace in what was previously a struggling gaming market. Nearly 62 million NES consoles were sold worldwide.
"[The NES] saved the video game industry," Stahley said.
The NES replaced Atari as the console of choice in the mid-1980s. Several poorly designed games plagued the Atari, Stahley said.
When the NES was introduced, the quality of games immediately improved, she said.
Users could use a controller shaped like a shotgun in "Duck Hunt." They could try to beat up a boxing champion in "Mike Tyson's Punchout." They could try to save the princess in "Super Mario Bros."
The NES was phased out two decades ago. Nintendo has introduced five primary consoles since the NES (Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii and Wii U). But for many video game enthusiasts, the simple, easy-to-play original Nintendo games and characters are still among their all-time favorites.

The iconic Nintendo characters
Link: He originally debuted in 1986 in "The Legend of Zelda." He attempts to place a crystal in six palaces and awaken Zelda. Several video games were made featuring Link following the original.
"Although it is near impossible to compare the idea of characters from the old games to characters in today's games, Link is one character who is still interesting and fun to play," Carroll Arts Center Facilities Coordinator Will Abbott said.
The hockey brawlers: Dozens of sports games were created for the Nintendo Entertainment System. For Vince Buscemi, the director of digital communications and social media for McDaniel College in Westminster, his favorite was "Blades of Steel," a hockey game where the loser of fights was sent to the penalty box.
The audio was not nearly as advanced as in today's games.
"The announcer guy would say 'flip the pass,'" Buscemi said. "Made me crack up every time he said it."
The turtles: The first video game Abbott played all the way through and beat was "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game." The four turtles named Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo were featured in three NES titles.
"You couldn't save the game, so you had to start new every time," Abbott said. "As an adult going back and playing the NES games, I still like the TMNT games."
Mario and Luigi: Stahley said the original "Super Mario Bros." video game released in 1985 is probably the most popular NES game sold at The Save Point. Dozens of games featuring the plumber brothers who try to save a princess from the dastardly Bowser have been made since that version was released 28 years ago.
"That's the game that everybody remembers playing and it's the one we typically hear the most about," Stahley said.
Carroll Community College Theatre Facilities Coordinator Seth Schwartz received a Nintendo Game Boy for Hanukkah growing up.
He's been a fan of Nintendo and, specifically, the hero Mario, ever since.
He owns a Wii U, the latest Nintendo console, and said he loved it. His favorite all-time video game is "Super Mario Galaxy" for Wii.
"Every time you play it," he said, "you can't help but smile."

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