Introducing: My Year of NES


If there's one thing that I enjoy unabashedly, it's grandiose projects undertaken for little or no reason. This love of pointless struggle inspired me, three years ago, to attempt to watch every blockbuster movie released during that summer. The effort failed in mid-July, largely because Hollywood went the entire summer of 2004 without releasing a single watchable movie. Before I gave up I had subjected myself to, among other cinematic suppositories, Van Helsing, Chronicles of Riddick, Troy, The Stepford Wives, The Day After Tomorrow, and Garfield. Now I've had another idea for a long and pointless endeavor.

I recently cleaned my room (somewhat), which led to a reorganization of the various media on my bookshelves. During the process I noticed that I have 51 games for the original Nintendo Entertainment System here in New York with me. 51 is a number that is very close to 52, and 52 is the number of weeks there are in a year. Bam! Why not, I said to myself, spend a year playing your NES games, playing one game each week for 52 weeks? And so my new project was born. Bonus: There's a book called My Year of Meats, so I can call this project My Year of NES and it would be almost pseudo-clever.

The idea is simple. I'll pick one game per week every week for the next year. I'll spend the week playing that game. Ideally, I will have a session playing that game every day of the week. In the best of all possible worlds I will beat the game that I have chosen before the end of the week; in the world we live in, this is highly unlikely. The first day of each game's week will be Sunday and the last day will be Saturday. After each week is done, possibly Saturday night or Sunday morning, I'll write a post about my thoughts on the game. And at some point I'll buy another NES game to bring my total up to 52.

I'm optimistic about my prospects of sticking to this. I enjoy video games, so presumably playing these games won't be a chore. Most old NES games have a pick-up-and-play feel that isn't present in a lot of modern video games, so if I'm busy it shouldn't be a problem to have a quick 15 or 20-minute game session without feeling like I'm just fulfilling my minimum obligations. Plus, and I don't mean to brag here, I have a pretty awesome set of games. Bionic Commando, Mega Man 2, Contra, Castlevania III, Kirby's Adventure, and so on. Moreover, this will give me a chance to actually appreciate a lot of the games I've been hoarding since childhood. I've spent a lot of money building a nice collection and getting my hardware in order so that I can play these games, but I hardly ever take advantage of it.

My plan, though I reserve the right to modify it at any time, is to play through my collection alphabetically. That means that the first week's game will be 1943, Capcom's vertical-scrolling shooter based on the battle of Midway. Are you excited? 'Cause I'm excited.


.....*sigh*......*shakes head*.....*sigh*....

Oh, you're just a big poopyhead.

I can't wait until you get to River City Ransom. That game is very cool. Remember to get Stone Hands and Dragon Feet. Then put on some cowboy boots and kick your way to victory!

And you're right, Brette can be a big poopyhead!

...*sigh*...*shakes head*...*sigh*...

Brittany: Poopyhead? Some sources say yes! Story at 11.

whoa i think you two are playing a little too fast and loose with the whole "poopyhead" thing....

P.S. teddy, what is up with not returning the dane cook love? it hurts, dawg, on the inside

whoa i think you two are playing a little too fast and loose with the whole "poppyhead" thing...

P.S. teddy, whats up with not returning the dane cook love? it hurts, dawg, on the inside

Haha, River City Ransom is gonna suck, what with the continuing your previous game by entering approximately 82 randomly generated letters and numbers. Have fun with that. *Barf!*

Unreasonably long password codes are a small price to pay for such an entertaining game!

River City Ransom's passwords were unreasonably long and had made scarily little sense. If you exited the password screen then immediately came back, you got an entirely different 50-character password, which lead you to think the game was glitching and just spitting up random numbers. What could have changed since you were there 2 seconds ago? Also, RCR's passwords relied on upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers, making it frustratingly easy to accidentally write the wrong character on your password sheet ("Is that an 'o', an 'O', or a '0'? Is that a '1' or an 'l'?").

On the other hand, from my perspective it's much nicer to have a password-based saved game system than a battery-based one. On a battery-based saved game, they store all your saved data on a small chip of RAM. RAM requires power to maintain the data it stores, so there's a small battery on the cartridge that provides a constant low level of power to the saved game RAM. Great, except that the life of these batteries is roughly 10 years. As you may have noticed, 10 years ago is 1997, which itself was roughly 10 years after the peak of NES popularity. Ergo: most batteries in NES carts are long dead, making it impossible to save games on them.

It's possible, with a replacement battery, a soldering iron, and the right screwdriver bit, to open up old carts and replace expired batteries with relative ease. Still, that's a bit more effort than I'm willing to put in for this project. My plan is to use the standard technique for long save-less games like Super Mario Brothers 3 and just leave my Nintendo on for a week straight.

In other news: My retrospective on 1943 is currently in the works.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on February 17, 2007 4:14 PM.

Telephobia was the previous entry in this blog.

Ludology is the next entry in this blog.

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