How Modern Games and Consoles Can Learn From NES

Anthony examines how modern consoles could improve if they took cues from NES.

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 04/21/2014 09:00 6 Comments     ShareThis

5. Simplicity

The NES controller is fantastic. All it has is a D-pad, an A button, a B button, a start button, and a select button, making it incredibly simple. Other than Wii, which also features a basic design, all modern consoles feature a multitude of different inputs. Not only do we have a lot of face buttons and shoulder buttons, but we also have things like touch screens and gyroscopes for motion controls.

I think it’s pretty great that modern controllers give us a ton of different inputs, since they allow us to experience games in different ways. However, when a game tries to be a Swiss Army knife by using every single input available, things can become confusing if they aren’t implemented correctly. Developers often think that they have to use a control input just because it exists, but in reality, it should only be used if it makes sense. Our very own Robert Marrujo expressed a similar sentiment when he wrote an editorial about how developers shouldn’t need to use the Wii U GamePad to make a good game, and I couldn’t agree more.

Because NES has such a basic controller, its games are often simple to learn and hard to master. This is something that I like a lot, since the control scheme isn’t intimidating but the gameplay is complex at its core. Personally, I’d love to see modern games feature this type of simplicity.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all systems! I just think there are are so many great things about NES that I would love to see replicated in the present. What’s your take on the matter? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 Responses to “How Modern Games and Consoles Can Learn From NES”

  • 102 points
    Hawthorn says...

    You’re rebooting the issue numbering? O_O Does that mean those pages that preview the content of the issue will return? And the unique editorials?

  • 1507 points
    penduin says...

    Hand-holding in games has certainly gotten out of control, but even at their worst, Navi and her successors do have one redeeming quality.

    My free time comes in completely unpredictable chunks. I might fire up a backlogged epic I’m halfway through and then … crap, what was I doing again? Looking for a cave south of some town? Or maybe it was east? Was I collecting something? Backtracking with a newfangled ability? As much as I hate little miss “Hey! Listen!”, sometimes I do need to have my memory jogged.

    Now, all the unskippable spell-everything-out-for-you crap, yeah, that has to die in a fire. But a chirp every now and then from which you can optionally be reminded “hey, weren’t you going to go see what became of so-and-so?”, that can actually be useful.

    • 180 points
      Anthony Vigna says...

      I totally agree. I would just like it to be a lot less in your face. Like for example, Star Fox Adventures lets you know what to do and where to go if you choose to communicate with Slippy and Peppy. I really like that. God knows how annoying a constantly interjecting Slippy would be :p

  • 1285 points
    Robert Marrujo says...

    Good piece, Anthony. For me, the Plug and Play aspect is the thing I miss most. I can appreciate all the things that today’s system can do that the old ones couldn’t, but man, it was nice to just hit power and start playing. I turn my consoles on to play games almost exclusively; the rest is just noise.

  • 1379 points
    xeacons says...

    I remember telling my wife, “Remember when you could just pop in a game and play it?” Now we have to sit through ten minutes of installation with every disc. Luckily, the 3DS seems to be following this your code, and it’s success is proof.

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