The best-selling gaming console of its time in Asia and North America (Nintendo claims to have sold over 60 million NES units worldwide), it helped revitalize the US video game industry following the video game crash of 1983. It set the standard for subsequent consoles in everything from game design (the commonly-bundled game Super Mario Bros. popularized the platform game genre, and introduced elements that would be copied in many subsequent games) to controller layout (the D-pad refinements used in the NES controller would be incorporated in nearly every major console to follow, and garnered Nintendo an Emmy Award). In addition, with the NES, Nintendo introduced a now-standard business model of software licensing for third-party developers.
As the 1990s dawned, however, renewed competition from technologically superior systems such as the 16-bit Sega Mega Drive (called the Sega Genesis in North America) marked the end of the NES’s dominance. Eclipsed by Nintendo’s own Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), the NES’s user base gradually waned. Nintendo continued to support the system in North America through the first half of the decade, even releasing a new version of the console, the NES 2, to address many of the design flaws in the original NES hardware. The final games released for the system were as follows: in Japan, Adventure Island 4 in 1994, and, in North America, among unlicensed titles, Sunday Funday was the last, whereas Wario's Woods was the last licensed game (also the only one with an ESRB rating). In the wake of ever decreasing sales and the lack of new software titles, Nintendo of America officially discontinued the NES by 1995. Despite this, Nintendo of Japan kept producing new Nintendo Famicom units for a niche market up until October 2003, when it officially discontinued the line. Even as developers ceased production for the NES, a number of high-profile video game franchises and series for the NES were transitioned to newer consoles and remain popular to this day. Nintendo’s own Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid franchises debuted on the NES, as did Capcom’s Mega Man franchise, Konami’s Castlevania franchise, and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises.
For its North American release, the NES was released in two different configurations, or bundles. The console deck itself was identical, but each bundle was packaged with different Game Paks and accessories. The first of these sets, the Control Deck, retailed from US$199.99, and included the console itself, two game controllers, and a Super Mario Bros. game cartridge. The second bundle, the Deluxe Set, retailed for US$249.99, and consisted of the console, a R.O.B., a NES Zapper (electronic gun), and two game paks: Duck Hunt and Gyromite.
For the remainder of the NES’s commercial lifespan in North America, Nintendo frequently repackaged the console in new configurations to capitalize on newer accessories or popular game titles. Subsequent bundle packages included the NES Action Set, released in November 1988 for US$199.99, which replaced both of the earlier two sets, and included the console, the NES Zapper, two game controllers, and a multicart version of Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. The Action Set became the most successful of the packages released by Nintendo. One month later, in December 1988, to coincide with the release of the Power Pad floor mat controller, Nintendo released a new Power Set bundle, consisting of the console, the Power Pad, the NES Zapper, two controllers, and a multicart containing Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and World Class Track Meet. In 1990, a Sports Set bundle was released, including the console, a NES Satellite infrared wireless multitap adapter, four game controllers, and a multicart featuring Super Spike V'Ball and Nintendo World Cup.
It is difficult to count the total number of games released on the NES. One can look at the number of games licensed by Nintendo of America or Japan, or combine them, or even add the numerous unlicensed titles. All told, well over 1,000 games are available on the NES platform.
Two more bundle packages were released using the original model NES console. The Challenge Set included the console, two controllers, and a Super Mario Bros. 3 game pak. The Basic Set, first released in 1987, included only the console and two controllers with no pack-in cartridge. Instead, it contained a book called the The Official Nintendo Player's Guide, which contained detailed information for every NES game made up to that point. Finally, the redesigned NES 2 was released as part of the final Nintendo-released bundle package, once again under the name Control Deck, including the new style NES 2 console, and one redesigned 'dogbone' game controller. Released in October 1993, this final bundle retailed for $49.99, and remained in production until the discontinuation of the NES in 1995.