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What Nintendo Fans Get Wrong About The NES's Famous Oct. 18, 1985 Release Date

On March 31, 2020, Nintendo fans will have their darkest day. With the loss of the original Super Mario Maker, the removal of both Super Mario 3D All-Stars and the anniversary Game & Watch from store shelves, and the discontinuation of Super Mario Bros. 35, perhaps gamers will want to reminisce over better times in the Nintendo timeline. 


That brings things back to Oct. 18, 1985. It was a historic day in video game history: the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System. A moment that forever changed the course of the video game industry. While the Famicom had already caused waves in Japan, the United States was recovering from the devastating video game crash of 1983. When Nintendo broke ground in the U.S., that all changed. 

The only problem is that it didn't happen exactly how most Nintendo fans think. The NES actually launched nationwide in 1986. This is the truth about the famous Oct. 18, 1985 release date for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

What really happened on Oct 18, 1985

The Nintendo Entertainment System did come to the U.S. with R.O.B. the Robot on Oct. 18, 1985. However, it first saw a limited release in New York City. The reason the Big Apple was targeted as the launch site for the NES was because it was considered the most challenging market for a product to succeed. Nintendo's President at the time, Hiroshi Yamauchi, had faith that this would prove the viability of the NES.


Minoru Arakawa, then President of Nintendo of America, made a deal with potential vendors wherein Nintendo would supply units and take charge of the displays. To sweeten the deal even further, stores didn't have to pay a dime unless they sold NES sets.

The Nintendo Entertainment System debuted with 17 games, including Duck Hunt, Gyromite, Wild Gunman, and not Super Mario Bros. That's right — the famous plumber was not at the NES premier.

The NES sold a meager 50,000 units during the 1985 holiday season. While not an impressive number, it was enough to push the new system into Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco at the beginning of the following year, leading to the console's actual nationwide availability in 1986.