For those who grew up playing videogames in the time of Nintendo’s famed NES (pop demographics would call you the Net Generation, from 74-83), any evocation of that oh-so-recognizable graphic style and its surrounding aesthetic exerts a strong pull.
Some nights I find myself mindlessly, obsessively hoarding JPEGs of 85/86-era NES box art, searching for that perfect nostalgia that comes from seeing the star-scened, pixellated cover with the strange, smeared trailing lines. Why save these little pieces of ephemera? It’s not that hard to explain–sometimes it reminds me of a specific moment from childhood, be it a trip half-squandered with my head in a glossy Nintendo catalogue, or a guy at the local game shop showing me an imported NES and Super Mario Bros. III many months (!) before it arrived in North America.
As such, the aesthetics of NES design left a huge stamp on my childhood, and influenced much of the way I see design today–in the same way that 8-bit gaming has for thousands. And along with my generation’s purchasing power comes a series of wonderfully nostalgia-savvy products that continue to vie for some of our cash. While Nintendo proper stays busy working on how to make exponential amounts of money on products they finished 15+ years ago (see the Nintendo Wii’s virtual console), the world of un/licensed NES-inspired design continues on. With that, let’s run through our top 5 NES-inspired designs that hit that sweet spot of nostalgia without fail.
These evoke the same memories that a cherished vacation photo can. We stare at it every once in a while, remembering the location, the kind of person we were at the time, the people we were with, the turtle we jumped on 144 times to increase our life count… everything. Besides, in each diorama Mario is controlled by a small magnet at the back, further enabling the detached-yet-tangible reenactments of the game that inevitably follow picking this thing up. Sadly, no longer made.
These are more than slightly ridiculous, and yet if I saw one in a store I’d buy it immediately. Mostly out of print, if there’s such thing as a bath towel being out of print.
While not strictly NES-inspired, they’re sort of amazing, and the design’s theme just fits so damn perfectly with the name of the shoe.
Something about the fact that these are done with actual controllers–meaning there’s a finite number of them to be constructed–makes my brain need one a little more. NESBuckle also does other game-controller buckles, but even a cursory glance at the competitors shows that only one can give you the perfectly squared dimensions and still-wonderful black/gray/red colour scheme your nostalgia yearns for.
A perfect mix of hand-made design and NES nostalgia. There are times when pixel art, with its little perfect quadrants and rigid aesthetic, translates magically to more “old fashioned” disciplines like sewing and cross-stitch. This is one, and here’s another spectacular example.
Have your own can’t miss piece of NES-inspired design we forgot? Let us know in the comments!