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'Now you're playing with...' bricks?

The Lego NES comes with a high price for nostalgia

By Dandi Galvez Published Jul 19, 2020 12:00 am Updated Jul 21, 2020 3:55 am

The Lego Nintendo Entertainment System was leaked online on Monday, July 13, by Chinese website VJGamer and a few days after, Lego has come out with details on its offical website on the iconic home video game console.

When I was a kid the only Nintendo console I ever knew was the Family Computer (Famicom). It would take a few years more before I realized that the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, was exactly the same console, playing exactly the same games. The difference being one was small, white and red and served the Asian market, while the other took on a chunky gray and black form factor and was sent to North America.

The NES debuted in American shores on October 18, 1985, about two years after its older Famicom brother. It played for an entire generation of kids with the tagline "Now You're Playing With Power," and who were introduced to legendary 8-bit games such as Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Tetris, Contra, Mega Man, Castlevania... the list goes on.

However, all things need to end. The NES was discontinued in 1995 after an incredibly successful run and credited with resurrecting the American video game industry which nosedived in 1983. After all was said and done, the NES had sold over 30 million units in the United States alone.

To this day, the legacy of the NES lives on through classic video games that are continually being re-released via digital storefronts and, more recently, physical releases with the incredibly popular NES Classic Edition -- a miniaturized NES which emulated 30 classic games -- which took the world by storm in 2016.

It's safe to say that people who grew up in the 1980s have a healthy enthusiasm for nostalgia, and today's generation are all about consuming product from a time most view as one the most weirdly amazing eras of any generation. So, it's no surprise that a touchstone like the NES would pop up from time to time over the years and this week was no exception.

The Lego NES tugs at the nostalgia heartstrings in very much the same way that the NES Classic Edition did. It's got a small form factor, comes with a controller, but this time a miniature 1980s retro TV set and an NES game cartridge called a "game pak" is included. The cartridge slot can open up and you can slide that game right inside.

Unlike the Classic Edition, though, Lego's little unit can't actually play any games. Not really. That's where the TV comes in. On its side there's a crank you turn that makes an 8-bit Lego Mario jump around a classic level of Super Mario Bros. as it "scrolls" across the screen. On top of the TV there's a a slot where you can place Lego's Super Mario interactive figure which reacts to "onscreen" enemies and power-ups.

The Lego NES doesn't come pre-built. This is Lego, after all. There are exactly 2,646 pieces to this model kit, making up the TV, the controller, game pak, and NES unit itself. So, expect to sink in a few hours in your day completing this little thing.

Lego clearly targeted this for much older enthusiasts, stating, "this highly collectible building set for adults is part of a range of inspirational Lego model kits designed for you, the discerning hobbyist, as you look for your next immersive DIY project."

Of course, it would still be great for parents to build this thing with their kids. Call it a bonding moment between parents today -- who most likely grew up in this era -- with their kids just to see what we had going on 30-plus years ago.

As fun as it may look, this nostalgia trip comes with a very hefty price tag: $229.99 (approximately P11,361.75) to be exact. For half of that price you can likely snag a fully-functional Classic Edition with 30 actual games you can play right now. But no one's stopping you if you got the cash to blow on this little piece of gaming history.