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In the last 15 months, every major video game console maker has released a new piece of hardware. Each has titles with phenomenal, sometimes photo-realistic visuals, and soundtracks that make it seem like there’s a full orchestra hiding behind the TV providing musical accompaniment.

And yet, none of them stir any stronger emotions than the openings to the original games in the Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda series, exactly as they appeared in their NES/Famicom forms. There’s something perfect about those 8-bit intros, even if they can’t match the technical heights of current games. If anything, the fact that their designers struggled against those restraints, but still managed to create something moving, helps to convey their emotion all the better.

That direct transmission of effort and personal passion, which can never be completely duplicated with more complex titles and the larger staff such endeavors require, is exactly what’s on display in this three-hour compilation of NES start screens.

The video comes courtesy of YouTube contributor NicksplosionFX. Titled Press Start, it takes viewers through the golden era of Nintendo, when the company’s hardware dominated the market and the company was synonymous with video games themselves.

Along this trip down and around memory lane, you’ll pass by the origins of some of gaming’s most enduring current franchises…

▼ The Japanese title screen for the first console version of Akumajo Dracula, better known internationally as Castlevania

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…as well as some beloved heroes we were sadly mistaken about being around forever.

▼ Rest well, Blue Bomber.

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The video includes titles screens from both games that saw international releases and those which stayed in Japan. Some of them were overambitious flops now recognized as being ahead of their times.

▼ Here’s a fun challenge for retro gamers: Try finishing this without using a FAQ.

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Other titles featured in the collection found immediate and enduring popularity.

▼ 26 years old, still more fun to play than an astoundingly large percentage of new releases

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And, lest we repeat history by not taking the time to examine its most tragic incidents, NicksplosionFX also reminds us of games that serve as cautionary tales for uninformed buyers everywhere.

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Watching the video is a rapid-fire mix of nostalgia and discovery. For every “I remember that!” moment, there’s an obscure piece of trivia, such as the unusual title the first Ninja Gaiden was released under in some markets.

▼ At least kids who got this version didn’t have to try to figure out whether “Gaiden” should be prounounced “guy-den” or “gay-den.”

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Many of the Japan-only games are mahjong or shogi titles, as both board games are extremely popular in Japan with limited fan bases overseas. Sharp-eyed anime fans will be able to pick out a couple of interesting titles in the mix, though, such as a game based on Maison Ikkoku, an early series from Inu Yasha creator Rumiko Takahashi about a college student who falls in love with the manager of the apartment house where he lives.

▼ How many times do you have to hit the A button to make your character graduate and find a job?

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Oh, one more thing. We probably should have mentioned this earlier, but if you grew up playing these games, the above video is by no means safe for work. Not that there’s anything offensive in it, but like we said, it’s three hours long. With the amount of old-school goodness on display though, stopping after your lunch hour is up (or avoiding getting caught by your boss for the entire run time), may be one of the toughest video gaming challenges ever.

Related: NicksplosionFX Facebook page
Video, images: YouTube
[ Read in Japanese ]