Prototype NES console images unearthed, revealing a very different look

NES prototype marketing Nintendo Entertainment System

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was the phoenix that rose from the ashes of North America’s dead video game scene in the mid ’80s. The console first received its “soft launch” in New York City in October 1985 to gauge and prove interest in it. And somewhat amazingly, the NES actually looked much different in its original promotional photos. On Twitter, Philip Summers has unearthed and cleaned up marketing materials for the New York launch that include a vastly different NES prototype console, complete with a different R.O.B. and Zapper. Take a look at these extraordinary finds!

Yep, R.O.B. was “Nintendo Video Robot,” and the prototype NES cartridges seemed basically the same as typical Famicom carts. And get a load of those controllers! What is with that giant square pad instead of a “+” pad? The square buttons are kind of funky too, though they at least make aesthetic sense. The one thing I really don’t mind at all is the placement of Pause and Select; that kind of makes sense.

But prototype NES aside, the actual marketing text is pretty amusing too, especially this in-your-face boast from Nintendo: “And, as you would expect from the company controlling 95% of this field in Japan, the graphics are the hottest on the planet.”

prototype NES New York City launch 1985 Nintendo
Credit: Philip Summers

Let us know what you think of this prototype NES, and share it with your friends while you eat turkey today!


John Friscia
Head Copy Editor for Enthusiast Gaming, Managing Editor at The Escapist. I'm a writer who loves Super Nintendo and Japanese role-playing games to an impractical degree. I really miss living in South Korea. And I'm developing the game Boss Saga!