Feature: 10 Years of NES Times

10 Years of NES TIMES

by Adam King
March 22, 2008

You read right folks, NES TIMES is now 10 years old. A site that began during the NES Scene years of the late 1990s is still around today, and its amazed me that it's survived for so long, not to mention that I'm still working on it. But it has and I'm still here. I'd like to think that the story of NES Times is also the story of the NES Scene itself, from its early days as a brotherhood of die-hard NESers to today.

The seeds of NES Times were planted way back in 1997, long before there was a Virtual Console or Game Boy Advance rereleases or various T-shirts at Hot Topic. I was staring college at ITT Technical Institute, which had a techincal library that featured computers connected to the Interent, which was still a fairly new thing to most people back then. Being a Nintendo fan, I wanted to see if there were any webpages devoted to the NES. Lo and behold, I discovered an entire community of site dedicated to the 8-bit console. Even though the NES had been discontinued for just over two years, there were still a smattering of fans dedicated to keeping the system alive. Various fun webpages such as tsr's NES Archive, NES Dimension, NES Nation and NESWorld (which is still updated today) added their own mark to the mission of immortializing the NES. They all did different things but they all sent the same message: stand by the NES and forget about the 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

While pursing the webpages, I also happened onto another way of keeping the NES alive: emulation. I found out that there were computer programs that could play NES games on the PC, and the files they used were actually ROM images from the actual cartridges. So I sought out what game ROMs I could find. Back then you had to search all over the web for ROM images, and there was only a smattering few available at any one time. Many NESers had to wait long periods for more games to be dumped by various programmers and made available to download. Even when we did have the ROMs, they didn't always work correctly in the emulators available and you had to tweak the setting to get it to work right. Naturally there was always the fear of legal action from Nintendo, since they strongly opposed emulation in any form. Of course the challenge of finding game ROMs has long since vainshed with several sites offering the entire NES library in one place, plus advanced emulators like FCE Ultra able to do nearly perfect emulation.

Eventually I decided that I wanted to get in on this. Also (and say what you will) but I didn't like the constant profanity from most of the site, and I wanted to put together a family-friendly webpage. So in March of 1998, I got a free an account at FortuneCity (before they started forcing hundreds of ads on the pages) and started putting together my site with my very limited knolwedge of HTML. Then again most of the other NES websites at the time weren't design marvels either, so I didn't feel too bad. Finally on March 18th, 1998, NES Times was born, and I had my foot in the NES brotherhood. Of course in those first months I didn't exactly know what I was doing; I simply posted whatever I could think of, so many sections and ideas came and went. I wanted to be a database, then I wanted to do capsule reviews, then I wanted to do articles that I discontinued, and so on. But I plugged along hoping to find that something that would define NES Timesand I was able to amass a decent selection of pages.

However things changed in September of 1999. I graduated from ITT Tech and thus was no longer able to access the Internet from the library computes. I found out about a nearby Kinko's offering Interet access but I wasn't able to go there all the time. So NES Times was about to face the first of several periods of inactivity. But I wasn't the only one as the NES Scene itself began to dry up. One by one the various NES webpages either disappeared, went on long hiatuses or stopped being updated. Most of the NES webmasters simply lost interest and moved onto other things, with a scant few still carrying the torch. I didn't have much in the way of internet access, just an occasional visit to Kinko's, so there wasn't much I could do for nearly two years. Plus mt own interest in the NES was waining as well. Back when I started the site the NES was my main game system and I didn;t have any of the current platofrms. But in 2000 I bought a PlayStation and suddenly that became my main system. Even though I still enjoyed an NES game or two, it didn't hold my interest as much anymore.

But finally in December 2001 I finally got my own internet connection at my home, meaing I had all he internet access I wanted. Seeing that NES Times was still on-line at FortuneCity, I decided to go ahead and get it back in working order. By then I had learned more HTML code which helped me get the site out of the stone age and more in line with today's webpages. I also finally got it to a stable format, ditching sections I didn't care for in favor of a more organized format. Working on the site helped reignite my interest in my NES system after a long absence. Today my NES still gets a lot of use along with my Genesis and PlayStation 2 consoles.

Things went somewhat smoothly for the next several years as I worked on the webstie on and off. I was still trying to think of ways to make it more respectable when in August of 2005, my site was taken off FortuneCity for some reason. They never explained what happened, it just disappeared. So I got a new account at FourtneCity, which cut the free webspace it offered, and had to bring my site back. However rather than simply reposte everything again, I figured this was my chance to really make NES times better. So I started rewriting many articles form scratch. My reviews section got the biggest change; I ditched the short capsule reviews in favore of more in-depth reviews. Some seciton I couldn't get to so there are still a few broken links.

Then in mid-2007, I received an e-mail from Joey Anderson of NintendoHost.com, who offered to host my webpage for free on an ad-free server. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to leave FortuneCity, my web home for nine years, but eventually FortuneCity was getting really ad-happy at this point, and it was starting to mess with my layouts, so I decided it was time to move to a new space, one without the ads. So in December 2007 I left FortuneCity and moved the site to its current home.

So 10 years later, NES Times is still going on. I may not get a lot of visitors to this site, but I'm glad to be the owner of one of the few NES webpages that's still being updated. So thank you to the few who supported me throughout this time. However long this site will continue being updated is anyone's guess, but let's just see what more I can do.