The NES Lego Set is an Extremely Elaborate Manifestation of Nostalgia

This feels geared at fans of the 80s more than solely Nintendo fans.

I don’t know what it is about the Lego Nintendo Entertainment System set that has me the most astonished. Is it the $229.99 price tag, which is more than twice what it would cost you to buy an actual Nintendo Entertainment System in the year of our lord 2020? Is it the elaborate crankable TV that plays through a level of Super Mario Bros. to really emulate that NES experience? Or is it that if you want the full experience you’ll also need the horror movie prop Mario figure that comes with a completely different (and also expensive) set?

Admittedly, I haven’t engaged with the Lego brand beyond watching The Lego Movie and having a Lego Flash keychain on my key ring since I was a small child. But I think I’m just baffled now that I’m an adult with a perception of money to realize that these sets, as elaborate as they are, are so costly. With this one specifically, I just look at it and wonder what part of the easily breakable Lego aesthetic makes this pricey building block set a preferable option than just buying an NES? Or an NES Classic? If you’re not playing the thing, those would still be adequate display pieces for half the price. But let’s try and reach understanding by looking over the thing.

As you can see, the thing does look pretty slick. The blocky design of the original Nintendo Entertainment System means that, at a glance, the Lego is nearly indistinguishable from the original console, and the same can be said for the controller. The TV is the more interesting piece, I think, as it scrolls through a bit of a level from the first Super Mario Bros., which is pretty faithfully recreated with Legos thanks to the 8-bit visual style meshing with the blocks. If you have the aforementioned horror prop Mario figure from the other set, you can put him on top of the TV and he’ll play music and sound effects while you crank the TV. It’s cool? But all of this collectively will cost you more than a Nintendo Switch. So it just feels like a really weird luxury item to me aimed squarely at people nostalgic for a very particular era of, not just video games, but home entertainment in general.

In other news:

The TV is even meant to look like an ’80s antenna television, so even with an understanding of what the NES is, the venn diagram of people who are fans of modern Nintendo and have a particular attachment to that era doesn’t seem to have that much overlap. But the folks who do have enough nostalgia for that moment in time are probably the ones with expendable money to buy all of the above.

Now my question is who can I get to buy my still-working NES from me for this much money? It comes with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. Light gun included. It’s just been sitting in my closet for the past decade.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Georgia-based writer who still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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