People love these top 10 lists and it seems like the NES one has been done to death. Well I’m doing one anyways. This one includes my personal favorites. I set a couple ground rules before picking them. First, I am only picking one game per franchise. Second, I am picking games that are still just as fun when you go back and play them. I’ve been playing a decent amount of NES games lately and a lot of games just aren’t as fun as I remember them, while others are even more fun. Don’t like my list? Create your own, or leave me a comment explaining why I am wrong.
#10 – Bionic Commando (1988)
Bionic Commando is great. However it can be frustrating as hell. The premise is fantastic… kill Nazis (including a resurrected Hitler) while swinging around on your bionic arm. The game recently received a face lift on XBLA. I strongly suggest downloading it as its worth every penny. The game also has fantastic music, and the mini stages break the game up into side scrolling and top down angles.
The controls are a little rough though, You cant jump, and the swinging has to be timed perfectly. Without going on a mini-rant here, I don’t think this game would be a hit in today’s gaming culture. Games are just too easy now and people don’t have the patience for timing, and starting back at the beginning. Hopefully the resurrection of these games in HD on XBLA will bring to light the greatness of these games to younger audiences.
#9 – Rygar (1987)
Rygar has a soft spot in my heart because I feel like I am one of only a few people that actually beat this game. You see, this game contained no save system, and no password system. You have to play this game straight through or else you start from the beginning. Its fucked up.
However, this game progresses so well. The gameplay is fantastic, and your main weapon is rotating blades on a chain. I dedicated a full day with one of my cousins when we were young to beating this game and once we did it was the biggest sense of accomplishment I have gotten out of any NES game.
That said, please only place this game on an emulator or a 100% functional NES console. If your console freezes up, or just stops working for whatever reason (and we all know that happens often), you will have to start from the beginning.
I suggest staying far away from the PS2 and Wii sequels though.
#8 – Battletoads (1991)
Speaking of frustrating games, Battletoads kicked my ass. This game was released to rival the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is a fantastic game with amazing graphics and especially amazing animation for the NES. The controls were fantastic and the attacks were varied. It was always fun to end a combo with an over sized fist to the face, oversized boot to the gut, or ramming them with over sized ram horns that inexplicably grew out of your toad for that split second.
These toads were on roids, and This game blew Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles out of the water. The villains were funny, and the evil queen was hot. This game was perfectly marketed to my age group. I was 12 years old when it came out, and the toads names were Rash, Zitz, and Pimple. Such immaturity always has appealed to me (and hopefully always will)
HOWEVER, when you get to the speed bike level, you should put padding over anything breakable around you because you will be wanting to throw your controller. One hit and you are dead, and you must memorize EVERY MOVE!!! Its like fighting Mike Tyson. Just look at this level below. Check about 3 minutes in for the really fun part.
#7 – Tecmo Super Bowl (1991)
Is it possible for a game to get more fun over time? If so, this is definitely the best example. Such simple brilliant gameplay, and impossible to stop zig zagging make this one a classis. I play this game nowadays more often than any other game on my list, and there is a reason that it is the only sports game to make the cut. Its just plain FUN!
It also has the official NFL license (something the recent Nintendo DS version is missing). This game holds a special place in my heart because its so old the Buffalo Bills were actually a good team back then. It seems like half the team is current or future Hall of Famers (including the coach and owner).
Every seems to think they have this game figured out. Some of my friend have “banned plays”. Everyone has their go-to defensive guy, everyone thinks they get into your head and can pick your play. Everyone thinks they know how to block extra points (hint: YOU CANT!!).
All this is what makes this game so awesome. Its a pick up and play game that can get as intense as you want it to be. There is only one constant with this game….. I always win, and the Bills are always awesome.
#6 – Ninja Gaiden (1989)
From the look of my list so far, I have been picking some pretty damn hard games. This one just may take the cake though. This game will kick your ass.
A hard game could never be so good if it didn’t have fantastic controls. The controls of the NES Ninja Gaidens are super tight. The levels are nice and varied and the sub weapons are awesome. I love playing jump rope with the big orange shooting star.
The bosses in this game are tough as shit too. The game has great sound and visuals and was the first game I remember to have really quality cinematic cutscenes.
This franchise is still alive and well on the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS. The games sure didnt get any easier. In fact the Xbox 360 games took a step up in their difficulty.
#5 – Mega Man II (1989)
This franchise never seems to die, with only Sinic the Hedgehog cranking out as many shitty games as Mega Man.
Its odd to see a video game series to reach its peak so early in its life cycle, especially with so many games. That’s just what happened with Mega Man though,
Mega Man II is by far the best in the series (some would argue III is better, and I will agree that it is also a good choice). This game isn’t as hard as previous games on my list, although it still offers a nice challenge. A game that would give you so many different weapons was a nice change for an NES game. It played a little like an RPG since you would constantly be leveling your character up.
The controls were fantastic in this game as well, and the soundtrack is commonly referred to as one of the best of all time.
I am anxious to play the new Mega Man game that was release on XBLA and WiiWare. I have heard good things, and can appreciate the old school throwback.
In case you haven’t noticed, the box art is also incredible awesome.
#4 -Kid Icarus (1987)
The big mystery for me about this game, is how in the hell has it been 22 years without a sequel?
Kid Icarus is such a fantastic game. It has never made any sense to me though. Why are we an angel fighting floating grim reapers and blue penguins? Better question… “who cares?”
I’m sure like really old NES games, the story is in the manual, but who the hell reads the manual anyways? All I knew is that this game kicks ass. Its excellent platforming, character progression, dungeons, flying stages, and laser arrows shot into Medusa’s ugly face.
This was another game that I beat completely and felt an extreme sense of accomplishment doing so. This game is similar to Rygar with its mythological themes, strengthening of your character, good control, and difficulty. However, this game is better, AND you don’t have to start at the beginning each time. Kid Icarus is one of those password games. You start by entering the worlds longest password consistent of upper case, lower case and numbers. On the 5th try of reading your own handwriting you are bound to get it right.
Now please make this game into a Mario Sunshine like 3d game. Nintendo would have another instant hit on their hands.
#3 – The Legend of Zelda (1987)
You could kind of tell from the beginning how awesome this game was going to be. It came in a golden cartridge.
When The Legend of Zelda was released, nothing like it has ever exis
ted. There was no category for the game. Of course that’s different now, but not only was this game fantastic, but it was the pioneer of an entire genre. The pacing of this game was fantastic and became a staple for (in my opinion) the greatest franchise in video game history.
Every Zelda game follow the same pattern:
-Explore and find out where the danger is
-Find unique weapon in dungeon
-Use weapon to access new places and to kill boss
-Get whatever the special item is for that game (in this case, the Triforce)
It just works so well. The best thing about this game is that its not even the best game in the franchise, in fact, its probably not even in the top 5. That how good this franchise is.
#2 – Super Mario Brothers 3 (1990)
This is probably hands down the best game on the NES. Its typically on top of everyones list in these top 10s. However, I have one other game that’s a favorite of mine. Perhaps I am just trying to break the mold, perhaps I am just bring a douche. In fact, its probably a little from column A, a little from column B.
Debuted in a terribly awesome movie, The Wizard, Super Mario Brothers 3 smashed all the hype surrounding it. From top to bottom, this game is just amazing. It took everything great about the first 2 Marios and took them up about 10 levels. Introduced in Super Mario 3 were ‘suits’. You could be a raccoon (tanooki), a raccoon that turned into a statue, a frog, a boot, a hammer brother. etc…. You can even fly with your raccoon. The game gad shortcuts galore. The levels are divided into worlds. The worlds couldnt possibly be any more varied.
The bosses were Bowser’s kids. They would fly over each worlds castles in their flying wooden ships, and eventually in their wooden convoy of tanks. The more I think about this game, the more I realize how great it was. Before I change my mind, i need to get to my favorite NES game…….
#1 – Blaster Master (1988)
OK, before you trash me on this pick, hear me out. I’m sure you can all agree that the previous games on my list are all fantastic in their own ways.
Now, Blaster Master takes all my favorite things from the previous games on my list and uses them in the game. For example, like Zelda, you can visit previous areas at will and explore for areas that you could not previously access. Like Mega Man, you gain abilities from bosses you defeat. Like Rygar and Bionic Commando, you play from both a side scrolling and top down perspective. Like Rygar, Ninja Gaiden, and Battletoads, this game is HARD! Like all previous games on the list, the game has fantastic controls.
Combine all this, and throw in a tank that can jump, and you have Blaster Master. What an awesome game. The graphics are great in both side scrolling and top down views. When playing from the side scrolling angle, you control a tank, however you can exit the tank at will. The scale of the levels are evident when your tiny guy hops out.
In a perfect world, they will give Blaster Master the Bionic Commando style face lift for XBLA.
This list was tough to come up and I’m sure most of you don’t agree with me. There were several that barely didn’t make the cut, like Duck Tales, Metroid, Contra, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Castlevania, etc….. Its tough narrowing it down.
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