This week continues our discussion of everyone’s favorite NES game. Last week we went for mostly games everyone has heard about. This week we get into some strange, obscure and sometimes awful games that for some reason many of us loved. Mr. Pwrglove start us off.
In terms of what brings people back to the 8 bit games, it may have something to do with just how huge the Nintendo Entertainment System was- I literally have never met anyone under the age of 40 that has never played Super Mario Brothers, at least that I know of. My parents even tried it on Christmas day when we first opened it up. Didn’t NES games hold all the sales records until very recently? Maybe we’re all headed for our ‘Wild Gunman in Back to the Future Part II‘ moment sometime in the future.
I have many favorite NES games- and many that I like to play again sometimes just because they’re hilariously awful or controller smashingly difficult. I actually didn’t play much Zelda II when I was younger because it was too hard, and because it wasn’t like the original. But, later once I went through my ‘collector’ phase I played it again and really enjoyed it. Also, Mario 3 was near perfect, a huge leap forward, and provided my first ‘stay up past 4 am’ gaming moment. I was at a friend’s house for his birthday party and had to wake up the other friends that were there and asleep after my mind was blown by getting to the giant world.
For the top of my list, however, I have to pick Mega Man 2.
It perfected the action platforming that Capcom managed to squeeze innumerable sequels out of. Mega Man 3 was also great with the larger scale, addition of the slide and Rush and Proto Man, but 2 had a perfect difficulty level and provided some of my most memorable gaming moments. I still remember jumping out of my chair when the giant robot dragon appeared on screen for the first time. I’m glad that masterpiece of box art sucked me in at the video rental store.
Favorite NES game. Hmmmm. Well, as a dedicated Sega fanatic, I can’t wait until that discussion, but for NES, thats a tough one to pick even a few. Mad props to the Mega Man and Zelda comments, as well as Mario. I probably beat Mega Man 2 like 20-30 times (I still get Blade Man’s stage music stuck in my head.) But those are just too typical; too much of no-brainers. I’m going a bit further into the “less obvious” with my selections…
1.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Yup, the first game. Intro music is the best for ANY NES game, it was hard as hell, and it was TMNT. I was always frustrated with this game, but always came back to playing it until the SNES came out.
2.) Paperboy – Maybe because I was a news carrier myself, I felt a special connection with this game. As I’d drive on my own paperroute, I’d be thinking, “Man, I hope that old lady’s crazy gargoyle statues doesn’t shoot a wierd gree fireball at me…” I can still pick this up and play it whenever. It’s just fun.
3.) River City Ransom – I think Pwrglove or Colefacekilla got me back into this one in college, but one day I was over at someone’s house and the popped this one in the ol’ Nintendo. I had never played this game before, but the RPG progression fighting moves and non-stop bulbous head beat’em up action was outstanding. WAY better than Double Dragon.
It’s interesting that 2 of your 3 “less obvious” games are side-scrolling street brawlers. In the last few years I’ve noticed a resurgence in that particular game type and some very successful games, with some smaller twists to make them seem like fresh takes. On XBL we all know Castle Crashers, which I still play every once in a while. Castle Crashers took the street brawler idea and gave it a new story, then put the whole thing on a large map that gives you a sense of progress.
One of the things that really defines this genre is not just the sidescrolling or fighting, but the fact that in order to progress to the next “Stage” of a level, you have to defeat everything that is alive in the current stage. We see the same idea in other successful games like Zombieville USA (iPhone), and almost all of the “wave” or tower defense based games out there like Plants vs Zombies. Granted, these games are not necessarily the same genre and probably don’t directly relate to the sidescrolling streetbrawler ancestors, but at least when I play them I feel like I did when I was younger playing TMNT, BattleToads, or Streets of Rage.
TMNT was ridiculously hard and awesome at the same time. You’re coolness factor at the time was definitely determined by whether or not you could actually make it to the turtle van level with more than just 1 turtle left.
I recently (within the last year) went back and tried to beat it with an unlimited life code just to see the other levels only to find that it’s still near impossible even when you can’t die.
I still contend that TMNT is one of those games we all tricked ourselves into thinking it was good. We were so thirsty for a TMNT licensed game at the time, that we’d take anything. That game was brutal work and just not fun. Yet we all grinded through it no matter how awful the water level was.
I’m glad Craig proved my point and managed to explain the video games in Back to the Future II. This helps me still hold out hope for hoverboards in the near future.
I’ll also stand by Mega Man 2 as the greatest Mega Man game, and it’s also in my Top 3 NES games. I love talking through stories of how we all had our own patterns of playing through that game. I always started with Metal Man and ended with Heat Man.
At the same time, I was baffled why anyone would play through it in a different order than me. That game is hard enough, why make it harder on yourself. I owned Dr. Wily’s dragon though. Quick Boomerang, no problem.
So are you guys saying I should play Mega Man 2 at some point in my life? I’m not sure why or how, but for some reason the Mega Man series slipped by me. I’ve yet to play a single one of them. And yeah if TMNT was just some generic game there’s no way it would’ve been so highly regarded. But it was TMNT and that was enough to make it awesome. Anyone ever play Golf? Man I used to love that game. I need to go back and play it again and see how well it holds up.
I didn’t do drugs until much later in life Justin, so my love was pure. Speaking of chores, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is that for me. I don’t know what it was about that game that I just couldn’t get very far. Maybe I’m just bad at videogames, but I’ll never admit to being so. I’ll agree with the others who love Mega Man 2. That game is awesome and still stands the test of time and might be the game we play in our own version of Back to the Future II someday. Speaking of horrible games, anybody play the Back to the Future game? That was hard as hell.
Which brings me to TMNT. There is nothing awesome about this game other than the license. This game sucked, even though it did have some of the same elements of Zelda II: small turtle on the overworld, side scrolling action in the dungeons/sewers. I did like that you could choose your turtle but again, not a fun game.
Sorry Nathan, but it wasn’t me who got you on to River City Ransom. I am ashamed to admit that I don’t think I have ever played that game. It was always one that I’ve wanted to play but never got around to it, even on an emulator.
It’s crazy to see the different games that have stood out and stood the test of time over the years. But one game I’m surprised hasn’t been mentioned is the original Ninja Gaiden. Another hard but awesome game with cut-scenes!
Anybody play DuckTales? I rented that game more than any other because I had so much fun with it.
And since I’ve mentioned Contra in every single post I’ve written on the site, Contra. Didn’t beat it without the Konami Code until much later in life with the assistance of alcohol. It’s a much greater game and more of a challenge without the code.
I’d like to make an outlandish statement regarding DuckTales. DuckTales is the single most underrated licensed game of all time.
And to anyone else who hasn’t played River City Ransom (another beat em up for ya, Dustin) all I have to say is – BARF!
I support that statement. I loved DuckTales so much for NES that I purchased it for Gameboy as well so that I could play it on the run. Great game. Another game that i couldn’t get enough of… Maniac Mansion anyone?
BARF the game sucks? … or BARF it makes you sick that someone hasn’t played it?
Rob, you are killing me.
Haha… ok I’m assuming that’s something from in the game then? Obviously I never played that one either. Add it to the list.
Never played Maniac Mansion, but Marble Madness was pretty bad ass! The both have two words that start with M for their titles, so I’m assuming their pretty similar.
Thanks for clearing that up, Craig.
I’m gonna go ahead and take the liberty of asking a follow-up question since Zelda II and TMNT have been mentioned. What is your least favorite favorite NES game? What game did you overplay even though you didn’t ever really enjoy it?
For me, I’d have to go with The Karate Kid. Absolutely brutal difficulty, nonsensical mini-games, and the ending is over faster than you can click a button. I hung with it though. Daniel LaRusso was my boy and we were going to get through this damn typhoon if it took all weekend. Problem was, I was only good at the first and last stages, I had to have my cousin handle stages 2 and 3. But together we became martial arts masters, especially at the rare art of taping an NES controller back together.
Rad Gravity for sure. I don’t even remember where I got this game, but it was near impossible and the movement and controls were horrible. For some reason i kept trying to see if I could beat more than a few levels even though my game would end at the same spot every time.
It was this horrible space game. The physics were so bad that your character fell like he weighed 8 tons, and your main weapon at the start was this little light saber that’s only like 2 inches long.
I had some interesting experiences with Last Action Hero. At the time I loved the genre, and it was the only game that was around for some reason (we probably lost all the other cartridges by this point). The game was not really all that fun and didn’t have much variety compared to other similar games, but since I didn’t have anything else I would have rather played a bad game than no game at all.
I might throw Contra into that category… nothing else really comes to mind. I loved to play Contra, but always just kind of sucked at it. I’m not sure I’ve played it ever while drinking… sounds like I need to do that one of these days.
Tell me Last Action Hero at least redeemed itself with horrible cutscenes and cheesy captions.
I don’t remember Rad Gravity but I remember a game called Totally Rad I rented from Kroger a couple times, it was halfway decent. I think. Gnarly cutscenes though.
I remember a game that had a great idea in being able to reverse gravity but relatively poor execution in gameplay I thought in Metal Storm.
And as for a game I played a TON despite it being not that great with really frustrating gameplay, I submit for the approval of the midnight society: Solar Jetman.
One of the games I owned and played a ton but couldn’t get past the third level was Karnov. I’m not even sure how or why I got this game.
Maybe it was another game I picked out when my Uncle took me Christmas shopping (just like The Adventures of Bayou Billy). I’m glad I got better at picking out games for myself as I got older because that could have ended my video gaming days prematurely.
Conclusion (by JDevL)
Love is a funny thing, especially when it comes to childhood video games. We played games we hated for no other reason than we just loved to play video games. It wasn’t about how good a game was, it was about how good you were at that game. Even the bad NES games still project more vivid memories than the forgotten games from any other generation of consoles. Thank you for giving us some great times, Nintendo, and thanks for kicking our ass, too. You made us gamers.