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Top Ten Tuesday 03
My Top Ten NES Games
There are many top ten lists, but this one is mine. If you think a game is
missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I
just hate you.
in My Gamer History, the original Nintendo Entertainment System was my first
console I ever owned, at the tender age of seven-ish. These began the days of
weekly game rentals from Blockbuster or the local grocery store, and I ended up
playing lots of different games, but actually beating very few of them. Like all Firsts, the NES holds a special place in my heart.
10) Solomon's Key
known puzzle adventure game that I was totally addicted to. Picture some of the
trickier Zelda dungeon rooms, and make that the entire game. Except instead of
a sword, your goofy looking character had a wand that could create and destroy
blocks. Not only did you have to properly navigate the maze like rooms, you had
to avoid a myriad of enemies, all of which kill you in one hit as I recall.
Brutally unforgiving, but I loved it.
9) Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors
One of the
first games I would get for the NES after the initial Big Three when I first
got the system (which I'll expound on later). If shirtless Fabio on the cover
doesn't already sell you, some awesome platforming and action gameplay
definitely should. Levels that stretched from volcanoes to underwater to up in
the clouds provided a lot of variation, and though our intrepid knight is armed
with a sword, he ends up learning a lot of cool spells along the way, many of
which are necessary to tackle the game's giant elemental bosses.
In no way
should a Jaws game be fun: Getting on a boat and hunting a giant shark, using
8-bit graphics and simplistic mechanics. This game eschews any real story,
instead tasking your diver to drive your boat from one port to the next,
gathering upgrades, all while stopping at random locations in between to battle
various sea creatures, from jellyfish to sting rays. Occasional smaller sharks,
which we kids dubbed "Baby Jaws" would periodically attack you as well.
Collecting crabs, conch shells and starfish acted as currency, which would be
used to purchase upgrades in the ports. The first upgrade would give you an
echo receiver that would beep when the big bad shark was close. Each
subsequence one would simply up your attack power. When fighting Jaws you would
do as much damage as you could, without getting eaten before he would flee.
Interestingly, the damage on Jaws would be cumulative, essentially making the
unique game one long boss battle that you constantly prep for. I don't know why
I loved it, maybe the underwater battling or the switch from top down to side
view to first person at various points in the game, but it will always be one
of my favorites.
know this at the time, but Ducktales is essentially a Mega Man clone, which
made it really awesome. You could choose from a variety of stages all over the
world, from Amazon jungles to Egyptian deserts and Scrooge would blast through
all of them with his really fun cane attacks where he would use it as a pogo
stick to jump on enemies or reach higher ground. The controls and mechanics
were simple but tight, and the non-linear gameplay gave a ton of replayability back
in those days. As a bonus, Ducktales has one of the inexplicably greatest NES
tracks ever conceived by man. I give you...The Moon.
I can't even
tell you the number of times I rented this game. While it played out like most
2D beat 'em ups of that day, Batman's unique abilities were his staggering
arsenal of weapons. From batarangs, to batdisks, to...some kind of Predator-like
speargun, Batman had a host of weapons to take down all the criminals around him.
Although the controls weren't all that tight and fluid, Batman also had the
unique ability to wall jump, which I found endlessly satisfying. The various
levels, taking place in factories and caves were all suitably dark and moody.
But mostly, you got to play Batman in a good game, what more could a kid want?
5) Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers
There were a
surprisingly large amount of awesome licensed games on the NES, as this list no
doubt proves. While I enjoyed the action packed cartoon show, the video game
was above and beyond anything I was expecting. Up to two players could play
simultaneously as the titular chipmunks and battle classic enemies from the
cartoon in wildly inventive platforming levels. Especially fun was the ability
to pick up your partner in crime solving and fling them off a ledge, much to
the screams of your co-op brother. When they died they'd appear again floating
on a balloon, not unlike the mechanic in the modern co-op Mario game on the
Wii. The chipmunks relied on picking up objects from the world to fling at
enemies, and with boxes could go all Solid Snake and hide in them, waiting for unsuspecting
enemies to get close. An SMB3-like overworld was icing on the cake, and you'll
be humming that damn theme song for days.
4) Double Dragon 2: The Revenge
The first of
my Big Three games I first owned and played on the NES, Double Dragon 2 was my
introduction into the world of side scrolling beat 'em ups, an extremely
popular genre that would continue well into the next console generation. DD2,
however, was also really good, allowing for two players to battle
co-operatively, and even allowing a setting for friendly fire. Billy and Jimmy
Lee punched, kicked, and kickpunched their way across a ton of urban settings, including
a memorable level on a helicopter. The final levels got ridiculously difficult
as they required a huge amount of platforming skill with rotating gears over instant-kill
spikes, and their jumping wasn't near as good as their punching.
3) Super Mario Bros.
one of my Big Three games, I had the version that also came with Duck Hunt.
While that *** laughing dog would forever haunt my dreams, Mario's tight
controls, simple mechanics, and varied levels ensured I would be a gamer for
life. It's no coincidence that the original Super Mario Bros. is at the top of
everyone's NES lists. Regardless of the fact that Mario and the NES singlehandedly
saved the video game industry in the mid to late 80s, SMB is just a really
great game that hundreds of 2D platformers have drawn from since. From its
classic theme songs to concepts such as power-ups, secrets, and New Game+,
Mario set the bar for video games.
The last of
my Big Three was a game unlike anything I'd ever played. Shadowgate was a
traditional first person adventure game set in the spooky castle of the same
name. I was fascinated with the number of items and puzzles in the game, as
well as the dark-humored atmosphere of the castle. The haunting soundtrack had
me enthralled, while the constant need to find torches just to stay alive kept
up the tension. At several points the castle opened up with several paths
filled with multiple puzzles, some involving monsters, some riddles, and some
brain teasing logic puzzles. I heard some classic riddles for the first time, I
learned not to help that chick in chains because she's really a werewolf, I
learned to always grab the shield first in the dragon's lair, and I learned
that Death can be a really smarmy b*tch. Mostly, I learned that I love adventure
1) Super Mario Bros. 3
The reigning king of the Nintendo Entertainment System
blessed us with the greatest game ever made on the system. While SMB2 was a
very different, odd game not at all like its predecessor (later we learned it
was an entirely different game, simply renamed and reskinned as SMB2 after the
original's success), Super Mario Bros. 3 was hyped as a glorious return to the
series' roots, only with more everything. More levels, more power-ups, more
enemies, and new awesome gameplay mechanics like the overworld, the wandering
hammer bros, multiple castle levels, and those evil auto-scrolling airships.
SMB3 was easily the greatest game I'd ever played up to that point, and I only
wish social sites like Raptr were around back then to see exactly how many
dozens (hundreds?) of hours I sunk into it over the years. I remember
specifically learning the location of one of the three magic whistles (super
awesome items that allowed you to skip entire worlds) on the back of a cereal
box, and nearly losing my *** over it. This was before the internet, and the
only information we had was from outdated magazines, or school yard word of
mouth. To this day, I can't remember all the state capitals, but I can remember
the secrets to acquiring each magic whistle in SMB3. I don't know what that
means, but I love video games, and Super Mario Bros 3 is one of the best.
Now, I've already admitted to never playing Zelda II in My
Gaming Confessions, and for whatever reason the original Legend of Zelda never
got its hooks into me. Mega Man games were way too hard, and I never played the
Castlevania games much. These were the games that young impressionable me found
the most enjoyment with, whether playing co-op with friends or big brother,
discovering my love for new genres like puzzle and adventure, and playing lots
and lots of Mario. NES, you were one of the good ones.
Next Week: My Top Ten Favorite Game Designers!
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