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SB Recommends NES/Famicom Games

nes_felty.jpg If you were gaming in the mid-to-late eighties, lived in North America or Asia, and owned a console, this was probably it. Home to countless platformers and venerated Miyamoto/Yokoi classics, all surrounded by a thick layer of licensed crap. Through the efforts of Chinese pirates and homebrew coders, the Famicom has lived on.

Whether the playability of all of its games has survived the test of time is another question, but the popularity of the hardware meant that tons of stuff was released for it, so you're sure to stumble across many forgotten gems. As the large list below attests.

  • 8 Eyes
    • Toups: A sort of Castlevania-esque title with a weird Russian feel to the whole game. The gimmick here is that you have a bird that can (kind of) be controlled like a Castlevania subweapon (or by the second player); the game is extremely difficult — learning how to use the bird well is absolutely essential. Has a Megaman-style stage select instead of linear progression. The co-op gameplay is limited but pretty interesting.
  • Abadox
    • chompers po pable: Cool shooter from Natsume with a Life Force vibe featuring both horizontal and vertical sections. The vertical stages play from top to bottom as you blast down into the monster/alien.
    • Kitten ClanClan: One of the better shooters on the NES. Despite being released in late '89, it's also one of the most visually impressive, with especially detailed organic levels. Level design is good, and it uses a checkpoint system, but can become brutally difficult if you die late in the game.
    • Professor Hector: Abadox is a highly atmospheric shooter in the same vein as Life Force. The entire game, save for the first stage, takes place inside of a giant planet-devouring entity. There's a mix of horizontal and vertical stages, and at the end of the game you have to quickly escape the beast's insides before it explodes. Notable for its interesting bosses and fierce difficulty.
  • A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia
    • chompers po pable: Feed your pet blob jellybeans to solve puzzles as you journey through Blobonia. Great action adventure game. Game feels like pitfall II with more blob.
  • Ai Senshi Nicol
    • Professor Hector: Interesting game by Konami which only came out on the FDS. Plays a bit like the overworld sections of The Guardian Legend. I'm surprised this title didn't receive an NES release, because it is a very good game quality-wise and it probably would have done well over here. I'd suggest you check this one out, even if it's only for the amazing intro and great BGM.
  • Air Fortress
    • Daphaknee: And god that is totally my favorite Nintendo game that I always forget about it's so scary and stressful and EERIE.
    • Max Cola: I was like, “oh hey, standard side-scrolling shooter, nifty I guess” and then the guy landed and got out of the ship and went INSIDE THE FORTRESS and I was controlling him WITH A JETPACK. INSIDE. I was like “aawhao”
    • table_and_chair: Strangely, for me Air Fortress sits somewhere alongside Cosmic Smash and Shadow of the Colossus. The minimal narrative is told through the player's actions. Riding Agro to the colossus, running down the absolutely black hallway in Cosmic Smash, flying to the next fortress. the stoic vibe makes it almost rhythmic. parallel to this, something about air fortress just feels “now” like it would fit right in with indie games of today.
  • Antarctic Adventure
    • Professor Hector: Antarctic Adventure is one of Konami's earlier Famicom releases. It is a 3D action/racing hybrid in which (if I remember the story correctly) you navigate your penguin sprite around the icy continent transporting blood to one of the hospitals at the end of each stage before time runs out. While not as compelling as its sequel Penguin Adventure on the MSX (a game which I could probably write a 5,000 word essay on) it still has its own charm. Though there is only one tune that plays throughout most of the game, it is very nice, and lends a very relaxing feel to the game which is not present in its follow-up. Like many early Famicom/NES games it has no ending but loops endlessly on an increasing difficulty level until you die or turn it off.
  • Arkista's Ring
    • secret character: It's like a weird ROM hack of Dragon Quest that completely changes the point of the game. It's like Legend of Zelda reimagined as an arcade game. It's like if Tower of Druaga were designed by someone who hated Tower of Druaga. It's like a modern indie 8-bit homage sent back in time. Okay, I'll stop now.
    • Professor Hector: An action game with an overhead view. Plays like a cross between Gauntlet and Zelda. After you kill so many enemies in a stage you are given a key which you can use to enter the next area. Lather, rinse, repeat. Nothing too great, but probably worth playing for a little bit.
    • Professor Hector: To be blunt, this is one fucked-up game. It has an incredible number of secrets, but most of them are extremely obscure and would never be discovered on your own unless you played this game day in and day out (unfortunately, it is not good enough to warrant this kind of attention nowadays). The levels (there are 100 in all) usually have multiple exits, some of which you might find by jumping in a certain place a certain number of times, or by falling down a random pit. Some of these exits will launch you forward 10 or 20 levels, others might send you back near the beginning. Quite a few of the levels feel very strange or even unfinished — I once stumbled upon one with a flashing background littered with easter island statues in the background. I only mention this game because the sheer weirdness and obscurity of it all makes it mildly interesting. Not recommended if, you know, you're actually expecting to have much fun.
    • The Blueberry Hill: I love this game. It must be one of the most inscrutable games I know.
  • Balloon Fight (also on: Wii VC, 3DS VC)
    • aderack: It's like Joust, except better. And with more personality.
    • NeoZeedeater: It may have more personality but I prefer Joust's gameplay. Both are great.
    • Judge Ito: Both are great, but Balloon Fight doesn't have Dactyls. Take that as you will.
  • Base Wars
  • Batman
    • Mr Mechanical: Sunsoft platformer with a Batman skin on it. Good music, though it's kind of hard later on. Distinctly un-Batman like as well.
    • RT-55J: This game has been one of my all-time favorites ever since I first played it a couple years ago. Everything about it is just feels so perfect. Batman is the most joyously, stickily frictive protagonist I've ever had the pleasure of controlling. The game is very difficult and punishing, but also very rewarding to those willing to take a more methodical approach. Every situation has a solution to getting through it unscathed; even that one walljump in the final stage.
    • internisus: You know how people still like the old-school Castlevanias where if you didn't think before you jumped you're fucked because you can't change the jump? well Batman is all about that kind of mindset, I think. its gameplay is just really tight but it doesn't annoy me like CV does. also it has great aesthetics.
    • 108: Man, that was a real elegant game. maybe the best Castlevania / Ninja Gaiden game on the NES. what a weird fucking game, now that I think about it.
    • YoutImaginaryFriend: I love Batman on the NES. I dig the music a lot and the design is really slick and challenging. Wall-jumping feels way better to execute than in most other games, especially compared to similar stuff of the time such as Ninja Gaiden. It has an almost Castlevania-esque rhythm to it.
  • The Battle of Olympus / The Legend of Love: The Olympus Fight (JP) (also on: Game Boy)
    • The Blueberry Hill: In the same vein as Zelda II, and Faxanadu: an 8bit adventure game. It's perhaps a bit more actiony and difficult, and comes almost as highly recommended.
    • Pijaibros: Fuck yes. I love this more than Zelda 2. Really dug that I could reverse gravity in some places
  • Battletoads
    • chompers po pable: Good beat-em-up by Rare. Very hard towards the end of the game…the speederbikes are just the beginning of the pain. Really fun two player action, although the game is almost impossible to finish with two players.
    • Deets: Anyone who says that the speederbike part is the hardest section of the game is just admitting that they never got past it. Features a very wide variety of gameplay, with a very consistently hard difficulty. Success is derived almost entirely from knowledge of the game's intricacies, which include warp zones in order to skip especially hard areas, and the extremely abusable scoring system which can hand out double-digit 1ups in some areas if you know what you're doing.
  • Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa
    • dvaergen: One of the best NES platformers, and the only game outside of the Mario series that can give me that weird warm “mario feeling”
  • Bionic Commando
    • Scratchmonkey: Platformer without jumping. There's nonlinear level progression too. Hard to get used to; addicting once you do.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Excellent Capcom platformer that uses a grappling hook as opposed to jumping. It has a steep learning curve, but is a unique and extremely gratifying game to learn and master.
  • Blaster Master
    • aderack: The tightest Metroidvania on the NES, probably — and some of the best sound, visuals, and controls on the system as well. And it's weird! And charming. One of the classics everyone forgets to name.
    • Swimmy: Blaster Master is my favorite. It's so distinctly Nintendo Entertainment System: full of wonder, upbeat music, and the most ridiculous storyline ever. Overly difficult-to-navigate levels, completely made up for by the fact that you get a hover tank. Something about it just makes me happy inside.
    • Daphaknee: OH FUCK BLASTER MASTER god that game made me afraid to dig holes because I thought I would fall down them and my life didn't come with continues. And all the different modes in that game and the BOSSES oh man big ol Odinsphere slow down bosses. Ooo and powering everything up I like the blaster master blueprint screen more than the Super Metroid one, god jumping cars with guns are so fucking rad.
  • Bubble Bobble
    • chompers po pable: One of the best action puzzle games ever made, and the NES version has more levels and modes than its arcade counterpart. One of the best two player experiences for the NES. Couple of minor things: there's only one song in the game, and during hectic stages (almost all of them) there's some flicker. Great game, all in all.
  • Bucky O'Hare
    • T.: Bucky O'Hare is one of the top 3 or so NES action-platformers, easily. Also the most pre-Treasure Treasure staff working on a single game (and it shows)! It has level design tighter than Mega Man 3 and the variety of Gunstar Super Heroes, except without stupid vehicle levels. It plays like what if Treasure made a mega man game
    • Kitten ClanClan: One of the best action-platformers on the NES. A variety of characters with different platforming and combat abilities give the game excellent variety. Has great level design, and it also makes great use of the license.
    • RT-55J: I still don't like it. I mean, it's fascinating, brilliant, has some really well thought-out design and [is] enjoyable, but I just don't like it. The game's balance is just unpalatable to me.
      • T.: Enter HARD! as the password to play hard mode, which does away with the health-bar (everything is an instant kill), much to the game's benefit
      • RT-55J: Woah. I've heard of that before but I wasn't expecting it to improve the game so drastically.
  • Bump 'n' Jump
    • Mr Stegosaurus: A delightful action game that only lasts about 5 minutes because it's very difficult. Despite the cast of cars, it's not a racer; the goal is to earn points by bump enemy cars into walls, and jumping on them. My problem with most overhead car games is that cars zoom onscreen too fast to effectively dodge. Bump N Jump sidesteps the problem by making it great fun to not dodge (although fast-approaching stationary objects like rocks or LAKES are problems here).
      Music's great, except for stage four. Dwuh, dwuh, DUM, dwuh, dwuh, DUM. Hate that one.
  • Captain Skyhawk
  • Castlevania (also on: 3DS VC, GBA, Wii VC)
    • Isfet: Preferably, the best way to play this game for the first time is on a Nintendo Vs. arcade cabinet in a condominium complex in St. Augustine, Florida. Assuming you think of how the game controls as a design choice and not a design flaw, it holds up very well even today. Regardless of how you think of it, though, it becomes very, very hard towards the end.
    • Diplocephalus: Fun game, if you're not bothered by the character being a tank. Some of the most memorable level designs in the series. Keep walking and jumping and you won't be screwed.
    • ry0n: An early attempt by Konami at the platformer/RPG. Famous music.
    • Rud13: It is absolutely required you play this game with an FAQ handy. The translation isn't just bad, it lies to you constantly. I can't imagine someone playing this game as a kid. Fairly easy outside of the translation errors. I wish the other Castlevanias took something from this game.
    • Scratchmonkey: My favorite NES game. Notable mainly for being the setup for SotN, only with a world outside of a castle for once. Relentlessly easy.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Those aren't translation errors, the villagers were supposed to be lying to you! Would be an easy game if not for all the inane, obscure crap you're required to do to progress (though that's why walkthroughs were invented).
  • Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse - forum thread (also on: Wii VC)
    • Levi: It's definitely weakened by inconsistent design (the Alucard path is appalling, even if you play it right) but the Japanese version on the Grant path is very solid (and absurdly easy.)
    • Kitten ClanClan: Despite difficulty balancing often varying wildly from stage to stage (and what partner you have with you), the music and aesthetic design are both excellent and worth playing the game for, alone.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
    • Take it Sleazy: I love the completely out of whack sense of proportion and throwing things/the other player at enemies feels much more satisfying to me than in Mario 2. The bosses are bullshit, though.
  • Clash at Demonhead
    • ry0n: Platformer with backtracking, items, and a shop. A proto- proto- Igavania. Notable for the flicker, the insane Engrish, and the overall funfactor. Probably hasn't aged too well, but I have nostalgia.
    • It is also the name of a plot important band in the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. A lot of the books make references to games for bands, the lead band being called Sex Bob-omb.
    • TOLLMASTER: Excellent quasi-Metrovania with a great sense of adventure matched only by its good sense of humor. Stop a bunch of talking animals from detonating a doomsday weapon while destroying an ancient demon and learning the ways of The Force from an old hermit. Holds up better than NES Metroid and Kid Icarus, so if you want to play an early Metrovania but can't get your head around the weird, unfun things those games do, then Clash at Demonhead is your best bet.
  • Cobra Triangle
  • bleak: Okay so Cobra Triangle is one of these old Rare games (I'm pretty sure it's Rare) where you pilot a boat in a NO HOLDS BARRED DEATH RACE TO THE FINISH. It's got a Gradius-like powerup system where you get little moving buoys to give you points across the bottom of the screen so you can upgrade your speed, weapons, get missiles, all sorts of fun shit. Now the best part about the game isn't the boats, or the weapon system, it's the fucking BALLS ASS HARD HUGE VARIETY OF LEVELS that the game runs you through. You have to get this game like fucking clockwork in order to beat it. You have the standard death race, which is easy. Immediately after each death race, you have to fight some sort of giant, impossible sea creature. I can't help but die at least once to each sea creature in the game, even now. Then you have the 'dispose of mines' levels, which are easy at first, but the boats get so fast you have to do some fancy footwork to evade them. THEN, you've got the rescue the hostages levels, which are just fuck you annoying. Little boats try and come and steal your dudes and you have to kill the boats before they get off screen. It's all well and good, pretty hard until the fucking ROBOT BUOYS WITH STUN MISSILES COME ON and say FUCK YOU, COBRA TRIANGLE BOAT! fuck that mission. Okay so anyway after that you have to do some sort of obstacle course thing, and that's usually where I die. not on the first or second obstacle course, but on the third, where you have to dodge giant, manic death icicles instead of logs leisurely floating downstream or jumping across 4 or 5 consecutive waterfalls. (that level is the one that consistently boggles my mind, on a physics level) I've yet to get past those fucking icicles. But I'll be goddamned if Cobra Triangle isn't a wonderful game.
    • aderack: A kind of a create-your-own Mega Man. It's a crime Cocoron never got a Western release.
    • L: This game is objectively a better Little Nemo NES game than the Little Nemo NES game.
    • Toups: This is a weeeeirdly experimental game. It starts with a robust and pretty wild character creation screen; if you're inclined, your character can be a robot head on a cloud that shoots flowers; or you can recreate some classic anime and videogame characters (including some that didn't exist at the time: you can do a pretty good approximation of MGS's Cyborg Ninja). Then you select a stage from a world map. After you fight a boss with your character, you create another one; soon you have a small team of custom created characters with different strengths and weakness. It's notable as well for having a strong amount of focus and polish for a NES game; it feels like one of those games that was reverse-engineerd from a 16 bit game or something. It depends on how you make your characters but it kind of plays like Megaman for the most part. Released in Japan only but you can find a pretty good translation on romnation.net.
  • Cosmo Police Galivan
    • Victor: The arcade version is interesting enough with it's large explorable, if limited, levels — but the NES version is really quite something. Exploration based 2D platformer with RPG affectations — solid quirky 8bit Metroid-vania. It's surprising how fully fleshed out it is.
  • Conquest of the Crystal Palace / Matendo Douji (JP)
    • NeoZeedeater: A neat platformer by Quest that takes place in ancient China.
    • T.: Matsuno's first game, and it's an odd but tight and attractive game with big, vertical levels and a dog sidekick
  • Contra (also on: Wii VC)
    • chompers po pable: features Scorpion and Mad Dog, two of the toughest characters to grace the NES…so tough they don't need shirts. Thank baby Jesus for toughness.
    • Kitten ClanClan: What I consider to be the best game on the NES. Once over the slight learning curve, the game is extremely accessible and easy to get into. Level design and mechanics bring out the best use of momentum you'll see on the NES, and its short length makes for tremendous replay value. Excellent example of improving upon a somewhat mediocre arcade game.
  • Contra Force
    • monaco: Contra, Metal Slug, tons of slowdown. Throw in a bit of strategy (all of the heroes have different weapons and stats), Co-op gameplay and some cool tunes.
  • Crisis Force
    • Mr. Apol: Please, play some Crisis Force. best shooter on the console, period. if you argue you are wrong. It does things the NES shouldn't be able to do.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Incredible-looking graphics and certainly above-average shooting. Well worth playing for any shooting game enthusiast.
  • Crystalis
    • wourme: Possibly my favorite video game, period, if I had to choose one and was allowed to consider nostalgia in the decision.
    • Scratchmonkey: Very nice-looking and nice-playing action RPG from SNK.
  • Darkwing Duck
  • Demon Sword
  • Destiny of An Emperor
    • dizzyjosh: It was done by Capcom and so it's not actually part of Koei's whole ROTK series, the game is still the story of Liu Bei and crew, starting with the Yellow Turbans and ending, uh, I think when Bei's son attacks Sima Yi at somewhere's capital. Anyways, it's very much a traditional RPG, except that your hit points are soldiers, and keeping them alive requires constant supplies of food. the game's story is pretty harsh, with nearly every town you arrive in being in some sort of miserable condition from the works of you and your peers and everything being ruined for large stretches of the game.
      the game is fairly linear but there were a couple of plot tweaks which at the time were very neat, and i've always really liked the metaphorical crossover between tactics and magic and the game follows that tradition from the book. exploration is fairly open- sometimes limited by items or events but usually just by armies that were too hard to beat at the time. leveling got you around that, but made bosses harder. yr time was well-spent if you were gathering local generals and either executing them (reducing random attacks in the area) or recruiting them (and running them down in some of the terribly unfair battles)
      but by far the coolest part was the music. big phatty synths attempting 12-tone melodies and getting all crunchy from the strain. mmm. very relaxing and charming, in contrast to the depressing tone and long-haul pace of the game.
  • Dick Tracy*
    • evnvnv: Dick Tracy is perhaps not so bad ass, but maybe more interesting than Kickle Cubicle. I think my grandma gave it to me for Christmas one year or something. It is way more complicated than licensed games usually are.
      Each mission has you trying to track down a specific crook. You drive around in your police car, trying to find clues as to the whereabouts of whatever dude you need. There isn't too much sleuthing involved in this, if I recall correctly. You just sort of have to find where the right place to go to next is. You can shoot from the car, and you can get out of the car and run around on foot. I swear the original GTAs ripped their shit off from this game, unless Dick Tracy ripped it off from something else too.
      Once you enter a building it turns into a side scroller. You have different kinds of guns and shit, each with limited ammo. The stages are really awkwardly designed. You can't shoot guns at guys that don't have guns, or else you get killed too which is kind of interesting. You can beat the shit out of unarmed dudes with punch and SUPER PUNCH (represented by a boxing glove, hitting someone with it makes them fly across the room). Once you get to the end you can either interrogate or arrest the boss. If you arrest the wrong guy, you get in trouble. And if you try to arrest someone without collecting enough “evidence” (I think you get it from beating the shit out of people to make them snitch but that might have just been my twee childish imagination) you also get in trouble.
      this game also has cinematics with dramatic, 'noir' lighting.
  • Donkey Kong Classics
    • NeoZeedeater: Donkey Kong 1 and Jr. on one cartridge. While I prefer the arcade version of DK1 because the NES version is missing the factory level, I prefer the NES version of Jr. because the controls are much more responsive.
  • Donkey Kong 3 (also on: Wii VC)
    • NeoZeedeater: This was an excellent port of the arcade game(although it's missing Stanley getting eaten alive). Unlike the other games this is a shooter of sorts.
  • Doraemon: Giga Zombie no Gyakushuu - Translation
    • shnozlak: A simple light weight, strait forward, fun little RPG. Its rather humorous at times and alway a little weird and strangely dark.
    • extralife: Double Dragon II is all kinds of awesome and don't you fucking forget it.
    • Scratchmonkey: Kick-ass music and the best co-op brawler on the system behind River City Ransom.
    • Pijaibros: Have to go with Lurky here and say Double Dragon 2 as one of my highest rated NES exclusive. Even today it is fun to trot this out for co-op fun. Blasting Abobos and Schwarzeneggers with the Violent Knee is never dull. It makes this cool gunshot noise.
  • Dr. Chaos
    • Red_venom: I can't even explain how mesmerizing I find this game. I rented it when I was like 10 and probably watched the little title animation for about 15 minutes. Anyway it's a Metroid-ish platformer where you are trying to collect pieces of machinery in order to stop Dr. Chaos. It's pretty hard, but mostly because half the game isn't platforming but rather first person duengon crawling like most D&D games(Or Goonies 2 for instance), to make matters worse there are secret doors/hidden passageways EVERYWHERE and the only way to find them is to “punch” the walls. It's a hidden gem among NES games in my opinion.
  • Dr. Mario (also on: 3DS VC, GBA, Wii VC)
    • OGC: Dr Mario destroys every other game. I am with Daphaknee here.
  • Dragon Spirit
    • Professor Hector: Dragon Spirit is based off the arcade game of the same name, though there are some differences in the levels and the addition of a Gold Dragon mode which makes the game both shorter and considerably easier. For some reason I enjoy the sense of atmosphere in this game more than the arcade version, though that may be because I didn't play the latter until I discovered MAME. This version of Dragon Spirit also has two endings — the Gold Dragon ending is quite strange.
  • Dragon Warrior (remade for GBC)
    • Rud13: The start of the Japanese Role-Playing Game. It's still pretty good to this day, except for the horrible level grind. You can beat the game at about level twenty-two, and you will be spending an hour for each level. The GBC version fixes this grind, which makes it infinitely more playable.
  • Dream Master
    • Tulpa: This game is excellent. I am constantly surprised by Dream Master. It requires me to think and act carefully (and because I've been playing well, I can experiment with the items a bit). I've gotten through 3 dark dreams so far and don't know how many are left (though I hope it doesn't overstay its welcome with a dark dream for every single dream master). Since writing this I have beaten the game. Aside from the misstep with random button guessing that Vic describes (which is the only time I actually save stated in a dungeon) it is probably the most interesting dungeon crawler I have played on the NES. The controls and interface are unburdened by excess menus, yet the game offers interactivity absent from any non-roguelike RPG.
    • Vic Torious: Feel free to stop playing at the bullshit Water Temple area, though, unless you like purely luck-based progression (PICK ONE OF THREE ARBITRARY ITEMS TO ADVANCE) and hunting for fake walls and switches.
  • DuckTales (remade for PSN, Wii U, XBLA)
    • dmauro: The level select loop is only like five seconds long, but I never get sick of it.
    • Take It Sleazy: DuckTales expanded on Fujiwara's games really feeling like a real living world and the music is great and I love Scrooge McDuck.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Genuinely worth playing if only for the music. Great use of the license and a very enticing game once you're gotten used to the mechanics.
  • Eggerland
    • Professor Hector: Eggerland is an early entry in the Lolo series that predates the NES games and actually has some properties in common with The Legend of Zelda. In addition to the usual puzzle-solving gameplay, many of the rooms have multiple exits which lead to different directions on the game map. There's also a few items with their own special uses, such as a raft you can use to cross water, in addition to several hidden power-ups that do things like speed up Lolo, let you cut down the bushes, etc. Unfortunately the game's less linear layout makes it easier to screw yourself over on some screens, with no way to backtrack. Overall I prefer the more straightforward NES games, but Eggerland is an interesting novelty nonetheless.
  • Elite
    • Chris B: I'd never felt such freedom before.
    • Tulpa: You're better off playing any other version of Elite, this is certainly the worst port.
  • Faxanadu
    • Kitten ClanClan: While the difficulty is sometimes poorly balanced and the game lacks direction, fans of Zelda II and early Falcom will find much to enjoy.
  • Final Fantasy III (remade for DS, iOS, PSP, lord knows what else)
  • Flying Warriors / Hiryu no Ken 2
    • Phoenix Rie: Successor to Flying Dragon, Culture Brain decided to combine a side-scrolling brawler, SF2 style 1-on-1 fighter, random RPG elements, and sprinkle it with Ninja Gaiden-esque cinemas. HnK2 yields mixed results. Control is quite stiff, and those SF2 fights are a bit of a misnomer. They're more like plodding QTE's. Interesting nonetheless. This franchise continued on for quite a while via the SFC and Nintendo 64.
  • Gargoyle's Quest II: The Demon Darkness / Red Arremer II (JP) (also on: Game Boy (Japan only, as Makai Mura Gaiden: The Demon Darkness)
    • costel: Slicker then the first by a long shot.
    • Kitten ClanClan: The game features great sound and aesthetic design, and also features very interesting platforming mechanics with many upgrades to find. Its biggest flaw is being over too soon, as by the time you're fully powered, the game is almost over.
  • Gimmick! / Mr. Gimmick (PAL)
    • dessgeega: known as mr. gimmick in europe, this is kirby with physics and the game will expect you master them. demanding and excellent. also rare and pricey.
    • ManekiNeko: This game puts the 'Aiiieeee!' in evil. It looks like a cakewalk, with big, bright graphics, but that's only to lure you in before punishing you with some of the most sadistic levels ever devised. Even the bouncing star you use as a weapon will betray you if you're not careful with it.
    • T.: all of the wonderful sunsoft looks and sounds and difficulty and everything is so adorable aaah
  • Golgo 13 - Top Secret Episode
    • Sniper Honeyviper: First implied sex scene in a console game.
  • The Goonies II
    • aderack: Sequel greatly expanding on the adventure elements of Konami's earlier licensed game (only released in arcades over here). Plays like the midpoint between Igarashi-era Castlevania, NES-era Zelda, and Shadowgate — Cyndi Lauper thrown in for good measure. In the end, it feels almost completely organic — like Konami's own homegrown response to Metroid. Nearly impossible to get anywhere, much less finish, unless you know what you're doing.
    • Mr. Mechanical: The Goonies II is a bit like Metroid in more than a few ways because of the large map and focus on exploration. Plus it's The Goonies and what's not to like about that?
    • Adilegian: It also had one of the most memorable (for me) door sound effects.
  • Gradius (also on: DS, PSP, Wii VC)
    • Kitten ClanClan: A very competent port of the arcade classic. Does not allow the player to continue, however.
  • Gradius II: Gofer no Yabō (also on: Wii VC)
    • Kitten ClanClan: Absolutely excellent port of Gradius II to the Famicom. Features realistic sounding voice and some of the best Famicom music, period. It changes things up slightly, and possesses all the charm a Famicom port should have. Gradius fans: Do not overlook.
  • The Guardian Legend / Guardic Gaiden (JP)
    • robotdell: If I ever go to anyone's house and they still have their NES, I would personally buy this game for them and watch as they slip into a world that only the graphical and musical charm of the NES could possess. In other words, this game is the fucking bee's knees.
    • Fiero: It's this hybrid game where you play as an android girl who can transform into a fighter jet. The game is divided between segments where you play as the girl, shooting and fighting your way through top-down dungeons on foot, and shmup segments to fight bosses.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Essentially the Zelda game for shooting game fans. Compile knew their NES hardware, and this game really shows that off.
    • Toups: Another weirdly experimental game. It starts out as a good, Compile shooter — and after you complete the first stage it's… the over head sections from Blaster Master! Except maybe a little more like Zelda. Your character as it turns out is a cyborg girl who can transform into a ship. The shooter sections are really well designed; only problem is that the hitbox is a little big. It's impressive on technical level, just in terms of how many enemies often appear at once on screen, without much slowdown at all.
  • Gumshoe
    • ry0n: A auto-scrolling platformer played with the Zapper. You shoot obstacles out of the way of your character as he walks to the right.
    • NeoZeedeater: It's worth trying simply because there's nothing else like it.
  • Gun*Nac
    • NeoZeedeater: Compile delivers one of the Nintendo Entertainment System' best shooters. Kill the robo bunnies!
    • Kitten ClanClan: If you're a fan of Blazing Lazers/Gunhed on the TG16, there is no excuse for not having played this game.
  • Gun.Smoke
  • Gyromite / Robot Gyro
    • The Blueberry Hill: Designed to be played with ROB, but skip that and enjoy it as a fun co-op puzzle game: one player controls Professor Hector, the other operates gates in the environment. Some cartridges are also useful for harvesting Famicom to NES convertors.
  • Gyruss
  • Hello Kitty World
    • dessgeega: balloon kid with a hello kitty license. if you haven't played balloon kid, it's balloon fight world tour.
  • Holy Diver
    • Kitten ClanClan: An almost satanically difficult action-platformer in the vein of Castlevania from Irem. Extremely tight, but equally unforgiving. Based on the song by Dio, and features pastiches of Zack Wylde and Ronny James Dio. Only released in Japan.
  • Ice Climber (also on: 3DS VC, GBA, Wii VC)
    • Diplocephalus: Kind of enjoyable. Shares some similarities with Donkey Kong, due to things like having you use a hammer and being a vertically progressive platformer.
    • Aderack: Climb the mountain and collect the eggplants, so you can grab the feet of the pterodactyl and fly away. (Why don't games have plots like this anymore?) One of the system's best earliest co-op games, and one of its most charming. Only setback is the wonky jumping.
  • Ice Hockey
    • dessgeega: best sports game ever? embodies the pre-madden philosophy of sports videogames as videogames rather than simulations. stars wario's grandpappy fat guy.
    • Rud13: The only sports game I will play any day.
    • Kipple: I second this. Ice Hockey is probably my favorite NES game if you set aside Mario 3.
  • Jackal
    • Mr Mechanical: is a lot of fun in both singleplayer and co-op. It's a game about driving a jeep with a machine gun on it and rescuing captured POWs. Stages are pretty big and of course get progressively more difficult.
    • Aderack: Overhead-view Contra with jeeps. Can't pass that up.
    • Kitten ClanClan: One of several NES games that shames its arcade counterpart with its heavily improved design. An overhead shooter that I recommend playing with rapid-fire on an NES Advantage, I consider it one of the best games on the NES.
    • Professor Hector: Jackal might be my favorite Konami game on the NES, which is really saying something. You play as a jeep taking a joy cruise through a totalitarian state, rescuing hostages and running over/blowing up everyone else in your way. It's a visceral experience, and one of the best two-player games on the system (or any system for that matter).
  • Journey to Silius
    • monaco: Do yourself a favor: DO NOT SWEAR when playing this game, it weakens the aural bliss.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Above-average Sunsoft action-platformer originally based on the Terminator license. What it lacks in living up to its peers, it makes up for by having what is by leaps and bounds one of the best soundtracks on the NES.
  • Kabuki Quantum Fighter
    • Aderack: Ninja Gaiden except more awesome and not as good. Balances out, I think.
    • boojiboy7: You fight in a computer with your hair as a kabuki. Seriously, this description alone makes the game worth playing.
    • Take It Sleazy: My own personal obsession. An incredible name and concept for a better-than-mediocre Ninja Gaiden clone. A great soundtrack and a wild, Giger-esque technorganic world go a long way into make this rise above other games of the same type. This spot would probably be Shatter Hand if I owned that one when I was a kid.
  • Kanshakudama Nage Kantarou no Toukaidou Gojuusan Tsugi
    • Professor Hector: platformer by Sunsoft in which your character, Kantaro, is taking a year-long journey across the countryside to reunite with his love. Apparently Kantaro has a lot of enemies, because he is assulted by ninjas, samurai, psychic monks, and more at every turn. There are some particularly troublesome enemies, like Ghosts and Lovecrazed Women, which will temporarily slow you down upon contact unless you have a special item to get rid of them (you'll know when a foe of this type is about to appear because the music will change). The seasons change as you progress through the levels, giving you some indication of how far you've gotten. This is both a very difficult and a very long game to finish, but I admire it for its simplicity and steadily-increasing level of challenge. A translation (under the name “Kantaro the Pyro's Journey Across the Toukaido”) [is] available, but it isn't really necessary.
  • Karnov
    • chompers po pable: You are Karnov, a giant bald circus man from Soviet Samoa, who has magical powers to shoot fireballs from your hands. You must overcome giant dinos, huge seahorses, and evil demon wizards to make your power the ultimate…an interesting premise for a very memorable game. Level design is questionable, yet the premise kind of makes up for that.
  • Kickle Cubicle
    • sharc: Expanded port of IREM's arcade puzzle game, dropping Buddhist themes for further adventures in fairytale Food Land. Maybe the gold standard for using varied enemy behavior patterns to create dynamic challenges for the player; different types will attack randomly, attack you specifically, hunt you down, remain completely oblivious to you, try to mess with the ice blocks you use as weapons and tools, try to disguise themselves as said ice blocks, attack you with your own powers, etc. Stage solutions feature a good blend of being logistically difficult to figure out and technically difficult to pull off.
    • evnvnv: Kickle Cubicle is bad ass. It is one of the first NES games I ever played, and I still return to it whenever I am at my parents house where my NES remains. It is sort of like an overhead view fire n ice, maybe, maybe not. You form and push blocks of ice into the water to make platforms to walk across so you can collect magic bags of kidnapped vegetables, fruits, toys, and I think candy (depending on what “World” you are in). It features some really good cinematics before boss fights, great boss music, and weird-as-shit characters and bosses. Tanookis that fake you out by mimicking ice blocks, purple dogs, roosters with eye patches, evil turtles, etc. It's charming as shit, and probably you wouldn't miss much in emulation.
  • Kid Icarus (also on: 3DS VC, GBA, Wii VC)
    • Eljohnzo: *this* game is damn good. And damn hard.
  • King's Knight
    • shnozlak: A squaresoft made sort of vertical shooter thing. In which you walk with a scrolling screen trying not to get trapped by scenery. You have 5 (I think) characters you play one after the other that you must get to the end of the game to play the last segment as all of them together. Then you will be crushed by the wall of death.
  • Kirby's Adventure (also on: 3DS VC, GBA, Wii VC)
    • HarveyQ: It's one of the biggest and prettiest and most breezily fun games on the system, like any good Kirby game. People who float over the stage to win are missing the point.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Although not my personal favorite, it is arguably the best Kirby game from a fair-handed standpoint. Does amazing things with the NES hardware and has excellent level design and variety. Don't let the low difficulty level fool you.
  • Legacy of the Wizard
    • CubaLibre: If you want to try other exploration games with layered, simple mechanics try LEGACY OF THE WIZARD. Like Zelda it seems a lot more free-form than it is. Unlike Zelda it is much looser and quicker. You'll probably enjoy it less but it's still a great game for that “venturing into the unknown” feeling.
  • Legend Consumer Series - Summer Carnival '92 Recca
    • L: Imagine a manic shoot'emup, but with popcorn ships taking the place of bullets.
    • kiken: Completely over the top and fast as fuck! I love the shield/bomb playmechanic (s'why I snagged the PCB of Pink Sweets, Recca's spiritual sequel) fused with the multiple option types. Also, the final stage of the regular game consists of an 11 boss Boss Rush.
    • The King: Yagawa's positively brilliant little Famicom shooter. a secret hard mode, beautiful black cartridge: Everything about this game is wonderful.
    • Professor Hector: awesome tournament shooter which only saw a limited release on the Famicom. It pushes an impressive number of sprites and features several intimidating bosses which take up much of the screen. It is also very fast-paced, and the action can get somewhat frantic at times. I would've been absolutely stunned if I played this on a NES when it came out, and it holds up very well even today.
  • The Legend of Kage
  • The Legend of Zelda (also on: 3DS VC, Gamecube, GBA, Wii VC)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Still a great game, but hasn't aged well at all, and adjusting to the lack of diagonal movement will be hell for most people. Adventure of Link is more endearing and playable.
  • Legendary Wings
    • Kitten ClanClan: Tremendous improvement over the incredibly mediocre arcade game. Primarily a vertically-scrolling shooter, it also features horizontal stages where your character can actually walk on the ground. Capcom produced a great soundtrack for this one that sounds like it was taken from a Mega Man game.
  • Life Force
    • Rud13: More playable than Gradius, as it doesn't restart the level when you die. You might wish it did though. A lot of fun shooting action either way. Known as Salamander in Japan.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Excellent NES shooter featuring both horizontally and vertically scrolling levels. More forgiving and much more expansive than Gradius, and one of the best games that takes place in the Gradius universe.
  • Little Nemo: The Dream Master
    • Kitten ClanClan: Although it can become too frustratingly difficult for its own good, it features impressive music and visuals from Capcom, a name that earns its place among the best NES developers. Good use of the license and interesting mechanics, as well.
  • Little Samson / Seirei Densetsu Lickle (JP)
    • The Blueberry Hill: A polished little platformer from Takeru, the makers of Cocoron. The sprites are neat, and animated particularly wonderfully, and gameplay involves switching between four very different characters, who all feel very satisfying to control. It doesn't feel like an 8bit game, in general. The Famicom version comes in a hideous bright green cartridge.
    • T.: is very pretty but has dull stage design.
  • Lode Runner
    • bavariankumquat: While I still prefer either the early 90s sierra remake or the original black and white mac version, Lode Runner NES is still a great action puzzler. Features Bomberman, too!
  • Low-G-Man
    • boojiboy7: You have a gun, yes, but not a gun that kills. It stuns the enemy, freezing them for a few moments while you jump (incredibly high and far thanks to that Low G) onto them and stab them with a spear that can only be thrust up or down. Killing is so very intimate.
    • aderack: The soundtrack's pretty awesome.
  • Mach Rider (also on: Arcade, Wii VC)
    • The Blueberry Hill: It has my favourite NES music. The first time I—well, actually, one of my brothers—got far enough into the solo mode to hear the change in the score, coupled with the palette changes that happened as you progressed still seem unique, and magical, to me. The Virtual Console version lets you save the tracks you've made!
  • M.C. Kids / McDonald Land (PAL)
    • BIGJ420COOLDUDE: Reasons why M.C. Kids is great: drop-dead honest level design. It's like every other level is that level in SMB3 where you have to fly with a turtle in hand—well-thought-out puzzles that make you scratch your head using a really limited set of tools. Of course there's great platforming to be had in between all these puzzles too. It has really great music too though it only like four tracks. Also the story is kind of hilarious. anyhow it's pretty comparable to SMB3. It's much smaller and a little tighter. I've played a fucking lot of SMB3 BTW.
    • dessgeega: While I see what the game is doing, I don't really like that getting to the end of the level is a secondary objective, and I really don't like the license, but that's a given.
    • Invisibleyogurt: McKids is basically Super Doki Doki Panic Brothers 2 plus an unfriendly utter contempt for the person playing it. And obvious retardedness. The music drives me insane, too!
  • Maniac Mansion
  • The Magic of Scheherazade
    • TOLLMASTER: One of the few games that actually deserve to be called action/adventure/RPG games. Has aged much better than NES Zelda, the Dragon Quests, and Final Fantasies have. While there is very little in the way of RPG number-optimization, there are a ton of allies to pick up, some of whom have combination techniques. Travel through time, talk to people still living in sunken cities, and battle huge bosses with magical wands. And don't forget to plant the money tree!
    • superjoe: Vaguely Zelda-inspired overhead action/RPG, broken up by the occasional turn-based random battle. The theme is somewhat Arabian Nights, somewhat time travel, somewhat psilocybin. It gives you a lot to do for an NES action/RPG; there are neat touches like hiring little bulldog mercenaries to use as cannon fodder in the turn-based battles, and some nice things are done with the time-travel concept.
      Though I find it a fine game in general and undeserving of its relative obscurity, TMoS's aesthetics and logic are weird, which is a large part of what makes me love it so. For example, its versions of the standard RPG paralysis and mute spells turn you into a burger and a cake, respectively. I'm not sure why a hamburger is completely unable to defend itself, while a cake is magic-impaired but still physically capable of kicking all ass, but there you go. The only instant-death spell turns you into a firework; you shoot up into the sky and explode. And there's a stretch in which you meet a tree that promises to give you its firstborn son, so you jump 30 years into the future to collect the tree's kid, a piece of fruit. You then take it to a dollmaker to be made into a fruit-doll, which, of course, joins your party.
  • Mega Man (also on: 3DS VC, Gamecube, PS1, PS2, PSN, Wii VC, Xbox)
    • Kitten ClanClan: While Mega Man gets off to a rough start with this entry, this game is a great example of fledgling NES design before it blossoms into something significant in just about every meaningful way. While it might frustrate, it is one of the best examples of early NES design.
  • Mega Man 2 (also on: 3DS VC, Gamecube, PS1, PS2, PSN, Wii VC, Xbox)
    • Quick Shot II Turbo: The best game ever, even though it hardly ever appears in any top-whatever charts — except for that IC one. This game will be you coming of age ceremony. Playing it, you become a man (or a woman with manly gaming skills, I think). You will die, a lot. This isn't MGS or Sonic. This is Mega Man. If you've never played a classic Mega Man and would like to know what the fuss is all about, then try this one and keep a copy of the third one handy once you've finished it. You'll never look back. PS: Metal Man goes first!
    • Isfet: Mega Man 2 is the kind of game that will never get boring, even after repeated playthroughs over more than a decade. This was the first Mega Man game I ever played and I've been hooked ever since. It probably has the best soundtrack out of any Mega Man game ever. Also, be sure to play this game (or rather, any Mega Man game with a difficulty option) on Hard for the maximum effect.
    • Boojiboy7: I wrote a shitload of words about it for the long gone Axe top 100.
    • Kitten ClanClan: I consider this the 2nd best game on the NES and one of the ten or twenty best games ever made. Incredibly solid mechanics are accented by superb level design, clever non-linearity and a huge amount of variety. Features some of the best sound and visual design on the NES.
  • Mega Man 3 (also on: see above)
    • Rudie: Man Screw those guys above Mega Man III is where it is at. There seems to be pretty steep divide on which flavor you prefer and I think most of it has to do with which one your parents bought you as a kid. For me it was III! I like the slide mechanic and what it adds to your maneuverability. It's also got Mega Man's DOG! And his mysterious rival that is totally not his brother.
    • Kitten ClanClan: While the slide mechanic is an excellent addition to the series and the game is both a sight to behold and delight to listen to, the game falls apart in its latter half out of anxiety it wasn't living up to its predecessor (which it didn't). The soundtrack is still the 2nd best among the NES games.
  • Mega Man 4 (also on: see above)
    • Kitten ClanClan: Although many argue that this is where the series began to fall apart, I consider the game a very slight step-up from 3. The addition of the charge shot allows bosses to spend more time invulnerable or out of range, which I think makes for more interesting fights. It can, however, accent sloppy design by giving enemies too much health and forcing you to charge it. Succeeding games in the series made better use of the charge shot mechanic.
  • Mega Man 5 (also on: see above)
    • Kitten ClanClan: The most heinously underrated of the bunch, and, in my opinion, better than both 3 and 4. It's incredibly visually impressive and features many levels with very interesting gimmicks to their design.
  • Mega Man 6 (also on: see above)
    • Kitten ClanClan: It is very hard to argue from a fair approach that this game is better than 3, 4 or 5, but I still consider it my 2nd favorite of the NES bunch. The biggest reason I am fond of it is probably because you can obtain a jetpack adapter for Rush, which has excellent mechanics. Although it might seem like a shallow reason, I really feel that change added a lot to the game.
  • Metal Storm
    • Kitten ClanClan: One of the few NES games to feature any sort of parallax scrolling, this is one of Irem's better games. Although much of the game's charm comes from its visual feats and interesting gravity-switching gimmick, it is quite well-designed and an often overlooked gem.
  • Metroid (also on: 3DS VC, Gamecube, GBA, Wii VC) forum thread
    • SJ: The birth of the Metroid formula, abilities are gained that allow the player to reach new areas and more abilities. The limitations of early NES programming actually aid the atmosphere, and “Hip” Tanaka delivers a brilliant score.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Must have really been something to behold in 1986. Absolutely unplayable for modern gamers.
    • Max Cola: And thanks to this forum and a thread I made a while back, my hatred of Metroid has grown into a grudging appreciation, and then into a genuine crazy enjoyment. Once you get a decent supply of missiles, the game becomes much easier and more fun, while still being a stiff challenge. Still like Metroid 2/Super Metroid better, though. Map or no map.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Although mechanically difficult to appreciate by today's standards, it's still a hallmark NES game for its innovation and sense of exploration. Playing your first time through with a map will heartily remedy much of the game's frustrations.
  • Might and Magic
  • Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! / Punch-Out!! (also on: 3DS VC, GBA, Wii VC)
    • chompers po pable: Some of the best music, gameplay, and graphics on the NES. This one has aged very well. A dash of rhythm game style memorization, a pinch of puzzle game logic, and two forty oz. bottles of awesome action.
    • Mikey: I prefer the non-Tyson Punchout - having a real person in that game (unbelievable as he may be at some times) kinda spoils it for me.
  • Monopoly
    • kerobaros: Why I played this so much growing up is.. yet to be explained. Why I refuse to be without an emulated copy of it on my Tapwave Zodiac is even more odd. Take it from a Monopoly fanatic: no other version (SNES, GeNESis, Game Boy) approaches the sheer dead-on-NESs and tightNESs of this adaptation. Also, up to eight players on an NES game? Yes.
    • ManekiNeko: You ever try the Master System version? It got the ball rolling on video game adaptations of Monopoly.
  • Monster Party
    • ManekiNeko: Delightfully weird and whimsical. It doesn't push the NES hardware especially hard, but it's so imaginative and demented that you'll hardly care. Where else can you fight living tempura and hungry pitcher plants?
  • Moon Crystal
    • T.: a cross between a cinematic platformer and a ninja gaiden style action platformer. i like it a lot!
    • sharc: The game's gorgeous animation is always worth mentioning. Comparable to Prince of Persia or Castlevania (the first) in how aware you need to be of quirks in the hero's movement, especially the slight delay in changing directions while running. The platforming is enjoyably tough, though bosses are a distinct weak spot; you have to either flawlessly navigate a nail-biting route through their attack pattern, or just show up with max health and have a button-mashing damage race.
    • Professor Hector: Moon Crystal is a great platformer which plays somewhat similarly to Prince of Persia. Presentation-wise, the visuals and music are both excellent, and there are also cutscenes between each level which rival the ones found in Ninja Gaiden. The plot is pretty sophisticated for an 8-bit game as well. The whole thing just screams quality. Moon Crystal was supposed to get a US release, but for some reason this didn't happen (probably because the game wasn't released until 1992, when the NES was on its way out). Fortunately, there is a very nice fan-made translation of this game available. Definitely check this one out, if you haven't already.
  • Mother / Earthbound Zero
    • spectralsound: Also available on the GBA, with the same “easy mode”, a run button and a much better translation.
  • Mystery Quest / Hao-kun no Fushigi na Tabi (JP)
    • Professor Hector: Hao-kun no Fushigi na Tabi (Hao's Mystery Adventure) is a fairly interesting action-adventure game by Square which was dramatically scaled down for its US release (Mystery Quest). Your goal in this game is to somehow become a great person by tracking down six magic symbols which represent various ideal human qualities. The overworld is larger than in Mystery Quest, and there are also different castle layouts and a whole second underground area. Of course, if you can't stand Mystery Quest, you probably won't enjoy this game a great deal either.
  • Nazo no Murasamejou | Famicom Disk System only (also on: GBA)
    • NeoZeedeater: A light-hearted overhead action samurai game with catchy music.
    • Laurel Soup: I've been on a big Nazo no Murasamejō kick lately. It's the Kid Icarus to Zelda's Metroid if that makes sense. It's top down context-based sword or shuriken craziness plus a button that makes you invisible sometimes for some reason. The bosses are pretty hellish.
    • dessgeega: i like to think of murasamejou as legend of kage in legend of zelda's world map. the gba version is the NO LOADING TIMES version.
  • Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu
    • monaco: AKA River City Ransom Melee. HOT 4-player action. If you're one of those cool kids with a modded Dreamcast, emulate this game and humiliate your friends.
    • kerobaros: I'll second that, with the addition that modded Xbox owners can do the same thing, and have just as much fun. Amazingly fun game, even though it's spastic as all hell. Imagine RCR, but about twice as fast, and with four people on screen. Good Lord.
    • dessgeega: a kunio and riki fighting game. a kunio and riki four player fighting game. it plays out either as a four-person free-for-all or a two-on-two team tournament (with kunio and riki as the “dream team”). what's more is that the fighting arenas are completely nuts, with conveyor belts and giant electrical walls. put in your name, date of birth and bloodtype and the game will generate a character for you. then you can wail on opponents river city ransom-style.
  • NES Open (also on: 3DS VC, Wii VC)
    • bruin: the best NES sports game I've played hands down
  • Nightshade
    • ManekiNeko: The recipe Beam used for NightShade is pretty similar to the one your mom uses for meatloaf, except they replaced the bread crumbs, ground beef, and onions with a hard-boiled detective novel, an episode of Monty Python, and a copy of Maniac Mansion.
      Chop up the ingredients, knead them together with plenty of catsup, then put the mixture in a breadpan and set it in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. What you get after forty five minutes is something that doesn't seem all that tasty at first, until you sink your fork past the crusty exterior and into its warm, moist heart.
    • starblood: I refuse to believe Nightshade (NES) is not the best sandbox game of its kind. It is neither as grindy or unfair as when RPG's tries to be open ended, leaving you at the mercy of which enemies you get to fight, how much you can afford to improve your items. I have not found a single Rockstar game I enjoyed, not one, maybe they are too modern for my liking or I don't enjoy their work.
  • Ninja Gaiden (NA) / Shadow Warriors (PAL) / Ninja Ryukenden (JP) (also on: 3DS VC, SNES, Wii VC, Xbox)
    • Tomonobu Itagaki: best game Tecmo ever made, hands down.
    • Kitten ClanClan: Although its difficulty becomes notoriously frustrating (due much in part due to enemies spawning when their spawn point is on the edge of the screen), the game is quite well designed and an NES classic. Often remembered for its cutscenes, Ninja Gaiden is memorable for its method of storytelling.
  • Ninja Gaiden II - The Dark Sword of Chaos (also on: SNES, Wii VC, Xbox)
    • Kitten ClanClan: More or less the best of the trilogy with the most work put into its difficulty balancing. Ninja Gaiden II is a huge step up from its predecessor in nearly every way - better music, better visuals, better design, better storytelling.
  • Ninja Gaiden III (also on: SNES, Wii VC, Xbox)
    • T.: A beautiful, relentless, unforgiving masterpiece with a uniquely hellish atmosphere and pulsating gigeresque aesthetic and just enough natsume influence, late-period nes effects and varied level design to be one of the best action platformers ever man
    • Kitten ClanClan: The NES version has very frustratingly poor difficulty balancing while the Famicom version is much, much too easy. Still, it's a great addition to the series, although it doesn't live up to its predecessor for numerous reasons.
  • Ninja-Kun
    • dessgeega: absolutely the best ninja action to be had on the NES.
  • Onyanko Town
    • Professor Hector: An amusing early Famicom game which I first played on one of those Super Joy things. You play as a mother cat who must rescue her stupid child each stage because he is dumb enough to get lost while playing outside. This is a problem because you live in DOG TOWN, and the dogs are out for your blood. The game mechanics are nothing special, but the dark sense of humor makes it worth checking out.
  • Otocky | Famicom Disk System only Hardcore Gaming 101 article
    • The Blueberry Hill: Otocky is Toshio Iwai's (Electroplankton) first videogame. It's basically a horizonal shooter, with eight-direction fire, where your bullets are synched to the music, and where each direction shot in plays a different note.
    • dessgeega: […] play Otocky. It is one of the good things about the disk system.
    • Koji: I dislike the fact that your shots in Otocky follow the music. It happens too often to me that I'm like 'SHOOT THIS BAD GUY, DAMMIT!,' and it doesn't happen and I get killed.
    • Wall of Beef: I'm in love with Otocky! I love it when a game starts out being such a mystery. I had no idea what I was doing, but as you go you start to glue things together. Your brow unfurls into a gleeful grin. I also love that you save music, by using music. No way these creepy eyeball blobs will kill music when I can sing such happy tunes!!!
    • sharc: Everyone should play Otocky at least once, but with advance warning that the later levels become a finger-crushing nightmare of perfect execution requirements.
  • Over Horizon
    • Kitten ClanClan: Somewhat obscure space shooter that shouldn't be. Although Wikipedia states otherwise, I believe it was only released in Europe and Japan, making it hard to find. Visual and sound design are both stellar, and the game features an interesting mechanic allowing the player shoot both in front of and behind them.
    • sharc: Was indeed released only in Japan and, for who knows what reason, Germany. One impressive setpiece after another that the game runs like a champ, with an impressively detailed editing mode that allows you to change the placement of your options and fiddle with various weapon parameters. Music is amazing; just let that title screen loop. Hell yeah.
    • dessgeega: a hori shooter where you can shoot either forward or back depending on which button you press a la sidearms; pressing both lets you reposition your options (their positions are editable!). but where the game shines is in its level design. somewhat like gradius, the stages are themed: there's a “plant stage”, a “mech stage”, an “ice stage”. but there are all sorts of clever things like switches in the mech stage that you shoot to open gates for yourself and close gates on enemies that are chasing you, and giant ice blocks in the ice stage that are pushed by your bullets and bounce off one another. the bosses are suitably huge and the sprites are neat and cute.
  • Panic Restaurant
    • Professor Hector: A platformer by Taito in which you play as a chef who is trying to reclaim his restaurant from his evil rival, Oh Dove. Definitely falls under the “weird” category. A pretty fun game while it lasts.
  • Paperboy
    • chompers po pable: Best paperboy sim ever made. One of my favorite games on any console. Great music. Grim Reaper.
  • Power Blade
    • HarveyQ: Good for some Mega Man meets Castlevania style action. You play an Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alike with a boomerang that increases in range and speed with various powerups. You get to choose the order of the levels you want to play.
  • Power Blade 2 / Captain Saver (JP)
    • T.: the first plays like an awkwardly nonlinear mega man and the second plays like a later-period natsume action-platformer.
  • RC Pro-Am
    • Invisibleyogurt: I started console gaming with a snes so I don't have any nes childhood memories but Rare's RC Pro-Am is one of the best pure-fun experiences I've had.
    • Daphaknee: also fuck i love rc pro am, the controls were always so alien whenever i would start playing and then theyd just fucking CLICK and id get through like 20 levels. i love how the game is endless and eventually the orange car just goes faster than your car can EVER GO god that is so good, rare nes games always fall to pieces at the end like that
  • Radia Senki
  • Ring King
    • chompers po pable: quality two player boxing action, with possibly the most interesting between match animations in any boxing game ever made.
  • River City Ransom
    • chompers po pable: excellent 'kunio' beat-em-up with RPG elements. Even better with two players.
  • Rolling Thunder
    • bavariankumquat: Well-done port of the classic Namco arcade game, with high difficulty, stylish animation, and great control. One of the first games to truly make you feel like a spy.
  • Rush'n Attack / Green Beret
    • chompers po pable: one of the toughest games on the NES. I mean, it's set in a military base in the heart of Mother Russia in the winter; and one hit kills, and checkpoints. And you're armed with a two pixel knife: Hard. Great music kept me upbeat while dying.
  • Rygar / Argos no-senshi (JP)
    • bavariankumquat: Best sunset in any NES game. Surprisingly tight and precisely designed for 1987, with more intuitive progression than many of its peers.
    • ionustron: I'll also never get tired of Rygar (and if I want different, slightly less-repetitive music, Argos no-senshi.) What's wonderful now is that the glitches in this game are about as abusable as ones in Metroid. With a turbo-fire controller, you can fall of the screen, wrap back to the top and find secret worlds most anywhere. Not to mention the monster designs are nicely gross and disturbing.
  • Shadowgate (also on: Mac)
    • bleak: It somehow manages to pull off the dark and morbid atmosphere while flawlessly maintaining an air of levity and humor that's just astounding even to this day.
    • Kitten ClanClan: To be honest… pretty much what bleak said. The game can be brutally unforgiving, however.
  • Shatterhand / Super Rescue Solbrain​ (JP)
    • Kitten ClanClan: Easily one of the best action-platformers on the NES and one that is criminally overlooked. It looks and sounds amazing, and it plays just as well. Fans of games like Ninja Gaiden should absolutely not miss this game.
  • Skate or Die 2: The Search for Double Trouble
    • wourme: Did you ever try the Game Genie code that gives you infinite acceleration in the main game? You go so fast (as long as you don't hit anything) that the graphics can't keep up with you and they just become a mess. Obviously unintentional, but that's a way to show speed in a video game. And the music in Skate or Die 2 was so good because it was done by the legendary Commodore 64 musician Rob Hubbard.
    • Daphaknee: oh god i forgot about the fucking ramp in skate or die 2, like fuck that whole 'MAIN GAME' bullshit the ramp WAS THE MAIN GAME. and that girl shakes her t[ea]ts out the window and gives you double score and when you fall off the ramp your body EXPLODES and pieces of you fly everrryyqwherehehrehhrer. oh man and when you fail a flip over the middle ramp and you land your head on the spine and it just cracks you in half that game was GORY I LOVED IT i would fall off hte side of the ramp to watch myself explode all the time. god i love it because you play that game for hours and hours and suck and you've broken so many skateboards over your knee NO WAY DUUUDE then you have ONE AMAZING GAME where you finish with two boards and your guy goes fucking NUTS at the end. god the voices in that game are so good
  • Skykid
    • Dvaergen: this one kind of sums up the NES aesthetic and is just really gorgeous.
  • Snake's Revenge
    • Sniper Honeyviper: The America-only sequel to the terrible NES Metal Gear. A marked improvement over that version, but still not really worth it.
  • Snow Bros.
  • Solar Jetman
    • The Blueberry Hill: A great Thrust-type game from Rare's not-shite era. Movement feels ace, game is typically NES-RARE tough and tense, and the soundtrack varies between atmospheric and poppy appropriately.
    • remote: Like a more thoughtful, exploration-focused Asteroids.
  • Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti
  • Spy Hunter
    • David Hasselhoff: I love this game, one of the reasons I decided not to kill myself after Knight Rider stopped airing.
  • Spy vs. Spy
    • Cycle: spy vs spy is the only game i've played with friends that concluded in an actual fist fight. it will always remain a favourite.
  • Sqoon
    • Professor Hector: Sqoon is an obscure horizontal shooter by Irem where you control a small pink submarine. Your mission is to bomb the underwater alien bases and save the human hostages which are imprisoned within. At the same time you've got to contend with the sea's inhabitants as well as paying attention to your fuel level. If you don't fill up your sub with hostages and/or gold and deposit them onto a nearby island in time it will run out of fuel and sink. There is little in the way of documentation on this game (perhaps because it is mostly unknown), so it always feels like you may stumble upon something new or interesting while playing it.
  • Star Tropics
    • Toups: I'm not sure if this is forgotten but it's definitely underappreciated. It's sort of a cross between Zelda, Earthbound, and Dragon Warrior (mostly in appearance). It's an action RPG set in modern times on a series of tropical islands, with a lot of RPG-esque interaction and some pretty difficult puzzles towards the end; the most notable of which involved taking the “letter from Dr. Jones” that was packaged with the game and pouring water on it to reveal a hidden message, which gave you the password to let the Sub-C submerge. (the password is 747; I somehow still remember it to this day). The controls are kind of stiff but I like the atmosphere as the game progresses — it gets really dank and creepy in some places, and downright bizarre towards the end. The music is great, too.
  • Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight / 2010 Street Fighter (JP)
    • T.: Street Fighter 2010 has pretty novel level design (sort of proto-Alien Soldier/Hard Corps) and controls that you'll never be comfortable with, ever.
    • The Blueberry Hill: It certainly takes some persistence to get a handle on, but I'm a sucker for that sort of awkwardness in games. Maybe put it on and pass the control pad between friends; figure it out as a team. Getting to see as much of this odd game's curious level design seems like a just reward.
  • Super C / Super Contra (JP) (also on: 3DS VC)
    • Isfet: Has one of the best opening sequences/intro stages ever on the NES. It was the logical progression of Contra and, like many arcade-to-NES ports, more stages were added for this version. Whether this is better than the original or not is debatable. A good example of one of the last times Contra took itself seriously.
    • Kitten ClanClan: While it doesn't quite live up to Contra in the tightness of its design, it still manages to come pretty darn close. Unmissable sequel for any fan of the series or the run 'n gun genre, in general. Very obvious improvement over the arcade game.
  • Super Dodge Ball
    • kerobaros: Best multiplayer on the NES, as long as you can deal with some flicker.
    • wourme: This is the only sports game among my all-time favorites. I think that this version is much more attractive graphically than the arcade/Neo Geo one.
  • Super Mario Bros. (also on: 3DS VC, GBA, GBC, Wii VC; remade for SNES)
    • Levi: Super Mario has a conceptual purity to it that puts it beyond obsolescence. In fact, you could argue (I won't) that SMB3 is its inferior by virtue of its bloat muddying the waters. Its peculiar spareness, its propulsive kinetics, its…generosity against the face of its age endear it to posterity.
    • Kitten ClanClan: It's hard to add one what has already been said about it, but it's an incredibly classic piece of game design that will never be made obsolete by later games in the series.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 / Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (also on: GBC, SNES, Wii VC)
    • diplo: I have never liked the usa version of Super Mario Bros. 2, but the japanese version — which is the result of someone stretching the rules as far as they can go before the game becomes a ridiculous romhack where you need to wall jump/glitch through walls/etc. — might be my favorite mario game.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 / Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic (JP) (also on: SNES, Wii VC; remade for GBA)
    • Isfet: So different and bizarre that it's hard to see how this was passed off as the sequel to Super Mario Bros.; however, it's one of my favorites for the NES.
    • dvaegen: Call me crazy, but this is probably my favorite 8-bit “Mario” game. Everything about it feels mysterious and alive in ways that mario 3 almost touches, but ultimately can't. Running from that horrible mask thing is one of the highlights of the generation.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 (also on: SNES, Wii VC; remade for GBA)
    • Kitten ClanClan: Obviously one of the most aesthetically and aurally impressive games on the NES, it's also one of the best designed platformers available on the console. If you've somehow neglected to play it, the praise surrounding it is very largely grounded in reality — it's worth playing for any platforming enthusiast.
  • Sweet Home - forum thread
    • waxpoet: A Capcom game that contains many elements of the Biohazard series years before Playstation was released. It is a kind of horror RPG with cool enemies, graphics & superb sound. You have a group of 5 players but can only control 3 of them at a time, which creates a greater sense of isolation while giving the game a unique gameplay twist.
    • dvaegen: Pprobably the only genuinely frightening 8-bit game. there's an fc game with a pretty sophisticated approach to videogame horror.
    • Sketch: It is genuinely scary despite being a NES/FC game, and also extremely disturbing in places (and it's worth making the distinction). The story is, as you say, very mature and sophisticated in the way it's put across. When I first played it, I never thought that any designer at that time could or would have even conceived of such a game. It is extremely excellent. For me it stands as the crowning moment NES/FC RPGs (I'm tempted to say 8-bit RPGs, but Phantasy Star beats that award). While it uses a DQ style battle system, it does a whole bunch of other unique things - like the ability to separate the main characters and have them in different parts of the mansion doing their own thing. For those who've never played it: it's basically Resident Evil on the NES, except you control 5 characters at once, and the story isn't about a virus, it's about a woman who murders children.
  • Sword Master
    • T.: Sword Master isn't a platformer. Just a simple 2d action game, really. Feels like an arcade port even though it isn't. Fantastic visuals and music, very strong atmosphere.
  • Taboo
    • chompers po pable: I think everyone should try this one. A really creepy fortune telling/confusing Tarot sim.
  • Talespin
    • stotelheim: A Capcom shmup where the B button makes the game scroll backwards. There's a shop inbetween levels, and there are hidden bonus levels where you fly some kind of boomerang/skateboard thing. The bosses are very Capcom-with-a-Disney-licence. It's pretty good!
  • Tecmo Super Bowl
    • Deets: Yet another NES sports game that's worth a damn! Stylistically pitch-perfect football action. Plays like a dream, only with more awesome touchdown animations. Intense music and quick pacing. Followed by several terrible sequels on the SNES which missed the point completely.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Rud13: I recommend this game just because I really should play it more myself. It does a lot of neat things. When I was younger I was the guy that beat the dam level with ease. last time I played I couldn't get very far in the first level without dying.
    • Mr Mechanical: Awesome music. Elements of it were actually stolen from some other Konami game, I think. Elements like some of the Sound Effects, I mean. Some people prefer the arcade game, TMNT 2. I happen to really enjoy this one though. I can get past the dam and into the second part, though at that point I get lost and end up wandering into too many wrong buildings. Then I lose all my turtles. The game just gets harder and harder though. You'd have to be superhuman to beat the Technodrome without using savestates on an emulator or something like that.
  • Trojan
  • Ultima: Exodus
    • DAESON: My favorite RPG for the NES is Ultima Exodus. It is one of the older RPGs for the system and I played it before Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy though I'm not sure if it came out first. It had many interesting features such as: showing all of your party members on screen at all times not just in fights, you could get horses, you could talk to, steal from, or kill anyone in the game, even in towns, you had to buy food, and it had a clock/lunar calendar that affected certain parts of the game. What I like most is you have complete freedom much more like a true RPG.
  • Urusei Yatsura: Lum no Wedding Bell
    • ManekiNeko: A licensed adaptation of Jaleco's Momoko 120%. In it, you're a baby who must survive childhood by scaling a series of burning buildings. After escaping each towering inferno, you grow a little bit, advancing from day care to grade school to high school. Eventually, you grow to adulthood and get a chance to marry Ataru, the horny, luckless bastard from Rumiko Takahashi's popular animated series.
  • Vice: Project Doom
    • Sketch: Kinda overlooked, it takes everything cool about Contra, Ninja Gaiden, overhead action racers and Operation Wolf, and blends them into its own unique awesome game. Plot is amazing too.
    • RT-55J: Like the NES Ninja Gaidens except more polished, with proper spawn points and all.
  • Wario's Woods (also on: SNES, Wii VC)
    • The Blueberry Hill: Fantastic puzzle game that appeared at the end of the system's life. There's a SNES version, and it also appears in the Gamecube Animal Crossing. All version play the same. Blocks fall from the top of the screen, and the play controls Toad, who must move them round into same-coloured rows, which they can be destroyed by bombs, which are also dropped from above. The great thing is the range of moves Toad has for moving the blocks.
  • Willow
    • Laurel Soup: It feels like a nice midpoint between Zelda and Crystalis.
    • The Blueberry Hill: I feel a bit silly for not playing this before 2011. It has that really smooth, late-NES, type feeling. Lovely graphics and sprite work, interesting structure. I highly recommend it.
  • Wizards & Warriors / Densetsu no Kishi Elrond (JP)
    • Mr Mechanical: Great Rare game before Rare become known for Donkey Kong Country games. Some people think it's hard, but it's like Jak II. If you die you start over right where you died, and you have infinite continues. Good music. I beat it in an afternoon once. I liked that it managed to stay consistent throughout. Meaning, I was never wandering why the hell I was wondering through such and such area. Everything connected to everything else as it should. The fight with the wizard in the cave at the end stands out in my mind for some reason.
  • Xexyz
    • chompers po pable: A real tour de force that could make a dead baby froth.
  • Yoshi (also on: 3DS VC, Wii VC)
  • Yume Penguin Monogatari
    • NeoZeedeater: Half platformer, half shooter. It's a neat game from Konami.
    • ManekiNeko: A strict diet has never been this much fun! Yume-peng is the first game to actively discourage the hero from eating. Swallow the food in your path, and you'll double in size, incapable of fighting the bad guys or winning the heart of your kidnapped penguin girlfriend. Stick to your diet and exercise, and you become a lean, mean fighting machine; the world's deadliest arctic fowl. It's truly a metaphor for life. Also worthy of note: the ending is a hilarious surprise.
    • Professor Hector: Yume Penguin Monogatari is a damn fine little game. It is a sidestory of sorts to the Antarctic and Penguin Adventure games. Apparently Pentaro has put some considerable weight since his previous adventure, and is now trying to win back the affections of the girlfriend, who has hooked up with the evil Ginji. Now our hero must loose the excess pounds, but Ginji's minions will do everything they can to stop you, including throwing barrages of food at you. There's even a couple shooting levels thrown in for good measure. I'll stop talking about it now, if you still don't want to play it there must be something wrong with you.
  • Zanac
    • The Blueberry Hill: A really fast paced shooter by Compile. Most interestingly the game adapts to the player's performance; easing off on poor players, and getting tougher for better performers. Also available on MSX, MSX2 (As Zanac Ex), Playstation (within Zanac X Zanac), and Wii Virtual Console. In Japan it was released for the Famicom Disc System.
    • Mr Stegosaurus: Compile shooter that punishes you for shooting your weapon (or collecting new weapons) by generating more enemy ships. If you don't shoot your gun, you can dodge and coast through large chunks of the level. If you think you can take it and want the points or want the challenge, just press down on the trigger, and swarms of enemies will appear. It's cool. It lets you pace yourself; the game is exactly as hectic as you want it to be.
      Part of the reason that system works is that Zanac has no compelling story or characters, and just the absolute butt-ugliest graphics on the NES. If you had a reason to reach stage 2 — like furthering the story or enjoying the visuals or music – you would be tempted to play stage 1 safe and trick yourself out of enjoying the game. As it is, with the levels just different shades of ugly, the only purpose or structure the game has is determined by the rise and fall of your own adrenaline.
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (also on: 3DS VC, Gamecube, GBA, Wii VC) - forum thread
    • dmauro: Has the best sword fighting of any Zelda game.
    • The Blueberry Hill: The dungeons in this game are more threatening than the Zelda before, and any since.
    • HarveyQ: You're sure to enjoy the combat, which is simple yet interesting and often challenging. It's based largely around high and low attacks; Link automatically guards against melee attacks with his shield, but you'll have to duck to block an attack at the knees, for example. The tougher enemies can guard and attack in both places, so you have to be quick and figure out their movement cues to survive. I don't think I'm coming across very clearly; just try it for yourself, you'll like it.
    • Levi: Probably the greatest single thing about Zelda 2 is how “random encounters” can mean blindly stumbling into eerie Stonehenge altars or plummeting hundreds of feet below a graveyard that is the single largest contiguous landmass in the entire world. If game worlds sometimes come off antiseptic and dry, Zelda 2 feels like a place that was tactically annihilated.
    • Levi: Every skirmish worthy of the name feels like whipping that one skeleton out of the air in Castlevania. It also pulls the neat trick of having more characters than its predecessor while feeling even more lonely.
    • gatotsu2501: Zelda II: The Zelda That Was Castlevania.
  • Zen: Intergalactic Ninja
    • RT-55J: The play control does feel a tad clunky/weird, but it just requires a certain degree of finesse. It all feels very satisfying once mastered.
    • starblood: Chalk [it] up as another enviro mania licensed crap. Also out the rare few NES Konami games that sucks. I mean really, you're the first guy I've seen praise it. It looks and sounds neat but I hate the level design.

See Also

 
 sb/recommended/nes.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/21 05:56 by the_blueberry_hill
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