In an era of fantastically powerful desktop systems, laptops, and new-gen consoles (literally the stuff we always wondered “what if” about and thought would never be possible), old-school gaming systems have not lost their charm or sheer joy. At least, not to me. This is why I still proudly have my original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) hooked up in the living room. The old 8-bit technology has an obviously very dated look and feel, but there are a lot of games for that system that even today’s uber-realistic efforts still can’t quite match. And thus, although there are hundreds of great games that I could’ve chosen, here is my childhood (and still in adulthood) 10 favorite NES titles:
1. RBI Baseball
If you’ve played it, you know the music, the graphics and the gameplay. It sticks with you. This game is every bit the classic it’s reputed to be. Featuring the MLB playoff teams from 1987, plus two All-Star squads, this game never feels old and is always a blast to play. Enough said here.
2. Tecmo Super Bowl
The original Tecmo Bowl was great, but this sequel is downright legendary. With every (at the time, 1991) NFL team and player, the ability to play full seasons with tons of stats, injuries, interchangeable playbooks, the option to skip or watch games, and more. This was a very complete game that was way ahead of it’s time.
3. Castlevania/Castlevania II: Simons Quest/Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
I grouped all three of these together due to their sheer epicness. The original game played out like all the classic Universal monster movies rolled into one. It’s direct sequel carried on, but brought in a deeper story and was loaded with RPG elements that really engrossed the player as the adventure unfolded. The third, a prequel, hearkened back to the original gameplay-wise but covered a far wider terrain, and with multiple characters and pathways it really amped up the replay value. The soundtracks in each game were stellar as well, and provided a very spooky, atmospheric feel. This original trio has since spawned dozens of games across multiple systems and remains one of Konami’s most beloved and successful franchises.
We all know the famous “Konami Code” right? This is where it started. A super fun game with the option for co-op play, and the resulting “thievery” you can do to your teammate if you’re running low on lives, this gem of a game will always be a kickass shoot-em-up title.
5. Ice Hockey
“Take the fast, little guys!” “No, the fat guys!” “No, gotta have a combo of both!” This debate almost always comes up when this game is played. Truthfully, there is no right or wrong answer when picking your players’ preference (I always went with the combo myself) but rather how you strategized your utilization of them. Featuring Olympic teams, I recall taking Team USA and having countless battles against the Soviets, replaying the Miracle On Ice many times, and even recently using some matchups as a faux preview to last year’s Sochi games. Hell, I even have a screenshot of this game as my current Twitter background.
6. The Legend of Zelda
No top/favorite-anything NES list (or maybe video game list in general) is complete without this game in there. Everyone remembers the famous gold-plated cartridge, the fantastic music and story, and of course the epic battles both above and below ground that our hero, Link, engaged in. I remember the feeling of complete elation when I finally obtained the Magic Sword, and later when I completed the Triforce. It’s memories and feelings like this that make games like these undateable and forever a joy to play.
7. Doube Dribble
A sort-of NBA influenced game featuring just 4 teams but each with their real life uniform colors and in some cases, mascots. It had slickly-paced, full-court action but strangely was only 4 on 4. This game however, was one of the best basketball titles of it’s era. With the close-up, slo-mo dunks and the debateable “magic spot”, where you supposedly could not miss a three-pointer, this game was best enjoyed in vs. mode against a friend. The friendly arguments and jabs that would erupt from this game were endless, and still exist today when this game gets turned on.
8. Double Dragon
Now this game was a riot! Featuring a great Contra-like co-op mode, the player(s) set off on the classic damsel-in-distress rescue mission, fighting your way through a vicious gang of thugs. Picking up knives, bats, and even lobbing dynamite at your foes was equal parts hilarious and awesome. Nothing about this game wasn’t, and isn’t entertaining as hell!
9. Baseball Stars
Overall, this was a very solid baseball title from SNK with good graphics and gameplay, but the real treat here was the feature to create your own team. One of the first console games to allow this, you had essentially full control to create, hire and fire players, and generate revenue based on attendance (and winning) league games to enhance your team’s abilities. This provided countless hours of neverending fun. A very select few of us even had to deal with the infamous Baseball Stars glitch, wherein you actually gained, not lost, money powering up your roster. Needless to say, with unlimited funds, the statistics you could put up were fantastic.
10. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
I couldn’t even guess how many hours I spent trying to take Little Mac from his first fight vs. Glass Joe all the way to the World Circuit Title Bout with Mike Tyson himself. More of a memory/reaction strategy game than most pugilistic button-mashers, this game still provided us with memorable characters and epic matches. I felt like a lottery winner when, in 6th grade I FINALLY managed to beat Mr. Tyson. I’ve only been able to do so one time since. I still to this day however, have NOT beaten Super Macho Man, whom I deem impossible to defeat.
Admit it, you miss Nintendo too don’t ya?
Til next time 🙂