Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 10 Favorite NES Games

The title says it all. Note: If this article starts screwing up, just blow into the cartridge and try again.

10. Bionic Commando

I had actually completely forgotten about this game until a couple of years ago when I heard the theme music somewhere and I so flooded by memories that I was physically unable to jump for weeks. If you haven't played it, the Bionic Commando is single handedly fighting "Nazis" with an extendo arm he uses to swing around because he can't jump. Because this was a platformer, you relied heavily on this grappling hook to get around. It involved a lot of trial and error and planning trajectories which spoke to my obsessive nature. There was a time in my life when I played this game non-stop, back when I was too young to realize that the mechanics were frustrating and any hero who can't just is a stupid lame wad.
You heard me, Professor.

They tried to reboot this title recently, but it was not
very successful. I may have really liked this game 20 years ago, but I doubt it really stands the test of time.

9. Rampart

This was the first strategy game I ever played. Before there was Starcraft or Age of Empires there was Rampart. You picked a spot, and a square castle was formed. Then you placed cannons and traded shots with boats that looked like turds. Then you were given limited time to rebuild and expand your castle using tetris pieces, aaaaand repeat. The more "bases" you surrounded the more powerful you became. You could also fight against other castles. Watching the video of the game play makes me wonder what I loved so much about this game. It was a simpler time when points mattered and my imagination wasn't crippled.
Pictured: Epic awesomeness (apparently)

8. (Mike Tyson's) Punch Out

I can honestly say that this game remains the best boxing game I have ever played. You've probably guessed I haven't played any others, not even the recent remake. This game was fun but difficult. You played the horribly outmatched Little Mac taking on one bruiser after another. Like most boss battles of the time it was a matter of recognizing patterns and waiting for the right time to strike. Luckily the opponents were mostly incredible racial stereotypes and therefore, easy to read. You had the Russian Soda Popinski (formerly Vodka Drunkenski), the Indian Great Tiger, and the effeminate Frenchman Glass Joe. They all had their own tells and weak spots and you had to work your way through them to get to the one and only Mike Tyson (later changed to Mr. Dream) who, incidentally, was friggen impossible to beat.
How the fuck did you do that?

7. Blades of Steel

This was an awesome hockey game, mainly because you could fight. The game itself was fun, but it was really the fights you were waiting for. The greatest thing about the fights was that only the loser was penalized. Of course that sucked if you lost, but as long as you just kept pounding that B button, you were usually fine. The NHL would be a lot cooler if it worked like this.

6. Jackal

Like most games, this game was a lot more fun when played with a friend. Either way this game was made of pure awesome. You controlled a jeep which you viewed from an aerial view, rampaging through some unnamed warzone in search of POWs. You had unlimited machine gun bullets and grenades with which to devastate the enemy. A really fun thing to do was to run over any soldiers stupid enough to be attacking you on foot. Of course, they occasionally got off a final bullet which would utterly destroy your jeep. The boss battles were fun, though the size difference was a bit ridiculous if you thought about how it would look in reality. Luckily I was 10, and never did that.
OMG! Your turret is bigger than my whole fucking jeep!
(That's what she said!)

5. Contra

What can I say about Contra that hasn't been said before? It was pure unadulterated badassery! You and a friend (if you were lucky enough to have one) just run through level after level with unlimited ammo gunning down anyone stupid enough to try and stop you. Occasionally a flying letter would show up to give you a temporary power up which would make you even more deadlier. Maybe I sucked but I have to wonder if anyone ever beat the game without using the 30 lives cheat, it was an extremely tough game.
Especially this part!

4. Mega Man (?)

Yeah there's a question mark there. I played a lot of Mega Man in my day, but I honestly can't differentiate between the sequels. I know they improved the controls as the series progressed, as well as added a robot dog (and honestly, who doesn't want a robot dog?), but they all pretty much played the same. Some evil doctor makes a bunch of evil robots with cool themes that Mega Man wants to steal. Maybe I should do some research but I really don't care. If it's really bugging you I'll ask my wife to choose a number from 1 to 6. Here goes: She picked four! My favorite Mega Man game was Mega Man 4. Makes sense, this is the sequel that introduced the "Mega Buster". It also had Toad Man and Pharaoh Man. Unfortunately it didn't have these guys:

3. Bubble Bobble

This game wins points for having the weirdest plot, the most repetitive music, and the most frustrating game play while still being unbelievably addictive and fun. The story is something about two baby dragons (who blow bubbles instead of breathing fire) who have to travel through an endless cave of monsters to save their parents. Wait, I just checked wikipedia and it turns out they were trying to save their girlfriends. I guess they weren't babies after all. Wow, I have been so wrong all these years! It just goes to show how little the plot actually factors into the game. Basically you go from stage to stage trying to trap monsters in bubbles and pop them. When you successfully pop a baddie, it turns into a treat. In fact, treats spring up all over the place. Incidentally, the more unhealthy the treat, the more points you get. Thus, Weight Watchers was born. The scary part was, if you took too long to finish a level, an unkillable flying whale skeleton would show up and stalk you relentlessly. Scary stuff right there. I recently got the chance to play this game again and it remains one of the few NES games that I can get right back into despite my addiction to high definition explosions. I'm sure I had some chemical assistance, but that seems strangely appropriate:
The final boss does shoot bottles of moonshine, after all.

2. Legend of Zelda

There's no other way to put it, this game was epic. The legacy it created says it all. The world and characters that were introduced here have lasted for decades. Looking at the graphics now doesn't do it any favors, but back then it created a huge world full of diverse landscapes, scary monsters, and beautiful princesses. You were Link on an quest to save the world, though it could be argued that he was really only in it to get laid (or at least to second base). This was one of the first games that I got really engrossed in. It told such a large tale that I had never seen before. To be honest, I haven't really played any Zelda games since. They all look good, but in a world where games can take up way too much of your time, I can't afford to get sucked back in.
Pictured: The true evolution of man

1. Super Mario Bros. 3

You knew Mario was going to be in this spot. Honestly, both of the other Super Mario Bros. games could be on this list, but I don't want to give Mario the satisfaction. The first game was easily the first great platformer, the second one was a lot of fun even if it made no friggen sense, but the third one was the one where they really got it right. I cant even articulate everything I loved about this game so I'm just going to list a bunch of stuff that comes to mind right now:
The hub world, the leaf that helped you fly, Bowser's kids, you could carry shells, you could sneak "behind the scenes", the frog suit, the giant fish that could swallow you, the tanooki suit, the hammer suit, the hammer brother that stalked hub world, mama goomba with babies, the kings were transformed into weird stuff, the warp whistle , the p-wing, giant world, the boot you could jump around in, the mini-game mushroom houses, and the moles that throw wrenches, just to name a few. As much as I hate to give Mario another reason to think he's the bigger than Jesus, I have to admit Super Mario Bros. 3 is probably the best NES game ever.
Enjoy it while it lasts, you smug son of a bitch!