Monday, November 10, 2008

My Top 10 Old-school Nintendo games

The Virtual Console on the Wii has sparked an interest in all those old-school games of Nintendo systems of the past. And since I have fond memories of all those games I thought I would rank them just to create conversation.

A little background. My family purchased the NES in 1986, when I was six years old. It came with R.O.B and Gyromite, which means we had to buy Duck Hunt and Super Mario Brothers on our own. My parents were clearly the better players in the beginning, but by the time the NES was getting phased out in 1991 I was beating pretty much every game I owned. (which is no small feat since these games were incredibly tough).

So here are the top ten NES games according to my own nostalgia.

1. The Legend of Zelda: In the days well before online walkthroughs this game captured the imagination of all Nintendo fans. A giant map. 9 Dungeons. Bosses. New weapons and items. And when you finally thwarted Ganon...SECOND QUEST!!! This game caused friends to compare notes, otherwise you would never complete the game. Conversations like: "Did you try burning the third bush over?" "Try using arrows instead of your sword." "Yeah I beat level 7, and I even drew a map!"

My confession is that although I beat the first quest, I got stuck on Death Mountain of the second quest cause I could never find the master key on level 8. Bastards.

2. Super Mario Brothers 3:This game created video game hype. Between getting publicity in movies and retailers charging over $70 for the game everyone wanted this game. It didn't disappoint with 8 levels of creative platforming, flying and even the rare Tanooki Suit. Without a save feature this game posed a great challenge until the world discovered you could warp using the "Zelda Whistle." And yes, I beat this game.

3. Final Fantasy(1): I know, how can it be a Final Fantasy if they made 11 more? (think of it as the Ultimate Fantasy but with alliteration) Although Dragon Warrior was an important RPG series, Final Fantasy defined what RPG's would be in the future. What stands out from this game? IT IS THE FREAKING HARDEST GAME OF MY LIFE!!! Leveling up: tedious and deadly. Dungeons: Grueling and deadly. Bosses: Mean and deadly. Let's put it this way, if you died you couldn't be revived at a save point(if you didn't have a spell). We had to drag your dead, worthless body through battlefields to a freaking TOWN to get you revived. Imagine that your White Mage takes a hard knock deep in a dungeon....if I would have been older I would have cussed this game out. Alot. Still, thoroughly enjoyable and I challenge every RPG fan to give it a go. And Yes, I beat this game. (Chaos had nothing on me!)

4. Mike Tyson's Punch Out:Before Tyson became a punch line, he was the most feared boxer both in real life and in video games. The lead up to Tyson is alot of fun. Each of the colorful characters you face has a tell, once you figure it out you can win the bout. Except with Tyson. His tell was a split second, and if he hit you he knocked you down. Thanks for playing, see you later. It was so stressful playing Tyson I would have to do it alone so I could concentrate.

And yes, I beat Tyson. Twice. Once by decision as an 8-year-old. Once by TKO when I was 18 at the challenge of my buddies. (Robert, Pat and David were my witnesses). In the world of video gaming I still hold beating Tyson and beating Chaos as two of the greatest feats.

5. Super Mario Bros.: The platformer that changed gaming. This game is so good I could pick it up now and still enjoy the challenge of it. Do I wants to use 2 warps and go straight to world 8, or do I want to slow play it and enjoy all the other levels. Yes I beat this game, but the Hammer Bros are still jerks.

6. TMNT II the Arcade Game: This was such a good game, we would actually go to arcades to play it. When it came to the NES.....Oh buddy. Good times. First, this was like the best cartoon series of its day. I mean seriously, who wasn't a Ninja Turtle for Halloween at least once? (I was Leonardo) Besides that, this was an awesome side scrolling fighter, with nice levels and competent bosses. The challenge of the game was just surviving, which I did. (Cause I beat this one too.)

7. Metroid: One part platformer, one part adventure. 35 parts freaky Sci-fi. This game was long and challenging. There is nothing worse than reaching your destination only to realize you need the freeze ray or wave beam or something crazy like that. And the actual Metroids.....totally unnecessary to make that many of them that difficult. I remember getting to Mother Brain, and I don't imagine myself giving up so close to the end, so I imagine I beat this one too (although I have no specific memory of it.....)

8. Mega Man 2: This is the only game on my list I didn't own. But I had friends that did, friends I visited often. Again, with no save feature this game was hard. Getting through 8 bosses just to get to the end levels was quite and that I didn't do. But still, stealing bosses weaponry and using them on other bosses? That's like an American dream of sorts.

9. RBI Baseball: I know there were tons of great (and not so great) baseball games on the NES, but this one stands out. This game was easy to pick-up and easy to enjoy with a friend. So what that the infielders couldn't make a throw across the diamond without it bouncing. Who cares? All I know is pick the Cardinals and steal some bases. You can't beat this game, but I was always second best to my base running maniac of a cousin John, who is still a jerk for all those defeats.

10. Gradius: Ok, clearly this and RBI baseball aren't the greatest games of all time. But they were really fun for me. This is a side-scrolling space shooting that included lots of power ups. The levels were very cool, even if the boss at the end was...well the same each time. But it was so addicting my extended family would fight over who got to play next (Until the 8 year-olds became the best, then the adults quit.) I know I beat this one, cause I think we took a picture!

Worst Game I owned: 10 Yard Fight. This game is an abomination to all things considered gaming. I wanted a football game, what I got was what the Japanese thought was football. Here is how the game worked. Snap to the quarterback who has a running back on each side who mimics your every move. You can either a) lateral it to a RB b) run upfield c) or throw it to the one receiver streaking downfield. If you passed and even one defender was in the line of flight, he intercepted it. (ridiculous) If you got a safety, they gave the wrong team the points (ridiculous) If you were kicking a field goal you could run all the way to your own end zone, kick it, and it would fly most slowly through the uprights (flubber?) A mistake of a purchase, I made up for it by buying Zelda next go around. And yes, I beat this game.

I hope this starts some discussion. If not, at least you know that I am awesome at video games.


Maureen said...

How about games that Maureen beat that Ricky didn't because she's awesomesauce? (or, because various people deleted his games and he got tired of restarting... I WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ZELDA!)

michael said...

Hey - what about Contra?


Klick4MU said...

While I agree with most of your picks I will disagree with you on one of your picks for the "baseball" pick I would have to go with Baseball Stars, it was one of the first where you could create your own team and then play in a league of your own choosing against another created team. The only problem I ever had was the doggone memory device would always erase halfway through a league!

Plus another one that might have to fall into consideration would be Tetris and if you only accept that as a "Gameboy" game then you would have to put Yoshi's Cookie in its place. You have to have at least one of these "puzzle games" entered into the mix. It just wouldn't be right to leave them out as predecesors to "This is for the MEAT!"

Ricky said...

Oh buddy, I didn't forget about Tetris. But we played that on the SNES, so it will get mentioned later. Baseball Stars was great, I will give you that. I just didn't own it so I don't remember it as well. I owned MLB baseball, which was fun too.

Contra was fun, but I couldn't love a game that was impossible without the code, and easy with it.

But too true, we all still know the Konami code by heart.