Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Top 10: Favorite NES Game

The NES is probably my favorite system from my childhood. I spent at least 75% of my summers, weekends, and free time after school in my basement either watching Dragonball Z or playing my NES. I really didn't own a majority of the "greats"; I never owned Metroid, Zelda, or Castlevania. I never got to even see those games until I discovered emulators.

So here it is, my top 10 favorite NES games. Probably not what most would consider the best, but these are the games I owned and played the most.

10. Knight Rider

Alright... all things considered, this game is pretty much awful. But back then, even awful games were fantastic. I can't say much about this one because I don't remember ever getting past the first level. I'd always run out of gas just before the end and lose. How do you get gas? To this day I still don't know. Knight Rider is based off the T.V show of the same name, which I've never seen, but apparently it involves David Hasselhoff and a badass Pontiac Firebird.

Anyway, this game looks a lot like Rad Racer. But here, you accelerate by pressing up on the D-pad, you're always in first-person view, and you have the ability to launch yourself in the air and crush helpless victims below (Bump 'n' Jump, anyone?) in addition to an arsenal of missiles and lasers. The music sucks, no one gives a damn about the story, and this game is just way too hard and frustrating. Yet, I still loved to play this game as a kid, so it gets number 10.

9. Dick Tracy

Wow, is this game hard! Dick Tracy for the NES is probably the game I wanted to shoot in the face the most. Still, I have fond memories shoving my Game Genie up its ass and pwning everything.

Though the game is so hard it's nearly unplayable, the music is absolutely FANTASTIC. It's definitely the highlight of this game. Watch the video above to see what I mean. The point of this game is to go around an extremely linear path collecting "clues" that direct you to different locations. You go on a wild goose chase until you have to decide which suspect you want to arrest. If you choose the right one you go to the next level. If not, game over. It mixes sidescrolling platform elements with a tad of thinking and logic involved.

8. Bad Dudes

The famous NES port of the sidescrolling arcade beat-em-up. This is one hard game if you don't have a friend to play with who knows what he's doing. I remember spending hours in front of this game with my friend. We eventually beat the whole thing without using cheats and it was one of the proudest moments of our lives. We were so giddy and overjoyed that we beat the game, we cried with laughter when the President asked us to grab a burger with him.

Overall, it's really just a basic but solid beat-em-up. It's of course outclassed by games like Double Dragon and River City. The music is terrific and the graphics are interesting, but my biggest gripe is the control. It's so laggy, slow, and confusing. I don't feel like I'm in control of the character.

7. Legends of the Diamond

The first baseball, no, the first SPORTS game I'd ever played. I honestly think this is one of the greatest baseball sims on the NES (and there's a lot). There's lots of real players to play as and a good amount of control. It actually feels like a real baseball game. The music and sound effects are just brilliant. You can choose between two fields, arrange your batter lineup, the angle and style of your swing or pitch, and move your players in the outfield.

Playing with the CPU is great but the real fun here is playing baseball with a friend. It can get very intense. Stealing bases and dancing your men around the outfield has put me into tears of laughter with my friends before.

6. Pinball

I believe this was the first or second game I ever played on my NES. It's so simple but incredibly addictive. Remember when everybody used to be obsessed with the Windows Pinball game and competing for the highest score was like war? Yeah. This game was pretty much the same thing to me. I was crazy about beating my own high scores.

There's not much to say about the game itself rather than... well, it's pinball. There's no music at all; just little sound effects. A unique part of this game is the different game modes and the fact that there's two layers to this pinball game. If your ball goes down the first layer, there's a whole other one down below. If you fall into the lower layer you can still bump your ball back up to the first.

5. Captain Skyhawk

This game generally gets bad reviews, but I still love it. People often complain about the graphics but when I was a kid I thought it was breathtaking! Captain Skyhawk plays a lot like a top-down view of Top Gun. The levels are extremely repetitive and not terribly clever in design, but I think this game still holds up pretty well. You can upgrade your plane after every level but it never makes much of a difference. This game is definitely not one of the hardest game in the NES library but it does take a bit of patience to beat.

4. Bump 'n' Jump

I already wrote about this one. Go check that out :).

3. Dragon Warrior

You see that beautiful box art? When I played this game, I didn't see an 8-bit arrangement of pixels walking around a screen. I saw exactly what's on the box. I was a legendary warrior, saving the princess from a horrible dragon. Dragon Warrior is the first RPG I ever played, and wow, was it EPIC. I couldn't tear myself away for a moment.

When I first played it, I had NO idea what was going on or how to play it. I wasn't the best at reading at the time so I had my dad sit down and play Dragon Warrior with me. He'd read the instruction manual and show me how to play and teach me what was goin' on. After I caught on I was obsessed with this game. I spent hours exploring EVERYTHING and constantly leveling up.

By today's standards, Dragon Warrior really is a tiny RPG that's way too slow and difficult. But this was before Final Fantasy and all the famous Square titles. It introduced everyone to RPGs and laid the foundations for what a good RPG should be. Expansive, complex, challenging, immersive, and lots of fun.

2. Super Mario Bros. 3

Obviously, this game needs to introduction. I bought this game from a garage sale for a buck. I ran it right home, shoved it in my NES (which I had to smack a few times so the damn blinking screen would stop), and the rest is history. This game brought so much more depth to Super Mario Bros. SMB2 was just a disgrace to the franschise, which that game isn't on this list.

This was the last NES game I owned. I'd never even realized it existed until I saw it listed in my Game Genie code book. There were codes that mentioned different types of suits and things, and that alone made me want this game so badly. While this game kicks ass, it just never caught on with me nearly as much as...

1. Duck Hunt/Super Mario Bros.

:). The first game I ever played: Duck Hunt. Yeah, I didn't play SMB first. I was pretty much crazy about Duck Hunt when I first got my NES. I was the best around. No one could beat me at Duck Hunt! I had the orange Zapper. I honestly never saw what was so ugly about it. I think it looked pretty nice. I always thought the Zapper was the most incredibly and advanced technology on the planet. I didn't understand how it knew where I was aiming on the screen. So cool.

Somehow, I always completely ignored Super Mario Bros. Then one day I decided I'd see what that game with the picture of the man in red was about. I remember my first moments of Super Mario Bros exactly. I was in my living room. It was sometime in Spring, probably over Spring Break. It was kind of chilly out that day. It was evening, around 6:00 or 7:00. My dad was outside mowing the lawn and I could smell a really strong and pleasant smell of gasoline coming from the lawn mower. To this day, the smell of gasoline makes me think of Super Mario Bros.

I pushed the A button and selected Super Mario Bros. From my first Goomba stomp, I was addicted. Purely addicted. I loved the game so much I ran right outside to tell my dad to hurry up and come inside so he could play this new game with me. And he did come play with me. I made him give me the second controller because I wanted to play as the green guy; my favorite color.

I remember getting so frustrated because I couldn't jump over a certain pipe. I jumped but Mario wouldn't go over. That was until my dad showed me I needed to keep moving in the air by pressing right on the D-pad while I moved; that's how new platformers were to me. I never did manage to beat the game all the way through without infinite lives.

Anyway, I could go on forever. I have millions of memories with Super Mario Bros and great stories about playing with my parents, friends, and siblings. That's why this game is my favorite NES game and quite possibly my favorite video game of all time.

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