Here in Bulgaria, everything comes in really late. That's why the NES was really popular in the 90s. NES pirates, that is. Even if you managed to find a place where they sell licenced consoles and games you couldn't afford them. I was really jealous of all the kids in kindergarten, me being the only one who didn't have a NES. I would often go to my best-friend's place to play with him and master the games (and beg him to lend me his Voltron).
When I finally got a NES clone in 1999 me, my friend, my brother and my dad would go around video-game stores trying to find the best games and we eventually got our hands on some of the hidden treasures of the console.
And now I present a list of the games, which to me are underrated, but I play the crap out of them to this day:
Felix the Cat
A great sidescroller by the people behind "Adventure Island". Felix has to save Kitty from the clutches of the Proffesor, while travelling all around the world and even in outer space. The game had many different types of levels - flying, underwater etc. and each had different power ups which would transform Felix' Magic Bag in something to help him along the way such as a plane, a magician kit or even a tank. Besides great controls, music and graphics the game was quite a challenge, not because of it's difficulty, but because of it's lenght. It's quite tiring to beat it in one sitting, but it's really worth it.
There's also a virtually unknown pirate sequel, which retains the game mechanics and good graphics, but has terrible sound and controls. It's based on a Felix cartoon in which our hero tries to save his Golden Duck.
I never had any of the two games, but had rented them both and played through them numerous times.
Tom & Jerry (and Tuffy)
Just like Felix - great graphics, sound and controls. You play as Jerry and try to save your Nephew Tuffy, who's been captured by Tom.
Jerry had to battle his way through the basement, chimney, kitchen and living room (where he would come across a NES). You could also get different weapons such as hammers and bubble gum.
Much like Felix, it has a pirate sequel, that also allows playing with Tom.
I've seriously never heard anyone talking about this masterpiece. It's actually one of my few original carts. My brother got it as a birthday gift from a classmate of his. What was weird is that the game was about spaceships, but had a Doctor Mario sticker. Once it started to peel though and we could see another one underneath. So we peeled the rest of the Mario sticker only to see there was an "Over Horizon" sticker on the cart. Anyway, let's get on with the game...
In this flying shooter, great controls, music and graphics are combined with the interesting option to choose how to position your weapons and to decide wheather a weapon should be more powerful or more homing. It had some really cool levels and really weird bosses. When I reached the final boss I almost pissed my pants - he was really scary.
And the ending was even scarier.
One of the original NES titles, this was just like Mad Max, only with a bike. And if that wasn't enough it had kickass music as well.
Donkey Kong 3
I don't know why this one isn't as popular as the other two on the NES, but I certainly enjoy it the most out of the three.
A game I had gotten my hands on only once, when I borrowed it from a friend and beat it in a single night. Keeping the tradition, it was a pirate version, that was called Contra 8. And being a Contra fan I couldn't resist playing this.
I was quite surprised how different it was from the other Contra games in camera angle, but when I saw the bosses and difficulty I totally bought it was a Contra game.
And speaking of Contra games...
Not really a Contra game as you probably know, I don't see why people hate this one so much (well, besides the title). I thought it was a real Contra game due to the fact that I had played a pirate (yes, again!) that had the original character sprites replaced with Contra ones.
To this day I think the game had really cool ideas like being to change the characters mid-level or calling on the CPU to control one of the other characters for a while.
And the levels were the best - boats, warehouses and waling on top of planes? Bring it on!!
Ferrari Grand Prix Challenge
To this day, the only racing game I really love. The game was realistic - with oil on the track, bursting tires and cars going up in flames. I also really liked that in the Pit Stop you actually controlled the guys that changed the tires.
And let's not forget the music. God, some of the best NES tracks ever are right in this game.
James Bond Jr
An example of a NES game being much better than it's SNES counterpart. Although it didn't follow the show as much as the SNES one, JB Jr on the NES was much more interesting. Each level was timed. And it was real time. You get like 30 to 45 minutes to complete a certain objective and then beat the boss. On the first level you had to defuse missles, on the second - to break into vaults and steal blueprints, overall - to do Bond stuff.
The game was pretty hard, but thank god for passwords!
The only thing I really hated was that in order to see the true ending you had to beat it twice!
A great underrated game based on a great underrated show. Widget had pretty neat graphics and levels. It was a very colourful game which I really liked. And just like in the cartoon you could transform - cannons, mice, birds...what a great game!
Widget got a sequel - "Super Widget" on the SNES.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project
This game is NES at it's finest. The addictive gameplay of the arcade games was back, along with better graphics, levels and storyline! Just seeing that intro made me go crazy in excitement! It also has some of the best tunes on the NES such as "Crazy Attack" and "Bad Soldier".
TMNT was a hit here, just like everywhere else and this was one of the first games my cousin got (he had all the episodes aired here on tape) and he played it a lot with my brother. When they finally beat it we celebrated all night.
And then I beat it on my own and my cousin admitted I was better than them at some games.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament fighters
Not as popular as the GEN/MD and SNES versions this was a pretty cool fighting game. And being able to play as the Shredder was awesome. Due to some weird glitch in the game you could have a fight Hothead vs Hothead, and they made up something to explain that in the manual. I was really proud of myself when I discovered another glitch that acutally allowed the forbidden fight.
And now, as a bonus, some Famicom exclusive games:
Ninja Hattori Kun - I just thought it looked great. And it had a Ninja, so it was cool!
Choujin Sentai Jetman - Power Rangers was the shit!! And when a friend told me he had a Power Rangers game I just had to play it. This game is actually based on the series before Zyuranger (MMPR). Each ranger had a different weapon and the zord fights were great. And when you beat Area E...
Kyoryu Sentai ZyuRanger - I never knew why this wasn't brought over the US and a MMPR game, but I didn't know about Sentai back then, so it was PR to me. The Megazord Ping Pong was really fun.
Binary Land - The heroes of the game are two penguis - Gurin and Malon. The player guides one of them through a maze, the other movig in the opposite direction. The goal is for both of them to get to the opposite sides of a caged heart .
Devil World - A Pac-Man like game, which was really cool because the bad guys were able to move the level in order to crush you.
I hope you enjoyed my first article. Stay tuned for my Top Underrated SNES and Genesis Games.