The Art of War: Volume I

My Favorite NES power-ups, attacks, and weapons.
September 16, 2008

No video game is complete without the assistance of
power-ups. These weapons and attacks make games
memorable and increase the fun factor. These are a few
of my most memorable, in no particular order.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Sure, the frog, leaf, hammer and p-wing were great power-ups, but you can't read this and disregard the "tanooki" suit. Some called it the bear suit or the raccoon suit; whatever it was, it definitely was a hot item in SMB3. It allows you to fly like the leaf and can turn into a statue to elude enemies. Though the feature can be useless, it was still a really cool addition to an already awesome game.

Mega Man II

The Mega Man franchise is one of my favorite NES topics. From the original title using the "pause" button to glitch bosses, to "Mega Man X" and the hidden "hadouken" power-up. Part II is my favorite and it was really hard to decide on one favorite weapon. The "metal blade" was the most useful, the "crash bomb" is a necessity and the "energy tanks" set the tone for previous games. So, it had to come down to one item. The only item that not only finds holes in platforms, but wrecks alien Wily's ass. "Bubble Lead". Let the flaming begin. Not a personal favorite but memorable none the less.

Catlevania II: Simon's Quest

Like Mega Man, Castlevania has a special place on this list. Another difficult one to find a favorite. Part III had the different characters like "Grant" and "Alucard" which made this absolutely harder to narrow my selection. In the end, I went with my gut and turned to "Simon's Quest". No, I'm not referring to the crystal and tornado. I liked the diamond power-up, the golden dagger, holy water, even Dracula's rib turned into a shield which was helpful. However, I thought long and hard about what really made Castlevania II memorable and I came upon only one.................the flame whip. Oh yeah, no need to worry about a cursed "horrible night" when your weilding this shit-kicker. Simon became a lot more fun when don't have to tap "B" more than three times.

Adventure Island

A ridiculously frustrating game but for some reason as a kid I loved the skateboard power-up. Simple pleasures for a simpler time I suppose. I played this game all the time at my friends house over the summer in the 80's. I don't recall ever beating it but that didn't matter cause "Higgins" was shredding.


The "dirk" was one of three weapons Batman had in his cache. Basically, it was a a bladed disc that spread into 3 projectiles. Along with the "gun" and "batarang" it proved to be very useful and destructive. A great weapon for a great game.


You knew before you read this that Contra had to be mentioned on a list of weapons. Suprise, suprise. The famous "spread shot" upgrade.

Double Dragon II: The Revenge

The "spinning kick" made the sequel to Double Dragon more tolerable due to the difficulty of the game. By simultaneously pressing both buttons your character would rise and do a spin kick that could send enemies flying. Kind of a cheap attack but it paved the way for future games. I played the arcade version as a kid at the local "K-Mart" and never got very far.

Super Dodge Ball

"Sam" rules! To perform the "killer throw", double tap forward to get the player running and as soon as you get to the line press the throw button to see the massacre. Depending on the player the ball would flash pink and alter its shape and movement. I loved experimenting with each character to see the different techniques including air throws. "Sam" was the best in the game. His throw was a killer because he could take out 2-3 players in a single shot. Sports and violence go hand in hand.

Ninja Gaiden

In Ninja Gaiden power-ups were not very necessary because most enemies could be killed with one hit. However, nothing is more fun than plowing through bad guys with the "fire wheel". Sure, the shurikens and "art of fire" were cool but the fire wheel was to "Ryu Hayabusa" what the star was to "Mario". Simple and effective.

Little Nemo: The Dream Master

There were many power-up suits in this game. The Gorilla, Bee, Frog, Mouse etc. I found that when remembering this game I thought most fondly of the Lizard suit. Perhaps, it was because when I first got it, I found some secrets. Also, crawling on the walls was a cool feature. I don't know now, but I might have to go back and play this game sometime to see if I still feel the same way.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Here comes the drama. When recalling my "Zelda II" memories the most consistent recollection was when I gained the Up/Down thrust attacks. I logged so many man hours on that game it was ridiculous but the one satisfaction was learning those two techniques. It made the game loads more fun and the bosses somewhat easier. Sure there were other weapons and spells but that's for someone elses article.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The scroll or "kiai" weapon was the best weapon in TMNT for the NES. It was difficult to find a picture of it but it looks similar to the moon shaped projectile in the above picture. True first generation gamers know what I'm talking about. That weapon was a must to beat certain bosses and cruise through the last few levels.

Wrath of the Black Manta

The "Art of Invisibility" was one of several techniques in this game. However it is the only one that lets you be invulnerable to damage as long as it is activated. So basically if you are good you can speed through the game if you can charge it fast enough and avoid attacks. Yes, I was that guy.

Pro Wrestling

"Starman" ran this game. Well, he did at my house. His "sommersault kick" was the coolest attack in the game.......besides the pirahna face bite. It was a retarded kick to the chest into a backflip, like a weak flash kick from "Guile". In the 80's this was high tech acrobatics at its best.


Old "Uncle Scrooge" don't put up with a bunch of shit! You better not pretend to take his money or he'll whoop your ass....... with his cane? Huh......what? Yes, NES thought it smart to make a game featuring a geriatric duck, a miser at that, who attacks evil doers with his cane. Wow! I can't lie, saying it out loud sounds ridiculous. However, it was fun golfing and bouncing around. A really original weapon.

Legacy of the Wizard

"Xemn" was the only person in the game who could use the "power gloves". With that he could maneuver the blocks around the castles levels so the other characters can advance. I hate this game to be honest. It kicked my ass, but later in life I gained a new found respect for the little nuances, weapons, and difficulties of the game. Every charcter had a purpose and that was his.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Sure when "Mac" gets hurt he goes to "Doc" for advice and a little help (aka select button/health boost). Cool power-up but it has nothing on the "star". "Bald Bull" is going down just like the rest, with a little cellestial help. I don't need to tell you what the attack does, you know where the "start" button is located.

Friday the 13th

Yes, the "pitchfork" is the strongest weapon in the game and it plows through zombies like no mans business. On the other hand, I am not going to fight "Jason's" mom for it.......she is one tough biatch. I'd rather stick with the tried and true "machete" or the ultra powerful "torch". Burn baby, burn!

A Nightmare on Elm Street

I love games with suits. It's not my theme for the article I just like having options. You can chose different "dream warriors" such as the "Acrobat", "Warlock" or "Ninja". I like the "Ninja" with the jump kick and shuriken attacks. He comes in handy fighting all of the different forms of "Freddy" you face along the way.

Tecmo Super Bowl

"Bo Jackson" owns Tecmo Super Bowl. This is old news but I can't forget what he did. He was the ultimate weapon. The fastest person in the game who could drain the clock on one play. A cheap player but it's worth seeing the ridiculous videos on "YouTube" showing him burning by the oppostion.

Coming Soon......

The Art of War: Volume II
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