Top 5 NES Games

Even the choice is hard, here are my top 5 favorite games for Nintendo Entertaiment System
January 20, 2010
As every kid who lived his childhood in 90's, I was also fascinated and was indeed - gamer that had NES, system that marked the decade. Keep in mind that it's so hard to write "favorite 5" as I have at least 20 favorite NES titles from megabase of more then 700 NES titles. Games like Ninja Gaiden 2 and 3, Castlevania 1 and 3, Super Mario Bros. 1 and 3, Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda... there are so much titles that deserve spot in "top 5" same as games below.

For me, NES is very nostalgic thing first of all and above of all - it's system that makes my heart beat in "specific" way when we talk about it. It was very robust, and so were the games. Also, games were very hard, and I think it's because that's way to "mask" shortness of levels and game itself.

Another thing that I love about NES and his game repository is music. That 8-bit sound (chiptune) is and will always be my first choice when music is at question. Even today I listen to either chiptune artist, or remakes (rock, metal genre or whatever) of popular NES games.

I could go on for another 5 pages about NES, but let's leave general stuff for another article. So, without further ado, let's dive into my "Top 5 NES games"

Ninja Gaiden 1

Ninja Gaiden was one of my first games on NES. Excellent gameplay, hard as hell and great music made this game my favorite. Story about Ninja Ryu who is on quest to find his father was somewhat cliche but also very interesting and nice to follow. Cutscenes from Ninja Gaiden were first time to see on NES system and that mad this game very attractive on graphics field.

Music was out of this world, to this day from time to time I let that beautiful sounds go trough my ears - either via PC (mp3's) or NES console itself. Gameplay was just fantastic, I only hate those damn birds and some game mechanics that made game maybe little to challenging but it's all up to par to other NES titles of those days. And yes, I too hate notoriously hard level 6-2. Personally, when I was young - I was always stopped at the final fight with Ryu's father - "Masked evil", and just years later I did beat this classic.

Bosses were inovative, every one of them had it "gimmick", there are not so many glitches in game(but there are some) and keep in mind that when we talk about NES games - glitches were and are something normal. Ninja Gaiden 1 with 2 and 3 was re-released on SNES as "Ninja Gaiden Trilogy" with improved graphic and sound and some other minor modifications (recently I got hold of this rare and expensive game via E-bay). Ninja Gaiden 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3 were also my all time favorites but as I can't make them all part of my list - Ninja Gaiden, the first one and second hardest in my opinion ( Ninja Gaiden 3 was much harder, but Japanese Famicon version was bit lowered down when we talk about hardness of the game) is my favorite ninja game from that time.

River City Ransom

In fact, to be honest as I live in Europe, Croatia and I had PAL NES in that time - really I was playing "Street Gangs" that was basically River City Ransom for European market. The game itself is the same, only title screen was changed. River City Ransom had great music, it had great gameplay for beat-em-up and it was so fun when you played it with friend. Graphics were pretty good as were all from Kunio-kun game franchise. Controls were neat, and best thing of all - RPG style. Yes, maybe The Legend of Zelda is ultimate de facto RPG on the NES but RVR had so great way of getting under your skin.

Again, as child I couldn't pass this game even if it's really short and somewhat easy for NES standards. Problem that bugged me is that I didn't understand english language as kid so I would always come to the end, at the RVR high school but that was dead end for me as I didn't defeated all Zombies. And I didn't defeat them because I couldn't read that's needed and you know - you need to backtrack some to get to the park where another Zombie boss awaits and that I could only gather up if I did read and understand what were characters talking in game.

Yes, after some time I learn english pretty god (mostly via channels like Cartoon Network,PC (interacting with english-talking people) and etc) I beaten the game for like 20 minutes. It's very easy and short, and main boss is the joke. The moves you could buy as books and then read them when you like (to this I remember "Stone hands" and "Dragon feet" that was like mandatory to make it trough the game), same thing was with food that give you health and etc. - you could eat it (and some not) on spot and some you could stash for later use. River City Ransom was the game that made my childhood in 90's so much enjoyable.

Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest

Many people, and even Angry Video Game Nerd - James Rolfe himself thinks that this game is very bad and doesn't deserve the name "Casltevania" and shouldn't be part of the "Castlevania" series. To all of you haters - I love Castlevania 2: Simon's Quests. Music was one of best I have heard, I mean - just listen to the "Bloody Tears" (search Youtube for it) and you will experience best that chiptune music has to offer. RPG style was deviation from Castlevania 1, but hey - second Legend of Zelda was also deviation from first part and people loved it. Change doesn't necessary mean a bad thing, and Castlevania 2 proved it. Gameplay was great also, you needed to collect all parts of Dracula from first game and get him back to living so you can kill him again and brake the curse he throw upon you.

There was something enigmatic and mysterious about Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest and that's what it made it my favorite. You could, of course - buy items like Holy water that enabled you to destroy rocks and discover new, hidden paths or books with hints. And here we get to the main problem of this game. Translation was AWFUL. It was near impossible to beat this game from some sort of guide (like Nintendo Power had in that time as we were Internetless in that time) and with guide - it was hard. Kneel in front of dead end, select red diamond and wait for like 5-6 seconds that lake goes down and makes path for you or wait for hurricane so it gets you to another part of the game. It's ridiculous and that is only thing that made me angry about this game.

Graphics were OK, not the best on system but Konami did great job, but again - I urge you, listen to all soundtrack of Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest and get back to me and tell me what you think. Story in my opinion was not so great but was solid enough to make you play trough the game. Controls were not bad but not either something special, classic way of controling Simon Belmont as he whipped his way trough Transilvania and another note was that whip could be upgraded. Only thing is - hearts in this game was currency and not for health like in other iterations of Castlevania. Anyways, classic that will always be my best Castlevania game in series and that will always haunt me with it's great atmosphere.

Super Mario Bros. 2

Same as in the case of Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, Super Mario Bros. 2 is considered flaw in the series and not part of series at all by some people. Main reason is because Super Mario Bros. 2 is in fact refurbished Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic that was released exclusively in Japan. Main reason because was that Nintendo America guys thought real Super Mario Bros. 2 (later released as "Lost Levels" in rest of the world outside Japan) was too hard for non-Japanesse gamers. But, I loved Super Mario Bros. 2 just because it was unique. Gameplay was great, you had all of weird levels, many quick roads to latter stages and you could choose between multiple characters (Mario, Luigi, Princess and Toadstool (Toad)) and they all had their advantages and flaws. For example: Mario was middle between all of them, and Luigi had middle jump but could "run" in the air while Princess could in fact fly.

Controls were a bit quirky at time, but not something you couldn't stand and game was not so much hard - just golden middle. There were a lot of unique bosses that become part of Super Mario Bros. series later on. Features like "interspace" where you could drop a bottle that would open another dimension in Mario's dream was unique for the game and made it's gameplay so much better. Story was confusing and somewhat made up "fast just that there is some story" and it's about Mario dreaming that he is dreaming a ladder leading into the cave that opened whole new world to him and his friends.

What I liked about this game was the graphics. Even considering the fact that that only sprites were changed from Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic - design of the levels and overall aesthetics were beautiful. Soundtrack was in general pretty nice to hear, but I only love one specific track from the whole game. This game was also released as part of "Super Mario All-Stars" for SNES with improved graphics. After all, this game has special place in my nostalgic heart.


Considered one of hardest game on the system, Battletoads were one of games that made me brake my NES controller. But I loved it! Even if I couldn't get past 3rd stage (the one with those skates down in the purple pit with rats as enemies) the game had beautiful graphics and pretty cool controls and story. Music was awesome, especially when you paused the game :). I loved the humor in the game also, and it's notorious hardness just made me keep playing the game even if I can't finish it to this day without cheating. Yeah, that's bad and I will do it one day I know I will, but try out the game yourself and you will see what I'm talking about.

Cover art of this game was also badass as the game itself, even if I do agree that it leans toward mimicking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a bit, but Battletoads are story for itself. I always loved how you could beat your enemies with your foot using "The boot" or by "Big fist" and slamming them by buttheading. Enemies were ridiculous, pigs and rats and evil "Dark Queen" were no match for Battletoads if you were gamer of high caliber. To be honest, I don't know (in person) a gamer that beaten this game without cheating, but I seen some videos of it being done without cheats so it's possible - but damn hard. And damn good this game was and will always be my nostalgic favorite.

So, that's that folks I could write about these kind of stuff for days but then it would be too much for me and for you. We need some material for further nostalgic retro articles :)

I apologize if my english grammar is not up to level, but I try to do my best :)

Take care,

- Reiko
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