Some of My Favorite NES Games



[ Fair warning – this is a rambling, unpolished, raw-veggies sort of blog post. ]

I was asked on my Curious Cat page, “In no particular order, what are some of your favorite NES games?”

Now, there’s a couple ways I could do this. I could name them all, put up a nice-lookin’ screenshot for each, explain why it’s my favorite and what I like about it, whatever. Or, I could just write up a quick list.

I’m gonna kinda compromise between the two? Let’s split my favorites into three distinct categories.

The Old Pairs of Shoes

Marble Madness
R.B.I. Baseball
Rollerball
Toobin’

I love these games. I am intimately familiar with them, inside and out, like they are parts of my own body. I have pumped so many hours into these cartridges that I can honestly say I’ve spent days playing them.

I find them relaxing.

I enter ‘the zone’ when I play them, reacquainting myself with their curves and their features, their physics and their tricks – all my worries and stresses bleed away as I lose myself in their gameplay experience.

Objectivity is completely out the window when I look at these titles; I have no idea whether or not Marble Madness is actually a ‘good’ game, or if Rollerball is among the best or worst pinball games on the console. I just know that I, personally, really enjoy them.

They hit a sweet spot for me that is somehow difficult to describe yet also, I imagine, a relateable feeling for many gamers and their favorites.

At Midwest Gaming Classic a few years back, Toobin’ was a game that caught people’s attention when we could play it at our exhibitor table (for 1MoreCastle). There’s nothing quite like it.

Honorable mention – Super Sprint

Warts and All

Jaws
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
Spot: The Video Game
Bible Buffet

I know these games are flawed, maybe even severely. I love ’em anyway. These are the true Sentimental Choices, games that give me warm fuzzy feelings even if it is mostly just due to fond memories of them at this point.

Bible Buffet is almost great. You won’t find another game from that era that so amibitously tries to combine top-down adventure gameplay with a board-game progression. It’s just a shame that it’s a real sloggy grind to play.

Jaws is a scrolling shooter with overworld exploration and light RPG elements. … I mean, really.

Whenever I try and talk about Spot on NES people think I’m talking about Cool Spot which much come as such a disappointment to those people.

Turtles II is a real grindy slog of a game, a repetitive borefest for sure, yet my mom frequently stayed up late to play it with me anyway. Ah, childhood.

Honorable mention – Harlem Globetrotters

The Top Shelf

Kirby’s Adventure
Double Dragon II: The Revenge
Ninja Gaiden II
Contra
StarTropics

These are the ones. Not only are they among my favorite NES games, but they’re also generally regarded highly, too. They’re well-designed, well-made, and provide a great gaming experience. They’re just friggin’ solid, yet even among all the NES greats, these are the ones that stand out to me especially.

Beating people to death is always satisfying, but somehow in Double Dragon II it’s especially so. I’ve never beaten Ninja Gaiden II, but it’s just such a high-octane blast of a well-made game.

Contra is a perfect video game. If you changed anything about it, you’d be altering what is a whole-cloth experience, one of the ingredients that makes up a sublime totality of action gaming. You can’t touch it. It’s flawless.

And Kirby’s Adventure? C’mon. What a friggin’ masterpiece. I mean, yeah, you could throw a Super Mario Bros title or two into this mix, but there’s something about Kirby that appeals to me even more, if we’re speaking personally.

StarTropics is my favorite video game ever. Maybe someday I’ll try to explain why, but it just hits a lot of the right notes for my tastes (and childhood memories). The only game to challenge it has been Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We’ll see how that goes.

… Others

Super Spike V’Ball
King of Kings
M.U.L.E.
Rescue: The Embassy Mission
Ironsword
NES Open
Track & Field
Caveman Games
Blades of Steel

Eh, these are just some games that I like, and I get the feeling that I like them more than most people, even though I don’t think they’re truly horrible games either. King of Kings is a legitimately decent platformer, better than many other titles on the NES.

I’m not sure this by-category way of listing my favorites was a good idea, heh, but there it is. I have a lot of great memories with Super Spike V’Ball, staying up late at night with my friend, trying to beat the world circuit. Rescue: The Embassy Mission is such a quirky title (8-bit FPS section?!), I think it’s a neat concept that doesn’t get enough credit. I got over $2 million in prize money on NES Open. Track & Field is the ultimate test for your thumbs. I should stream Caveman Games someday, ’cause some people seem to think it’s difficult. I dream of playing M.U.L.E. with three other humans.

Just NES things.

Honorable mentions – Super Dodge Ball, Crystalis, Guerrilla War

Wait, Does This Mean…?

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out
R.C. Pro Am
Bubble Bobble

Yep, it means that these three games are not among my favorites, despite being much-beloved by many. They never quite caught my attention and enjoyment the way they have seemingly done for countless other players. And this is fine.

2 Responses to “ Some of My Favorite NES Games ”

  1. I love this list. A lot of people would dump on some of these games, and we’ve seen plenty of that before. I have a mental list of games that I can re-visit time and again for the reasons you listed early on this post.

    “worries and stresses bleed away”. This. This right here is why I play video games, and from an NES standpoint, Tetris is the definitive game that does that for me. Arkanoid is a close second, and Paperboy (oddly enough) is another.

    Great post, Eric.

  2. A pleasant comment.

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