#60 – 41

 

60: JACKAL
jackal-15                 
North American Release Date: September 1988
Genre: Run and Gun
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
 
Notes:
I don’t know why, but I cannot get my copy of Jackal to work.  I tried all my tricks: blowing on the game, inserting it almost all the way before dropping it down, slapping the sides.  There is only one rule in life: if it works in your sex life it’ll make your Nintendo game play right. 
 
I apologize in advance to my mother if she’s reading this.
 
Anyway, I am playing on my original Nintendo which I’ve had for 27 years now.  It works pretty well with a little patience and a variety of weird techniques that all 80’s kids had to learn if they wanted to play the NES.  I feel like if someone traveled back from the past or forward from the future they’d assume we were wizards.  I’ll come back to this later when I get another copy or a better functioning Nintendo.  
 
Of course now I’m wondering if I’ve ever actually played Jackal or if it ‘s just been sitting on my shelf for years untested.  There’s definitely a few that I bought recently and just filed away without ever trying.  Maybe I just assumed because it was a Konami game about war stuff that I’d played it already, but I can’t remember now.  
 
IGN – #37 Review
Gamefaqs – #64 Review
Complex – #67 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #61 Review
 

59: JOURNEY TO SILIUS
journeysil-26
 
North American Release Date: September 1990
Genre: Action / Platformer / Run and Gun
Developer: Tokai Engineering
Publisher: Sunsoft
 
Notes:
Journey to Silius was originally designed to be a Terminator game which is a shame since the Terminator games released for the NES are nails on the chalkboard level awful.
 
The game itself shares a lot in common with Mega Man like a variety of weapons, mechanical enemies, futuristic settings, items that increase your health or your gun.  At least I assume there’s items that increase your health, I haven’t seen any yet. 
 
Which leads me to the most Mega Man like quality of this game: incredible difficulty.  I’ve played the first level over and over again and it took me half an hour to finally get through it.  The first level.  And I’m no slouch, I’ve been playing these kind of games for 25 years.  If a clone of Mega Man actually tried to make a more difficult game than MM then fuck it, that shit’s not fun it’s just masochistic.
 
Sydlexia – #63 Review
IGN – #81 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #70 Review
Complex – #42 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #70 Review
 

58: DUCK HUNT
duckhunt-5
 
North American Release Date: October 1985
Genre: Light Gun Shooter
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
 
Notes:
Did you know that light-gun games like Duck Hunt don’t work on modern flatscreen Tvs?  I’ve never totally understood the mechanics, but it’ll only work on the older tube televisions.  Sadly, I still have a tube television solely for the purpose of playing light-gun games.  Cool guy right here!
 
If you  don’t know what I mean by “light-gun”, I’m referring to the NES Zapper which was the grey and later orange gun controller that came with Nintendos packaged with Super Marios Bros / Duck Hunt.
 
This is the only light-gun game I played as a kid and I think most people would say the same.  However, there’s actually quite a few outside of Duck Hunt including the terrorist murderizing Freedom Force, the bizarre and comical Gumshoe, and the disgusting bootleg game Chiller.  Something about using the gun instead of the controller makes playing these somewhat mediocre games waaaaaay more fun then you’d imagine, and even the worst light-gun game is still pretty enjoyable.
 
I talk a bit more about Duck Hunt in the My First Games section.
 
Sydlexia – #24 Review
IGN – #77 Review
Gamefaqs – #26 Review
Complex – #91 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #100 Review
 

57: RYGAR
rygar-51
 
North American Release Date: July 1989
Genre: Platformer / Adventure
Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo
 
Notes:
Rygar is a game very much like Metroid where your character can get stronger as you go and new items you collect in turn unlock new areas of a fairly open ended world.  It’s nowhere near as good as Metroid and in truth plays like a very clunky version of Zelda 2 or Faxanadu
 
The most common criticism of Rygar is that there’s no save capability or even a password system.  Especially for a huge game like this with tons of variability, that’s a valid criticism.  I touched on the password system a bit when I talked about Guardian Legend and again later when I talk about Faxanadu, but as annoying as typing in paragraph length passwords is, at least you can turn off your Nintendo and come back to the those games later.  With Rygar if you turn it off you’re starting at the beginning again no matter what.
 
You only get one life and after you die the screen says “Game Over”.   Oddly enough, you immediately start right back where you left off, as if you’d never died at all.  This seems like a weird choice, like why even die at all if there’s no penalty for it?  Perhaps Rygar is a secretly an existential masterpiece in disguise? 
 
Nope.
 
Sydlexia – #76 Review
IGN – #59 Review
Gamefaqs – #86 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #52 Review
Complex – #36 Review
 

56: MEGAMAN 6
megaman6-30
 
North American Release Date: March 1994
Genre: Action / Platform
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Nintendo
 
Notes:
I love Mega Man but there’s so fucking many of them.  I mean Capcom was just churning them out for the NES year after year.  They’re all pretty good, but after Mega Man 2 very little about the formula changed and by Mega Man 6 it was starting to get pretty old.  Maybe that’s why this is the only Mega Man game not published by Capcom.  I bet they were over it by this point and when Nintendo asked about the next edition they were like “Mega Man?  Yeah sure, we can knock one of those out this week.  We’re going out of town though, do you mind packaging and releasing that for us?  Cool, peace braaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.”
 
What’s different about 6?  Not a ton.  Although the robot masters were designed from a fan contest and while that doesn’t make the game any more fun that is pretty cool.  My submission was Ukelele Man who melted Mega Man’s icy heart with a hot island rhythm.  Or maybe he cooled Mega Man’s hot heart with a cool island rhythm.  I can’t remember.  Needless to say it didn’t quite make the cut.
 
Damn it, I just read that they did that contest for all the Mega Man games starting with 4.  So there, Mega Man 6 brings absolutely nothing new to the table.  Next!
 
Sydlexia – #57 Review
IGN – #58 Review
Gamefaqs – #58 Review
Complex – #95 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #40 Review
 

 55: SHADOWGATE
shadowgate2
 
North American Release Date: 1989
Genre: Adventure / Role Playing
Developer: Icom Simulations, Inc
Publisher: Kemco
 
Notes:
Shadowgate is a point and click adventure game mixed with a few RPG elements.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, basically each screen image is static and on the side there’s either commands for what to do (take, look, speak, etc.) and/or a list of your inventory. You walk from room to room, interacting with the screen using your array of commands, and eventually you figure out how to progress.  Back in the day, this was an incredibly common style of game.  Later games like Final Fantasy  came along that improved on this concept by combining the story and atmospheric elements with more engaging and less confusing gameplay.
 
There are a few games for the NES that are similar in style such as Tombs and Treasure, Deja Vu, and the surprisingly good and rare Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom.  My favorite is Uninvited which is kind of an early precursor to survivor horror games like Resident Evil or Silent Hill.  Uninvited was also made by Icom, but instead of a generic image of the grim reaper every time you die, there’s a unique and often gruesome death scene.  It’s actually kind of terrifying.
 
Shadowgate is pretty cool, but not something I’d recommend as far as a fun NES game.  I will say though that if you wanted you can easily pass through the game using a walkthrough which will give you a pretty good idea of how the everything works.  The only bummer is that the game is designed to trick you into fucking up, so if you know exactly what to do you’ll miss all the clever deathtraps.  Like when you grab that book you think will be pretty useful but wait  – SURPRISE FUCKER – that was a booby trap and now you’re dead beneath a trap door.  Those moments are easily the best part of the game.
 
Sydlexia – #26 Review
IGN – #50 Review
Gamefaqs – #75 Review
Complex – #53 Review
 

54: ADVENTURE ISLAND II  
adventureisland2b
 
North American Release Date: February 1991
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Now Production
Publisher: Hudson Soft
 
Notes:
Adventure Island II is the 2nd of three Adventure Island games for the NES.  In terms of which game is best it’s very comparable to the similarly titled Adventures of Lolo series: the first sets the tone, the second improves upon the first in every way, the third copies the second and adds only minor additions without actually making the game any better.
 

Adventure Island II took the formula of the original Adventure Island and added diverging paths, better graphics, and these dinosaur buddies who help you along the way.  If you make it through a level with a dinosaur, you can store it in an item bank along with boomerangs and anything else you pick-up.  It’s sort of similar to Mario 3 in that when you reach a hard level the difficulty is offset by all the items you’ve been hoarding.

Overall, it’s a good platformer and I gotta say it’s pretty fun to play as a fat Hawaiian guy who just hates all the animals of the natural world.  Replace Hawaiian with Italian and yes, you’d be describing Mario Bros, but when that game first came out I never assumed he was fat.  He’s basically a rectangle with a head and Luigi is exactly identical.  Only when the brain-numbing “Super Mario Bros Super Show!” came out did I realize that Mario was supposed to be fat and Luigi tall and skinny.
 
Sydlexia – #67 Review
IGN – #29 Review
Gamefaqs – #98 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #35 Review
Complex – #60 Review
 

53: WILLOW 
willow2
 
North American Release Date: 1989
Genre: Action RPG / Adventure
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
 
Notes:
Oh Willow, you delightful little scamp.  Did you know that Warwick Davis, who played Willow in the 1988 film this game is based on also played Wicket in “Return of the Jedi” and the titular leprechaun in the “Leprechaun” movies?  You’re reading this site so obviously the answer is yes, of course.  See you at Dragon Con brah!
 
Based on the success rate of other movie to Nintendo titles (Back to the Future, Top Gun, Total Recall, pretty much every 80’s movie etc.) you’d probably expect Willow to be pretty terrible, but much like Willow himself it’s about what makes it great on the inside not how it appears on the outside.  Also, unlike most other movie based games, Willow actually follows the plot of the film albeit with some side turns and with Willow doing all the fighting. 
 
This game is pretty awesome actually.  It combines elements of Legend of Zelda and Crystalis and while not quite as good as those games it’s pretty damn close.  The only bummer is the failure of many of these kinds of games: there’s no save feature.  With emulators you can just save whenever in any game, but if you’re like me and  you’re playing on the actual NES, the idea and of writing down and reentering a lengthy password ends up discouraging replay.
 
 Sydlexia – #37 Review
IGN – #89 Review
Gamefaqs – #69 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #34 Review
Complex – #58 Review
 

52: METAL STORM
metalstorm-6
 
North American Release Date: February 1991
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Irem
 
Notes:
Let’s be real here, Metal Storm kicks in all the dicks. 
 
It’s as fun to play as it is challenging to master with the usual traits that make a great game: good design, fun gameplay, and memorable music.  What immediately sets it apart from other platformers is the use of gravity, which you can reverse on demand.  If you press Up + A you’ll jump and land upside down on the ceiling and if you press Down + A you’ll jump back to the floor.  This simple mechanic allows for levels designed with inventive, and (depending on how stoned I am) MIND BLOWINGLY AWESOME concepts.  By the second level it gets progressively more difficult to pick my jaw up off the floor.
 
Seriously, play this game and just jump up and down from floor to ceiling; it’s intensely gratifying. 
 
In my mind Metal Storm is the quintessential hidden gem of the NES library, where for some reason a truly awesome game wasn’t played by anyone.  So while we were all jacking around playing dogshit like Bart vs the Space Mutants or Karate Kid, Metal Storm was sitting all alone in a Kentucky Blockbuster, played by no one.
 
IGN – #46 Review
Gamefaqs – #59 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #42 Review
Complex – #74 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #64 Review
 

51: MEGAMAN 5
megaman5-37
 
North American Release Date: December 1992
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
 
Notes:
While I’m kind of a hater on the later Mega Man games because they rarely deviate from formula, I will say that 5 is actually pretty damn cool.  Capcom really threw the kitchen sink into this game and everything from graphics to music is superb.  Where they really went all out though was in the level design.
 
I grew up playing Mega Man 4 which was great when it was the only one I’d ever played, but years later when I played Mega Man 2 I realized that 4 basically copied all the stages from 2.  Mega Man 5 on the other hand brought a bunch of new concepts to the design of the levels most notably Wave Man’s stage where you ride bubbles and some kind of futuristic Sea-Doo and Gravity Man’s stage where the gravitational pull shifts according to which way the arrow is pointing.  It’s kind of like Metal Storm except you can’t change your gravity at will.
 
If you’ve played Mega Man 2 or 3 to death already I’d definitely recommend trying out 5.  Be warned though, it’s the rarest of the six and it goes for surprisingly high amounts on Ebay.
 
Sydlexia – #48 Review
IGN – #84 Review
Gamefaqs – #54 Review
Complex – #87 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #8 Review
 

50: MEGA MAN 4

megaman4-51
 
North American Release Date: December 1991
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
 
Notes:
The only Mega Man I owned as a kid, it definitely has a ton of nostalgia for me.  That being said, it’s not the best Mega Man on the NES (Mega Man 2 all day!) but it is still very fun.
 
I talk about Mega Man 4 more at length in the My First Games section.
 
Sydlexia – #47 Review
IGN – #95 Review
Gamefaqs – #50 Review
Complex – #37 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #51 Review
 

49: BATMAN
batman-34
 
North American Release Date: February 1990
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Sunsoft
Publisher: Sunsoft
 
Notes:
Batman was made by Sunsoft who were kind of like the off-brand version version of Konami or Capcom.  They made some solid titles like Journey to Silius and Gremlins 2 (which probably should’ve made this list) and also some dogshit like Fester’s Quest.  A good developer is like a good record label when you’re digging through vinyl: most of whatever they produce is awesome. 
 
Batman plays like a combination of Ninja Gaiden’s gameplay and Shatterhand’s industrial backdrop.  It’s a pretty damn good game and one that a lot of us played as kids.  Nice to see it’s still just as fun as it was back then. 
 
I have yet to play the sequel, Return of the Joker, which I’m kind of surprised didn’t appear on a single one of these lists.
 
Sydlexia – #98 Review
IGN – #33 Review
Gamefaqs – #84 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #41 Review
Complex – #72 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #52 Review
 

48: LITTLE SAMSON
littlesamson-26
 
North American Release Date: November 1992
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Takeru
Publisher: Taito
 
Notes:
After much soul crushing guilt, I finally bought this ridiculously pricey game on Ebay.  Please don’t look it up, you will hate me as much as I hate myself for buying it :(. 
 
For years I’d been reading about Little Samson, the ultimate hidden gem that ranks up there with the best.  So with that in mind, it’s jacked-up price is a combination of it’s rarity and people’s desire to play some unknown classic.
 
How is it?  Pretty damn good.  It’s similar to Clash at Demonhead in level / map design, the platforming is similar to Shatterhand, and the character select is similar to Bucky O’Hare.  Mostly it’s a typical action platformer: you traverse a variety of levels, fuck up some enemies, crush some bosses.  You can choose from 4 characters at anytime, each of which has a different skill and weakness.  Unlike Bucky O’Hare where you can cycle through the characters at any time, you have to go to a select screen and choose the character.  This is turn causes one of the most annoying musical flaws I can think of, which is that instead of each level having different music, each character has different music.  Which means every time you change characters the music switches.  Since you need to switch a lot, you end up hearing the first 10-15 seconds of each theme over and over and over.  No bueno.
 
IGN – #93 Review
Gamefaqs – #73 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #18 Review
Complex – #83 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #9 Review
 

47: GRADIUS
 gradius-7
 
North American Release Date: 1986
Genre: Shooter
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
 
Notes:
 
Aside from being basically the Grandfather of the shooter genre, Gradius is also noted for being the first game to use the Konami code, which later came to define another Konami classic: Contra.
 
For this style of game, Gradius does it right.  The music and graphics are awesome, the difficulty is for sure hard but manageable, and the controls are fluid.  The upgrade system is super simple and unlike other shooters Gradius is still playable if you die and lose all your suped-up lasers.  My only complaint about this game is that it’s a little repetitive in terms of environments and enemies, something that later shooters improved on quite a bit.
 
Other than Gradius, there’s only two shooters I’d rank higher: Gun-Nac, which I discussed earlier, and Lifeforce, which was also made by Konami and is very much like a sequel to Gradius.
 
Sydlexia – #44 Review
IGN – #34 Review
Gamefaqs – #96 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #61 Review
Complex – #32 Review
 

46: SNAKE RATTLE N ROLL
Snake Rattle and Roll - Ingame
 
North American Release Date: July 1990
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
 
Notes:
Snake Rattle N Roll is a bizarre isometric perspective platformer made by NES badasses Rare. You control the head of a snake and you eat balls which then become part of your tail.  Collect enough balls and you’ll be heavy enough to sit on the scale and move onto the next level.  With a premise like that you’d think I’d have jokes aplenty, but there’s just nothing super gratifying about shooting fish in a barrel.  Unless of course the fish ate bullets, at which point challenge accepted!
 
Snake Rattle N Roll has a really cool concept and design, but because of the isometric perspective I find the controls to be incredibly difficult.  This perspective works a lot better with Cobra Triangle or R.C. Pro Am where you’re not trying to make accurate jumps whereas here it’s awfully painstaking.  
 
I feel like I should have more to say about this game since it’s a really bizarre concept and the design is pretty innovative, but I don’t.  Maybe I’ll revisit this title later on and rethink some things.
 
Sydlexia – #62 Review
IGN – #32 Review
Gamefaqs – #72 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #73 Review
Complex – #47 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #79 Review
 

45: BASEBALL STARS
Baseball Stars 1 - Ingame
 
North American Release Date: July 1989
Genre: Baseball
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK
 
Notes:
Without a doubt the best baseball game on the NES. 
 
Baseball Stars has a surprisingly deep system where you can create your own team and with each win you get money which you can use to upgrade your players or purchase new players.  And you can do this for 125 games!  That’s pretty impressive for a little ol Nintendo cartridge.  In fact, I’d say Baseball stars is probably the most intricate game on the Nintendo.  It’s somehow like a combination of Dragon Warrior, Nobunaga’s Ambition, and Tecmo Super Bowl.  Even today you could find yourself getting lost in all the trading and upgrading of building your perfect team of men OR women.  Yes women in baseball!
 
There’s a pretty short list of the best sports games for the NES, and Baseball Stars ranks up with the aforementioned Tecmo Super Bowl, Blades of Steel, Super Dodgeball, and Super Spike V-Ball.
 
IGN – #28 Review
Gamefaqs – #28 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #82 Review
Complex – #24 Review
 

44: RC PRO-AM
rc2
 
North American Release Date: February 1988
Genre: Racing
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
 
Notes:
Love, love, love R.C. Pro Am.  It’s a super fun and groundbreaking racing game where you race 3 other remote control cars.  In each race there are a variety of upgrades you can pick up to make your car better including the letter icon which, when you spell NINTENDO, upgrades your car to the next level.  Getting these upgrades is absolutely essential as each race the opposing cars get better, so if you’re winning the races but not collecting stuff eventually you’ll get left behind.  Thankfully, the game gives you weapons that help level the playing field since the computer cars can’t use them.  So even if your car is slower, you can still blast the fuck out of the speedier cars.
 
Beyond the start screen and the short bit before each race, there’s no music, only the awesome sound effects of the cars accelerating and screeching at each turn.  I don’t know why, but those sounds stand out as the most memorable of any game I can think of.
 
The sequel is a pretty cool attempt at making the game multi-player.  It’s more impressive a feat than it is a fun game to play which is why it doesn’t really rank up there with the original.  I discuss it a bit in the Outliers section.
 
Sydlexia  #61 Review
IGN – #13 Review
Gamefaqs – #56 Review
Complex – #29 Review
 

 43. EXCITEBIKE
 
North American Release Date: November 1984
Genre: Racing
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
 
Notes:
Excitebike is a very simple game to play but a difficult game to master.  Getting your speed just right and your angle absolutely precise while dodging opponents takes a minute to get used to. 
 
For me the most memorable thing about the game is it’s sound.  Just like R.C. Pro-AM, I haven’t played it in a few years but the sound of the engine, the jumping, and the crashing are all permanently lodged in my brain.
 
The build your own course section was waaaaaaayyy ahead of it’s time and would later show up in games like Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater.   To this day it’s still super fun to design your own courses.  Apparently the Japanese version allowed you to save your courses so you could play them later which would have been awesome!
 
A sequel, Excitebike 64, was produced for the N64 and was actually pretty damn good.  It’s VERY different in gameplay from the original, but still very worth your time.
 
Sydlexia – #33 Review
IGN – #14 Review
Gamefaqs – #29 Review
Complex – #81 Review
 

42: LITTLE NEMO: THE DREAM MASTER

Little Nemo The Dream Master - Ingame 1
 
North American Release Date: September 1990
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
 
Notes:
In this game, you control Little Nemo a useless gimp waiting to be assaulted by a variety of bizarre bad guys.  Nemo’s only defense is to throw candy at his enemies.  Not only is this the stupidest weapon ever, but it only stuns them so at any time they can still hurt you.  This candy is really only useful on the animals you can control like a frog or a gorilla.  Basically you feed these animals sugar until they pass out in some supreme diabetic high at which point Little Nemo can ride them or sometimes climb inside of them. 
 
The whole thing just sounds like a reverse take on the whole pedophile tempting kids into his van with ice cream or candy.  Instead the young boy is just tossing out his rufie laced confections and manipulating all these animals to be his slaves.  Nemo you sick fuck.
 
But you know what?  Fuck this game.  The whole using different characters with various skills to navigate levels is kinda similar to Bucky O’Hare or Little Samson and is for sure a cool idea, but it still doesn’t make this game fun. Little Nemo is incredibly hard and personally I find it more annoying than challenging. 
 
Now the source material (the Windsor McCay serialized comic) is a whole other story.  That Little Nemo is one of the most amazing visual creations of the 20th century.
 
Sydlexia – #42 Review
IGN – #68 Review
Gamefaqs – #74 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #90 Review
Complex – #48 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #35 Review
 

41: SUPER C
superc-48
 
North American Release Date: January 1988
Genre: Run and Gun
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
 
Notes:
A super fun 2-Player game, Super C is just as good as Contra, yet somehow even more difficult.  Oh yeah, because they took out the Konami code!
 
The only real change in gameplay is that those corridor levels from Contra have been replaced with outdoor overhead style levels a la Heavy Barrel or Ikari Warriors.
 
However, as far as this list goes, I’m kind of surprised Super C ranked so high.  Don’t get me wrong it’s a total blast to play, but it does very little to improve on or distinguish itself from Contra, and most other sequels (Duck Tales 2, Power Blade 2, RC Pro Am II ) are excluded from the top 100 for those exact reasons.  Then again, every Mega Man game is included so I don’t really know what to make of the overall logic that goes into the decision making behind the source lists.
 
Sydlexia – #52 Review
IGN – #60 Review
Gamefaqs – #40 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #64 Review
Complex – #39 Review
 
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One response to “#60 – 41

  1. Pingback: New Update: #60 – 41 | Snow Way Bro's Top 100 NES Games List

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