#80 – 61

 

80: SUPER DODGEBALL
 
North American Release Date: June 1989
Genre: Sports
Developer: Technos Japan
Publisher: CSG Imagesoft
 
Notes:
Super Dodgeball is less a sports game than a beat-em-up where you throw dodgeballs instead of knives or bottles.  Basically it’s a simple gym class style three on three dodgeball but you can do crazy super moves by tapping the B button while throwing the ball.  Each teammate has different stats that dictate how well they’ll catch or throw the ball and this of course changes the way the back and forth action progresses.
 
It’s pretty fun and retains all the Technos quality found in other titles like River City Ransom and Crash ‘N’ the Boys Street Challenge.  Of course the Technos charm has it’s downside which is the infamous Nintendo flicker.  When there’s too much going on on the screen the character sprites flicker and sometimes disappear completely.  It happens in many games where they tried to push the graphical limits of the NES,  but the Technos games seemed to have the most trouble of all.  I think they were just ahead of their time programming wise and decided that gamers would suffer through it because the game was so good.  Sort of like waiting for internet videos to buffer: it’s super annoying, but there’s not really any other alternative so you suffer through it.  Hey, I just invented a new term called the “Buffer Suffer ®!”
 
Pretty much every game Technos made is awesome.  They made a few other sports game like Super Spike V-Ball, Nintendo World Cup, and Crash ‘N’ the Boys Street Challenge that are all excellent.  They also made an ice hockey game and a basketball game that both mimic the craziness of Super Dodgeball, but those were only released in Japan. 
 
There’s a really cool article about all the Technos Japan games you can read here and it is definitely worth checking out.
 
Gamefaqs – #33 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #79 Review
Complex – #80 Review
 

79: POWER BLADE
 
North American Release Date: March 1991
Genre: Platformer / Action
Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Taito
 
Notes:
Power Blade is a super fun platformer made by Natsume who are really best known for making awesome clones of more popular games.  This one is like Mega Man set in Bionic Commando and like those games the music, gameplay, and graphics are all top notch.  I’ve never played the sequel, Power Blade 2, because of it’s rarity and obnoxiously high cost on Ebay, but it looks pretty damn rad.
 
More on Power Blade in the My First Games section.
 
IGN – #83 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #97 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #13 Review
 

78: MARBLE MADNESS
 
North American Release Date: 1989
Genre: Puzzle / Arcade
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Milton Bradley
 
Notes:
Marble Madness is an incredibly unique and challenging game with cool design and awesome music. Oddly enough, the look of this game is totally in vogue with today’s style sensibilities.  I’ve worked with several artists whose work would be right at home in Marble Madness, and trust me it’s all awesome.  Someone made an image of all the levels all together that really gives a sense of how revolutionary and innovative the design of this game is.
 
There’s lots of odds and ends to MM that stand out, but the thing that comes most immediately to mind is the screaming.  When your marble falls off the screen or is eaten by a pool of acid it lets out this high pitched scream.  A FUCKING MARBLE.  You’re literally listening to the death knell of an inanimate object and it’s both off-putting and surprisingly soul chilling.
 
I think this game is actually more fun with two players because you get more time to complete the course.  Either way it’s really fun to play, but once you’ve beaten it there’s not really a ton of replay value…just bragging rights.
 
Gamefaqs – #58 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #63 Review
Complex – #70 Review
 

77: SHATTERHAND
 
North American Release Date: December 1991
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Jaleco
 
Notes:
Shatterhand is similar in look and gameplay to Power Blade, but with the upgrade variability of a shooter style game.
 
You play as this guy with an awesome hand that just punches the shit out of anything and everything.  Along the way you pick up letter icons with either alpha or beta icons and once you get three a robot buddy comes out to help you.  There’s 8 different combinations of letters and each robot has different abilities.  In many ways it’s kind of the predecessor to Gunstar Heroes for the Sega Genesis, where weapons can be combined to make new, weirder weapons.
 
Shatterhand, like all the Natsume games, is tons of fun to play with a lot of excellent scenery, badass music, and cool powerups to fight cool enemies while looking cool.  SHATTERHAND!!!!!
 
Retro Sanctuary – #55 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #34 Review
 

76: GUN-NAC

 
North American Release Date: September 1991
Genre: Shoot Em’ UP
Developer: Compile
Publisher: ASCII Corporation
 
Notes:
I would argue that Gun Nac is the best shooter on the NES but is ranked lower because of it’s rarity.  But then again, it is a bit easier than most of the other shooters and that’s a genre where difficulty is kind of the point.  If you’re a casual shooter fan, I’d definitely recommend Gun-Nac as a good place to start before having your spirit crushed by the rest of the NES library.
 
For the Nintendo Entertainment System, Gun Nac has some of the most impressive graphics out there.  There’s times where the screen is scrolling fast as shit and a million things are all over the place and you think to yourself “Fuck that’s amazing!” 
 
Y’now, for the NES that is.
 
Retro Sanctuary – #56 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #32 Review
 

75: NORTH & SOUTH
 
North American Release Date: 1990
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Infogrames
Publisher: Kemco
 
Notes:
North & South is an American Civil War strategy game where you take control of either the North or South.  In the South, we refer to this war as “The War of Northern Aggression”.  Well, backwoods retards call it that at least.
 
Oddly enough, North & South was based on a French comic book and the game was made by a French video game company.  I guess there weren’t a lot of takers for BaguetteTime or Super Voltaire Bros.  French jokes?  I got em’!
 
Anyway, in North & South you move your troops along the map until you face an enemy unit at which point the game shifts to a battle where you can control infantry, cannons, and cavalry.  You can also change the year which in turn changes the scale of the conflict as well as the difficulty setting.  There’s also outside factors like Indians or shitty weather that can affect the results of the game.
 
Overall it’s pretty fun, but it truly is one of the most simple strategy games there is and most of the strategy is accomplished by randomness of the battles instead of how you manipulate the position of your troops on the map.  Personally I’d rather play Rampart where the strategy is bombing the shit out of each other and the action part is a sadistic version of Tetris.  Come to think of it, at the end of Rampart when you’ve beaten your opponent you put them under the guillotine and Rampart was made by an American company Atari.  So the Americans covered the French Revolution and the French covered the American Civil War?  Weird.
 
Sydlexia – #79 Review
Gamefaqs – #94 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #19 Review
Complex – #94 Review
 

74: LEGACY OF THE WIZARD
 
North American Release Date: April 1989
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Quintet
Publisher: Broderbund
 
Notes:
Legacy of the Wizard is a title that, like Bucky O’Hare or Little Samson, utilizes multiple characters whose individual attributes combine to help you beat the game.  The only difference is that while those games were fairly straightforward, Legacy of the Wizard is probably the most obtuse and confusing adventure role playing game on the NES.
 
Legacy is actually a prequel of sorts to Faxanadu, although you’d never know it from gameplay, graphics, or design; they really couldn’t be more different games.  Well I guess they could be if Legacy was a racing game and Faxanadu was just interacting with a DVD menu.  Then they’d really stand apart!
 
Back in the day I went to Blockbuster and rented what I thought was Rad Racer and instead got this game.  At the time I thought Legacy of the Wizard was the most perplexing game I’d ever played and today I have pretty much the same feelings about it.  I feel like as an 8 year old I had more patience to persevere and explore this massive and perplexing game whereas 32 year old me would rather play a different game.
 
Gamefaqs – #88 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #72 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #20 Review
 

73: A BOY AND HIS BLOB: TROUBLE ON BLOBOLONIA
 
North American Release Date: December 1989
Genre: Puzzle / Adventure
Developer: Imagineering
Publisher: Absolute Entertainment
 
Notes:
A Boy and his Blob is a very clever puzzle game where the titular boy has a variety of flavored jellybeans which he feeds to his pet blob.   The blob does different things depending on which bean you feed it.  For instance, Licorice turns the blob into a ladder while Cinnamon turns him into a blow torch. 
 
There’s not really anything intuitive about which way to go or what to do in certain situations and even using a walkthrough I still managed to get lost after a few minutes.  While I find these types of confusing directionless games haven’t aged particularly well, A Boy and his Blob remains a singularly unique and interesting NES game.  It’s at least worth popping in the cartridge and playing for a minute before saying “Oh ok, I get it.  Great Job!”  Then feel free to throw in Contra instead.
 
I don’t know why, but a boy feeding his blob sounds really creepy; kinda like it’s his sex slave / toy.  I’ll be reading waaaaaay too much into waaaaaay too many of these games.  Also, titular is a great word.  I’m going to start using it in every game review from now on.  Well unless the main character’s name isn’t included in the title in which case I’d be using it incorrectly.  Y’all, my parents paid a lot of money for me to get an English degree and I’m trying my best to utilize what little I can remember!
 
Sydlexia – #38 Review
IGN – #75 Review
Complex – #60 Review
 

72: ADVENTURES OF LOLO 2
 
North American Release Date: April 1990
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: HAL Laboratory
 
Notes:
All the Adventures of Lolo games look and play exactly the same apart from cut-scenes or the overworld style of Adventures of Lolo 3.  As a result, you can really play any of them and get the same experience: a clever and challenging puzzle game.  This one is probably the best of the three.
 
The developer, HAL Laboratory, is definitely worth a shout-out.  Outside of the Lolo games they developed the Section Z meets Blaster Master game Air Fortress as well as Kirby’s Adventure, one of the best games ever made for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Later they’d develop the awesome RPG Earthbound for the SNES and the Nintendo mainstay Super Smash Bros game for every post N64 platform.
 
Sydlexia – #73 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #29 Review
Complex – #52 Review
 

71: GUERILLA WAR
 
North American Release Date: 1989
Genre: Run and Gun
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK
 
Notes:
Guerilla War plays the same as Ikari Warriors or Heavy Barrel but with the added feature of saving hostages like in later run and gun awesomeness Metal Slug on the Neo Geo.  Apparently in Japan, the two players are actually Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.  How cool is that?  Of course they changed this detail when it came to the States.  Fascists.
 
Every time I’ve played this with a friend, I’ve tried to continue and it only let’s 1-player continue.  I’ve never made it past the first stage because of how frustrating this quirk can be.  Anyone out there know why this is or how to prevent it? 
 
Gamefaqs – #95 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #34 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #33 Review
 

70: VICE: PROJECT DOOM
 
North American Release Date: November 1991
Genre: Action / Driving / Shooter
Developer: Aicom
Publisher: American Sammy
 
Notes:
Vice: Project Doom is a weird hybrid game where most of the game is straight forward action platforming like Shatterhand or Power Blade, but there’s a few stages where you’re driving like in Spy Hunter and a few where you’re shooting enemies 1st person style like Golgo 13.  All three styles of gameplay are done really well though.
 
It also has a surprisingly intricate story with lots of pretty, well rendered cut-scenes between levels a la Ninja Gaiden.  In fact Ninja Gaiden is it’s closest comparison since most of the game is walking around killing things and fighting bosses while jumping from place to place.  However, the tear your hair out difficulty of Ninja Gaiden is not present in Vice: Project Doom.
 
Also notable is the bizarre cover art featuring cartoony versions of Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver hanging out at some weird industrial S & M bar called the Power Plant.  That’s not in the instruction manual or anything, but c’mon that’s obviously what it’s called.
 
IGN – #48 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #66 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #42 Review
 

69: PIRATES!
 
North American Release Date: 1989
Genre: Adventure / Strategy
Developer: Microprose
Publisher: Ultra
 
Notes:
Growing up, I played Sid Meier’s Civilization for like two years straight.  Every day after school or on the weekends I was glued to our early 90s PC.  It is still to this day one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played. One of Sid Meier’s first games, Pirates!, plays a lot like a more primitive version of Civ.
 
Basically you command a pirate ship and you sail around and fuck up other ships both pirate and legitimate.  Then you sail to a port and there’s a variety of things to do there from attacking the people to trading to recruiting.  For the NES it’s extremely impressive just how in-depth of a simulation Pirates! is and I could see getting sucked into this if I were 8 years old again.  However, like many games I’ll talk shit about on this list, it hasn’t aged well and dedicating serious time to a long game like this feels more like punishment than fun.
 
As a kid, my buddy Scott played the similar title Uncharted Waters and swears that it’s a 100 times better than Pirates!.  So if you’re looking for another great simulation title check that one out.  I’ll cover it in the HIDDEN GEMS section at some point, but I’ll probably get him to write it 🙂
 
Sydlexia – #41 Review
Gamefaqs – #89 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #23 Review
Complex – #98 Review
 

68: RAD RACER
 
North American Release Date: October 1987
Genre: Racing
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
 
Notes:
It took me a while to realize where else I’d heard the music from Rad Racer: it plays during one of the best Strong Bad Emails!  Oddly enough though, there’s no music in Rad Racer until you reach 200 km/h at which point that rocking jam starts playing.
 
Along with Sega’s Out Run, Rad Racer is pretty much the grandfather of all modern racing games.  While certainly graphics have improved significantly since 1987, the gameplay is still nearly identical to any racing style arcade game out today.  That being said if I had to choose a racing game on the NES I’d rather play R.C. Pro Am, Galaxy 5000, Cobra Triangle, Excitebike, Micro Machines, etc.
 
Rad Racer is notably one of the only NES games to use 3D along with another Square title (and also one of my favorites) 3-D WorldRunner.  Just by pressing select you can switch between normal gameplay or red and blue glasses super awesome 3D action. Experience the future of video gaming!!!!  Just kidding, it actually makes the game less fun to play.  Spoiler alert!
 
IGN – #58 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #44 Review
Complex – #47 Review
 

67: WIZARDS & WARRIORS
 
North American Release Date: December 1987
Genre: Platform / Adventure
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Acclaim
 
Notes:
Wizards and Warriors is the first in the trilogy followed by Ironsword and Wizards and Warriors III: Kuros, Visions of Power.  All three games are pretty much the same but with minor changes or graphic improvements. 
 
In this game, you have a simple objective for each level: find three colored keys that open treasure chests, collect jewels, pay some guy to let you into the boss cave, fight the boss, and rescue the damsel.  As far as gameplay, basically you jump around everywhere like a dumb-dumb while enemies appear at random, most of which you either can’t avoid because they show up out of nowhere or which you can’t hit because they move all over the place.  I grew up playing the sequel, Ironsword, so I was already pretty sure how this was gonna go: like being stranded in the land of ultimate frustration. 
 
One thing that stood out to me was that between stages you cut down a different scantily clad damsel who’s dangling alone in a cave.  I’m sure the plot is supposed to be wholesome but it kinda seems like Kuros is building himself a stable of bondage babes, except that they never seem that grateful for being saved.  They’re all slumped over and un-enthused when you cut them down.  Maybe they weren’t in trouble at all but were actually trying out some new trapeze yoga offshoot and are just pissed off that Kuros took them out of their “zone”.  Women am I right? 
 
Project Pat already said it best: “Don’t save her.  She don’t want to be saved.”
 
Sydlexia – #77 Review
IGN – #57 Review
Gamefaqs – #78 Review
Complex – #57 Review
 

66: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
 
North American Release Date: 1989
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Ultra
 
Notes:
TMNT is a game that many of us played as kids, much more than say 95% of this list.  While it has all the checklist items that define a great NES game (music, sound, graphics) it is actually a real stinker and that’s due to a combination of poor design and supreme challenge.  I’d say avoid it completely and grab a friend to play TMNT II: The Arcade or better yet TMNT III: The Manhattan Project.
 
I’d love to comment on how difficult the later parts of the game get but anytime I’ve miraculously managed to beat the dam level my brain just shuts off completely.
 
Sydlexia – #45 Review
IGN – #98 Review
Gamefaqs – #45 Review
Complex – #55 Review 
 

65: GARGOYLE’S QUEST II
 
North American Release Date: October 1992
Genre: Platformer / Adventure
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
 
Notes:
Man, almost all the games on this page are hard as shit!  How’d that happen?
 
Gargoyle’s Quest II (the prequel was only released on Game Boy) is a very cool game that mirrors Zelda II in it’s basic design but is very unique in it’s more intricate gameplay.  You control Firebrand, who you might remember as that skull-fucking red devil from Ghosts N’ Goblins.  If you hold down jump, Firebrand can glide for a short period of time kind of like the Princess in Super Mario 2.  As you progress through the game, he can jump higher and glide longer and each level is designed to test exactly how well you can make him do both. 
 
The quality of the game is very Capcom top-notch but what really makes this game stand out is how the challenge increases slowly as your character gets stronger.  Definitely worth checking out.
 
IGN – #63 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #38 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #31 Review
 

64: IRONSWORD: WIZARDS & WARRIORS II
 
North American Release Date: December 1989
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Zippo Games
Publisher: Acclaim
 
Notes:
As I allude in my earlier review of the original Wizards & Warriors, Ironsword is kind of an awkward action platformer.  The game gives you a sword which you can upgrade as you go but it’s totally useless.  Mostly you spend the whole game jumping around from place to place with your sword sticking out like a giant erection and occasionally enemies will dive bomb straight into the tip of it.  Seriously, that’s the most effective method for fighting enemies and the most efficient way to get through the game.
 
The real fun of Ironsword is exploring the colorful and massive levels which are filled with tons of secret caves and entrances.  I’ve played this game a million times and still to this day I discover new spots with all kinds of spells and fantasy shit.  Not that any of it is super useful but it’s fun to collect!
 
I talk about this game briefly in the My First Games Section.
 
Sydlexia – #32 Review
IGN – #64 Review
Complex – #41 Review
 

63: DOUBLE DRAGON II: THE REVENGE
 
North American Release Date: January 1990
Genre: Beat Em’ Up
Developer: Technos Japan
Publisher: Technos Japan
 
Notes:
Finally the Double Dragon game where Double means something. 
 
Double Dragon II: The Revenge is one of the best 2-Player beat-em-ups on the NES and right up there with TMNT III: The Manhattan Project and River City Ransom.  It’s super fun, it’s got great graphics and music, and there’s a real variety in level design. 
 
The sequel though, Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones is a great big tub of no fun 😦
 
Sydlexia – #60 Review
IGN – #83 Review
Gamefaqs – #43 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #93 Review
Complex – #61 Review
 

62: GUARDIAN LEGEND
 
North American Release Date: April 1989
Genre: Adventure / Shooter
Developer: Compile
Publisher: Broderbund
 
Notes:
Guardian Legend is a really cool and massive game made by the same folks that made Gun-Nac.  The main character is a spaceship AND a badass space-pirate woman, so the gameplay is split between shooter levels when you’re a ship and a top down RPG style game when you’re the lady.  The shooter parts of the game are very similar to Gun-Nac, but the RPG parts are more similar to Legend of Zelda or Metroid with tons of exploring and new items to find. 
 
Only downside: it’s a giant game with no save feature and one of the worst password systems on the NES.  I thought Faxanadu‘s was tedious but sweet tap dancing christ this game takes the cake.  If you’re not sure what I mean by the password system, in the days before memory cards only certain games like Legend of Zelda or Tecmo Super Bowl were equipped with tiny batteries in them that allowed you to save.  Instead, most adventure games had passwords that you could use to get back to where you left off previously.  Some games like Mega Man have pretty simple passwords, but the more intricate games like Guardian Legend have extremely long passwords.  Nowadays I can just take a picture of the password but back in the day you’d write them down by hand which lead to all kinds of confusion about whether that letter X was uppercase or lowercase or whether that was a zero or the letter O.  This often lead to hours of progress being lost forever.
 
Overall though, Guardian Legend is a really good game and one of the few NES titles to feature a female protagonist.  Good enough for a poke right?
 
Sydlexia – #65 Review
IGN – #87 Review
Gamefaqs – #42 Review
Complex – #52 Review
Satoshi Matrix – #91 Review
 

61: GHOSTS N’ GOBLINS
 
North American Release Date: 1986
Genre: Action / Platformer
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
 
Notes:
If ever I refer to a game on this list as being “extremely difficult”, believe me I am misusing that term.  Ghosts N’ Goblins is the real fucking deal. Nervous breakdown level hard.
 
You can’t even talk about other aspects of this game, there’s just no point.  The only important factor is how much of an endurance test playing Ghosts N’ Goblins is.
 
Also, fuck this game.
 
IGN – #55 Review
Gamefaqs – #63 Review
Retro Sanctuary – #73 Review
Complex  – #44 Review
Advertisements

2 responses to “#80 – 61

  1. Pingback: Updated: #80 – 61 | Snow Way Bro's Top 100 NES Games List

  2. GS

    Hit select in Guerrilla War when trying to continue

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s