This game brings back memories, I was pretty young when I first played this though, so I probably spent most of my time losing and confused. A great game, if a bit odd in concept, but certainly unique.
2. Batman: The Video Game
A good Batman game? Yes indeed, they made one way back when, too bad I had to wait until Arkham Asylum to play another one. The music in stage one of this game kicks ass. Bought this off a friend in grade school.
3. Blades of Steel
More memories. Fighting in an NES hockey game, with the loser taking the penalty? Brilliant. Other highlights include the tie game shootouts, the half-time arcade space shooter mini-game and the invincible goaltenders. Still one of my favourite hockey games.
4. Double Dragon
This is a classic, but, no 2 player simultaneous mode for the main game? And it says 2 players right there on the title screen! Taking turns, in my opinion anyway, hardly counts as a 2 player mode in a brawler. Still, I prefer this version to the original arcade release, at least for single player mode anyway. Maybe it's only because I played this version first, but I must say I think the look of the arcade original's main character sprites are awful.
5. Double Dragon II: The Revenge
Here's an improvement. Better character sprites, moves and level variety, what's not to like? Well, for starters, what's with the button controls reversing depending on the direction you're facing? You can get used to it, but still, it never feels preferable. Also, this game has an impressive ability to go from manageable to holy hell in a very short period of time. Still, a great beat-em up for the NES and the second best in the series.
6. Duck Hunt
Hey, it's Duck Hunt! What's there to say... We've all played it and tried to shoot that damn dog when he starts sniggering after you miss a duck. But with orange light gun in hand, it's the coolest you can look attempting to single-handedly shoot down legions of tiny flying UFOs on a golf course. Oh sorry, those were "clay" discs (woo-ing alien hover technology sound effect to the contrary). Even though it's pretty basic and repetitive, at the time it seemed like an amazingly interactive experience so I'll always have a soft spot for this game. It's a true shame the light guns don't work with modern TVs so you can't experience this anymore (there's workarounds and alternatives, I know).
7. Final Fantasy
I love this game. Everything except the sometimes hounding random battles that make you dread walking through any cave or forest. But the rest of it? Much loved. I lucked out and picked this game up at a used games shop during the N64 era for 10 bucks, including the original manual and dungeon map/weapon stats fold-out. Still my favourite Final Fantasy game. No need for fancy stories and dialogue when you've got a cool battle theme, interesting character classes and a fully upgradable inventory of weapons, armour and spells.
My personal favourite party selection?
Fighter, Red Mage, Black Belt, Thief.
That's right, default for the win baby! This party is fun right away, down with all that sissy magic tomfoolery. Fun fact: black magic & healing is for wusses.
Two-fisted monkey-style attack!
Have I said classic enough times in this section? Well, it's no Super Metroid, but it's the next best thing! Wait, actually, that's probably not true anymore, but it used to be. Bought this game off a friend in grade school as well, I always thought this was a cool little game, though I never bothered to get very far back in the day. I beat this a bit after high school via emulation I believe, though I'd still like to get around to playing Zero Mission, the GBA remake.
9. Ninja Gaiden
EPIC. Screw these new-fangled 3D pitiful excuses for Gaidens. If you want difficulty, try beating this bastard in one sitting. This is one of my favourite action games of all time, since long before the new 3D series came out. This game is hard, and cheap, but in all honesty, it's really only 2 parts in the final section of the game that can trigger a white hot burning lust for the developers' blood. Check out the review of this game by The Angry Video Game Nerd to see what I mean. The music, cut scenes and story in this game are still excellent, and were phenomenal for the time. The introductory movie in particular is guaranteed to make all your hairs stand on end.
10. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Seamless wall-climbing and refined game play with access to a badass doppelganger power-up that mirrors your every move, is there any way this couldn't be better than the first game? Well, unfortunately yeah, quite a few ways actually. A less interesting story, with nicely drawn but again less interesting cut scenes and a difficulty somehow even more based on just annoying the hell out of you than the first one (the -really- windy mountain capped off with tarantula man anyone?). But worst of all, the big, bad, mighty Prince of Darkness and master of frightening and terrible demonic hoopajoo, Lord Ashtar, who makes such a grand entrance in the intro? Huge deluded wuss. This serves as a plot twist, but still, it was kind of a let down, if an understandable one. In any case, it still has great game play going for it and some nice tunes of it's own, so it could've been much worse. It could've been Ninja Gaiden III.
11. R.C. Pro-Am
The first time I played this game I hated it. After awhile of seeing my brother and some other people playing it though, I started to realize that it might not have been so much that the game sucked as it was me who just sucked at it with my impatient style of always racing around corners full speed. I think I attained a somewhat passable level of proficiency for a brief period, but it's been so long that were I too play it now, I might have to hate it all over again.
12. Rainbow Islands
This game is magical rainbows wrapped around a giant chest of ice cream, fruity drinks and sparkly diamonds. That statement being more or less literally true should go some way in indicating why this game was so awesome. Climb through the skies on self-made rainbow platforms whilst avoiding pesterous giant bees and other nonsense trying to prevent you from collecting delicious treats and great big honkin' diamonds. Destroy semi-sentient giant helicopters with nothing but deadly rainbows and attain virtual invincibility by harnessing a spinning shield of bubbles (and yeah, that's like, literal bubbles, like the kind kids blow). I got this off a friend during the NES era, and I remember actually being annoyed at seeing the "perversion" of the series' game play when I first encountered Bubble Bobble, somehow not making the connection that this game's subtitle indicated it was in fact a (wonderfully) bastardized sequel.
I saw this at some kid's house being played on the Sega Master System (which I hadn't even realized had existed until then) and just HAD to have it. Playing through this game with 2 players, destroying town after town full of helpless civilians and helicopters to smash as two mega size rampaging horror movie rejects was immensely satisfying on the first time through, and then, unfortunately, never really was again..
Fun at first, but also, as the later franchise entries reinforced, shallow and repetitive.
14. Stadium Events
World Class Track Meet (NES alias) -----
This game could be fun when the pad was working right. Of course, it was always easier to just cheat and use your hands as I'm sure everyone did. I haven't played this since I was a kid and would love to get around to trying it out again, if my pad still works. As a side note: technically, this could also be considered my first game as it came with my NES and Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt cartridge, but, for fairly obvious reasons, this game received much less play. Love the hurdles event though, who needs Wii Fit?
15. Super Mario Bros.
The first game I've owned (the cartridge was a combination with Duck Hunt) and the first game I ever played, right around age four, I believe. A classic whose game play still holds up and inspires today. Eternally the most significant video game of my life, and obviously one of the more important in inspiring me towards game development.
16. Super Mario Bros. 3
You could ride around in a freaking giant green boot! Safely traverse those nasty little black piranha plant bastards with the mighty power of reinforced shoe soles! Right here I have to say, there is no point in analyzing this game's logic too much. Raccoon Mario was the least of this game's insanity, there was also the stone statue transforming Tanooki Suit, the lame as all hell on land but totally awesome in the water Frog Suit, and finally the crème de la crème, super rare but totally badass Hammer Suit, allowing you to finally dish out a sweet, sweet fire-with-fire metal rain of death on those nasty Hammer Bros. pricks. On top of that stuff, you've got little/giant world, the Big Bertha fish that stalks you for an entire level in an attempt to swallow you whole as the tide rises, the Angry Sun, an improved version of the classic Mario Bros. arcade game, the first appearance of the Hammer Bros.' theme and of course the awesome debut of the Koopa kids. I could just go on and on. This game is an all-time classic, one of the greatest, most masterfully designed, satisfying and most complete video games ever made. People can't decide if this game or it's sequel, Super Mario World on the SNES is the best Mario Bros. game. My opinion? It depends on the day of the week? Honestly, if I had to choose, I'd say SMB. 3 is probably the better made game, but it can be much easier and tempting to slide into playing it's highly polished but less bonkers successor, due to more modern features like battery save and level re-entry that unfortunately Super Mario Bros. 3 lacked.
17. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
It's a little quirky and hardly what you'd expect of a Turtles game (probably no other license is more of a match made in heaven for the beat'em up genre), but I had some fun times with this game. The Angry Video Game Nerd review is dead on about the ridiculous and unclear jumps required in this game however. I happen to think the bomb defusing dam level is awesome though, separates the turtles from the, uh, baby turtles..? In any case, no one can deny that the title screen for this game was quite awesome for it's time.
18. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES alias) -----
After playing the XBLA arcade version re-release of this game in 4 player online mode, I finally managed to feel even more cheated by this version than when I first played it, which is a fairly impressive thing. Actually, I'm being too harsh, I can truthfully say about this game: it's not the worst game I've played.. Seriously though, that awesome arcade version with 4 players was out there the whole time back then, and instead I was playing this watered down crap? What, the hell. I guess the title should have been a clue that the NES game might not have been giving me the full experience, but talk about really falling short of the mark. Double Dragon on the NES is technically inferior to the arcade version and yet a lot of people prefer it (myself included). --No one-- would ever claim that of this half-assed port.
19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project
This is a kickass Ninja Turtles game, easily the best on the NES and among TMNT beat'em ups still really only 2nd to Turtles In Time. This game completely makes up for the first two half-assed NES turtles games. After you beat down the second level boss enough, he goes berserk and proceeds to rip a huge pipe off the wall and pummel you to death with it. Not only did this game finally get the basics of a TMNT beat'em up right on a home console, with a sufficiently deep move-set for the NES, but it also succeeded in providing a varied and entertaining set of levels to traipse through while hewing closely to the actual Turtles universe of characters that people were waiting to see done right. I have nothing bad to say about this game. Oh wait, well, it IS an NES game, so expect the standard savage difficulty spikes in later levels and a general scarcity of lives, depending on how much you sucked earlier on. This game probably was the one that introduced me to the "steal your friend's lives" mechanic, which could be either a curse or a blessing, depending on your perspective.
20. Tag Team Wrestling
More painful for you than it ever is for your character. Hmm, what can I say? There was no YouTube back then and sometimes you lose big when you roll the dice on an unknown game. At least I only wasted 10 bucks on this at a used games outlet.
21. The Guardian Legend
This game was a great find, I'd never heard of it before I picked it up during the 16-bit gen. at a clearance outlet, but this game defines the idea of "hidden gems" for the NES library. I really didn't have much idea what this game was about as a kid, and it didn't matter. It starts out as a bit of a generic space shooter, as you pilot a ship shooting down waves of bad guys and proceed to mess up an end level boss. Only it turns out you're not piloting a space ship, but just some crazy future space warrior wearing a suit that can transform into some kind of a space ship, a more advanced Samus Aran if you will. Well in actuality the ground level gameplay is nowhere near as varied or advanced as running around in Metroid, but there is a ton of freaking cool gun upgrades you can purchase along the way to entertain yourself. Unfortunately the ground level sections aren't always hugely interesting, and can become tedious at times, but once you figure out how to unlock the way forward with a little Zelda & Metroid-style puzzle solving skills, the game can become quite engaging. The space shooter sections are handled well since they are used so sparingly that you begin to crave them for a change of pace, not to mention to be able to check out how your newly acquired gun upgrades will operate during flight mode. And as with any good adventure title, this game is also rounded out with some pretty catchy tunes (check out Naju Overture from Overclocked ReMix).
22. The Legend of Zelda
Clearly a classic, but, I played through A Link To The Past before I ever had this game. Lots of groundbreaking stuff in this game obviously, but perhaps because I was spoiled with ALTTP, the game world never really felt like it was alive to me with the only NPCs seeming to be old men in caves you could smack about with your sword. Moblins, octoroks and tektites however are classic stuff, but I must say, it also featured some really stupid, esoteric things like the countless unmarked bushes you are somehow supposed to deduce that you should burn (read: just burn everything) and the unmarked dungeon walls and final dungeon level entrance you're supposed to know to blow up with bombs (fortunately ALTTP fixed all this stuff with visible markings you could spot). But don't get me wrong, I still greatly enjoyed playing through this game, but now that I've played through it a few times, and being spoiled by ALTTP, I'm not sure I see myself playing through it every so often until I die as I'm sure I will with ALTTP. I must say though that recent titles like The Binding of Isaac really honed in on a great gameplay concept, borrowing the appeal of the simple original Zelda dungeons, showing there's still new life, of a sort, for this title yet. Also, it must be admitted, somehow the original has a far better boomerang animation than the SNES follow-up, how'd that happen?
23. Tiny Toon Adventures
This game probably most singularly defines hop 'n bop gameplay above all other examples. There's some fun to be had here, especially the Elmira boss levels and generally just ruining people's shit with Dizzy, but the later levels really ramp up the difficulty like a bastard. Like going from training wheels to being ass deep in sand on the beaches of Normandy. Actually, it's maybe not quite that bad.
24. Total Recall
Ah, more memories. Unfortunately, none of them fond. Who can forget such moments in gaming as navigating the "wall of many holes" from which inexplicable barrages of fists repeatedly emerge to smack you about the face and testicles as you cross by and knocking your enemies flying offscreen into oblivion with a single punch. Once you reach the end of the first level, return to your apartment and take out your homicidal wife with a surprisingly large amount of bullets, considering the previous demonstration of power that your fists are shown to contain. And then of course being immediately shot in the head by an interloper at the conclusion of the battle. You can't fight him, you can only jump over him or walk past this motionless man, right on out the door. You didn't already know that kid? Well, too bad, why don't you try again from the beginning? Hmm, no thanks.
25. Yo! Noid
Holy delicious pizza pies Batman! It's Yo! Noid, the game about "radical skateboarding", winning local tough man pizza eating contests by spiking your opponent's dish with Tabasco sauce and whacking ice skating polar bears upside the head with the Noid's all-powerful yoyo. This game is the product of some of the most blatant, soulless corporate marketing to kids on the planet... and it's freaking great. I bought this off a kid in grade school and for the money, this was the absolute most fun and realistic pizza eating contest simulator available at the time. *Cough*