Nintendo Entertainment System

My console gaming story really begins in 1990, when I recieved an NES for Christmas. My parents took all the cords and other things out of the original box, and put them into an enormous (for me, anyway) Magnavox TV box and weighed it down with cinder blocks. I'm still not sure why we still had that box, since we'd had that TV for years. The actual console got put into a much smaller box. This was because I had a bad habit of shaking Christmas presents and guessing what was in them, so my parents made sure I couldn't do that this time.

When all the presents were opened, I had a collection of six games: Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt (which came with the console), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters II, Gauntlet, Sesame Street 1-2-3, and Fisher-Price: I Can Remember. We got the last two because my brother was much younger than I was, and my parents probably figured that the "big kid" games were too advanced for him, but still wanted me to include him. Which was fine. Once he got old enough to play Super Mario Bros. I did exactly what every older brother did back then: stuck him with Luigi on controller 2.

My brother and I played many hours on that old NES. I think he still has it, acutally. We played, we bickered, we stayed up all night sometimes - usually after renting a game from our favorite video rental store: Mega Video. Those were the best times. And over the years we added to that collection of games. When the time came, I passed down most of those games to my son.

Favorite Games

  1. StarTropics

    Cover ArtI never owned this game, but I can't count the number of times that I rented it. I remember that I was never very good at it; I only was able to make to the third island, but man I kept trying. I'm not sure what it was about this game that kept driving me to come back for more. Maybe it was the island setting, and the promise of exotic locales. Maybe it was the plot. There were no princesses to save, and no legendary weapons to obtain. You were just trying to find your father, who had disappeared somewhere in the tropics. It certainly wasn't the controls, which always felt stiff to me. In any case, it's a game that I keep coming back to despite its faults.
  2. Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest

    Cover ArtThis was the game that got me into the Castlevania franchise, and into creepy games in general. It was also another game that I didn't ever own; I think I first played this one at the house of one of my Cub Scout friends. My parents really didn't like me playing games like this, and did everything in their power to keep me from them. And it might have worked, too, if the internet and emulation hadn't come along just in time for me to be a teenager. So, armed with a USB controller and my trusty NES Game Atlas, I would set off time and again to destroy Dracula once and for all. I'm sure that I never made it far; it's still a pretty hard game. But the atmosphere and the challenge still call me back.
  3. Ducktales

    Cover ArtThe first time that I played Ducktales was one of the (many) times that my parents insisted that I rent something that was appropirate for my younger brother to be watching me play. There's quite a bit of an age difference between us, so games based on cartoons were OK as far as our parents were concerned. That being said, Ducktales is a great game, despite being based off of a popular cartoon. Most games of the day that were based off of something else didn't fare so well, but Ducktales was solid. The controls were tight, if a little unintuitive. The graphics were spot on for the time. And the whole game was just plain fun. It was a little on the short side, only having five levels, but the game made up for it by ramping up the challenge as you went along. Ducktales has even gotten a remastered version that's available on several modern platforms, so there's no reason not to check it out.
  4. The Guardian Legend

    Cover ArtThe Guardian Legend is one of those games that are constantly coming up on the "hidden gems" lists, and for good reason. There was never a big franchise. No sequels, spiritual or otherwise. Just everything that made The Legend of Zelda great, but in space. I think the plot of this one was that you were some kind of robot, and you had to infiltrate this planet and make it self-destruct by disabling all of the safeties around the reactor. Or something like that. In any case, it's still a great challenge, and definately worth the play if you like adventure games.
  5. Super Mario Bros. 3

    Cover ArtI think that the first time that I became aware of this game, was in the trailer for a movie called The Wizard If you're too young to remember when that movie came out, check it out. It's still a good one. That was Nintendo's big reveal, the beginning of the hype train. And it worked beautifully. Super Mario Bros. 3 is a legendary game. It took everything that made the first two games great, and honed it to a fine edge. The level designs are iconic. The controls are superb. The bosses are memorable. This game did everything right, and it still holds up to this day.
  6. Mega Man 3

    Cover ArtAs I've said elsewhere, my brother was a bigger Mega Man fan than I've ever been, and I think that is largely due to the notorious difficulty of the early games. Mega Man I and II were infamously hard for me, and that's a big turn off. In fact, the Mega Man series was a major contributing factor to the phrase "Nintendo hard." Basically, because of hardware limitations, you couldn't make a game long, so you had to make it hard, or the player would finish it in a sitting - and Mega Man I and II were prime examples. Mega Man III was the first Mega Man game that I was able to beat, beginning to end, on my own. Unfortunately, Mega Man IV ramped that difficulty right back up (though not as bad as II), and I don't think that I ever beat that one.
  7. WURM: Journey to the Center of the Earth

    Cover ArtWURM is one of those games that I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who's ever heard of this game, much less liked it. And I think that this game doesn't get near the credit it deserves. Yes, the controls are a bit soft, and that makes things much more difficult than they need to be, but the story more than makes up for it. I'm also a big fan of hollow earth fiction so this game pushes that button for me, big time. The only thing that really irks me about this game, is the box art; There is almost nothing in the cover art that is representative of anything that's actually in the game. It's not quite as egrigious as the box art for Mega Man, but it's close.
  8. Ninja Gaiden

    Cover ArtNinja Gaiden is a recent addition to my list of favorites, having never had the opportunity to play it when I was a kid. This is another legendary game for good reason, and I regret not getting to it sooner. The controls are sublimely tight; if you get hit, you know it was your own fault, not the computer being a cheaty bastard. One of these days, I'll have to play through this one because of the promising story. Also, this game has gotten a ton of remakes, remasterings, and collections, so there's no reason not to check out this classic.
  9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    Cover ArtYes, I know. This game has a reputation for being absolutely impossible for the average gamer to finish. And yes, it's a really hard game. It was hard when I first got it when I was a kid, and it's still hard for me as an adult. But for some reason, that difficulty doesn't stop this from being one of my favorite games. Maybe it's just because I'm still a huge oldschool TMNT fan. Maybe it's because I really like the concept of humanoid animals (which makes sense because I'm also a fan of Palladium's After the Bomb setting. Whatever the case is, I keep coming back to this one, so it makes the list.
  10. Flying Warriors

    Cover ArtYet another game that I'm sure nobody else has even heard of. Despite the goofy name, and the ridiculous difficulty spikes, this game is surprisingly solid. My favorite parts were the one-on-one battles where you had to strike the red star on your opponent. It really made the game feel far more stratigic than most fighting games, even to this day. I think that this game was cobbled together from several different games, because there's not much cohesion between the different modes, but the story that binds the whole thing together is intriguing, so I'm willing to forgive that. Plus, it's got that Super Sentai vibe that I really dig.