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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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My All-Time Top Ten NES Games
Monday, December 05, 2011

As some of you may know, I’m a retro gamer. Well, actually I’m a gamer from the 80s that never got into anything much past the SNES. In fact, the only reason I bought a PS2 was because I figured if I was going to have a DVD player it should also do something else. Now the PS2 is packed up, my old NES is still hooked up (with a new 72 pin connector), and I’m still kickin ass and takin names at all the old 8-bit classics.

A couple months ago a retro video game store named Retro Games Plus opened a few miles from my home and I have a feeling I’ll be there quite often. In honor of finally having a good old school video game place by me (sorry GameStop, you stopped being game for me when you decided you’d only stock games and systems that are Playstation to present) I’ve decided to make a top ten list of some of my NES faves. These aren’t necessarily the ten greatest games of all-time, although some certainly qualify, they’re simply ten games (err, actually a few more than ten... you’ll see) that I’ve always (dig) dug.

10) Snake Rattle N Roll

There is something about this game I’ve always liked. It has cartoonish characters, gameplay that ranges from simple to damned near impossible thanks to the game making it necessary to jump diagonally and the NES not having a joystick, and has always been fun. There are times when I’ve felt my accomplishments in Snake Rattle N Roll have been some of my finest moments in video gaming.

9) Double Dragon

Who didn’t play Double Dragon as a kid? I mean, seriously, this was one of the games everyone loved bragging about their accomplishments in. Double Dragon also had a dope two player mode where you could fight alongside a friend, and a “great for the time” one on one mode, which was the precursor to games like Street Fighter and Tekken. Those Abobos still give people nightmares.

8) Baseball Stars

The first truly great baseball game for the NES. The only things it was missing were major league rosters and team names. Leaving that aside, this game let you not just play baseball on the Nintendo, it let you create a team, name your players, and, in league play, build up a budget you could then spend on ability points for those players. Baseball Stars is still my standard for baseball video games.

7) Dr. Mario

For as much as I love Tetris, and think it could have singlehandedly ended the Cold War had it come out a decade earlier, I love Dr. Mario just a little bit more. Perhaps it’s the angry little germs and the way they die. Perhaps it’s the thought of a plumber suddenly having a medical degree. Whatever it is, I can still play this game for hours on end.

6) Tiny Toon Adventures

One of the most underrated games in NES history, Tiny Toon Adventures was both fun and challenging and it had great graphics. Not only were some of the later levels straight up difficult, another strategic aspect of the game was picking the right Tiny Toons to play with. Buster was a great jumper, Dizzy could destroy things, Plucky could swim well, and Furrball could climb walls. You could complete any level with any character, but picking the right ones made it a much smoother task.

5) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II & III

If you had an arcade in your town growing up you knew all about the TMNT games. They were the best (after the first, which was an aberration) because you could have up to four people playing at once as a team. TMNT II managed to take the fun of the arcade version and put it into a two player game. It also had really high quality graphics for its time. Interesting side note - TMNT II was one of the first video games to have product placement. Those Pizza Hut signs weren’t there by happenstance. TMT III picked up right where II left off. Pure fun.

4) Darkwing Duck

A lot of Mega Man fanatics are probably reading this list and wondering where the heck their hero is. Well, Darkwing Duck is my Mega Man game of choice. It has the exact same gameplay as the Mega Man series (probably because it’s also a Capcom game), but all the worlds, villains, and heroes, are straight out of the Darkwing Duck cartoon. The graphics are amazing, and you get to face off against the likes of Bushroot, The Liquidator, Megavolt, Quakerjack and Steelbeak. It’s hard to get any better than that.

3) Tecmo Super Bowl

The gold standard of football video games. Emulators are made every year to represent current NFL rosters, and that’s because, with all due respect to John Madden, there’s no better football game than Tecmo Super Bowl. It featured eight plays on offense, eight plays on defense, the ability to throw the ball 100 yards with your backup QB, the infamous play where Bo Jackson runs out an entire quarter on one play, and music that will run through your head while you’re watching real NFL games. It was Tecmo’s second time around making a football game and I have two words to describe it - “Successful Try!”

2) The Legend of Zelda

The first game we all needed a map to figure out, The Legend of Zelda laid the groundwork for all future quest games. The best aspect of Zelda was that it was equal parts easy and difficult. You could roam around killing things and collecting rupees, but some of those hidden passages were seriously hard to find. The one above the river? If you found that on your own it was by accident, but that was what was really cool about Zelda, we all found stuff and then told our friends how to do it. We pieced the game together as a group and eventually we all saved the princess.

1) Super Mario Bros (1-3)

If you’re an 80s baby (or late 70s baby, like me) and can’t hum the music from worlds 1-1 and 1-2 of Super Mario Brothers you had a terrible childhood. The impact of the first SMB can’t be understated. From the sheer length of the game, to the multitude of Easter eggs in it - you know you went to that stupid -1 world even though you knew damned well you couldn’t swim out of it - it had it all. SMB 2 was a completely different game, but in retrospect, had plenty of merits, and SMB 3 may be the pinnacle of all NES games. All hail Mario!

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