History Behind Nintendo Purchase
Ah, yes. Who doesn't have fond memories of this system? Nintendo single-handedly revitalized a "dead" industry and easily monopolized it. For all of its questionable business practices, Nintendo was able to succeed in uniting players around the world. It seemed like everyone had this system. You can bet that no other TV game console will ever reach such a large market share (i.e., 85-90%) again, because, if nothing else, there forever will be competition to split market -- unlike in the late 1980s.
I have foggy memories about when I got my NES. I think I got it in the early part of 1989, because that's when I started to subscribe to Nintendo Power. I believe my parents purchased it from a now-defunct discount department store chain called Zayre, but I cannot remember the retail cost. I do, however, remember that my first game purchase was Ghosts 'n Goblins from a Kay-Bee Toy Store. Looking back through my video game receipts, I can see that I started to save receipts with the purchase of Super Mario Bros. 3. I got that game from Sears mail order on March 1, 1990, for the price of $54.89. I also quite vividly remember buying more cheap-o games (Burai Fighter, Robowarrior, and MagMax immediately come to mind) than I do now. And, oh, I have several accessories, too: the Light Gun, Power Pad, Four Score, NES Advantage, and NES Max.
Unfortunately, I started selling off all but six of my NES games in preparation for the Super NES. That means I have very few boxes or instruction booklets for my NES games; most of the games I have now are used. The six games I kept were Super Mario Bros. 3, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, Baseball Simulator 1.000, Final Fantasy, and The Legend of Zelda. My NES then sat up in my parents' attic for years until it was awakened one day.
It was the fall of 1996. My guess it was the middle of September, still a few weeks before the release of the American N64. I went in a used video game store (Video Game Exchange, a.k.a. It's About Games) for the first time in a few years. All of a sudden, I saw a used NES game called Stinger for the low price of $2.95. This was a game I never owned, but one of my friends had it. Stinger instantly brought back fond memories, and I decided to purchase it and a few others. From that point on, I decided to build an NES collection by buying back all of my old favorite games, getting some I always wanted, and adding some of the true classics, even if I didn't necessarily like the games. I purchased most of my used Nintendo games for anywhere from $2.95 to $7. Although my original NES collection as a kid reached about 35 games, my adult NES library is about three (3) times as large.
All-Time Favorite Nintendo Games
Nintendo (NES) Collection (91 games)
What lies below is a listing of my Nintendo (NES) collection along with some history behind the system's purchase. One thing to keep in mind is that these are all the games I currently own. I've actually had other games throughout the years. But I got rid of some of them for whatever reason. Please also note that all of the games listed below are actual cartridges. I am neither into getting emulators for the classics nor am I into pirating the latest games.
Throughout both the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, platform games were my favorite genre. I played tons of them, and Super Mario Bros. 3 was light years beyond anything else for many years. Due to the sheer size, variety, and balance of the game, it provided more challenge, more secrets, more power-ups, more diversity, and more fun. I still believe that it is the best 2D Mario game of all-time.
Not only did Super Mario Bros. revolutionize gaming, but it also was a great game. Never before had a game included so many hidden easter eggs or secrets. Plus, it gave players a level of control never seen before in a video game. If you break out your copy of Super Mario Bros. right now, you'll probably still enjoy it. It's truly that good.
Like Super Mario Bros., Zelda revolutionized gaming, but it did so in its own ways. With The Legend of Zelda, players had the opportunity to experience a completely new kind of adventure. Furthermore, the game introduced the ability to save your game to the console world. Who doesn't have fond memories of trying to find the next dungeon?
I loved this game because of the simulation aspect that was not seen in other NES baseball games. Despite the fact that Baseball Simulator 1.000 didn't have real teams or players, it offered so much more in the way of options and statistics that made it better than Bases Loaded in my book. I never played through as many seasons in a sports game.
No one can dispute the greatness of Tecmo Super Bowl. It took the great gameplay of the original and added real NFL teams and players. It was quite realistic for its day, and it still remains fun. In fact, during one of my college semesters, my roommates and I played many, many games of Tecmo Super Bowl. That's because it's easy to play and doesn't use too many buttons.
Ninja Gaiden ranks as my favorite action game on the NES because of the cut-scene story interface that it introduced. Surprisingly, the story was quite captivating. You wanted to keep playing the game, because you wanted to see what was going to happen next. Unfortunately, the game was quite difficult! I still remember being stuck on the last level!
For many years, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were my favorite cartoon. I never liked the first Ninja Turtles game for the NES, however. When this game first hit the arcades, though, I loved it. I spent a ton of money on it. I never imagined I would be able to play it at home. Then Konami shocked everyone with this incredible two-player port for the NES.
Mega Man 2 gets the nod as my favorite Mega Man game in the series. I feel this way for two reasons. One, I think it has the best and most creative boss "Man" characters in the series. Two, I thought it was the most balanced in terms of gameplay and difficulty. Also of note is that it introduced the password feature to the series, which was a lifesaver!
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos was a true sequel in that the story was a continuation of the first game. How about that? It didn't just have new levels and updated gameplay; it continued the storyline. Why don't more games do this? Also, the main reason I like the first one better is that this sequel is insanely difficult!
As you can see, Mega Man 3 is almost on par with its predecessor. Since the levels and characters aren't as creative, though, it's not quite as awesome. At any rate, you gotta love the gameplay in the Mega Man series, since you had to figure out the best order to take out the bosses to use their abilities. The rest of the series becomes too unoriginal and redundant after this game, though.
Dr. Mario is one of my favorites, because I spent a lot of time playing it with my older brother. We enjoyed the game more than, say, Tetris, because you have to take into account matching colors when the clearing viruses—all the while trying to plan combos to send "garbage" to your opponent! A good Dr. Mario game can get quite heated and furious!
"Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start." I bet you remember entering that code combination as fast as you can on your Control Pad. I sure do. Although I can say that I never completed Contra without using the 30-man code, I still found the game a ton of fun to play through, especially with a second player. It was a blast to shoot everything.
Strangely, Metroid is one game that I didn't get into the first time I played it after it came out. But a few years later, I purchased the game and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The sci-fi emphasis was unique, and it was a perfect mix of action and adventure. It's surprising to me that this game never did well in Japan. We Americans love it!
I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out my 15th favorite NES game. After considering the possibilities, I realized that I couldn't go wrong with this classic: Super Dodge Ball. Many kids have fond memories of dodge ball from growing up. Well, this two-player rendition is done quite well, except there's too much flicker! Where's a 3D version?
- Adventures of Lolo, The *
- Adventures of Bayou Billy, The (Wii U)
- Alien Syndrome
- Astyanax *
- Balloon Fight * (Wii U)
- Baseball Simulator 1.000 *
- Bionic Commando * ARC on (NS)
- Blaster Master * (Wii) and (NS)
- Bubble Bobble * (NS)
- Burai Fighter
- Castlevania (Wii) and (NS)
- Castlevania II: Simon's Quest* (Wii) and (NS)
- Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse* (Wii) and (NS)
- Cobra Triangle *
- Contra (NS)
- Donkey Kong Classics (Wii U) and (NS)
- Double Dragon (NS) + ARC on (NS)
- Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NS) + ARC on (NS)
- Dragon Warrior * (NS)
- Ducktales (Wii U)
- Excitebike (Wii U)
- Faxanadu *
- Final Fantasy *
- Gauntlet (GCN)
- Gauntlet II (GCN) (4p)
- Ghosts 'n Goblins (NS)
- G.I. Joe
- Golgo 13 *
- Hogan's Alley (Wii U)
- Ice Climber (Wii U)
- Ikari Warriors
- Ironsword *
- Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu
- Kid Icarus (Wii)
- Kirby's Adventure (Wii)
- Legend of Zelda, The * (GCN) and (Wii U)
- Life Force (Wii U) + ARC on (NS)
- Magic of Scheherazade, The
- MagMax ARC on (NS)
- Maniac Mansion
- Marble Madness * (GCN)
- M.C. Kids *
- Mega Man (GCN) and (NS)
- Mega Man 2 (GCN) and (NS)
- Mega Man 3 * (GCN) and (NS)
- Metal Gear *
- Metroid * (Wii U)
- Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! * (Wii U)
- Mission: Impossible
- N.A.R.C. * ARC on (GCN)
- Ninja Gaiden (Wii U 8-bit) + (SNES 16-bit)
& ARC on (NS)
- Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
(Wii U 8-bit) + (SNES 16-bit)
- Paperboy (GCN)
- Rampage * (GCN)
- R.C. Pro-Am
- Rescue Rangers (Chip 'n Dale)
- Rescue: The Embassy Mission *
- River City Ransom (Wii)
- Rush 'n Attack
- Shadow of the Ninja *
- Shadowgate *
- Skate or Die
- Skate or Die 2: Search for Double Trouble
- Spy vs. Spy (MAD) *
- StarTropics * (Wii U)
- Stinger (Wii U)
- Strider * ARC on (Wii) and (NS)
- Super C (NS)
- Super Dodge Ball * (Wii)
- Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt * (Wii U)
- Super Mario Bros. 3 * (Wii U 8-bit and Wii U GBA)
+ (SNES 16-bit)
- Super Sprint (GCN)
- Tecmo Super Bowl
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles * (NS) + ARC on (NS)
- TMNT II: The Arcade Game (NS)
- TMNT III: The Manhattan Project (NS)
- Track & Field II
- Winter Games
- Wizards & Warriors
- World Class Track Meet
- World Games
- Wrath of the Black Manta
- Zelda II: Adventure of Link * (GCN) and (Wii U)
Note: The games listed above are physical cartridges. Nintendo's Virtual Console service on Wii and Wii U allowed me to augment my collection digitally by purchasing 12 more NES games individually:
- Adventure Island (Wii VC)
- Blades of Steel (Wii VC)
- Double Dribble (Wii VC)
- Dr. Mario (Wii U VC)
- EarthBound Beginnings (Wii U VC)
- Mario Bros. (Wii VC)
- Milon's Secret Castle (Wii VC)
- Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (Wii U VC 8-bit) + (SNES 16-bit)
- Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (Wii VC 8-bit) and (Wii U VC 8-bit) + (SNES 16-bit)
- Super Mario Bros. 2 (Wii U VC 8-bit and Wii U VC GBA) + (SNES 16-bit)
- Tecmo Bowl (Wii U VC)
- Yoshi (Wii U VC)
plus Zanac on Switch and a previously Japanese-only release that also made it to Switch (e.g., Kid Dracula on Castlevania Annv.)
4. Baseball Simulator 1.000
8. TMNT II: The Arcade Game
10. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Much like Super Mario Bros. 3, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse got back to the series' roots after straying with the second game. What a tremendous comeback this game enjoyed. The long, challenging quest was helped by great graphics and a unique branching level concept. Remember when you found out that Alucard was Dracula spelled backwards?
7. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Honorable Mention: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Strider, River City Ransom, Dragon Warrior, and Battletoads
* indicates instruction manual
For me, a lot of my memories about the old 8-bit Nintendo are related to the many different places and avenues to play the games. It really seemed like Nintendo owned the entire market. Your friends had one. Your cousins had one. Your neighbors had one. Your local movie rental store probably rented NES games. Your arcade may have even had Nintendo "VS Arcade" machines. It really was ubiquitous, and that contributed to my familarity with so many different games as a 10- and 11-year-old.
As far as those games go, it's apparent that most NES games go against modern game design principles in so many different ways. That is part of what makes it alluring. Can't beat the game in one setting? Too bad -- or pause the game until tomorrow because there's no save feature. Didn't see that bad guy when you made the jump? That's part of the challenge. Only get three lives? Better hope there's a cheat code. Doesn't that person/thing look like a copyright and/or trademark violation? Yes, it probably is. But I guess that's part of the nostagalia now. In fact, that's why people like me collect NES games. Nintendo games can be obscure, glitchy, unpolished, or legally questionable, and that's why many of them were never made available again.
The following bulleted points are some random notes and thoughts about the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In the list, you will find information about the system and games that I could not place anywhere else.
Last Updated: July 11, 2022
- Perhaps someday I will make this game part of my permanent collection: Tetris (Tengen version). Maybe even Bible Adventures, which I owned as a kid. But I am certainly not going to partake in the crazy collecting associated with some of those NES rarities.
- Strangely, I have some fond memories of Fester's Quest (Addams Family), although it is certainly not well regarded.
- What are some of my "hidden gems" or "sleepers" for the NES? I remember playing many different games throughout the years, and these games are good and fun enough to stand my test of time: Bigfoot (2 players), G.I. Joe, Hoops, Life Force, The Magic of Scheherazade, and Track & Field II.
- I distinctly remember having quite a bit of fun with the Power Pad accessory and World Class Track Meet as a kid; maybe you enjoyed it, too?
- Why is it such a pain to get NES games to work properly? I think the "blow" technique (where you blow on the cartridge's chips before inserting the game into the system) is infamous.
- Who knew it would be so difficult to get these 8-bit systems to work on newer HDTVs...thank goodness for the Framemeister.
- Anybody else remember the "suggested" scene in Golgo 13?
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