With the recent passing of the NES’s 25th anniversary, I have been taking some time to remember the great games that nurtured me from a tentative C64 gamer into a full fledged video game addict.  Yesterday I listed off the NES games that I owned as a teenager, but those games barely scratched the surface of the breadth of games that I played.  My hometown had a great video rental shop that carried an expansive selection of NES (and later SNES) games that they rented out for $7.50 per week.  I indulged as often as I could afford to.

Here are some of the most memorable titles from those heady days:

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

The only Castlevania title that I have ever enjoyed, Simon’s Quest obsessed me for weeks until I finally beat it.  I loved the game play: the exploration, the combat, the sense of progression… it was all gold.  Pity that the rest of the series didn’t include the RPG elements that made this such a stand out to me.

Dragon Warrior III & IV

While I owned the first two Dragon Warrior titles, I only ever rented the third and forth installments.  These were games that I would rent for multiple weeks in a row in order to ensure that some other gamer wouldn’t erase my game when I returned it to the store.  The only danger was reservations – I’m not sure which game it was, but I clearly remember having to reliquish a game that I was playing due to a standing reservation at the shop; when I got it back a week later my save was gone.

Duck Tales

As preposterous as it sounds these days, NES-era licensed games were amazing.  Duck Tales, like most other Disney titles at the time, was a well put together side scrolling platformer that was equal parts artistic, fun, and challenging.

Mega Man 2

As the first Mega Man game that I ever played, Mega Man 2 has a special place in my heart.  I thought the game was difficult when I first struggled my way through it, but after beating the game and then going back to try the original Mega Man I learned how spoiled that I actually was.  I finished all six of the first games in this series before losing interest when Mega Man X changed things up.

Little Nemo: Dream Master

A charming platformer that is all the more compelling in retrospect.  The gimmick of this game was that you could gain assistance from jungle animals, which meant that there was a lot more variety of gameplay than found in most games in the genre.


One of my friends owned Contra, and I played a tonne of the game – all co-op.  We never played without the Konami code, and at the time didn’t give a damn that it may as well have been cheating.  I played Super C later, but it never truly compared to the first run & gun classic.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

This movie, when it debuted, was a big deal:  after all, humans were acting along side cartoons – technology was amazing!  When the game came out I simply had to rent it, and the puzzle adventure did not disappoint,


I hear this poor little game get kicked around a lot these days, but to my RPG-obsessed brain it was a much-needed change of pace.  The game was probably inspired by Zelda, and if I recall correctly your main weapon was a yo-yo.  What else do you want, really?

River City Ransom

I played a lot of beat ‘em up games on the NES, but perhaps none as awesome as River City Ransom.  I find it both amusing and pleasing that this game is getting some attention in 2010 with the geek-success of Scott Pilgrim.

Nobunaga’s Ambition

I admit to spending many, many hours fighting over feudal Japan…. and usually losing.  I adored this style of game for years, and faithfully rented all of the sequels as they came out.  Eventually the series (like most simulations) got too complicated for my liking and I abandoned it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

One of the hardest NES games that I remember playing, TMNT beat me, I didn’t beat it.  Particularly, the tricky swimming sections – pictured in the above screenshot – absolutely crushed me.  The overland combat sections were tough, but trying to navigate screen after screen of electic seaweed was nearly impossible.

Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers

Though not as awesome as Duck Tales, Rescue Rangers was still a solid platformer that I had a blast with.


If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game wasn’t hard enough for you, then Battletoads would certainly give you a run for your money.  The beat ‘em up sequences in this stylish side scroller were easy enough, but it was the impossible hover racing sequences that turned a breezy romp into a rage-inducing deathfest.  I remember beating the driving sequence once, but I didn’t survive long after that.


A quirky little RPG that was one part Zelda and one part Final Fantasy.  I never beat this one, but remember dumping a pile of hours into it.

A Boy and his Blob

A unique – and tough as nails – puzzle platformer.  I purchased and played through the reimagining of this old title when it came to the Wii, and am glad to have done so.

Iron Sword: Wizards & Warriors II

I sucked at this game – flat out.  It’s on this list because I remember how terrible I was at it, despite the game not being terribley difficult by all accounts.

Fester’s Quest

An oddball action-RPG title before there was such a genre.  This game was flat out wacky.

Bionic Commando

A great action game with a unique twist.  The developers got the bionic arm mechanics down perfectly, and it was pure awesomeness to swing around in that game.

The Magic of Scheherazade

Another Zelda-inspired game, this one made me squee when I saw the screenshot, although I cannot remember exactly what the appeal was back in the day.  Still, a squee is a squee.

Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu

I’ll be honest:  I can’t remember anything about this game about the name.  But what a name it is….

And so many more….

As I said at the top, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Scrolling through Wikipedia’s complete list of NES games I can honestly say that I’ve played at least a third of the games listed there, and probably more.  My old NES saw so many good games pop in and out of it over the years, and all that it asked for in the end was the odd blowing out…… for the dust, you see.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite NES games and memories in the comments.

11 Responses to “My gaming history: NES, part 2”

  1. Pam says:

    Star Tropics was one of my favorite NES games. I absolutely loved it. I remember how part of the game required you to get a code from your game manual and I tore my room apart trying to find it. Then you had to immerse the paper in water, which competely went against my usual need to keep my games in pristine condition. It was a great game though, there so many different weapons and items to use and I liked the maze-like maps.

    Another favorite was Felix the Cat.

  2. Derrick says:

    TMNT: This is certainly a contender for the title of most fruitless hours sunk into an NES game for me. I tried, and tried, and tried, but never beat it. It was unbelievably hard. Unlike other ridiculously difficult titles (ghosts and goblins, for example) it was fun enough to keep me working at it though. Still, never did manage to beat it, and I’ll always remember it with an odd mixture of fondness and rage =)

    That’s something you never, ever see anymore. You *never* find games that you just can’t beat, even on the most difficult settings (in my experience at any rate). I’m not sure if this is good or bad, though.

    Nobunaga’s Ambition: I really agree with your thoughts here in regards to simulation games over time. I loved the earlier ones, which were fairly simple but still very challenging with a great many tactical options. However, the later ones all seem to get more complex with every incarnation, and soon reach a point where unless you’ve been an avid player of the series from the get go, they are largely impossible to pick up and learn.

    I’m a huge fan of strategy/sim games, but I think they need to take a lesson from Chess, or hell, even Risk. Complexity does not in and of itself make a game better; and can often make it worse. Most modern indy strategy/sim games are so enormously complex that it’s just too much of a pain in the ass to figure out how to play them – and in many cases even understand why you’re losing. I tend to lose interest long before figuring them out; even if I do get them down, playing them is just too much work.

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah…. Sim Games seem to think that more complex is better, and I disagree. I had to stop playing Sim City and Civilizations for the same reasons: they got too complex and in the process lost the fun (for me).

  3. Huh, looks like we played a lot of the same games. Although, I didn’t get into Battletoads or A Boy and his Blob until years later.

    In college, I bought Pirates! for my roommate and we played that to death. Fun times.

    Oh, and speaking of Castlevania, did you play Symphony of the Night or the DS offerings? They have a lot more RPG elements like Simon’s Quest, but with more literal stats and numbers, etc. Those are probably my favorite games ever, and I definitely loved Simon’s Quest.

    • Andrew says:

      No, I didn’t even bother trying any Castlevania titles after being repeatedly let down by SNES versions of the game and a GBA title.

      Given your recommendation I’ll try to hunt myself up a copy of Symphony of the Night on the cheap. Thanks!

      • Tesh says:

        Symphony of the Night is a Playstation classic, and if you can’t find one of the original print run (usually expensive), the reprint should be easily acquired. I have the XBox Live version, and it’s really a great game. I’ll second the DS games, too. I’m finishing up Portrait of Ruin, and it may be my favorite Castlevania game yet, though the pair of Sorrow games and SotN are rock solid, too.

        I just finished up Metroid Zero Mission, too. I love the sense of exploration in these games.

        Um… as for the NES stuff, Fester’s Quest was brilliant, Battletoads was aggravating (as was TMNT), and DuckTales and River City Ransom are still fantastic games.

        No Blaster Master, though?

        • Tesh says:

          Oh, Simon’s Quest, Nemo and Mega Man 2 are all great, too. I still love the Metal Blade weapon for Mega Man.

          Did you ever play Captain Skyhawk or R.C. Pro-Am? Those were some of my other early favorites. I dragged my NES to my grandmothers’ place in the country just for R.C. Pro-Am… and it’s one of the few games my mother has ever played and actually liked. (Though maybe she was just humoring me.)

          • Andrew says:

            I don’t recall ever playing Captain Skyhawk or R.C. Pro-Am.

            I avoid driving games in general – except for multiplayer (couch co-op) Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. That is my one exception. =)

        • Andrew says:

          Oh, I played Master Blaster for sure…. it just isn’t one that I’d list as particularly memorable. (Yeah yeah…. jumping tanks are awesome… I know!)

          Metroid is a series that I’ve never managed to get into, and I’ve tried on a few occasions. I’m not one (usually) for backtrack-heavy game play.

  4. [...] Babble revels in nostalgia as he lists his favorite NES games.  Meanwhile, Game By Night takes us into the SNES [...]

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