With contributions from David Alexander and Chad Mitchell.
The NES remains one of the most popular video game systems ever produced. The brisk sales of the re-booted mini are proof of its’ enduring popularity. During the heyday, the NES won consistent praise from critics around the globe. Calling it revolutionary may be an understatement.
Much like my post on great Atari 2600 games it is impossible to narrow down a list of great all-time classics. Those are discussions and debates that could last a lifetime. In my discussions with the co-contributors to this, we could not narrow down just the sports games alone. So a few of them are part of this list.
I’m certain to take a ton of heat for this. But out of the entire Mario series, this remains my favourite, with Super Mario World SNES running a very close second. Once I finally beat it, I spent additional times working through it so I could see other levels. There is an excellent documentary online courtesy of The Gaming Historian about the amazing history behind this game. I encourage everyone to check it out.
There were days I would rather have spent playing 18 holes of this in solitude versus being out on the course. Laziness on my part! Konami mixes great soundtrack with 18 of the most legendary golf holes in the world. This old classic never gets old for many fans. Changing the tee boxes that you play from actually mixes things up well as you play a full round.
The famous Konami Code first became known to most Nintendo Entertainment System fans via the NES version of Contra. This running shooter is fun to play. Users deploying the 30-life gaining Konami Code at the start were sure to get far right away. It was relaxing to play this game after school and take out the fictional forces of evil.
American Technos’s mix of role-playing and fighting into a single game turned into a real challenge for gamers. It was fun just to pop into all the shops found within the game to have characters replenish their energy. The game’s open concept storyline provided many challenges for players to get through. It required smart fighting and spending as you acquired funds.
Forget all the MLB franchises now being played on the modern systems. R.B.I. still reigns supreme in my books. A few years back I even owned a version for iOS playable on an iPad. Atari subsidiary Tengen produced three excellent games for the NES. I spent hours playing the third one, choosing Toronto Blue Jays clubs from earlier in the 80’s and having them play against every other possible team. This great game required skill and smarts to navigate.
Mega Man 2 was my first introduction to the much-loved series. It still ranks as a personal favourite of many NES gamers. There were many variables on how you could approach defeating the many end-level bosses. Once those were defeated, the final approach to the end felt like another game within itself.
Simon’s Quest was the second entry into the Castlevania video game series. A killer soundtrack accompanies this masterpiece Konami classic. The influence of this great game, along with the prequel and sequels lives on today thanks to Netflix’s excellent animated series Castlevania. The most recent game release for the series was in 2014 with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2.
And another golf game…. After serious debate it was impossible to leave off this classic from the list just because it’s a weird goofy fun golf game. SNK ported this arcade golf simulator to the NES in 1988. There is nothing “fighting” about it. The closest it gets is seeing the golfer’s frustration when they launch a shot into the water or out of bounds.
This stand-alone sequel to Metal Gear provided dramatic flare and action. Building on the success of the first Metal Gear plot, Snake’s Revenge was a mind-bender that challenged even the best problem-solvers and RPG fans.
Call it a sports game if you want. I call it a badass racing game. The 3D glasses that came with it were a nice touch for the time. Lots of racing games are worth of mention. While other games for other systems were far superior, Rad Racer remains a cemented in stone classic for NES fans.