1985 CES. NES Unveiled
Another anniversary post? C’mon Burke you can do better than this, what is this, Buzzfeed? I know, I know, but my love for these anniversaries go beyond clickbait, a decade since Metal Gear Solid 3 and 20 years of PlayStation are huge events that shaped my life as a gamer, and then I remembered Nintendo unveiled their Nintendo Entertainment System at the 1985 CES and knew we had to to talk about it. Sure it didn’t change my life like the PSone, but it was a stepping stone into a world that would transcend hobbies.
Nintendo took a chance after the great console crash of 1983 and at the 1985 CES they unveiled their attack on the living room with the Nintendo Entertainment System, later that year it was released to retailers with a few hiccups, but by 1986 the rest is history. While I don’t care much for Nintendo now, the nostalgia is far gone, I’m not much of a Mario fan and I’ve lost my way with the Zelda franchise. I commend Nintendo’s stance on trying new things, such as the Wii and the Wii U, although I don’t care for either, but it will always hold a special place in my heart, being the first gaming console I ever owned, and I still own my personal one to this day.
Memories were made, and much like the 20 years spent with my PlayStation I’ve compiled a difficult list of my top NES games. Maybe they weren’t life changing, but man, they created some gnarly memories. How did I have so much more patience back then?
Much like my top 3 PSone list, my top 5 NES games didn’t come without much contemplation. My many years with my NES has left a giant library of much beloved titles, all deserving of some recognition, but in the end I chose to go with those that I have the fondest memories of in my youngest childhood gaming years. I decided to leave sports games out that I played not only on the NES but on the Gameboy during long road trips (which we had many), these include Blades of Steel and Lee Travino’s Fighting Golf. If you haven’t heard of or played Fighting Golf, it’s the best golf game you can buy, ever.
Through my high school years River City Ransom became more fun as it’s RPG elements finally made sense, parties were then filled with rooms of people yelling and screaming over Super Dodge Ball tournaments, and Dr. Mario matches that usually led to me rage quitting. I was never too good at Dr Mario. Then there was that time my friend Jason and I even spent 6 hours one day beating Breakthru without firing one bullet, high school boys are so dumb aren’t we?
Games like Metal Storm, Bio Force Ape, and Shadowgate became my favorites as my gaming matured, not by rating matured, but my play style, my thirst for story and innovation. They also arguably have the three greatest soundtracks of any NES game I’ve played, and that’s saying a lot for games in the same library as Mega Man 2.
Enough stalling though, here are my top 5 most memorable and nostalgic games of my youth from the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System:
The Simpsons: Bart vs The World: Bart vs the Space Mutants may be the most memorable, but The Simpsons: Bart vs the World was the most fun. You traveled all over the world attempting to find pieces for a scavenger hunt. You skateboarded the Great Wall of China, traveled to the north pole, and fought zombies in Hollywood before it was cool. I played this game constantly but really only ever beat it once. I finally finished off Mr. Burns around midnight and went running into my Mom’s room yelling in excitement instantly waking up my Mom who was more confused than impressed. After the dust cleared I learned I hadn’t found all the treasures and didn’t actually “beat” the game, Ghosts ‘n Goblins style. Speaking of Ghosts ‘n Goblins…
Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Another game I’ve never beat, but that didn’t stop me from trying again and again. Fondest memory was staying over at my neighbors house, both of them passed out, me under their big doe-eyed dog blanking plugging away at each level. There was a ton of Blades of Steel, Super Mario 2, and Fester’s Quest beforehand also, it was a great night. To this day I think that’s the farthest I’ve ever gotten in Ghosts ‘n Goblins, but besides it being nearly impossible, I still love the challenge and its iconic soundtrack.
Double Dragon II: What make’s Double Dragon II so special is the fact that I can’t tie down just one good memory from this game, there are so many jumbled together with friends trying not to punch each other’s faces because of the friendly fire. It’s a rare NES title that I’ve actually beaten not only by myself but with friends also. I remember every level vividly, fighting Arnold and his bulldozer and jumping on floating platforms in front of watchful eyes. Double Dragon II will forever be my intro to co-op play.
Mega Man 2: The greatest Mega Man. The Mega Man with the best bosses, best levels, and THE best soundtrack. Don’t press start and just watch, listen, and be amazed. I still don’t know the order in which to battle each boss, I just know I always start on Bubble Man.
Legend of Zelda: Everyone had to know this was going to be on the list, arguably no game franchise has stood the test of time and retained so many fans as Zelda has, and it’s all thanks to its humble beginnings with Legend of Zelda. I look back at how many hours I spent playing god only knows how many different play throughs thanks to its save system. And I don’t know for the life of me how we managed to complete this game without the internet. Thank god for school I guess, because that’s where I remember getting most of my tips and secrets. How else was I supposed to know you could burn that bush, touch that grave, and use the flute here without friends? It wasn’t until later in life did I happen across a Nintendo Power strategy guide for Legend of Zelda, and whoa boy did the flood gates open after that. Such great, great memories.
Super Mario Bros. 3: One of my fondest memories growing up with video games, was the Christmas I received an original copy of Super Mario Bro’s 3. My parents had introduced me to “The Wizard” which was basically a 90min ad for the video game itself, and I had already fallen in love with Mario and platformers at the time.
I was 8 years old, and I remember after having received the game, every morning I would get up around 4 am of my own volition, and sneak out to the living room and play. This was before the time of the memory card, and only Legend of Zelda had a way to save any sort of information, so the first generation of video gamers had to memorize a literal ton of information in order to not waste time playing the same levels over and over again. Having learned where the warp tubes / flutes were hiding, I could safely navigate the trials and tribulations of Koops minions and the Koopalings to drive on towards the ultimate goal, World 8.
Finally, after a few days of repeatedly destroying the initial incursion forces of evil, I had managed to reach the steps of King Koopa’s castle, and with my multitude of lives, along with my would be utility belt of items achieved over my adventure,(what you would call a ‘speed run’ nowadays), I managed to put Koopa down once and for all. Spoiler alert: Koopa was destroyed by his own hubris FYI.
Little did I know that my dad had been watching me this whole time, and would forever be witness to my childhood greatness though he may not remember now. And thus our tradition was born, me playing NES before my dad had to go to work, and my dad watching intently as I mastered each game one after the other. Father and son, wrecking evil on its doorstep.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers: Don’t judge me! I watched a lot of Disney as a kid and never missed an episode of Rescue Rangers. I played so much of this awesome platformer growing up, that if it had a trophy system I would’ve platinumed that bitch!