Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List #89-80
Arguably the most beloved console of all time, the Nintendo Entertainment System, commonly abbreviated as NES, is now well over 25 years old. With over two thousand games produced worldwide for the legendary hardware, the NES, despite it age, has an eternal staying power. As retro gaming continues to grow in popularity, more and more gamers flock to Nintendo’s first home console to get their gaming fix.
Welcome to part two of a ten part special looking back on the top 100 NES and Famicom games ever produced.
Since many NES games can be a real test of player’s patience and skill, I am ranking every game on its overall difficulty using a simple scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is brain dead easy and 10 is….well, Battletoads. A 5 on this scale means it’s average difficulty with perhaps some challenging elements, but nothing the average gamer should get stuck on for too long.
I’m also including many links to videos and other online information sources. Links are indicated by orange words. Please open these links in a new tap/window so you don’t have to navigate away from this article.
Check out part 1, #100-90 if you missed it.
So without futher ado, I hope you will enjoy the Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List!
Princess Tomato in Salad Kingdom
Price range: $30-50
Difficulty: 6Many growing seasons ago, the Salad Kingdom was a peaceful land. But one day, minister Pumpkin betrayed king Broccoli, kidnapped princess Tomato, stole the royal Turnip Emblem, and took them to his castle in Zucchini mountains. He sent his cruel Farmies to terrorize the Salad Kingdom. Shortly thereafter, the king died, unable to recover from the loss of his beautiful daughter. But he promised you, the brave Sir Cucumber, the princess’ hand and the entire kingdom, if you save the beautiful Tomato from the clutches of the evil Pumpkin.
Princess Tomato is one of the only text adventure game for the NES to hit North American shores. You navagate the world using a series of commands such as “move”, “check” or “give”, but you’ll also utilize less traditional options such as “hit” “fight” and “praise”. Early in the game you’ll rescue a baby persimmon named of course, Percy, who then accompanies your adventures throughout the rest of the game. Like many hero-sidekicks, she tends to be on the annoying side.
As you can tell from the title and plot, Princess Tomato doesn’t take itself seriously, and uses the tongue-in-cheek approach rather than a midevil or fantasy one. Like most text-adventure games, process is normally fairly straightforward, but there will be times you’ll need to exhaust every command option you have only to have to leave a screen and come back simply because that’s how the programmers wanted you to do it. Still, if you know what you’re getting into when you first pick up the controller though, you’ll find Pricness Tomato in Salad Kingdom to be one of the most underrated NES classics around.
You are Rockford, and you have to dig through monster infested caves in search of diamonds all around the world. In each level you must collect a certain number of these diamonds in order to open a portal to the next stage. Enemies can be squashed by falling boulders, which are released when the ground below them is removed (a simply physics engine is used) or they are pushed onto empty ground, but be careful because these can also squash you. In later levels, difficulty is increased by many puzzle elements and shorter time limits.
Why you should play it
The NES translation of Boulder Dash came somewhat late into its life, but it’s nevetheless an excellent version of the classic computer game.The graphics are bright and colorful, and the many stages and worlds keep things fresh with new takes on the way the game looks. The game has a lot of replay value over multiple difficulties and even has password saves for advanced levels. For an all-round good gem collecting, boulder dodging time, you can’t go wrong with NES Boulder Dash.
According to the game’s manual, NES Boulder Dash’s hero Rockford was at home caring for his sick father Stoneford, when suddenly Stoneford gave Rockford a map. He said the map was to a mine full of gem’s that he discovered on his last adventure, but was now too weak to raid the mine. At this point Rockford decided to abandon his father and go out searching for gems. Rockford is kind of an asshole.
Price range: $8-12
The platform puzzle which first introduced Luigi to the world has both single and multiplayer action with two differing game types, but with the same objective. Crabs, turtles and fighter flies must be cleared out by jumping underneath the platform they sit on, then kicking them away. Each level is cleared when a set number of coins is collected.
For the two player mode, the first to collect the set amount of coins wins.
Avaialble exclusively for the Famicom Disk System, Kaettekita Mario Bros. (Meaning Return Mario Bros.) is a vast improvement from the original Famicom version released worldwide most players are familiar with. Along with a slight upgrade in the visuals, the controls have received a major update, allowing Mario and Luigi to turn as they jump and allowing for more precise movement. This means this version is not only superior to the initial NES release, but also the arcade original!
Interestingly enough, although there was never a North American counterpart, Kaettekita Mario Bros. was ported to the European NES towards the end of its run in that territory in 1993. Having only a limited distribution in non-English speaking countries, the game was re-intitled Mario Bros. Classic Serie (note the lack of an s). This version was encoded specifically for the slower PAL NES clockspeed and thus will play 17% faster on a North American NES. Nevertheless, this version is probably the best bet for importers as the original FDS cart was only ever available though a Disk Writer Promotion and is now quite rare. the FDS version came in two versions, one of which had in-game advertising for things like instant rice and soy sauce.
One of the first football games to be officially licensed and have representations of all NFL teams of its era, Tecmo Super Bowl is crammed with a copious amount of game modes and options. Choose from pre-season/regular season/Pro-Bwol games, regular season team standings and rankings, regular season player statistics and rankings, end-of-game boxscores, and a 12-team playoff following the NFL format. Don’t like the players on your chosen team? Edit your team with any of the players in the whole game. Choose and change on the fly your team’s field plays by selecting up to four runs and for passes at once each inputted by a simple, easy to remember button sequence. Choose difficulty levels or play against a friend. 10-Yard Fight eat your heart out.
The music is excellent as well, but the real star of the show is the game’s visuals. Extremely beautifully animated cutscenes showcase particular moments of the action with impressive animation and almost realistic coloring. What’s more is that there are so many cutscenes you can play for days without seeing them all. The in-game graphics are simpler with players being only small sprites on the screen, but this was done to allow players to see who they’re passing to and keep an eye on the entire field that would be impossible if the sprites were large.
No other 8-bit Football game even comes close to matching the sheer polish Tecmo Super Bowl has. Unless you hate video football (and even if you think you do) give this one a try. This is 8-bit football done right.
There are many ROM hacks of Tecmo Super Bowl out there that update the team roasters with the latest versions. For diehard football fans, you can find a 2011 version of this classic game with all 32 current teams complete with new faces and stats. A great guy named Leon sells reproductions of Tecmo Super Bowl for $25 including shipping if you provide him with a compatible common donor cart. For more information, check out NESReproductions.com.
This version of Ms. Pacman, commonly known as Tengen Ms. Pacman to diferenticate it from the later licensed Namco version, is unauthorized by Nintendo, and unlike the Namco version, isn’t a mere port but instead is an enhanced remake of the original arcade game. Ms. Pac-Man must collect pellets and fruit, all while avoiding the four ghosts Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Sue. Turn the tables when you eat one of the Power Pellets and temporarily gain the ability to devour your pursuers!
Ms. Pacman, produced by Tengen in their black cart NES-10 free carts is vastly superior to the officially licensed Namco version released years later in the twilight years of the NES in America. You can play through 36 unique mazes that offer just a ton of veriety. Some mazes are very small and fit to the aspect ratio of the TV, while others are the same size as the tate arcade monitors and therefore scroll, while others still are even larger and stranger. There are multiple difficuty settings, as well as an option for the “Pac-Booster” which basically allows you to run while you have a button held down. Still not convinced this is the best version of Pac-Man on any 8-bit console? Plug in a second controller and two can play cooperatively as Ms. Pacman and Pacman at once!
The Wicked Wizard King has covered the kingdom with ice and hid the people and palaces deep within the ice. Armed with his freezing breath, a young warrior named Kickle sets out to save his friends and attempts to rescue the kingdom from this puzzling predicament of perpetual winter.
Yet another arcade adaption, Kickle Cubicle on the NES was just as good as it was in the arcades, if not even better. The game is a lot like Hudson’s Adventures of Lolo series but with a greater emphasis on action rather than pure puzzle solving, Irem’s classic can become challenging in later levels but never to the point where you’ll want to turn the game off – the difficulty spikes are manageable. There are dozens of stages across four worlds filled with enemies, candy tricks and traps that keep the game fresh and one you’ll return to again and again.
The Famicom counterpart is considerably harder with more enemies and obstacles scattered throughout the game, but it also allows players to pick and choose the stages they play in whatever order they choose. This feature was mysteriously absent in the NES build.
In Balloon Fight you need to fly around with the aid of two balloons and try to pop your opponents balloons before they pop yours. Landing on top of your opponents will cause their balloon to pop and they will use a parachute to fall to safety. You then need to destroy the fallen opponent by running into it before it can blow up a new balloon and rejoin the battle. Should both of your balloons get popped, you will fall into the water below and lose a life. There is also a second game variation called “balloon trip” where you need to collect as many balloons as possible while avoiding the ocean below and lightning which forms maze like walls.
The simple, pick-up-and-play nature of Balloon Fight ensures that kids, adults, causal and hardcore gamers alike will enjoy a few minutes with this game. The co-op feature is a ton of fun and Balloon Fight is one early Famicom game I return to again and again. Balloon Fight is one of the most ageless 8-bit classics.
Already a perfect game for arcades, Balloon Fight was later available in both Nintendo VS Cabinets and the Play-Choice 10 Arcade Machines. Balloon Fight also spawned a GameBoy sequel called Balloon Kid which focused on sidescrolling platforming. The game was successful, and in 2000 a GameBoy Color remake called Balloon Fight GB was released in Japan.
Oh and also this. That’s all I’ll say.
My original video review
The Little Mermaid
Price range: $6-8
Difficulty: 5Ariel has already met Eric, and they plan to wed, but the sea-witch Ursala has taken control of the ocean! So Ariel (After explaining what’s going on to Eric) becomes a mermaid once more and sets off to rescue the sea.
Why you should play itOne of the many excellent Disney-Capcom games, The Little Mermaid is of course only loosely based on the film of the same name, but don’t take that to anything negative. Although the film was primarily intended for young girls (Ariel being one of the most easily reconized Disney Princesseses) the Capcom game can be played by anyone who enjoys excellent sidescrollers. Due to their experience with the hardware, the team at Capcom managed to tax the NES to its limits producing some truly beautiful undersea environments that still manage to impress today. If you passed on this thinking it would be a girls-only game, give it a try. It’s got great visuals, audio and controls, interesting gameplay and its not very difficult. The game’s challenge is entirely optional making the trip through the game worthwhile for any oldschool gamer.
ROM hackers, ever the naughty devils they are, produced a graphics hack for this game that removes Ariel’s top and entitled the hack to be “Naked Little Mermaid, The”. Everyone shown in the cutscenes is also depicted nude. Of course, this means you’ll be seeing Eric and worse, Ursula….
In Mendel Palace, you are Bun-Bun and you have to rescue your girlfriend Candy, who has fallen asleep and is now trapped in her dream. To progress, you have to go through various areas that feature dolls as enemies. Games are played on a board of 7×5 sliding tiles, using an overhead view. By sliding floor tiles, you’ll be able to put them off balance and make the crash in the wall, leading to their destruction.
Mendel Palace is packed with small details and delicate character animation, and the aesthetics can still impress. Gameplay, meanwhile, is deceptively simple and drags you in – you’re soon kicking cards around to collection bonus items and trying to splat enemies against the walls. To call it an action-based puzzle game would be a very loose description as there’s nothing else quite like it.
Released in Japan as Quinty by then small developer GameFreak, this was the very first game designed by Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri. The Japanese game’s plot is simpler than the North American version, with the player’s girlfriend simply being kidnapped rather than some princess named Candy. As far as I can tell, this was GameFreak’s only Famicom game.
This concludes part 2 of my look back at the Top 100 games for the NES/Famicom. Stay tuned for further installments as I count down the best of the best 8-bit Nintendo games out there. Feel free to drop a comment below regarding your own thoughts and memories regarding these ten picks.