Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List #69-60
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.
So without further ado, I hope you will enjoy the Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List!
Cadets at Starfleet Academy must spend some of their classes in the starship simulator. This year is a simulation of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Substituting for Jean-Luc Picard, cadets will take the role of captain and then must access different crew members (functions of the ship) to complete a series of scripted missions.
Star Trek: The Next Generation is divided into a series of missions. Players will start on the main screen of the bridge and from there can access Navigation, Tactical, Operations, Engineering, Transporter Systems and Mission Control. Mini-games are sometimes used to complete certain ship functions (such as rerouting power to the shields).
Why you should play it
I’m not at all ashamed to admit that I’m a Trekker. If you grew up in the early 90s, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that you watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. One of the biggest shows of the decade, TNG was just something special and paved the path for three more series and another five movies. In regards to this game, the simulation of command actually transfers to the NES quite well. Unlike the disjointed TOS 25th Anniversary game, TNG manages to always be exciting by giving the player meaningful and enjoyable tasks such as escort missions, colony evacuations, and yes, space battles. The graphics are great for NES standards and the game has excellent controls. If you’re a fan of TNG (and why shouldn’t you be?) track this one down.
With the exception of the final mission against the Borg, all the missions in the game are randomly generated thus providing quite a bit of replay value. The final battle against the Borg where you destroy them using a virus was actually later explored in Star Trek Voyager when a biological agent was carried by children who purposely were infected and allowed to be assimilated.
Hi no Tori – Houou Hen – Gaou no Bouken is based on the manga by the godfather of manga, the famed Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astroboy, Kimba the White Lion, Metropolis, etc etc). Based on the fifth manga volume, Gaou no Bouken tells the story of Gaou, an ugly man who lost an arm and an eye as a baby and treated harshly by all those around him his entire life. Angry and resentful, Gaou does whatever is necessary to survive, including murder if necessary.
However, he reveres nature and will go out of his way to save the smallest insect’s life. Along his travels, he meets a monk who changes his perspective on life and teaches him to tap into his innate talent to carve and sculpt. His creations are unrivaled in terms of the raw emotion that they communicate. One day Gaou learns of the mystical phoenix, who has the power to heal and whose blood grands immortality to anyone who should drink it.
What makes Gaou an interesting character is his weapon of choice – chisels. He can either fire them at enemies or use them to sculpt gargoyle heads and use them as instant platforms. There are many chests to open filled with treasures that help Gaou on his quest for the legendary phoenix including a mirror that not only makes Gaou invincible, but also capable of traveling through anything for a short period, including solid walls. The stages are extremely linear and although there are a total of sixteen of them, some of the stages are repeats of earlier stage,s making the environments you’ll explore somewhat boring and repetitive. Still, Hi no Tori is an overall unique and enjoyable Famicom exclusive worth importing.
Roughly translated as Phoenix – Firebird volume: Gaou’s Adventure, Konami’s platformer was highly successful and lead them to create Famicom games of other Tezuka properties, most notably Astroboy, based on the 1980 anime series. Even still, none were able to quite capture what made Hi no Tori special and it remains the best of all the Famicom anime based games.
Due to his excellent tactician skills, Commander Billy “Big Bang” Blitz of the Special Assault Brigade for Real Emergencies (S.A.B.E.R) Command helped bring a swift end to the war against the savage Demon’s Battalion, earning the respect of his peers. Rather than accept a promotion, Bang instead opted to simply retire and take a relaxing vacation with his girlfriend Mary. However, Bang’s peace would be short-lived. Bang suddenly receives an urgent message from S.A.B.E.R Command. The remnants of the Demon’s Battalion have kidnapped Professor Plum, the inventor of the Doomsday Bomb, and are holding him in the dreaded Deadhead mountain range. Knowing the world is in grave danger, Bang quickly springs back into action, leaving his girlfriend Mary alone and prime for capture…
The Clash at Demonhead is not a typical platformer at all. Borrowing elements from Metroid and Castlevanaia 2, Clash at Demonhead still largely does its own thing that no other game on the NES or otherwise has ever replicated completely. The game is nonlinear, broken up into several dozen various routes that, just like Metroid, drop you at the start without any idea on where to go or what to do. Therefore, a good chuck of the first few times you play this forgotten classic, you should simply explore the world and takes notes about what each area has, since many NPCs will bombard you with information and unless you’re planning on spending a month or longer on Clash at Demonhead, there is no way you’ll ever remember all the important details without jotting down notes.The graphics are somewhat dull and the music is repetitive, but it isn’t too tough and you’ll eventually figure out where you’re suppose to be going if you stick with it and write things down as you play. Clash at Demonhead is a great classic everyone should give a chance.
In the incredible graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim, the name of the Scott’s ex-girlfriend’s band is in is The Clash at Demonhead. This was evidently named so because it was the first game series creator Bryan Lee O’Mailley ever played. The band was also featured prominently in the excellent Scott Pilgrim Vs the World film, preforming “Black Sheep” by the real Toronto band Metric. If you somehow missed the film, check out the song below.
The world is on the brink of chaos and evil roams the land freely. Randy, the Holy Diver, sets out to retrieve the five emblem seals belonging to the King Crimson Family in order to expel the greatest evil, the Black Slayer, back into another dimension.
A mix between Castlevania and Contra, Holy Diver is a great looking Famicom exclusive with excellent controls and good music. That said, Holy Diver is also among the hardest games on the system. The platforming is demanding of precise movement but isn’t overly difficult on its own. The real challenge comes from the fact that enemies are everywhere and relentlessly attack you constantly. Even given the excellent play control and ability to shoot up as well as to the sides and crouch, you’ll still constantly find yourself completely surrounded by your foes all the time. I recommend this game, but only to those who have a high tolerance to the unique way NES games can kick your ass.
Holy Diver was actually scheduled for release in North America, but like so many others, was cancelled leaving this platformer a Japan only release. Probably all for the best anyway; given Nintendo’s censorship policy of the time, the constant reference to demons and the underworld would likely be changed to pixies spreading rainbows and flowers. Yay.
If the name Holy Diver sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of the 1983 Dio album Holy Diver, and the title track of the same name. The Famicom game by Irem may or may not be a reference to the song, so you’ll need to decide for yourself.
Captain Bucky O’Hare and his loyal crew – Blinky, Deadeye, Jenny and Willy – fight to save the Aniverse from the scourge of the Toad Armada. That is, until Bucky’s ship is attacked and his crew taken prisoner. Now a lone bunny on a mission, Bucky must fight to rescue his comrades from four hostile planets and then confront the Air Marshall on his flagship.
One of Konami’s later NES efforts, Bucky O’Hare is gorgeous. It pulls out every trick in the book – multi-layered moving platforms of parallax scrolling goodness, huge screen filling bosses, multiple playable characters, destructible environments and even the ability to choose the order you play the stages. The music is also really good, and is up there in terms of underrated NES soundtracks. However, even though this game is based on a kids show, this game is incredibly difficult. Stages are full of relentless enemies, instant death hazards and often unpredictable elements such as lava flows, rushing water or falling rocks. You’ll have to take full advantage of all the playable characters various abilities to have a chance of seeing this one through.
Originally a short-lived comic book series from 1978, the NES version of Bucky O’Hare is largely based on the short-lived animated cartoon from 1991 which lasted only a single season, producing a total of 13 episodes. Despite it’s brief existence, the cartoon spawned a toyline, this NES forgotten classic, and a rather decent arcade game, also produced by Konami in 1992. Check out the opening sequence for the cartoon that’s 90s in every sense of the word. My dear Bucky O’Hare, the world may have forgotten you, but I for one have not.
In the 26th Century, mankind has colonized the solar system. On distant Pluto base, the solar system’s defense outpost, all is not well. A gigantic robot controlled laser cannon created to defend Earth from alien invaders has turned against mankind. All attempts at activating the Base’s self-destruct device have failed. In control a M-308 Gunner Mecha, a lone soldier must storm Pluto Base’s seven levels and destroy the outpost. Not only will the M-308 Gunner have to battle mobs of robotic defenders, but also have to puzzle its way through the Bases’ maze-like corridors.
The big draw of Metal Storm is its gravity control system, which allows the player to reverse gravity of their mecha at the touch of a button. Specifically, pressing Up+A reverses gravity, and then Down+A reverts it to normal. This allows for some spectacular jumps, and also very creative level design. Stage one acts as a practice stage to let you get the hang of the controls, and as the game progresses more and more difficult obstacles and stages will be thrown your way making Metal Storm anything but a typical platformer.
I distinctly remember scale models of the M-308 Gunner were sold in the early 90s. I unfortunately can’t seem to find any images of these online, but trust me, they’re out there. In fact, a photo of the model was featured on the cover of Nintendo Power issue #22 with additional photos of the commercially sold model scattered throughout the coverage of Metal Storm in their walkthough in that issue.
Metal Storm directly inspired Wayforward’s unerrated GBC gem, Wendy: Every Witch Way. Click the hyperlink to read my detailed review. If you like Metal Storm, you’ll like Wendy.
All is going well for a Chef named Cookie until a rival chef named Hors d’oeuvre steals away Cookie’s restaurant. To get it back, Cookie must battle hordes of sentient carrots, cooked chickens, kabobs, hot dogs, and other food items. It makes about as much sense as it sounds.
Panic Restaurant is a colorful platformer released by Taito in 1992. Taito made many excellent NES games in the system’s golden years, and this one is no exception. Featuring excellent cartoony visuals with fluid animation, great controls and enjoyable music, Panic Restaurant may not do anything special, but its a thoroughly enjoyable NES classic work tracking down, despite its rarity and price.
The Japanese version of Panic Restaurant features a completely different protagonist – a young chef who attacks enemies by default using his head. This was changed to a stereotypical chef boyardee look-alike for the North American version, and also the super pot item that makes you invincible was added. For those who want the game but don’t want to shell out the major cash, you can buy a reproduction that features the original Japanese character for less than it costs to buy the normal release!
Once upon a time, long long ago, the world was experiencing great ruin. Enormous animals were bestowed upon the earth to create terrible pain and hardship for the people. The people were desperate, so they called upon the Old Witches’ World for help.
Thence came Francesca Doropie, a gracious witch with great powers. She fought and saved the world from these terrible creatures. The land began to flourish again and the people worked peacefully together to rebuild their wonderful cities. All was well.
The Akuon Empire chose the year 1999 in which to stage an invasion of earth. The planet’s defenses were no match for the alien robot invaders. Fortunately, a witch named Doropie has taken it upon herself to single-handedly free mankind from this scourge.
Heavily influenced by the Megaman games (many elements are outright “borrowed” or “stolen”, in fact), Magical Doropie manages to excell where other Vic Tokai NES games fail in having perfect play control. The game is so incredibly similar to Megaman 2 you could make a drinking game out of every time you notice a similarity, but considering how excellent Megaman 2 is, any clone can’t be all that bad.
I’ve constantly been referring to this game as Magical Doropie, but that’s actually the name of the Famicom version. The game was released for the NES in the west as the Krion Conquest. The Famicom build, as you’d expect, is the better game, with expanded story cutscenes that better explain what the hell’s going on. The name “Doropie” is a reference to Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz. The Guilty Gear character I-No bears a striking resemblance to Doropie.
Price range: $6-8
Region: AllThe enemy army has captured too many of your forces. Being held in P.O.W. camps, these soldiers are effectively out of the war… unless some kind of rescue operation can be mounted. Heavy Forces are too slow and visible to be of any use, but perhaps something smaller and lighter may make it in where larger forces would fail. A small jeep, maybe two, crewed by about 4 people…. minimal enough not to represent too much of a loss and yet suitable enough to aid in rescue. But of course, if these brave men want to succeed AND come back alive; they’ll need to fight like animals… they’ll need to fight like jackals…
Released by Konami in 1988, Jackal is really, really good. Konami’s take on the vertical shooter genre like Ikari Warriors or Commando, Jackal puts players in control or a light jeep against tremendous odds. You can upgrade your weaponry from grenades all the way up to explosive missiles, but the real tension comes from how vulnerable you are to attack, since throughout the entire game, one hit is all it takes to total your vehicle. It’s a simple fun game where you can run over enemy foot soldiers, blow out walls in P.O.W camps and destroy battleships with a Jeep. Oh, and did I mention it’s two player co-op?
Originally released for the Famicom Disk System entitled Final Command: Akai Yousai, the North American NES counterpart Jackal is one of the few FDS games that actually was improved upon when it made its way overseas.The reason the NES version is superior is because of its bankswitching capabilities. The Famicom/NES hardware was designed with a mere 2K of system RAM, but can accesss up to 32K of additional RAM from the cartridge to create more complex game worlds. Using bankswitching techniques, highly advanced games were possible on Nintendo’s hardware that otherwise would never be possible. Jackal employs bankswitching to provide long varied and detailed levels filled with many enemy types. Meanwhile though, the Famicom Disk System provides only a single bank of 32K RAM for the entire game, meaning bankswitching on the fly was not possible. As a result, the FDS version of Jackal has shorter levels that are only one screen wide. To get around this limitation, many other FDS games required users to flip to the side of the disk, which would load in a new 32K RAM, essentially making the bankswitch mechanism the players themselves. it is for this reason some of the more lengthy FDS titles such as Famicom Detective Club Part II spanned four disks.
It is the year 200X. The world’s formost authority on robotics, Dr. Tomas Light and his lab assistant, Dr. Albert Wily have succeeded in creating the world’s first industrial humanoid robots. When Light gets sole credit for the accomplishment, Dr. Wily becomes enraged with jealousy and secretly steals and reprograms all six of the industrial robots to destroy. Left only with his lab assistant Rock and his cleaner robot Roll, Dr. Light finds himself unable to do anything to stop Dr. Wily.
Rock, having a strong sense of justice, volunteers to be converted into a fighting robot capable of stopping his robotic brothers and foiling Dr. Wily’s evil plans. Thus the super fighting robot Megaman was born.
Megaman 1 is one of my all time favorite games. As I stated in my review, Megaman 1 is a timeless classic that belongs in any retro gamer’s collection, as well as any fan of great action games. The game is fairly tough for new players, but the outstanding music, visuals, control and open-ended gameplay make it a game you’ll want to return to again and again. The weapon changing ability introduced in Megaman was outstanding and added so much fun and verity I can’t even begin to cover it all in a single paragraph. Fight Rockman! For Everlasting Peace!
This concludes part 4 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.