Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List #49-40
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 six 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 tab/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!
In 1467, the first year of the Demon Age, a horrible demon named Ryūkotsuki, known as the “Dragon Bone Demon” was revived by his minions in hell. As Ryūkotsuki ascended to the overworld, a dark cloud came with him and swept across the land, devouring all in its path. To protect the world, skilled swordsman brothers Hatsu Fūma and Masato Fūma, armed with their legendary Hadouken “wave” swords, fought with the Dragon Bone Demon, but were defeated and killed.
Now determined to avenge his brother’s deaths, slay Ryūkotsuki, and reclaim the Hadouken sword, the last of the Fūma bloodline Getsu Fūma travels to the dark cloud and descends to the netherworld to literally stop hell from spreading over the Earth.
Why you should play it
Getsu Fūma Den is one of the many extremely enjoyable yet crushingly difficult Konami Japanese exclusives for the Famicom. A sidescroller with a heavy emphasis on exploration, the world map is massive and making ones way through the entire game is quite a challenge, even with the password system. There are shops that sell useful items as well as a rudimentary level up system that increases your attack and defense ratings, but even still, this game will kick your ass. As was popular amongst many Famicom games of the time, there are some 3D maze segments, but Getsu Fūma Den allows you to attack in a third person view that I’ve not seen any other Famicom game try.
Regardless of the extreme challenge, the music is absolutely excellent and the visuals are impressive, with large screen-filling bosses and a great veriety of locales and enemies to face on your quest to kill the evil Ryūkotsuki.
For those who want to experience the game in English, there’s a fairly decent fan translation available that gives you a better idea what shopkeepers say, but does nothing to alter the game’s difficulty. Although it isn’t official, many speculate that Konami’s first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is heavily based on the Getsu Fūma Den game engine. There have never been a remake or seque, but the character of Getsu Fūma has appeared as a playable character in several other Konami games, including both Wai Wai World games and each of the modern 2D Castlevania titles and as DLC in Castlevania Harmony of Despair.
Long ago, as far back as recorded history goes, lived a beautiful Princess named Zelda. The royal family of Hyrule commanded a great golden power given from the gods themselves that could literally make any wish come true. The three pieces of this power, Courage, Wisdom and Power were known collectively as the Triforce and each were kept separated in deeply secret locations known only by the King and his daughter Zelda.
Following the death of the King, Zelda’s elder brother had began his own greedy quest to find each of the missing golden pieces, but only managed to find two of the three. When he tried unsuccessfully to force Princess Zelda to reveal the location of the remaining golden power, in anger he had a wizard cast a sleeping spell so powerful it killed the wizard in the process. Despite their best efforts, the spell could not be broken by the prince nor anyone in the nation.
The prince had his sister placed in the castle tower, in the hope that one day the remaining golden power would be found and Princess Zelda could be awakened. He decreed that all future princesses born to the royal family from that point on would be named Zelda, in remembrance of this tragedy.
Many years later, the dark prince Gannon came to South Hyrule. Link slayed Gannon and freed his captive in the current Princess Zelda. This was the plot of the original Legend of Zelda.
Super Mario Bros. 2/Super Mario USA
Price range: $8-12
Mario goes to sleep and soon finds himself in the strange land of Subcon, where strange creatures and abound, yet Bowser and his koopa troops are oddly absent. Mario meets up with his brother Luigi, his friend Toad, and the Princess and sets out to explore this strange land.
Why you should play it
Super Mario Bros. 2 is a NES go-to game that anyone who owns an NES should have. Designed by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario 2 is a game I scarcely need to describe due to its explosive popularity even today. As one of the four playable characters, each with different attributes, you explore many worlds filled with brand new creatures never seen in the original Super Mario Bros. The Koji Kondo score is every bit as memorable as the classic Super Mario Bros. overture theme, and the attack concept of picking vegetables or enemies and chucking them at other enemies is just really cool. The game has been remade many times, but no matter how you slice it, the original NES version is well worth an occasional playthrough.
Okay, everyone and their mother knows the history of Super Mario Bros. 2 by this point, but I feel I would be remiss to not include at least an abridged version. If you know all this like the back of your hand feel free to scroll down and read the rest of the entries.
Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES is not the same game Japan knows as Super Mario Bros. 2. In Japan, Super Mario Bros. 2 was released for the ill-fated Famicom Disk System in 1986. The sequel to one of the most popular games of all was essentially the same game retooled with a new ground tile, a wind effect and made significantly more difficult, almost absurdly so. It shares much in common with most typical NES rom hacks you’ll find.
The following year, Japanese television giant Fuji TV ran a campaign to promote its programming called Yume Kōjō ’87. In a partnership deal with Nintendo, a platformer game was devloped entitled Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panikku or Dream Factory: Heart-pounding Panic in English, or more commonly just Doki Doki Panic. The game featured an exotic Arabian family who were the mascots of the Yume Kōjō ’87 promotion.
When the NES was starting to pick up steam in North America and Super Mario Bros. was a hot seller, Nintendo of America’s Howard Phillips was a strong opponent to localizing Super Mario Bros. 2 as he rightfully felt it was too difficult for American children and didn’t bring enough new to the table as it was just a glorified “hack” of the original masterpiece.
Instead, Phillips suggested Doki Doki Panic be translated and westernized. The sprites for many of the characters were changed to feature Mario characters, a new boss was added and all reference to the Yume Kōjō ’87 event was removed. When the game arrived in America under the title Super Mario Bros. 2, nearly everyone was none the wiser. As Mario 2 had been made for American audiences, the later Japanese Famicom release was called Super Mario Bros. USA.
Several years later in 1993, Nintendo released enhanced remakes of both versions of Super Mario Bros. 2 in the Super Mario All-Stars collection, changing the title of the Japanese version of the game to Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels. Even today, that’s still what most people refer the original Super Mario Bros. 2 as.
The original Super “Marry-o” Bros. 2 commercial. Damn southerners who can’t pronounce names properly.
Wai Wai World is in trouble! The Konami Heroes have all been kidnapped! To rescue them, the brilliant Dr. Cinnamon builds two androids – Konami Man and Konami Lady. It’s up to them to rescue Getsu Fūma, Goemon, Simon Belmont, Mikey Walsh, Moai head, and King Kong!
In Wai Wai World 2, The evil Waruumon has kidnapped Princess Herb! Luckily, Dr. Cinnamon has created a hero that can stop him. Rickie! Can he save the princess, by traveling through all of Wai Wai world?
The Wai Wai World games are basically tributes to other Konami games released for the Famicom hardware. Both are excellent platformers that feature many characters from other popular Konami games. Both games use their own game engine where the playable characters control the same.
Ever wanted to play a game where Simon Belmont has less ridged jumping or Goemon can reach targets despite being short? Wai Wai World is for you. You’ll explore six unique Konami worlds filled with Metroid style non-linear platforming.
The second game is even better than the first. Replacing Konami Man and Konami Girl is the new character of Rickie, who can double jump and fire a short range blaster in three directions just like Samus from Metroid. This time around the stages are oddly auto scrolling to keep the pacing in check, and there are even more playable cameo characters like Bill from Contra and Upa from Bio Marcile Upa. Music is a big component of both games. Each character has a main overture theme that plays hen you play as that character.
In the end, both games come highly recommended for different reasons and as they are so similar, I’ve grouped them together in one slot. Perhaps that’s cheating, but who cares? It’s my list.
Konami Wai Wai World 1 references Castlevania, Getsu Fuma Den, The Goonies, Gradius, King Kong 2, Ganbare Goemon and Twinbee.
Konami Wai Wai World 2 references Castlevania III, Contra, Bio Marcile Upa, Getsu Fuma Den, Ganbare Goemon 2, Gradius and Twinbee.
These games were the first appearances of Konami Man and Konami Girl. You can find English translations of both games on Romhacking.net. Borrowing ideas from many Konami properties, the Wai Wai World games likely stirred the flames behind the success of Parodius and other cross-over games.
Hyadain’s Wai Wai World cover (subtitled)
The evil Shredder’s kidnapped April O’Neil yet again – evidently simply because he can – and turned the city of Manhattan into a floating island, again evidently simply for shits and giggles. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spring into action for another round of Foot Clan whooping and Shredder shreddin’.
The third and least well known of the TMNT NES games, The Manhattan Project was developed from the ground up to be an NES exclusive, rather than the arcade backport of the second game. Although it shares many similarities to the NES version of the TMNT Arcade game, Manhattan Project is arguably improved across the board making it a better game overall.
Constantly overshadowed by its SNES follow up released the same year, TMNT3 is one of the best brawlers on the NES, bar none. Unlike the second game which was based upon the TMNT Arcade game and the fourth which became the second TMNT Arcade Game, TMNT3 is NES and Famicom exclusive. A perfect example of Konami’s talents, The Manhattan Project maximized what could possibly be done on the NES and even did some things you’d faintly believe possible on such primitive hardware. It can be played 2 player co-op as well, so grab a friend and kick some ninja robot ass.
TMNT3 was released only a few short months before the acclaimed Turtles in Time. Released in Japan as TMNT 2 because the first game’s title was not written in Katakana. The Japanese version also offers an options menu not present in the North American version.
When Jason Frudnick’s pet frog Fred runs away and is exposed to a radioactive barrel in Jason’s front yard, he grows to an enormous size and jumps down a giant hole. Not being particularly smart, Jason follows Fred down the hole hoping to find him. Instead Jason finds himself in a mysterious land fill of many dangers. Luckily for him, he soon discovers a powersuit and blaster, as well as the fully functional battletank, SOFIA the 3rd. He uses this tank to find new weapons and parts to the SOFIA tank that will allow him to explore this land in search for Fred, his freedom loving mutant frog. Will Jason find Fred?!
Another Sunsoft classic that fires on all cylinders, to play Blaster Master is to love Blaster Master. Although the plot is ridiculous and silly, it’s completely irreverent to how much of a gem Blaster Master truly is. You’ll explore areas in your jumping tank and even get out on foot to enter caverns in overhead shooter segments all the while jamming to some of the best chiptunes you’ll ever hear. Blaster Master yet again proves Sunsoft were the kings of NES music, even to a greater degree than Capcom or Konami.
The level of detail in the sprites is unmatched, and there’s an amazing sense of progression as you get deeper into the game. The longer you play Blaster Master the more you’ll come to love it. This is absolutely a must-have for any collection.
The Japanese version has a completely different story and the cutscenes with the frog was completely added in later for the North American release. The game features a Famous grenade exploit. When you hit a boss with a grenade, immediately press start as the grenade connects. While your holding start the grenade acts like a multiple grenade bomb. This continuosly hits your opponent until its dead. This exploit was prodoinently featured in early Nintendo Power magainze ads as a free example of the tips you could learn from reading NP.
There have been a few Blaster Master sequels over the years for systems such as the Sega Genesis and Sony Playstation. None are nearly as good as the original though. The game was also ported to the GBC, though its nearly impossible to play thanks to the reduced screen resolution.
Blaster Master Retro Remix by DJ Axis
Price range: $10-15
1997, October 1, The END DAY. The third World War which encircled the globe ends in a devastating thermal-nuclear apocalypse and brings about an end to human civilization. The surviving humans concluded that they could never repeat their mistakes and build a great flying tower in the sky to watch over the world, fitted with extraordinary weaponry that could be used against anyone who attempted war again.
One hundred years later, the remains of humanity have reverted back to a medieval state. Technology is all but forgotten, horrible mutants roam the countryside, and swords and a newly discovered force called “magic” rule the day. Near the isolated village of Leaf, a hidden cryogenic chamber springs to life and outs steps a purple haired self-named hero from before the war.
The hero learns the evil Emperor Draygon has amassed a giant army and plans to conquer what’s left of humanity ironically using the last remnant of technology built to protect them, the giant floating weapon known as the tower that was built to oppress evil. As the hero of prophecy, it’s up to purple haired guy to assemble the legendary sword called Crystalis, defeat Draygon, and destroy the tower before it can complete its intended purpose: the total destruction of all life.
Why you should play it
Crystalis is similar in many ways to The Legend of Zelda, but also borrows many ideas for it’s more RPG oriented sequel, Zelda II. You’ll explore the land in a top-down perspective solving puzzles and defeating enemies with your various elemental swords, which can be powered up to fire energy blasts just like in Zelda.
The swordplay is fun of course, but the real star of the show here are the graphics and the music. Crystalis has one of the most energetic overworld theme that betrays the post-apoplectic setting, but is still such a damn fine track.
Here’s a fantastic remix for your listening pleasure.[youtube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSWolwZ_LdA]
A lengthy RPG, Crystalis uses a battery save, so don’t be worried about long winded passwords to write down for this one. Crystalis is really a treat of classic gaming. If you missed out on this one the first time around, track it down today. Crystalis is a very enjoyable example of the early action RPGs that are so common today. Fun fact
In 2000, SNK was in real shambles after the commercial failure of the Neo-Geo Pocket Color and their dwindling returns of Neo-Geo MVS and AES sales. Nintendo approached them with the idea of a Crystalis remake, which they agreed to, but SNK did not have the ability at the time to develop for the GBC themselves. Instead, the GBC port was created by Nintendo’s then newly set up American development studio, Nintendo Software Technology.
The GBC version of Crystalis differs from the original in many ways. Several new dungeons have been added, and the final Tower dungeon has been completely altered. The final battle against Dragonia has also been changed to more closely meet the original designs SNK had intended, but had to cut it due to the many limitations of the Famicom. Gameplay wise, the GBC build improved the original with enemies that are no longer immune to certain elemental swords, but the game as a whole suffered from the reduced visibility thanks to the low screen resolution of the GBC. The visibility issue hurts Crystalis to the point the NES original is still superior despite it’s issues.
The original Crystalis was one of the last SNK developed NES games. It’s also known as the much cooler God Slayer title in Japan.
The nearly completely irrelevant to the game itself North American commercial.
Bubble Bobble is the story of two humans, Bub and Bob who wander into the mysterious cave of monsters to rescue their girlfriends. When they enter, they are magically turn into bubble dinosaurs. The only way to transform back is to reach the end of the cave, which is where their girlfriends are also being held…
Ah Bubble Bobble. Perhaps the best single screen game on the NES ever, and without a doubt one of the best Taito games ever made. As Bub or Bob, the basic idea is to to spit bubbles with encapsulate your foes and then pop your bubbles using the spikes on your head or your back. Don’t be fooled by it’s super cute exterior – Bubble Bobble is harder than it looks, but is easy enough to pick up and play, making it the ultimate unisex arcade classic.
The two player option is the perfect way to get a non gaming girlfriend or wife into classic gaming. The controls are easy to learn, the concept is simple and the gameplay is fun and rewarding. Bubble Bobble is one of the best arcade translations to the NES. The fun, fast paced music that plays throughout Bubble Bubble walks the fine line of never becoming annoying despite the endless looping. Very few games manage to achieve this with Bubble Bobble’s level of success. Each of the 100 levels in the game offer a unique challenge and the game is crazy, endless fun….at least until you reach the dreaded level 57. Luckily, the game does offer a simple password save that allows you to skip that one if you need to! There are also some power ups and weapons throughout the game to make it even more fun.
So if you don’t already own the truly excellent Bubble Bobble, go snag a copy on ebay. You’ll thank me later.
The NES version of Bubble Bobble is actually a conversion of the Famicom Disk System release, and as such, Bubble Bobble was never actually released on the Famicom. Pirated copies are the only way to get it on the Famicom outside of the few who make Famicom reproductions.
Although the NES version was released in decent quantities, the demand for the NES classic has actually increased over time, making Bubble Bobble semi-rare. Only a few years ago, I seen sell for on average $4, but now you’ll be lucky to find it for less than $8, or even less than $15 in some cases. To all those who are looking, I wish you the best of luck!
Bubble Bobble would have several “semi-sequels” in Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars and Bubble Bobble 2, all of which are pretty rare.
In the 90s, the characters of Bub and Bob would become unofficial mascots for Taito, and would also later go on to star in the mega-hit series Puzzle Bobble, also known as Bust-A-Move.
Everybody’s craving it, and the hunt is on. “Gel” is the latest drug to hit the streets. It’s neon green, lethal, and dropping its users like flies. On the case is Vice officer Quinn Hart, a no-nonsense sledgehammer for the law. Packing a vicious .44, crushing grenades, and a lightning fast laser whip, Hart is notoriously known for always getting his target – dead or alive. Now Hart has his eyes set on taking down the boss of the “Gel” cartel, but when he took on the case, Hart had no idea what would be in store for him…
Why you should play itReleased in late 1991, the cyberpunk multi-genre Vice: Project Doom was a bit too late to have the kind of impact it would have had only a year earlier, and instead of being a blockbuster smash, it quickly faded into obscurity. A real tragedy, as Vice Project Doom is fantastic. The game has four main elements – Ninja Gaiden inspired, highly detailed cutscenes and three completely different play styles – overhead driving like Spy Hunter, traditional platforming and first person shooting like the amazing Mechanized Attack. The driving and shooting stages are certainly adequate, but the real star of Vice is the excellent platforming stages.
Borrowing from other successful platformers, most notably Ninja Gaiden, the game mechanics in Vice aren’t in any way original, but they are executed flawlessly. Hart can jump, duck,walk while ducking, climb or use his selected weapon. Weapons that can be selected include a close range melee energy whip (how cool is that?!), a mid range pistol (…makes perfect sense) and a long range grenade. Just keep in mind Hart tosses the grenade in an arc, so it’s often useful to jump before trying to land your potato on target. Weapons can be chosen on the fly with the Select button, making Vice one of the only NES games to make regular use of the Select button.
The bottom line is that Vice Project Doom is a very enjoyable romp that borrows heavily from other great games. From the outstanding cinematic dialog between the levels similar to Ninja Gaiden to the varied gameplay styles all with great graphics and sound, Vice Project Doom is truly a forgotten classic.
In the indie videogame film Game Boys (that’s totally worth watching), the main character describes Vice Project Doom as “the only Ninja Gaiden clone that’s actually better than Ninja Gaiden.” I would tend to agree.
In the year 2013, the 1st Annual Robot Battle Tournament sponsored by the mysterious billionaire Mr. X is held. This tournament, designed to showcase the talents of robot designers from across the globe, has robots battling each other one on one until a champion is discovered to claim the title of “The Most Powerful Robot In The World.” Despite his brilliance, Dr. Light decides not to participate due to his pacifist nature. however, he and Megaman attend the event as honored guest spectators.
Nothing seems strange as the contest begins, but when the final top eight robots enter the arena for the final event, the lights dim and Mr. X swoops in, stealing the robots and reprograms them to destroy, launching them across the globe.
Mr. X informs Megaman that it has always secretly been him who has been financing Dr. Wily’s attempts at world domination, and it was only due to Wily’s incompetence that Megaman was able to defeat him so many times. But now that Mr X has the eight strongest robots in the world, he no longer needs Dr. Wily’s help and will conquer the world himself.
Megaman sets off to stop Mr. X and his band of robots. Will Megaman be strong enough to defeat the most powerful robots in history? This surely will be his greatest battle ever!
Why you should play it
Megaman 6 was amongst the final games released for the NES in North America and is probably the most overlooked game in the classic Megaman series. The Rush Jet and Power adapters make it unique, although all of the previous conventions were once again present. The weapons are for the most part a little weak, but the Rush adapters more than made up for them. The music is classic Megaman condensed awesome, the visuals push the hardware to the limits and like the other Megaman NES games, MM6 has very high replay value. If you skipped this one assuming it’s just a cookie cutter cash-in, give it a shot. Capcom really put in a lot of polish in Megaman 6 that goes unnoticed to an almost criminal degree. Megaman 6 is what I consider to be the NES’s swan song, although great titles like Adventure Island 4 would still be released after it.
The plot of Megaman 6, just like the very concept of Megaman itself, is heavily based on Osamu Tezuka’s Astroboy. In every version of the godfather of anime’s classic tale, Astroboy would be forced into fighting the world’s most powerful robots once a tournament for them went arie.
Unlike the previous five Megaman games, Capcom did not publish the game in North America citing their focus had moved on to the Super NES. Luckily for US NES gamers, Nintendo picked up the rights and released it themselves. As such, Capcom’s logo is nowhere to be found on the box of the American version of the game. The developer is only mentioned in the copyrights and trademarks in the bottom right hand corner of the box.
During the development, Nintendo Power magazine ran a promotion for kids to submit their ideas for robots. Due to the contest, Megaman 6 was the first and only Megaman classic game to feature robot masters designed by children outside of Japan – Windman and Knightman were designed by an American and a Canadian respectively. From Megaman 2 all the way to Megaman 8, the robot master design contests would be only held in Japan.
This concludes part 6 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.