Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List #39-30
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 seven 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!
Moon Crystal is the story of Ricky Slater on his mission to free his father who was kidnapped by the evil Count Crimson. The Count is forcing his father, a great scientist, to use the power of the mysterious Moon Crystal to turn the dead into living and rule the world.
Released only in Japan in 1992, Moon Crystal is a richly detailed, beautiful game filled with incredibly fluidly animated sprites and colorful anime-style cutscenes. Inspired it seems by Prince of Persia, Moon Crystal manages to improve on its predecessor with more responsive controls, but even so you shouldn’t expect Ricky to instantly react in the same way Mario or Megaman would. The sometimes stiff jumping can result in a few deaths, particularly when moving platforms are involved.
Although some aspects of Moon Crystal can be incredibly frustrating, the overall experience is one that’s well worth playing. The storyline is well delivered through exquisitely beautiful cutscenes that showcase that the Famicom still had plenty of life left even as late as 1992. The game is a little on the short side, but the replay value is quite high due to how beautiful the game is.
There’s a complete fan translation of Moon Crystal available. You can find it here.
Sweet Home follows the adventure of five brave documentary film makers Akiko, Emi, Asuka, Kazuo and Taro. They are in search of a famous fresco created by the late famous painter, Mamiya Ichirou. What seems like a weak boring plot at first soon turns into a truly horrifying, blood curdling, spine tingling…just plain scary plot, brought forth to the player through notes and diary entries left behind by mansion residents and others seeking the paintings.
The great granddaddy of today’s Survival Horror genre, Sweet Home is easily one of the best RPGs for the Famicom. Actually a game tie-in released concurrently with a low-budget horror film of the same name, Sweet Home is one of those rare examples where the game has aged better than the movie.
Sweet Home is a very unique game years ahead of its time. It follows many typical RPG standards such as random enemies and level gains, but has many of its own elements such as each party member possessing only a single item required for progress, and having to manage at least two parties at once.
Trapped in the vast Mamiya Mansion, there are no shops and no inns. Fighting enemies yields experience, but never dropped items. All healing items are finite, making careful item rationing vital for survival. The lengthy game’s multiple endings depend on who survives and who falls victim to the cursed mansion, Sweet Home is as much as strategy game as it a horror themed RPG.
Visually a true masterpiece of 8-bit design,the masterful use of music creates an eerie mood unmatched by any other chiptune composition. If you’re looking for a game to play this Halloween, Sweet Home is a must-play. Highly recommend.
Based on a movie released at the same time as the game. There are some minor differences between the film and the game, but both tell the same story.
The first Resident Evil was originally intended to be a remake of Sweet Home, but was changed to the version we know today through a series of minor adjustments such as adding in zombies instead of ghosts. Gradually, more changes were made to the setting, the gameplay focus, and story until Resident Evil was born a distinct game from its Sweet Home origins. Even still, the completed Resident Evil bares a distinct resemblance to Sweet Home. In fact, some elements were left completely unchanged.
For instance, in Sweet Home when entering new areas, there’s a short animation that shows the door opening and closing. The Resident Evil games use the same mechanic as a tip of the hat to Sweet Home as well as serving the practical purpose of hiding the load time between areas.
There’s a complete fan translation of Sweet Home available that’s so professionally well done, you’d never be able to tell it wasn’t Capcom who made it. You can find it here. Check out the duel commercial for the film and the Famicom game together. This video isn’t subtitled, but the announcer isn’t saying anything particularly important that I haven’t already covered, so don’t worry if you can’t understand Japanese.
Journey back to the region of Kanto, inhabited by mysterious creatures called Pokémon. On his tenth birthday, a boy from the town of Pallet is now old enough to receive his first Pokémon, and embarks on a journey to catch as many Pokémon as he can while building a team to defeat other trainers. Does he have what it takes to collect the region’s eight gym badges and face the Elite Four and Pokémon League Champion?
You read right – this is a pirate port of Pokémon Yellow to the lowly Famicom. Shockingly (pun may or may not be intended) it is also really rather good – I’m being completely honest here. Anyone who grew up playing the Pokémon games will tell you that beneath the child-friendly exterior lies a a highly customizable and complex RPG structure and that’s completely true of this pirate as well.
Nearly everything was lifted from Yellow – the plot, the Pokémon locations, the attacks learned at the proper levels, even the Pokémon used by the various trainers along various routes. As great as all this sounds, it gets even better.
The battle system used by this pirate is nearly identical to the Generation 2 battle system from Gold and Silver, as are the Pokémon battle sprites. This means the battle system is even more well balanced than the one from the real Yellow version, and looks superior as well.
Outside of battle, the overworld graphics are largely lifted directly from the 32-bit GBA remakes of Red and Green, FireRed and LeafGreen. The result is an incredibly good looking game on the Famicom, especially for a pirate.
The game may be in Manrain Chinese, but with any prior experience with any of the English Pokémon games you’ll be able to jump right into this one as it is so similar to the original version of Yellow that player’s guides written for the original will apply to this pirate as well!
Of course, like most pirates, the music is bloody awful. Using 8-bit arrangements of music from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the music IS at least Pokémon related, but its the high pitched tinny crap that you’d expect from pirates. Still, this is a minor gripe against what is otherwise one of the best pirates ever produced for the Famicom. The mere fact that it isn’t a buggy mess is astounding.
This game’s code uses a full Megabyte. In contrast, the vast majority of NES/Famicom games use 128KB or less. The massive size available affords Lei Dian Huang Bi Ka Qiu Chuan Shuo with the complexity that would be otherwise lost.
Expect a full review of this amazing pirate before the end of the year. I’m hopefully going to bring you guys both a written and video review showing the cartridge, as I know a gentleman who can get a hold of this elusive cartridge. Here’s to you man!
The evil scientist Warunachi has hacked all the otherwise peaceful robots in Japan and now plans to launch an attack for world domination the likes of which the world has never seen. Fortunately his former partner, Dr. Eamon, saved one robot from the takeover and has now programmed him to defeat the other robots and foil Dr. Warunachi’s evil plans.
Why you should play it
Joy Mech Fight is a 2D fighting game that’s bursting with options, even going as far as including a training mode. Despite its story being a blatant rip-off of the Megaman 1 plot, the game is otherwise completely original and quite fantastic. The game’s story mode has you playing as Sukapon, a pink, happy-go-lucky robot who can dish out some pretty mean punishment. When Sukapon defeats each foe, you then unlock them for use during the game. There are technically only eight fighting robots to choose from in all, but in the story mode, there’s actually a good deal of replay in multiple difficulties to unlock additional robots. In all, there are thirty six possible robots to choose from – way more than any other fighting game of its era. Best of all, the game uses battery save to avoid lengthy passwords.
As you would hope for, there’s also a 2 player vs mode that is a ton of fun. Despite the limited Famicom controller, Joy Mech Fight offers a huge verity of moves for each of the characters from standard punches and kicks to throws, and timed special moves. Moves are easy to learn, making Joy Mech Fight a great game for causal fighting fans as much as the real hardcore. The different playable characters are very well balanced and offer a good amount of diversity amongst them. There are the big slow robots with powerful moves, and quick, small robots with weak moves. Favorite characters will depend on the player’s own preference.
So how does Joy Mech Fight compare to other fighters, especially considering its on the lowly Famicom? Surprisingly very well, in fact. The secret to get a fighting game on this level to work on the Famicom is employed in the characters themselves. The characters are all completely made up of circular, floating parts, similar to Ubisoft’s Rayman or the Sega classic Vectorman. This means that each of the playable robots are made of several individual sprites, allowing for much smoother animation and next to no slowdown or sprite flickering, problems that would otherwise blight an experience like this.
Pop quiz! How many fighting games are there for the Famicom/NES? Guessed a few? Not counting terrible pirates and mini-game modes like in Double Dragon, there’s only three. Although they may seem simple, fighting games are extraordinarily difficult to pull off on 8-bit hardware – the lack of processing power coupled with sprite limitations, flickering and slowdown make them impractical for limited 8-bit hardware. There are a handful of notable exceptions, such as Street Fighter II on GameBoy. As the only non-pirate Fighting game for the Famicom, Joy Mech Fight is as much a technical achievement as it is a recommended game.
1905, New York. Late one night, a young boy named Nemo is visited by a strange girl who offers to take him on a journey to visit Princess Camille of a fantasy world named Slumberland. Hesitant at the idea of playing with a girl, Nemo is offered candy if he’ll agree to go, and so be boards the fantastic Zeppelin and is carried away to the land of dreams.
Little Nemo is an unsung classic as far as excellent Capcom cartoon tie-ins go. Brimming with charm and dare I even say heart, this platformer is wholly unique. On his own, Nemo is very weak and cannot attack enemies. His own means of defending himself is to hurl candy, what at most stuns foes, but luckily the many animal inhabitants of his slumberland enjoy eating the candy and will offer him a life if he feeds them. Once fed, the animals can be controlled by Nemo, affording him powers unlike any he could have in the waking world.
For instance, hopping onto a frog allows Nemo to swiftly swim and jump higher. The gorilla can climb vertical surfaces and punch foes. The bee allows Nemo to temporarily fly wherever he wishes, and so on. The excellent level structure of each stage is designed to make maximum use of the various animal powers and will have you switching between them constantly on your search for keys to the exists of each level.
With excellent controls and the kind of cartoon graphics only a Capcom NES game could pull off, Little Nemo would already be something special, but I’d be remiss to not mention the spectacular music. Composed by Junko Tamiya, whose previous works include the NES version of Bionic Commando and the aforementioned Sweet Home, Little Nemo’s score manages to completely capture a feeling of childhood innocence and wonder. Every single track is fantastic and very memorable. Below I will include the beautiful retro remix by DJ Axis, composed for the short-lived Retro Remix show on screwattack in 2007.
You want a game with some major history? Little Nemo’s for you.
The concept of Little Nemo was devised by cartoonist Winsor Mccay in 1905, or even possibly earlier. Mccay produced a Little Nemo animated short film in 1910 – over a century ago now. Remarkably it is incredibly well preserved and can be seen on youtube. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.
Little Nemo would continue to find an ageless popularity as it was constantly revived in the 30’s, 40’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The NES Little Nemo game was actually a tie-in with the Little Nemo film produced alongside it made in 1990, but the film didn’t arrive until 1992, a full two years after the NES version was released, leaving those unfamiliar to Nemo to think it was simply a one-shot concept on it’s own by Capcom.
Also released in 1990 was a Little Nemo arcade game simply called Nemo. I couldn’t make that up even if I tried.
Must Watch DJ Axis Little Nemo Retro Remix
Original American Commercial that of course, has very little to do with the actual game
The Adventures of Duane and BrandO Little Nemo tribute
Upon awaking from a long sleep, the youthful, self-proclaimed Demon prince Alucard discovers the great dinosaur Galamoth has challenged his position as the next heir to darkness. Never one to back down from a challenge, Alucard suits up and ventures off from Castlevania to challenge Galamoth in his tower in the sky. Alucard may be young, but he’s determined to show he’s worthy of the title “kid Dracula”.
Ah, Akumajou Special. Masters at making fun of themselves, Konami once again proves their parodies are every bit as good as their originals with this excellent spin on the Casltevania series. The game plays more like Megaman than Castlevania, giving the game a greater degree of flexibility in attacks. As he advances through the story, Alucard will gain the ability charge his shot, fire homing fire shots or turn in a bat. Playing up the Super Deformed style for all its worth, defeated enemies drop coins that can be used in absurd mini games, such as guessing which color panties the showgirls are wearing, or participating in a quiz gameshow.
As you’d expect, the graphics are great and the music is whimsical and upbeat. This may be Castlevania, but there’s no Belmont in this castle. The game is completely in Japanese, but the language barrier for this game is thin and the little Japanese that is present can be simply guessed at or ignored. If you love Castlevania or just good fun action games, Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula Kun! comes highly recommended.
Since the game wasn’t released in the US, one has to consider possible reasons, and the game’s crude humor towards the United States (the Statue of Liberty is one of the contestants of the gameshow!) and adult themes such as the showgirls probably didn’t make it an attractive game for localization at the time.
Although the Famicom version never made its way to North America, the GameBoy port did. The game was released in the west under the title of simply Kid Dracula and the game never made any mention of the Castlevania connection. I’m not sure that gamers back in the day would have known the connection at all. The GameBoy version is more or less a port of the Famicom original, but suffers from slowdown, visible screen area, and of course, color.
Although there’s only a small amount of Japanese present, there’s a complete English translation of Akumajou Special that retranslates the title to “I’m Kid Dracula“. You can find it here.
In the year 2030, a group of military renegades known as Metal Command are selling to conquer the world by building an army of cyborg soldiers. After alosing both arms in a near fatal skirmish with Metal Command, a young police offier named Steve Hermann is fitted with two specially developed cybernetic arms to allow him to carry out a normal life. However, the cybernetic arms have had the unintended effect of giving Hermann superhuman arm strength. With this new power, Hermann is now tasked with a mission to defeat Metal Command, and is given the new codename – Shatterhand.
No, these screenshots aren’t faked – Shatterhand really does look this good – almost 16-bit, really. One only needs to play Shatterhand for a few minutes to realize the similarities between it and Shadow of the Ninja. Both were produced by Natsume towards the ladder half of the NES’s life. Both games are extremely detailed and beautiful. Both have amazing sound, and both are hard as hell.
In Shatterhand’s case, the game does throw the player a bone every now and then by offering collectable combinations of alpha and beta letters that appear throughout the stages. When any combination of three are collected, Shatterhand gains a hovering satellite robot to aid in attack and defense. There are also health lockers scattered about.
I don’t want to dwell on the fact, but make no mistake about it: Shatterhand is one of the most difficult NES games out there. Having only a close range melee attack, you’ll have to constantly be placing yourself in danger and after each punch, you’ll be left open for counterattack for any surviving enemies on screen. Add in the devious platforming and you’ve got a game that makes even the later stages of Shadow of the Ninja seem like a walk in the park.
Despite the extreme difficulty, Shatterhand is a game worth a look. For a game like this, I see no shame in using GameGenie. Games like Shatterhand practically require it.
The Japanese versionof Shatterhand is based of a tv tokusatsu series called Tokkyuu Shireri Solbrain, and thus the plot of the Famicom version is directly related to that show. Solbrain is the story of a special police rescue squad lead by Daiki Nishio, a young detective who has a special watch that allows him to “Plus Up” into a special power suit called the SolBraver.
Outside of the cosmetic difference, the Famicom version also features a carnavil stage in place of the Submarine stage of Shatterhand. If you’d like to play the Japanese version in English, there’s a fan translation for that too. Find it here.[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqxb0Ru5vsc]
A tropical island (*coughcough*Cuba) is being oppressed by a dictator (*caughcoughBatista), but fortunately a brave solider (caughtcoughCheGuevara) is on hand to restore justice. March through the rivers, swamps and forests to overthrow the dictator in this evolution of the Commando style shooter.
Guerrilla War is similar to another game that made my list, Data East’s Heavy Barrel, but this is a much more refined game. Amongst all of SNK’s NES contributions, Guerrilla War is unquestionably the best. Everything from the visuals to the controls are perfectly executed to really push the NES as the graphics powerhouse it really wasn’t intended to be. The resulting NES game is one that looks and plays much better than other ports of the same game!
There’s a lot of replay value in this difficult trek through enemy lines, so even though the game is absurdly difficult, it’s one you’ll want to return to again and again. The two player option is absolutely amazing and the game manages to have a ton going on at once without any hint of slowdown, even with two players. If you’ve never tried Guerrilla War, pick yourself up a copy, grab a friend and prepare for one of the best co-op experiences you can find on the NES.
The original arcade game SNK developed was blantantly based on the exploits of the Cuban guerrilla leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara in his battles for freedom against the Batista regime during the Cuban Revolution in the late 1950s. In fact, the Japanese title of the Famicom version was ゲバラ (Guevara). As if that weren’t crazy enough, if a second player joins in, they assume the role of the infamous Fidel Castro!
However, even as late as 1988 the Cold War had not completely ended, and SNK feared extreme anti-Communist sentiments in a western release, so the game was Americanized in such a way as to remove all direct references to Guevara or Cuba in general. Despite this being the only difference, the Famicom version is highly sought after by collectors as a Cold War gaming relic, just like the two Golgo 13 games.
In the distant future, the Earth’s resources have been depleted, and many of earth’s inhabitants are moving to the new, artificial solar system called IOTA Synthetica. The IOTA Synthetica, like all the solar systems created by the “Galactic Federation”, is very hip and up-scale.
This image ended abruptly though, as a mysterious wave of cosmic radiation swept through the solar system. This radiation caused ordinary inanimate objects to spring to life, and attack the solar systems residents.
The Galactic Federation, realizing the situation was beyond their control, calls on Commander Gun-Nac, Son of the Legendary Xan, to save IOTA Synthetica from destruction from this strange cosmic energy.
Why you should play it
Gun-Nac is a top down shooter that doesn’t take itself seriously in the least. Similar to Konmai’s Parodius, you’ll be battling incredibly silly enemies including giant space rabbits that attack with carrot projectiles and floating cans of gasoline. One of the best shooters on the system, Gun-Nac features very fast action, responsive controls and a varied and well designed power up system.
The options available to the player are unmatched. There are five different kinds of shots as well as four types of bombs. Each are very different from the other, and include the regular Vulcan spread shot, lasers, homing shots to flames that shoot out directly forward and are intensely powerful in short bursts. As you defeat enemies they will sometimes drop collectible money bags that you can spend on different weapons and bombs in the inter-level weapons market led by the happiest blue haired weapons dealer ever.
Unlike nearly every other shoot-em-up on the NES, Gun-Nac’s learning curve is forgiving, and you have the freedom to control the speed of your ship and upgrade it frequently with many power ups including a wing attachment that augments the power of your shot threefold. Gun-Nac is one hell of a good shooter.
In the options menu, you can even configure if you want the NES to give priority to additional speed at the expense of sprite flickering, or to sprites at the expense of insane speed. Gun-Nac is the only NES game to offer this choice.
One day, Firebrand, a young gargoyle demon of the Red Arrremer Tribe, decides to undergo training to improve his skills. Traveling to a small alternate dimension just outside of his village of Eturia, catastrophe strikes when Firebrand is away. His home village has been destroyed and his king has been fatally wounded. The sudden attack was perpetrated by the mysterious Black Light forces, who now threaten to destroy the entire Ghoul realm. It’s up to aspiring warrior Firebrand to save the underworld as he knows it.
Why you should play it
This concludes part 7 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.