Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List #19-11

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’s 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 nine 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.

Previous entries:

part 1, #100-90
part 2, #89-80
part 3, #79-70
part 4, #69-60
part 5, #59-50
part 6, #49-40
part 7, #39-30
part 8, #29-20

So without further ado, I hope you will enjoy the Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List!

#19Legacy of the Wizard/Dragon Slayer IV
Price range: $6-8
Difficulty: 7
Region: All

Long ago, an evil dragon named Keela terrorized the land until a powerful magician managed to seal the fearsome dragon inside a magical dungeon. However, with the passage of time the seal has weakened and there is concern Keela may be able to break the seal. If that should happen, Keela would unleash untold terror upon the land.

To prevent this from happening, the Drasle family, descendants of the noble wizard who sealed Keela, open a portal beneath their home that leads to Keela’s dungeon. In the depths of the labyrinth await four fiends, guarding mystical crowns needed to revive the legendary Dragon Slayer sword, a holy blade capable of destroying Keela once and for all. Only by working together can the family hope to accomplish their daring task.

Why you should play it

What? You haven’t heard of Legacy of the Wizard? I’m not surprised. By and large, Legacy of the Wizard doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Not only is it one of the few NES games to offer multiple playable characters all with unique abilities, it is one of the only NES games that would today be considered an “open world” game. See, what makes Legacy of the Wizard so unique and worth your attention is that it allows you to choose any member of the Drasle family and travel into the depths of the immense dungeon, all while never once holding your hand to tell you what to do or where to go.

Each family member has different attributes. For example, the father can move blocks but has poor jumping skills. The daughter can jump twice as high as everyone else, but takes double damage compared to the others. The pet monster can barely jump at all, but enemy monsters completely ignore it. You’ll need to use each member of the family throughout the game.

Although its basically a platformer, there are RPG elements  that make it far deeper than it would otherwise be. Enemies drop gold, keys, health, and power ups, all of which are precious commodities in your search for the holy crowns. Whenever you attack enemies, it will deplete your magic meter, which when empty means you won’t be able to attack. Luckily there are inns and shops scattered about the dungeon, as well as as the all-important password giver.

While not a title that stands out as a visual masterpiece, it does look better than many of its peers on the NES, and the NES version of Legacy of the Wizard is prettier than any version released. The distinctive single tile sprites are small and blocky, but even so they’re full of charm. The soundtrack, composed by Yuzo Koshiro, is brilliant, timeless, and deserves listening to endlessly.

To be fair, Legacy of the Wizard isn’t completely without its problems. A product of its time, there are uneven difficulty spikes scattered throughout the entire game, a considerable amount of backtracking time is required, and there are never any explanations given for what essential items do, who can use them or even how to use them. Everything you need to know in the game you have to either discover on your own through simple trial and error or use some kind of internet FAQ. For those who need a helping hand, I highly recommend this walkthrough.

Fun fact

Legacy of the Wizard was originally released in Japan as Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle family for the MSX. As the number would imply, it is the fourth game in the Dragon Slayer series. the Famicom port/remake of the second game Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu was released on the NES as Faxanadu, combining the words “Xanadu” with “Famicom”.  It is interesting to note that although Legacy of the Wizard is the forth game in the series, it was released on the NES several months before the release of Faxanadu.

#18Final Fantasy III
Price range: $10-15
Difficulty: 6
Region: Japan Only

In a remote village of Ur, four orphans were raised by the priest Topapa. A recent tremor has caused the Wind Crystal temple, sacred to the people of Ur, to sink into the earth. The four orphans decided to check on the Wind Crystal and found the temple had sunk into an underground cave. When they found the Crystal, it spoke to them and from its words they understood they were chosen for a much more important and world-embracing mission…Why you should play it

The real Final Fantasy III lost to the west until just a few years ago, this is damn near RPG perfection on the Famicom. While similar to the first Final Fantasy, the many improvements to the battle system, graphics, audio and overall structure allow it to endure the test of time and still be completely playable twenty two years after it was originally released.

At the start of the game, all four members of your party consist of Onion Knights capable of wielding various swords, but are unable to cast magic or use any special abilities. However, you’ll soon be able to make use of Final Fantasy III’s iconic “job” system. With each Elemental Crystal you visit, you’ll gain more jobs -character classes- to use. Jobs include Fighter, Black Mage, White Mage, Ninja, Viking, Shaman and many others. Each job has different capabilities and can use different equipment. You can switch Jobs at any time and mix and match learned abilities, allowing you to customize your party to suit your own unique play style.

Considering the global popularity of Final Fantasy today, it might come as a surprise that Final Fantasy III is a Famicom exclusive with no official NES counterpart. While RPGs have always been consistently popular in Japan, most western gamers in the NES era considered the genre to be confusing and difficult to get into; boring, even. It wasn’t until 1990 that the first Final Fantasy appeared in North America – by which time Japan was already seeing this third installment. In more recent years, 3D remakes of Final Fantasy III have sprung up on the DS and iOS, but for those interested in playing the original Famicom version in English, you can get a reproduction from NES Reproductions. You’ll need a special version of Super Mario Bros. 2 that has a full pinset.

Fun fact

Final Fantasy III is the last of the Final Fantasy RPGs until the tenth installment not to feature the Active Time Battle System the series is famous for. Many graphical elements were reused in Squaresoft’s SaGa trilogy on Gameboy, especially in SaGa 3, known as Final Fantasy Legend III in the west. This was likely done to reduce development time and expense for the GameBoy SaGa titles, but since Final Fantas III is easily one of the best looking Famicom games to begin with, why wouldn’t Squaresoft port their beautiful tile work to the GameBoy for games similar enough to make good reuse of it?

#17Famicom Wars
Intelligent Systems
Turn Based Strategy
Price range: $15-25
Difficulty: 6
Region: Japan Only

The nations of Red Star and Blue Moon are at war. Each has deployed troops and works to obtain enough funds to buy the necessary military hardware to overcome the other side in warfare. You assume the role of commander-in-chief of either nation with the goal of ultimate victory over the other.

Why you should play it

The great granddaddy of Advance Wars, Famicom Wars is a game that established not only the Nintendo Wars series, but also put Turn-Based Strategy games on the console gaming map. Sure, there were console TBS games before it, but none were nearly as approachable, complex yet simple, and polished yet basic. Like all good games, Famicom Wars is easy to learn but difficult to master. There are maps you can spend hours on winning all the way, only to spend another few hours losing in fierce combat. You might not think it possible, but the AI can really put up quite a good challenge.

Visually sparse even for the Famicom, Famicom Wars uses kanji for it’s main menus you’ll constantly need to navigate, making it initially off-putting for English speaking gamers. However, once you figure out what each option does by either reading a walkthrough or simply through old fashioned trial and error, the sheer depth in Famicom War’s chess-like gameplay will make itself apparent. Once you understand how to play, you’ll find a uniquely appealing and addictive game even through the language gap. Luckily for retro oriented western gamers, Nintendo Wars hasn’t changed much over all these years. If you’ve learned how to play Advance Wars through the excellent in-game tutorials, you’ll be able to jump right in to Famicom Wars without a hitch. There are some minor differences, but by and large this is Advance Wars on the Famicom.

For more on Famicom Wars, check out my written or video review.

Fun fact

The sister series to Fire Emblem, Nintendo Wars has seen many sequels in Japan over the years. Following Famicom Wars, three entries were made on the GameBoy before the now well known GameBoy Advance and DS titles. In 1998, the original Famicom Wars was revived for the Nintendo Power Data Pak service in Japan.

The remake, called predictably enough, Super Famicom Wars, added in four player support, new units, fog of war and the basis for what would become the Advance Wars CO system. It is shockingly rare, so if you spot it for sale, don’t hesitate to pick up this gem.

#16Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse/Akumajou Densetsu
Price range: $8-15
Difficulty: 7
Region: All

In the year 1476, the immortal Count Vlad Tapes Dracula once again rises from his grave, his magic-bound ancestral home Castlevania materializing once again with him. Over the many centuries they have battled, the European people have become terrified of not only the Vampire lord Dracula, but also the Belmont linage as well. No longer welcome in Europe, the young Trevor Belmont rejected his duty to guard Europe and journeyed into isolation where he wouldn’t be feared.

Once realizing the Belmonts were not in Europe, Dracula found himself completely free of opposition, and quickly spread darkness across Europe. Dracula feed on the despair of the people, cursing the very land itself to damnation. Desperate for a hero, Trevor is called back to Europe to defeat his bloodline’s immortal foe. This time however, Dracula’s influence has corrupted many, and not even the powers of the Belmonts will be enough to destroy Dracula alone.

Why you should play it

With gameplay nearly identical to the first two titles, Konami’s “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to the third entry in the Castlevania series allowed them to focus on expanding the scope of the classic Castlevania formula rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead of returning to the linear confines of Castlevania 1 or the confusing and haphazard open world approach of Castlevania II, Castlevania III offers the player a sense of freedom and choice as they progress toward Dracula’s throne room. At the end of nearly every stage there are branching paths which lead to new areas completely different from each other. Some paths are easier than others, some are shortcuts, and some even lead to encounters with playable characters.

Beyond the typical whip wielding Belmont, Castlevania III has three additional playable characters that play vastly different from Trevor.  There is Grant the thief, nimble in the air, able to move faster, cling to move on walls and throw an infinite supply of knives. Next is Alucard, son of Dracula. Alucard attacks with a triad fire ball move and can turn into a bat and freely fly about as long as you have hearts. Last in Sypha, a holy mage who can cast many long range spells to make up for her weak defense and poor mobility. Trevor can only join up with one of the three at once, so there is a greater emphasis on replay in Castlevania III than nearly any title in the whole franchise.

Although the North American version is noteworthy for its highly detailed graphics thanks to the capabilities of the MMC5, the real star of the show is the audio, especially on the Famicom. Spearing no expense, Konami outfitted Castlevania III’s asian counterpart, Akumajou Densetsu, with a special graphic and soundchip combo called the Konami VRC6.

The Konmai VRC6 was a unique chip that allowed advanced visual effects similar to the MMC5, but even more importantly offered additional sound channels beyond what the Famicom can produce on its own. The superior sound, added to the reduced difficulty compared to the North American build, makes Akumajou Densetsu one of most recommended and sought after Famicom titles. You’ll need to preform a few mods to an NES to hear the superior music, but the differences are so pronounced it’s well worth it if you don’t otherwise want to simply import a Famicom. Below is a comparison between the NES and Famicom audio. Even if you own the US version, Akumajou Densetsu is a must-own game.  MMC5 may be impressive, but its nothing compared to VRC6.

Fun fact

The 2005 Xbox/PS2 entry in the series Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is a direct sequel to the events of Castlevania III. Curse of Darkness tells the story of Hector, a Devil Forgemaster and former servant of Dracula. Even though Dracula was once again killed by Trevor and his companions, Castlevania has rematerialized and Dracula’s curse continues to ravage the European countryside, spreading disease, mob violence, and heresy in its wake.

1997’s Symphony of the Night, the most popular game in the Castlevania series, makes many references to the events of Castlevania III, focusing once again on Alucard, who had fought alongside Trevor Belmont.

Castlevania III vs Akumajou Densetsu, MMC5 vs VRC6

#15Super Mario Bros.
Price range: $2-6
Difficulty: 6
Region: All

In the magical Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Toadstool has been kidnapped by the evil King Koopa. It’s up to the heroic Super Mario Bros. to rescue her! Travel through 32 levels of non-stop danger and excitement! Can the Mario Bros. save the Mushroom Princess? Why you should play it

You all knew it was comming, so let me get this one out of the way at last. What can I possibly say about Super Mario Bros. that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? Super Mario Bros. was as important to the NES as Donkey Kong was to arcades. It was Super Mario Bros. that launched the Nintendo brand into millions of households all around the world. It was Super Mario Bros. that showed Nintendo wasn’t another Atari. It was Super Mario Bros. that made such names as Koji Kondo and Shigaru Myamoto recognizable names to an entire generation of gamers. It was Super Mario Bros. that changed gaming forever.

Super Mario Bros. is now over 25 years old, yet it still is one of the best and most recommended titles not only for the NES, but gaming as a whole. It’s got everything that makes a game a classic – it’s simple to learn, full of secrets, has iconic visuals, a rock-steady soundtrack and most importantly, it’s fun, and one of the most replayable gaming experiences ever.

Even after the billionth time you play through stage 1-1, the hidden secrets, the challenging gameplay, and the drive to just get over that damn flagpole will have you reaching for Super Mario Bros. for play session one billion and one. A true must own, must play game. If you already own an NES, it’s as likely you already own Super Mario Bros. as it is that the princess is in another castle. However, if you don’t somehow own it, consider this a personal plea to get out from whatever rock you crawled under.

Fun fact

In the Japanese re-release of the Super Mario All Stars Collection for Wii, an artbook documenting the earliest phase of Super Mario Bros. was included. In the book are design memos for controls and gameplay that would have made Super Mario Bros. a very different game from the version we all know and love.

The book makes mention of an planned “Rocket” item that when collected, would allow Mario to fly about in the air after jumping when the B button was held down. Even more surprising, the A button was intended for various attacks including a punch, kick, rifle and even a beam gun! Although the booklet doesn’t say so outright, it’s likely that during these early planning phases Mario was going to attack enemies by shooting them rather than jumping on them. A Mario game that plays like a Megaman game? This I’d love to see!

#14Crisis Force
Price range: $60-160
Difficulty: 6
Region: Japan Only

In the near future, alien invaders descend on the Earth, indiscriminately destroying cities and killing countless millions. To address this threat, mankind’s only hope lies with a male and female duo of pilots of experimental ships that can synchronize together into one mighty craft called the Crisis Force. Blast off as you fight against hordes of alien bio-monsters high in the sky!

Why you should play it

During a time when most developers had moved on from the Famicom to the bright possibilities of the 16-bit future, Konami continued to push the limits for what was thought possible on Nintendo’s aging hardware. Crisis Force doesn’t only play like many Genesis and PC Engine shmups, it looks like one as well. There are many times when you’ll be seriously questioning how this game is even possible on the Famicom.

Crisis Force is absolutely drop dead gorgeous, with highly detailed and colorful environments and some of the best sprite work seen in any game to grace the hardware. There are large sections of the game that move entire sprite layers independently at different rates, creating the illusion of parallax scrolling,  something technically beyond the capabilities of the Famicom.

Beyond the stunning visuals, Crisis Force is also a game with a great soundtrack and fast, fluid gameplay that rivals the best shooters on systems several times more powerful than the Famicom. There are the usual assortment of power ups at your disposal, and the ultimate synchro power up converts your craft into the mighty Crisis Force, a massive invincible craft with heavy firepower for a limited period of time. The game even supports two players simultaneously.

The game has multiple difficulty settings, making the overall experience as easy or as challenging as you like. The difference in the difficulty modes revolves around how many enemies appear on-screen at once as well as their bullet patterns. Like nearly all games of it’s kind, Crisis Force uses one hit deaths, so precision controls are vital to survival. As you would expect from Konami, the controls are flawless and there’s even the option to change the button mapping!

If you’re looking for a high quality, fast paced and visually impressive shooter that the average player can reasonably see through to the end (the determining factor that kept this spot from going to Recca) then look no further than Crisis Force.  I think that the game not only shows Konami’s commitment and dedication to the Famicom, but also what is possible with limited resources in general. A stunning gem of a game.

Fun fact

While not exactly a fun fact, I feel I should let you guys know this anyway. Finding a physical copy of Crisis Force has become increasingly difficult over the last several years as the game has continued to become more well known. Released in 1992 in Japan only, the game didn’t find itself in a very welcoming market for Famicom shooters, and as such, was only sold in limited quantities. The limited supply of Japanese carts, coupled with the fact there is no language barrier whatsoever makes Crisis Force one of the most desired imports and is the main contributing factor for the game’s rarity and price in import shops. I’ve seen cart only copies of Crisis Force for as much as $160 USD, and for that, you’re better off buying a Powerpak and simply running Crisis Force -and any other game you want- through Retrozone’s wonder instead.

#13Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Price range: $10-15
Difficulty: 6
Region: All

It’s a right jab, a left hook, an uppercut – it’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! where you’ll get the chance to compete against boxers from around the globe. Punch your way through 13 bouts in the minor, major and world circuits against tough contestants like Piston Honda, Glass Joe, Super Macho Man and many, many more! Defeat all your opponents and meet the ultimate challenge against the World Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson in the greatest fight of all – The Dream Bout! Knockout Tyson and you can become WVBA (World Video Boxing Association) Champ!

Why you should play it

Punch-Out!! is a legendary game on the NES for many different reasons. It’s one of the best looking NES games thanks to its huge, well animated and detailed sprites. It has an extremely memorable and wonderful soundtrack composed by Kenji Yamamoto and Akito Nakatsuka. It has all the boxing moves you could hope for – left/right jabs, left/right hooks, dodging, blocking, ducking and even an uppercut. Finally, it has Mike Tyson, who at the time was the Boxing World Champion. What more could you ask for?

Punch-Out!! may look like a boxing game, but it actually has more in common with puzzle or rhythm games. Rather than attempt to simulate actual boxing, something even modern consoles struggle with, Punch-Out!! instead you constantly trying to outwit each opponent by carefully switching from the defense to the offense. You can button mash your way through the first few fights, but you’ll soon be getting knocked down again and again until you learn to play the game properly.

The whole idea of Punch-Out!! is to attack your opponent the moment they drop their guard by switching from defense to offense. Each opponent has a tell – a distinctive movement that indicates their about to attack. Most opponents need to be attacked the moment their tell appears so they drop their guard and you can get in multiple strikes. As the game progresses, tells become faster and more subtle, and attacks are more difficult to block or dodge.

Punch-Out!! is also fondly remembered for exposing innocent kids everywhere to its roster of boxers who, while ethnically diverse, are all ridiculously stereotypical, and in some cases, borderline racist. Even Arino Shinya, the comedian host of the incredibly popular Japanese show Game Center CX, commented on how the characters are slightly offensive for a Nintendo game during his playthrough of the game.

Even so, each of the fighters have plenty of personality and each has a distinct charm. Coupled with excellent gameplay and the audio/visual display, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is an unforgettable experience. Are you a bad enough dude to beat Mike Tyson? He’s still one of the hardest bosses in gaming history, after all.

Fun fact

In 1984, Nintendo released the unusual looking Punch-Out!! in arcades around the world, and fans quickly took notice. Developed to use two 19″ monitors to address an overstock Nintendo had, Punch-Out!! was the first of several dual monitor arcade games.

Punch-Out!! the arcade game was programmed by Genyo Takeda with art by the famous Shigeru Miyamoto. The game featured a special chip that allowed single objects to be scaled, allowing the opposing fighter to be several times larger than would be otherwise possible at the time. A boxing game was chosen for this reason.

In 1986, Nintendo began to explore the idea of creating a Famicom conversion of Punch-Out!! and began to develop a special memory mapper chip to handle the opposing boxers in much the same way as the arcade version. Named the MMC2, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! and its variants was the only game ever made to use the chip.

Signing a partnership endorsement with then World Boxing Champion Mike Tyson to use his name and likeness in the home conversion, Nintendo released Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! in early 1987 in North America.

Initially Punch-Out!! was only available as special prizes of the Famicom Golf Tournament held in Japan. The Japanese special golden cartridge did not feature Mike Tyson, instead leaving Super Macho Man as the final boss. Eventually though, positive American sales figures pushed Nintendo of Japan to at last release Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! for Famicom.

Throughout the life of the NES, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! continued to be one of the best selling and most popular titles for the system. In 1990, Nintendo’s contract with Tyson had expired and they felt it best not to renew the contract. To continue to sell the game, Tyson’s sprite was slightly edited and the character “Mr. Dream” was born.

In the terrible late 80’s cartoon Captain N: The Game Master, one of the villains that made regular appearances was Punch-Out!!’s King Hippo, who was blue for some reason. Its…disturbing.

#12Power Blade
Price range: $4-8
Difficulty: 5

Region: North America and Europe only

After years of war that devastated the planet, Earth was beginning to recover. In 2191, the New Earth government established a single Master Computer that would be in charge of governing all major cities and robot-police forces.

One day, aliens attack the Master Computer, making the Master control program malfunction. When all hope of stopping the Master Computer fails, the New Earth government sends in the mysterious man known as Nova, wielder of a unique energy boomerang known as the Power Blade with the ability to take down the Master Computer’s forces.

In order to access the Master Computer’s Control Center, Nova first has to obtain tape units from the six sectors surrounding the Master Computer. Each sector is heavily guarded by robots controlled by the aliens, and Nova has to locate and contact an agent first to receive an ID card used to access the security room located at the same sector. After defeating the security room guards, Nova can obtain the sector’s tape unit and use it to disarm the sector. After the six sectors have been disarmed, Nova must fight his way through the Control Center, destroy the Master Computer and restore order to society.

Why you should play it

Power Blade is hands down one of my favorite NES games by far. Nova, Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alike and boomerang tossing extraordinaire, is one of the best and most unappreciated videogame characters anywhere. This guy can throw three boomerangs at once in any direction, adorn a suit of solid armor that doesn’t slow him down in the least, and even toss supersonic concussion waves with his fists. Duke Nukem eat your heart out.

Beyond the awesome character, Power Blade also has great gameplay thanks in no small part to how closely it mimics Capcom’s Megaman franchise. You can tackle any area, in any order you want, most of the areas are inhabited by robotic animals very much in the Megaman style, and there’s even vanishing tiles in some areas that require careful timed jumps! One key difference is bosses do not bestow new weapons nor do they have any weaknesses or resistances, so the order one takes through Power Blade’s stages is less critical than the average Megaman title.

Power Blade is among the top tier best looking games on the system. Like other late NES games, the visuals are detailed, colorful and varied. Think of games like Sunsoft’s Batman or Natsume’s Shadow of the Ninja to get an idea of what to expect from Power Blade. Backgrounds often feature animation and the sprites themselves are very well animated and spring to life in ways few other NES sprites do. Nothing feels half-done in Power Blade.

Likewise, Power Blade’s soundtrack, composed by the extremely talented Kinuyo Yamashita [best known for composing Castlevania 1], rivals any of the best Koji Kondo or even Megaman tunes you can think of. As with her other works, Power Blade brings many catchy, memorable, and remix-worthy tunes to an already great looking game.

Power Blade is a bit uncommon, but it isn’t nearly as expensive as its sequel and luckily, it’s also much better than it’s sequel as well.  Tracking down a copy is well worth it for NES collectors everywhere. This is a true NES hidden gem.

Fun fact

Power Blade started off life under the title Power Blazer in Japan. Power Blazer, created by Taito, is a comical platformer starring a blue suited little man who throws a boomerang to attack enemies. It is rife with some of the most difficult platforming to be found in any Famicom title, and also suffers from fairly poor control and technical issues such as slow movement and a very short jump height. All in all, Power Blazer was a typical, completely unremarkable release that stood out like a sore thumb compared to the usual extremely high quality Taito releases in the late Famicom era.

When the game was to be released for the NES, many localization changes were made to vastly improve the game in ways almost unheard of at the time or even now. First, the blue clad little man was replaced with the awesome Nova. Nova can run faster, jump higher, take more damage, throw his boomerang in any direction and even throw multiple boomerangs at once. In addition to all the other improvements, the idea of the Power Blade suit was added, which would allow Nova to throw energy waves and act as armor, protecting him from damage three times.

All the tweaks to the main character would have already made Power Blade vastly superior to Power Blazer,  but the localization team wasn’t done yet. Power Blazer received a total overhaul in level design that expanded on the slightly Metroid feel of Power Blazer’s stages. While maintaining the same overall theme (a bio-mechanical jungle, a shuttle launchpad, a furnace, etc) all of Power Blazer’s levels were redesigned to incorporate multiple paths with much better and much less repetitive platforming. To encourage players to explore the entire level, the idea of the informent with the keycards was introduced, and a timer was added to give player’s a gentle reminder that they should not linger in one area for too long.

For more on Power Blade, check out my full written review here.

#11Megaman 3
Price range: $10-15
Difficulty: 5
Region: All

It is the year 2010. After being defeated twice, Dr. Wily claims to be a changed man, and wants to team up with Dr. Light once again to build robots to benefit mankind.

Dr. Wily and Dr. Light work together on a “peace-keeping” robot named Gamma, a massive Robot so powerful that once finished,would be able to stop anyone who tried to take over the world as Wily did. Gamma uses a special new form of power generated from newly discovered, extremely rare and valuable energy crystals.

As the two doctor’s search, they discover that there are eight energy crystals being guarded by yet another set of crazed robot masters.

Megaman is sent in once again to defeat the robots and retrieve the crystals, all the while being shadowed by a mysterious red robot that seems to only fight Megaman to test him. What is the secret to this mystery? Has Wily truly changed? What will happen when Gamma is finished?

Why you should play it

Megaman III is near perfection on the NES. Capcom, ever the ones to not mess with a winning formula, produced a gem that’s as iconic to the NES as Mario is. You run, shoot, jump and climb ladders. You progress through the stages, fight each robot master, and gaintheir powers. 3 adds two new features to the gameplay – sliding and Rush, Megaman companion robo-dog.

Pressing down and B causes Megaman to slide,a new ability that allows him to gain a quick speed boost to escape enemy attacks and allow him to access narrow areas he normally would not be able to while standing. As Megaman can jump out of a slide, the speed boost and the reduction in size while sliding greatly add to Megaman’s agility in battle.

The other major addition is Rush, Megaman’s robo-dog sidekick. Rush doesn’t directly aid Megaman in combat, but rather serves the same role the three Items did in 2 in that he provides a platform for Megaman to gain access to otherwise unreachable areas. Rush has three forms: Rush Coil, Rush Jet, and Rush Marine. Rush Coil acts as a spring board to fling Megaman upward beyond his usual jump height, Rush Jet allows Megaman to freely fly about, and Rush Marine serves the same use as Rush Jet while Megaman is underwater.

As with all other Megaman games, the visuals here are top notch. Backgrounds are detailed and large enemy sprites are the norm. Megaman looks the same as always, but the robot masters this time around are all appealing to look at with unique appearances that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Megaman 3 has some of the most varied stages of any game in the series. Gemini Man’s stage is a very cool multi-colored cavern that seems to be in space or something. It’s awesome.

Finally, the soundtrack is nothing short of amazing. Many of the tracks from the game are amongst the catchiest, most memorable chiptunes you’ll ever hear. The title theme in particular just might be one of the best melodies used for any game’s title screen, ever. I consider it a must-listen for anyone who is a fan of 8-bit gaming.

In many ways, Megaman III feels like the pinnacle of design on the NES. The longest game in the classic series by far at twenty one stages, when you reach the ending it’s both satisfying and rewarding.There are a few minor hiccups, but by and large Megaman III is a fantastic game. Had it been the final Megaman game, comparisons to Return of the Jedi could be made – it’s that good. Luckily for Megaman fans, the series went on and we saw even better games down the road. For all it got right, Megaman III is a must own classic either on the NES or the Famicom.

Fun fact

While Megaman creator Keiji Inafune has never directly said so, it’s pretty obvious the inspiration for Megaman’s sidekick robot dog Rush came from Friender, the robo-dog sidekick to Casshern of the 1973 anime series Neo-Human Casshern. You just need to watch the opening sequence for that anime to see the influences. Friender can transform into a jet, a sub, a drill and more.

In an interview with Nintendo Power in the October 2007 issue, Inafune explained that he was disappointed with “…what went into the game and what was behind the release of the game.” He also stated that he was forced to put the game out before he thought it was ready. According to Inafune, the team lost the main project planner, so Inafune himself had to take over that job for completing the game. Inafune concluded, “I knew that if we had more time to polish it, we could do a lot of things better, make it a better game, but the company [Capcom] said that we needed to release it as it was. The whole environment behind what went into the production of the game is what I least favored. Numbers one and two – I really wanted to make the games; I was so excited about them. Number three – it just turned very different.”

For additional background for Megaman III, check out my written review here.

This concludes part 9 of my 10 part look back on the best NES/Famicom games out there. Feel free to discuss these picks in the comments below.

Stay tuned for the top 10!

25 Responses to “Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List #19-11”

  1. Lardon Jones Says:

    Crisis Force is an INCREDIBLE game, a genuinely good shooting game that is definitely equal to Megadrive and Pc Engine shooters as you say. I managed to bag a cart-only copy for not much at all! 1980 Yen in a Super Potato in Osaka if I recall!

    Should’ve picked up more!! Suitcase was already bursting though :<

  2. Simon LaFlamme Says:

    Nice work !

  3. Keep it up, always a good read. I so love the 8bit era, I wish i had my Family Computer with me.

  4. There were a few surprise titles but very happy with how the list is wrapping up. Castlevania III is my #2 game (wish it made the top 10), however you gave it some serious credit so thank you. I wonder what will be left for your honorable mentions list when the dust settles. Very interesting!

  5. I can’t wait to try Crisis Force.

  6. Hmm…

  7. Like you said, you can’t please everyone. I can’t say I agree with the list completely. But despite all that I’m really enjoying reading this and I can’t wait for the top 10. I’ve learned a lot of things I didn’t know and you’ve turned me on to some games I didn’t otherwise know about.


  8. Excellent work on the list. It’s very enjoyable to read.

    Legacy of the Wizard was a turd of a game. Released during a time of no Internet searches, it was an almost impossible game. The graphics of each “area” were random and didn’t flow well togehter. Combine that with the lack of any guidance, ingame or from the manual, and you had a game that only excelled in frustration. It really was difficult to know when or how you accomplished goals to advance.


    • satoshimatrix Says:

      You are of course entitled to your opinion, but I do not agree with you that Legacy of the Wizard is bad. Legacy of the Wizard hails from an era of gaming where if you wanted to play it, you drew your own map. Gamers today are lazy and don’t have the patience for it. I still have maps I drew as a kid, and making those maps immersed me in the game much more so than just typing into google today. LotW is certainly not for everyone. You need to go in with an open mind and be prepared for a game that doesn’t fit into the modern tutorial ridden game world we have.

    • you are probably one of those douche bags that want everything in a game given to you(because you suck) and are in love with all the new releases that spoon feed everything to you. figuring out what to do was the best part of many old school games. keep playing the new ‘games’ and just keep your weak opinions to youself.

  9. miiloveswii Says:

    Top 10 yeah!

  10. Crisis Force was NEVER a “Limited Release” and has been going for $15-35 on ebay the last half a year. Last copy retrogamecity had up went for $23……$160 cart only? I seriously dont believe you, maybe if some people got in a bidding war, otherwise Ive never heard of it going that high…..where do you get some of your facts? where is the info stating Crisis Force was a limited release to begin with?

    I enjoy youre reviews here but I must say a portion of your information is highly incorrect.

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      By “limited release” I simply mean that Crisis Force wasn’t produced the same numbers as many other Famicom games before it. Prices for loose copies are ALL OVER THE PLACE. $23 is definitely not the average price, especially outside of Japan. When you say “I seriously don’t believe you” stop and ask yourself what reason would I possibly have to say that if it were untrue? My ultimate goal with my top 100 NES/Famicom games list is to promote the games I feel highly of so more retro gamers will seek these games out and play them. Crisis Force as with many of Konami’s other late NES releases such as Akumajou Dracula and Bio Marcile Upa frequently sell for $120-150+ cart only. Check yahoo, ebay, import shops that sell Famicom games or with collectors. The price value is not wrong – if you can find Crisis Force for $23, POUNCE on that.

  11. Great list as always.

    Mega Man 3, Castlevania 3 and SMB would all easily slot into my NES top 10. Nice to see Power Blade getting some love too!

    Final Fantasy III was always my favourite of the original FC trilogy. I never got into FF2’s levelling system, but FF3 won me over with it’s great job system and was to me the genesis of the more complex and interesting mechanics found in later JRPGs.

  12. This list is so good, I just read everything up to here in only a couple hours! I’ve played over 200 Nes games in the last few years, but there are still games here that I’d never heard of before.

    Can you give any estimation as to when you’ll finish the top 10 list? Like # of days, weeks, months?

  13. […] part 1, #100-90 part 2, #89-80 part 3, #79-70 part 4, #69-60 part 5, #59-50 part 6, #49-40 part 7, #39-30 part 8, #29-20 part 9, #19-11 […]

  14. Ya know, I really don’t think Legacy of the Wizard should be at number 19…

    I recently played it, specifically because it sounded good from reading this article, but I was disappointed! It gets a 4/10 from me. The dungeon exploration was fun and everything, but the unforgiving boss battles completely ruined the experience. It’s nearly impossible to beat the 3rd and 4th bosses without the shield, but why did they have to make the shield impossible to find? Why do you have to start all the way back at your house when you die? Why do you lose life everytime you fall down 4 spaces? Why do the enemies always drop poison? Why are the ladders so hard to climb? GRRR, I hate this game!

    Seriously, I think you should replace Legacy of the Wizard with Faxanadu. Faxanadu was awesome! It was a much more satisfying game, which did not require a walkthrough to finish. Come to think of it, why is Faxanadu not on this list?

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      I appreciate your detailed response and opinion. When you’re talking about NES games, you need to consider the time when it was made. It has many conventions that were par for the course in 1987. I agree that there are many such frustrations, but many of the same flaws are present in even first party games of the time such as Metroid. Still, I can understand that Legacy of the Wizard isn’t the kind of game that will appeal to everyone.

      Have you tried playing it with some GameGenie codes? With the proper codes, you can rebalance the difficulty to suit your tastes.

      As with all top # articles, this article is merely my personal opinion – you are free to disagree. Personally, I don’t care much for Faxanadu, but that doesn’t mean it is a “bad game” or anything like that. I’m sorry if you don’t agree, but for me, even with the flaws, Legacy of the Wizard is a favorite of mine.

      • I actually haven’t tried any game genie codes for it, but that’s a good suggestion, I might try later if I’m bored. After finishing it, I’ve decided it’s not that bad, but there are two things they could’ve fixed in order to make it more appealing:

        1) Make the shield easier to find, since you really can’t beat the flying dragon or the Rockgea without it, and
        2) let the player continue from the last Inn they stayed at after dying, because I got really sick of having to do the glove and key puzzles over and over again.

        Other than that, it was a pretty good game, like an 8/10 if they fixed those 2 things. Personally, I would probably put it around 70 – 80th place if I made my own list.

  15. Megaman 3, Castlevania 3, and Final Fantasy 3? I’d put all of those in the top 10, they’re 3 of my favorite threequels evar.
    Hell, Megaman 3 is not only my favorite NES game, but also one of my top 10 games of all time! I’m glad it was this high.

    As for the Casshern comment, Fielder reminded me of Rush a lot too. Too bad Megaman and Rush weren’t there in TvC.
    Also, Casshern Sins is a surprisingly good anime.

  16. Just out of curiosity, I’ve played the remake of Final Fantasy 3 on the Gameboy DS (with its awesome 3d graphics). In terms of gameplay though, do you know if the Famicom version is much different, concerning the amount of time it takes for grinding levels, difficulty spikes, etc?

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