As promised with my last blog, this week’s will focus on another list challenge issued by my boyfriend. Initially, I was going to write about my top 10 fave childhood games, but it would’ve been more difficult to narrow down. My childhood basically spanned the Atari to N64 eras, so to make it easier on myself I’ve narrowed the list down to my first family-bought console: the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short.
All but one of these games are from my personal collection and were the ones I not only played the most but enjoyed the most as well. As such, lots of them are Mario-based games. Also, this list is not to cover the best NES games of all time, but just the ones I grew up with as a kid. While I did play other classics such as Kid Icarus, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, I didn’t spend as much time with them to really get into them. Although, I will acknowledge that I had the most fun with Zelda at the time, as it was something cool and different. But I digress. Here’s my 10 favorite NES games:
10. The Little Mermaid
Of all the games on this list, this is the only one I haven’t owned. I rented it way back when it was possible to rent NES games, and to my knowledge it’s the first Capcom game I ever played. I remember it being short but cute, and Ursula being a bit freaky as the final boss (in two forms, no less). It also has the honor of being one of the only NES games I ever completed from start to finish. But since I only played it through that one time, it takes the 10th spot.
9. Hogan’s Alley
Talk about a not very kid-friendly game. Hogan’s Alley used the Zapper Gun and allowed you to shoot criminals while avoiding shooting pedestrians. It was one of only two games I owned that used the gun, but it was still a lot of fun. Although, compared to shooting criminals, I found the included “Shoot the Can” mode to be more enjoyable. I suppose it was the challenge of keeping it in the air at all times. Either way, this could be considered the first “violent” game I ever played.
8. Super Mario Bros. 2
I know, I know, this game is beloved by a lot of people. But for me, coming off of the first Super Mario game, it was just…weird. I’ve never been able to beat it (although it’s been years since I tried) and while it was cool playing as Luigi, Peach and Toad, it was confusing to navigate at times. I did enjoy the gameplay at times, like being able to pick up enemies or ride on them without getting hurt, and fighting Birdo was always fun. As fun as this Mario game was, though, I enjoyed other games more.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, Yoshi has and always will be my favorite Nintendo character. He’s just so adorable and cool. And this Dr. Mario/Tetris-like game was a blast to play back then. I even played it before I ever tried the two aforementioned games. Stacking Nintendo baddies and watching them disappear was satisfying and, as a puzzle game, it was overall decent. I didn’t think any puzzle game could top it at the time. That is, until the next entry came along.
6. Yoshi’s Cookie
Not only did I ask for this as a gift, but it was the final NES game we bought before the Super Nintendo became a part of our household. Yoshi’s Cookie seemed even better than Yoshi to me and had an improved look to it overall. Plus, it combined two things I love: Yoshi and cookies. In a weird way, stacking cookies was even more satisfying to me because it was something different than the usual Mario fare. Plus, it just looked delicious.
5. River City Ransom
River City Ransom was a fun but frustrating game for a couple reasons. Frustrating in that it was pretty difficult (I never came close to beating it) and also that my cartridge was very finicky. Meaning, when I’d pop it into the NES, sometimes it’d work and sometimes it just wouldn’t start. Frustrations aside, this was a fun, interesting game. Beating up guys who yelled “Barf!” and dropped coins (way before Scott Pilgrim ever made that a thing) was tons of fun and I loved the silly designs. I never quite grasped everything the game had to offer, but when it worked, it was the perfect thing to play to let off some steam.
4. Donkey Kong Classics
This was an awesome duo of games. Firstly, you had the original Donkey Kong, which, while short, was fun on its own. But this also included Donkey Kong Jr., a vine-climbing game where you have to save your daddy DK from that bad ‘ol Mario (times were weird back then). My mom actually got me into this game, and we’d often play it together just to see how far we’d get before dying. Not only that, but I quickly loved both games equally, rather than preferring one over the other.
3. Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt
Call blasphemy all you want, but this game was HARD. Super Mario Bros. in particular was another game my mom and I would spend hours on just trying to progress. We always got hung up on either the Cheep Cheep bridge (lousy fish) or Lakitu. But, it’s the first Mario game I ever played, so it deserves the top 3 spot. It was a challenge and, in a way, taught me a lot about having patience where it’s needed. Duck Hunt was also a blast, being my favorite of the two Zapper games I owned. Although I felt bad shooting innocent ducks and would often cheat by putting the gun up to the TV, it was a good test of my reflexes. But I’ll never, ever, EVER like that dog, no matter how much I like dogs in general.
2. Kirby’s Adventure
I love the Kirby games, no matter how easy they may be at times. Kirby’s Adventure was my introduction to the little puffball and I’ve loved him since. The game had a nice, simple story and adventure, and his Copy ability was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen in a game. There was just so much variety in the different abilities you could have, meaning plenty of ways to play. The bosses at times were no picnic for me, particularly a certain evil cloud and the final FINAL boss. But, the game had this cheerfulness to it that made any challenges worth struggling through. To this day, I’m still grateful to my cousin Nick for giving the game to me. And that brings us to my favorite of the bunch…
1. Super Mario Bros. 3
Before the awesome that was Super Mario World, this game easily became my favorite Super Mario game. Not only was it improved graphically and musically, but the map set-up, the various warps, the variety of bosses and power-ups made it an all-around fantastic game on its own merits. By no means was it easy, but it was a great experience from start to finish. I played it not only alone quite a bit, but also with my cousin Nick. One of my favorite memories playing SMB3 was just us giggling uncontrollably at the dancing hills in the very first world. It’s a stupid thing to the average person, but to us kids, it was the start of some major fun. Super Mario Bros. 3 took everything I knew about Mario and expanded it on a grand scale. It’s because of my experience and fond memories of it that it’s my number one favorite NES game.
So, there you have it. If you agree or disagree or even have a list of your own, feel free to post in the comments. I’ll see you next week with another blog!