Mitch’s Top 10 NES Games

Mike and I decided to build a top ten list of NES games based solely on our own personal experiences. Since the two of us grew up gaming together, I thought for sure that we’d have identical lists, but as luck would have it (for the sake of a more interesting blog post) they were different in more ways than I would have imagined. I encourage any of you old school gamers to give it a shot, it was an absolute blast to think out.
Here’s my top 10:

10. Little Nemo: The Dream Master –
It was a close call between Nemo and Dr. Mario, but I had to give the edge to Little Nemo. This game was basically a side-scroller in which you played the part of Little Nemo – a kid who fights his way through a dream world by taming various different animals (frogs, bees, donkey (kongs) etc ..) with candy. You would use the special abilities of each animal to collect keys, and advance you to the end of each level, where you’d find a certain number of locks. If you hadn’t collected all of the keys, you would have to go back and find the ones you missed.

Like many on my top 10, what really struck me the most about the game, were the combination of amazing visuals and well thought out music. I can honestly say that the music has stuck with me for the most part of the last 20+ years.

9. Battletoads –
Yeah, I have to put this one further down the list than one would expect. Not much of an explanation needed here as far as the game play goes … you are a humanoid frog battling the evil Dark Queen, and an army of space mutants. Part of me listing this so low on my list, is the sense of guilt I feel for leaving one of the most iconic games of my childhood (and the game that spawned this clone) off this list – TMNT The Arcade Game. While planning this list, we decided to leave out arcade ports.

The most iconic part of this game was the speeder bike level, which I still can’t get past to this day. This game gets an 8/10 on the “lamps kicked over” scale, due to the level of frustration caused by this level alone. Quick note, I used to own this one as a game watch (remember those?)

8. RBI Baseball –
IMO, one of the greatest baseball games EVER created on any platform. It literally took me a year to finally win a game on one player mode after I bought it while building the ultimate NES cart collection a few years ago. I was always personally the MN Twins (since I’m originally a MN guy). There was nothing like pegging your buddy in the nuts when he was up to bat, or holding up the game by throwing the ball to each base in order repeatedly until someone got punched (my dad called it “around the horn”). RBI tried to look more realistic in the later games of the series, but I personally will always hold the first as the all time best. I would rank this one a 10/10 on my “lamps kicked over” scale, due to the fact that I lose to the mercy rule nearly every time I play 1 player mode.

7. Mike Tyson’s Punchout –
OK, I’m gonna skip the description at this point, if you haven’t played these games, you’re probably not reading this. What can I say? Compared to the arcade (can’t really call this one a direct arcade port) the NES version has better music, less annoying sounds, and better title sequences. Who could ever forget Little Mac running in a pink jumpsuit behind Denny Green on a bike? Classic game with classic characters! I found out after buying this one again several years ago, that you never lose the rhythm to play this game … I literally made it all the way to Bald Bull (second time) on my first try after not playing it for 15+ years. This game never lost it’s magic, true to any classic, it easily withstood the test of time.

6. RC Pro Am –
This is one of the most efficient racers ever IMO, and thankfully, efficiency equals a buttload of fun. Visually, I wouldn’t call this one memorable, but musically it basically has loads of short and extremely memorable clips .. who can forget the Wham! “Wake Me Up” sounding song when you qualified for a high score. The gameplay is off the charts with RC Pro Am, it’s only a few repeating tracks with various add on obstacles each time you repeat, but you are also able to build up aspects of your car as you go. 20 something years later, I’m still on the edge of my seat every time I play this one.

5. Super Mario Bros. 2 –
I read somewhere that this one was actually a completely different game until Nintendo adapted it to the Mario Bros. series – this at least explains why it has nearly nothing to do with the rest of the series. The reason this is the only Mario to make the list (although I loved every one of them) is the fact that you could choose 4 different characters, and that the music was absolutely off the charts. I’ve seen several Gypsy Jazz trios cover the theme song, and rightfully so, I recently introduced a Gypsy Jazz enthusiast friend to the screen selection music, and he absolutely loved it. The game play was amazing, and all of the elements of each world were completely unique. Sorry haters, this is my Mario choice, and this is where it lands on my list.

4. Wizards and Warriors –
Oh man, what a classic! Basically one of the first platformers I remember playing. The sounds in this game were absolutely amazing, I haven’t been able to get the “you’re about to die” music out of my head for decades. The atmospheres created in this game are un-paralleled in my mind – If I ever start a metal band, I’m going to cover the entire game on an album, that’s how good this game is … oh wait, that’s been done, look it up on youtube, you won’t be sorry! I honestly believe this one could stand up to anything out now. Easily my favorite video game music ever.

3. Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers –
I firmly believe that any Capcom game for NES has the potential to be in anyone’s top 10. I couldn’t even tell you why I love this game so much looking back, but it has a ton of nostalgic qualities that pretty much trump almost any other game. Typical side-scroller, but had plenty of interest at the time, since I was a huge fan of the cartoon series. I couldn’t tell you for sure if this one could stand the test of time, but it was amazing.

2. Micro Machines –
Holy crap, what an amazing game! I don’t think this even had anything to do with the Micro Machine brand, but this game had a major impact on me as a kid – major impact meaning it took up most of my early childhood. I can’t tell you how many times I lines up cheerios to make a track on the breakfast table … and that was only last week. I remember hearing (and I’m too lazy to research) that this also had a 16 bit enhancement chip, that graphically put it head and shoulders in front of almost any other NES game. As a collector, I’m especially interested in non licensed NES games, this is without a doubt the best unlicensed game, and overall the 2nd best game in the entire catalogue.

1. Zelda
What else could it possibly be? The first open world game I remember ever playing. The replay on this game is infinite, I’ve probably finished the game 20 times, it never gets old. As a kid, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about playing this game, total life impact.

Honorable Mention: Yo Noid, Darkwing Duck, Contra, Fester’s Quest, Castlevania 1 & 3, Willow, Kirby’s Adventure, Mario 1 & 3, Dr. Mario