A Weird Kid’s Top 10 — All-Nighter NES Games
Back in the great days of my youth almost 19 years ago, when the NES was king and I was a portly little quiet kid. A kid who escaped everyday to the Mushroom Kingdom and Dracula’s Castle to avoid my boring existence as a grade school child. I had very few friends and a non-existent home life so video games became a coping mechanism to help my personal development and became my best friend.
The NES in today’s world is considered archaic, dilapidated, old, and maybe even silly; to me, it was the best game console ever made (until the SNES that is). Many of the games that were there to be enjoyed were ones you had to beat within the time-span from when the power button was pressed to the on position to the time when you either:
- A) Accidentally Hit the Reset Button
- B) Had a Power Outage (prevalent in the south)
- C) The Connection Between Cartridge and NES Failed
- D) You Hit The Power Button
If you didn’t beat the game in that span of time, you had to start over from the beginning, usually World/Level 1-1.
There were some games that did come with more advance features such as Battery Backup (which is now starting to fail in some of my older games ;__:) or Password Features that were great as long as you write it down exactly as it appeared, if not, back to World 1-1 Noob! There was however a way around this problem, the NES didn’t generate heat much at all, the power supply did, so many of us started to leave the NES on all night long while we slept.
I can remember going home from school on Friday night playing all day until I couldn’t possibly go any further, shutting off the TV, the lights and everything else only to have the square cyclopic red eyeball of the NES stare at me all night like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey threatening to kill me while I slept. Today’s list deals with those few games that forced me to do so on many occasions, I’ll see you at the end.
While the original Goonies game was never released here in America, its sequel did manage to see the light of day. The story had you playing as Mikey trying to rescue the other Goonies as well as a mermaid from the clutches of the evil Fratellis who have escaped from prison once again.
This game was long, and in most respects a pain in the ass to play when it went to its faux-3D rooms that you had to explore. Other than those, it was a really really fun game to play. If it wasn’t for the repeating rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s song from the movie, it would be a great game. The game does have a password feature but since it was a bit too complicated like most Konami games, if you messed up one letter or one character…it’s back to the beginning of the game.
Clash At Demonhead
One of the more relatively unknown games I own on my NES, Clash At Demonhead was a real acquired taste. The game seemed majorly flawed by its graphics and stunted gameplay, but the story is where the game shined. If you’ve never had a chance to play this game, give it a little time and it will come to grow on you and become one of the best platforming adventure games you’ve ever played. Well, at least that’s my opinion.
This was yet another game that had no way of saving your game unless you really enjoyed entering a password that could have very easily been transcribed wrong. The risk was always just a bit too high for me to quit the game with a password. I even had a chalkboard in my room (whiteboards didn’t exist back then) that I would use to keep track of all of my game secrets and passwords.
Faxanadu was perhaps one of the first action RPGs that I played while growing up. Sure, I had spent a whole bunch of time playing Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, but this game provided more for me. The music and graphics used in the game were substantial for the time the game was released. This was perhaps one of the first games that I ever played that used music as more than just background filler.
The worst part about playing any RPG on the old NES wasn’t so much that it was hard, but the fact that so many of them used passwords instead of batteries to save your progress. Faxanadu was brutal because it used both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, AND punctuation marks in its passwords. I guess playing games like this set me up for the job I do today…making passwords for simpletons.
Oh man the first Metal Gear was a nerdy kids wet dream, it had it all: simulated stealth, cigarettes, c-rations, 15 different weapons and a cardboard box you could sneak around in. The only problem, is that I didn’t quite know all that was going on thanks to the lack of good localization (trust me the MSX version was much better). Kojima had a great game even for the 80s standards of Nintendo games, it was released under the Ultra label to get past Nintendo’s embargo on game companies making too many games per year. As has been one of my favorite games all throughout my childhood.
To get an example of how retarded the game’s save feature was, here ya go. There was NO battery at all and when you called on the radio to get your password you got a string of 25 numbers that you would have to write down. 25 is a lot of stuff to write down and to input into ANY game. Here’s the password that I actually used to have memorized so I could start the game with all the equipment if you don’t believe how much work old games used to be: 5XZ1C GZZZG UOOOU UYRZZ NTOZ3. Tell me that’s not a tad overkill…
Ghosts & Goblins
This game gets one paragraph, and only one because it fucking sucks how this game played me as a kid. I get to the last level and up the the boss only to be dragged ALL THE WAY back to the beginning of the game. At that point I turned the game off and went to bed angry. I got up and beat the game the next morning only to take it back to game store to demand a full return of my money. There, I said it, fuck this game.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
A game that I have only beaten once, ever, in the whole time that I have owned the cartridge. I even got punished because I was so late coming home that night because I was at the last level facing off against Shredder. In case you didn’t know, TMNT also has a rather negative stigma as a really tough game that is unforgiving. Whether your hangups be on the level with the electric seaweed and the underwater bombs, or the multiple times that you have to witness screen flicker from too many sprites on the screen at one time, this game could fuck you up quickly.
Do I even need to remind the people here that Raphael was a pretty worthless character because his sais had an attack range of maybe 3 inches? Its not so much that this game didn’t have a password or save feature, but it was always tough for me to reach for the power button when I spent 3 hours getting to the 4th stage. At times I miss how tough games were, but then again I remember how mad some always made me and how often I would take all my aggression out on my poor defenseless controllers.
Super Maro Bros. 3
Ok, ok, I’m sure there are some of you calling bullshit on this one being here on the list, but lets face the facts here. Mario 3 is a simple game if you cheat and use the warp whistles, but what about the people like me who wanted to play the ENTIRE game themselves? I can recall with great joy the moment I made it above the clouds in World 5 and the triumph I felt after beating World 7 all by myself. If anyone was going to be tapping that sweet princess peach it was going to be me!
Man, is it just me, but does it not take forever to beat every single stage in SMB3? What’s worse is the fact that Nintendo in their infinite short sightedness decided that this game didn’t need any kind of save feature! Thankfully when I bought Super Mario All-Stars, it remedied the problem and had a save feature for EACH Mario game on the cart.
Little Nemo: The Dream Master
It’s no surprise that most of the games that I’ve put on my top 10 are some of the most despicable examples of hard games, and Little Nemo was no slouch in that department either. The game seems somewhat of a kids game until you get to the train on the Topsy Turvy level and spend the next 2 hours trying to figure out the whole pattern to it all to get to the next stage.
I loved this game for the mere fact that you bribe the animals you come across to let you “borrow” them by throwing candy at them. Bee Mario? Sorry it was done back before the Wii ever thought of it when Nemo could become a bee himself. Oh man, there is just something about Capcom games from back in the late 80s that will always warm my heart to think about them.
I creamed myself when I played the remake of this game on XBLA in glorious HD and with 3D graphics. It is a retro-gamer’s dream to have a game like Bionic Commando be remade. This is one of the most classic examples of a quality game, it had great graphics, sound, music, animation, and a somewhat plausible story featuring everyone’s favorite punching bag: Hitler!
There was no chance of me ever turning off my console once I started playing Bionic Commando when I was young. After spawn camping one spot in the first area to build up my life points (it took collecting 300 bullets randomly dropped by baddies), and collecting all of my equipment to cross the big span between the first areas to the final areas…I became a zombie. I would purposely leave my NES on just to prove to some of my friends that I had in fact beat the game. You see, back then it was easy to say that you beat a game, it was another point entirely to prove that you did.
Ah, what can I say about one of the best games to ever grace the good ol’ NES? It was one of Rare’s first in a long line of awesomesauce that the company became known for so many years later. But there is a catch with Battletoads, this game was really fucking hard, not just a little hard, really really fucking hard. The game’s length is pretty extensive too, I have yet to see a game like this where there are so many varied elements of gameplay. If there was one thing I could leave behind with Battletoads, it would have to be the speeder bike level.
The game had NO password settings, NO battery backup, and was quite possibly one of the meanest games to ever allow multiplayer. There was friendly fire in this game in a time where friendly fire wasn’t even defined outside the military. That never stopped my and my friends from just beating the shit out of each other though. I can remember playing just that first level almost like it were my very own version of Street Fighter II. With a game as brutal as this though, who could blame me?
The Simpsons: Bart vs The Space Mutants
If there’s anything I hate more than poorly designed games, its poorly designed games that have no apparent way of beating them. That’s were this awesome example of licensed gaming comes into play. The game looked great, but was nigh impossible to win at it. I can even think of the area in the game that always hung me up. It was right where you have to run up the dinosaur skeleton and make this unbelievable leap of faith. The game was very sparing with giving you extra lives but you go through them at an insane rate.
To this day, I’ve never beat this game but I can recall having to leave my NES on overnight only to lose every SINGLE extra life that I had within 5 minutes, though no matter how mad I would get at this game, I’d still try to track down a copy.
Well, this concludes yet another Weird Kid’s Top 10 list. I hope you all enjoyed reading it. I know for certain that there are many of you out there that will disagree with some of my choices for this list, but keep in mind that this is in no way a definitive listing nor is it meant to be taken seriously. Its all for fun, just enjoy reading and take something away with you or leave a comment if you so wish.
If you have a particular Top 10 that you’d like to see email me, and I’d be happy to oblige. Thank you again for reading. See you again next time!