Must Play Games: The NES Years

If we don’t know our gaming history how will we know our gaming future. I’m going to be listing the must plays that defined each console generation and how they place in video game must play spectrum. Up first NES

 Nintendo Entertainment System while not the first available home console, is the grand daddy of the video game boom. Released in 1985, it racked up a total of over 800 games when it was finally discontinued in 1996. So what games rise above the rest as the true must plays of the NES generation?  Let’s take a look…

BattleToads (1991): If you’re a masochist then you will love this game, plain and simple. It goes from satisfyingly smashing enemies into the screen to testing your reflexes and pattern memorization in a mere 3 levels.  


Super Mario Bro Series: All three games came packaged with a Nintendo at one point so if you had a NES, chances are you had one of these games. The original was the perfect example of what a game should be at the time, simple and fun. The second, although not really a Mario game, had added some fun new mechanics like throwing turnips and eggs. Three was really the pinnacle of the series with new costumes (Flying Raccoon wins all of video gamedom), fun mini games, and the ability to pick your path to the castles.  Plus, obsessing over finding those flutes to skips levels was a really fun way to speed run through the game.


Legend of Zelda (1987): This is the game that started all console adventure games in my opinion. You could spend hours walking around the map finding new weapons and power ups and be no closer to beating the game than when you first started. 


Contra (1988): Even if you’ve never heard of this game you’ve heard its cheat code up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start (throw in a select before the start for multiplayer).  Contra was an amazingly fun 2D shooter that took you through some awesome landscapes and introduced some truly unique weaponry for the times.


Metroid (1986): Bounty hunter, check. Space pirates, check. Brainy looking monster, check. Various endings based on how you play, check. If you’ve already played Mario and Zelda, this game combines the two perfectly and is still considered to be one of the best of it’s generation.  Hell, it even helped coin a genre of game, “Metroid-vania.”


Paperboy (1988): Who doesn’t want to live the life of a newspaper delivery boy, dodging dogs and spare tires, stopping robberies and breaking windows of people who do not want your service. There is a reason this game was ported from arcade to every home console known to man…it was pure fun.


Mike Tyson’s Punch Out (1987): From the thrill of breaking “Glass Joe” to the agony of Doc telling you to train harder after you get pummeled by “King Hippo,” this game was basically a series of boss battles. It had you studying patterns and weaknesses for each boxer so you could get the right to take on the champ.  And if you beat Iron Mike Tyson at the end, you truly were the envy of your friends.


So from over 800 down to 9, what do you think? Does the exclusion of a game have you stumped? Angered? Let me know what your NES must play is in the comments.


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