I have played a lot of games over the years. From the NES to the PlayStation 3 it would be next to impossible to count all the games that have graced my many different consoles. So per a suggestion from Drago, I thought it might be fun to list my all-time favorite games, by each system I’ve owned. To make this list more manageable, I decided to break it down by system and only list my top 5 favorite titles. So lets take a look at my first 5 titles for the NES.
#5: Mega Man This was actually my very first game I EVER played for the NES and it blew my mind. It was one of the most influential games of my young life. The simplicity of it, the fact that you were fighting evil robots, the level designs, the music… it was just awesome. Not long after that, my friends and I all became Mega Man junkies, even going so far as to pretend we were the Mega Man characters at recess. We must have looked like idiots, running around, shooting and jumping like the Blue Bomber himself. I have so many fond memories of playing Mega Man with my friend, trying desperately to beat the 6 robot masters. Mega Man also gave birth to one of the most classic and beloved video game series in retro gaming history, so we are starting off with a strong entry here.
#4: The Legend of Zelda When I first tried this game, I was really confused. Up until that point every game I had ever played had been a side scrolling action game. You made your way through a level, reached a boss, beat him and moved to the next level. Games like Mega Man, Super Mario Bros., Contra, they all followed that same pattern. The Legend of Zelda was nothing like that. It was a top down view, it had an over world, explorable dungeons, you collected items, gathered clues and found secrets. It was befuddling to my fragile gaming mind. I will admit, it wasn’t until years later that I actually became a fan of the game. When I first played it, I didn’t like it. Hold up….before you start raging, once I had matured a bit, I gave it another try and realized that it was a game changer. It was an epic adventure and I became a big fan.
#3: Castlevania This was a hard game and one that I have yet to beat in all of these years. There is something about this game, some sort of mental block that thwarts every attempt that I have ever made trying to beat it. Even with that hanging over me, I absolutely love this game. The music is solid, the bosses are terrifying, the levels are deadly, the weapons are awesome, everything about Castlevania gives me goosebumps. Now, the game was not without its annoyances. The controls were stiff, your character moved sluggishly, you were knocked back every time you were hit and your jump was hard to control. If you got hit on a set of stairs, you were as good as dead. Even as frustrating as this game was, I have great memories of throwing everything I had at it. I miss that rush that came with fighting a boss and only having one bar of life left. I remember swinging my whip like a madman trying to hit him before he hit me. Sometimes I was successful, other times I was not. Either way, it was a blast and Castlevania takes the number 3 spot with ease.
#2: Super Mario Bros. 3 Mario has been around for years! He has appeared in well over 200 hundred game titles and has become the face of Nintendo. But back in the late 80s, he was far less well known. For me, I had played Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2, but I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the series. It was over shadowed by more action packed games such as Mega Man, Contra or Castlevania. However, in 1990 all of that would change with the release of Super Mario Bros. 3. To this day, it’s the only Mario game that I have ever bought when it was brand new. Mario 3 was a total game changer. It forever altered the Mario series and many of its contributions can still be seen today in the new Mario titles. It had an overhead map, different and unique power ups, mini games, 7 distinct Koopas besides Bowser, airships, mini castles, tanks, boats and new worlds…. it was so cool. I remember playing that game for hours at a time and I got pretty good at it. Thinking back to the summer of 1990, all I remember is swimming, eating loads of cinnamon graham crackers and playing Mario 3 at my friends house. To this day, I can’t eat a cinnamon graham cracker with out wanting to play that game. Ahhh those were the days.
#1: Mega Man 2 This number one spot was a difficult choice. It was neck and neck between Mario 3 and Mega Man 2. As a kid, I loved both games. I had played them to the point of exhaustion, but which one was my favorite? To decided, I had to look back at all of my memories of these two games and figure out which one had the most personal impact. The winner was Mega Man 2 and let me tell you why. For a long time, every Friday night I would go with my folks down to the local video store to rent some movies or games for the weekend. Every time, I would look at their selection of NES titles, but would always decide to rent Mega Man 2. It became my favorite game on the NES AND my most highly sought after title. The game was fantastic. It had taken everything that I loved about Mega Man 1 and made it better: better music, better levels, better weapons, better bosses. It was also the first Mega Man game I actually finished, all by myself. For years, I would ask for a copy for my birthdays. I even saved every penny I came across so that one day I could buy the game. I would go to Toys R Us and stare at the paper display for Mega Man 2. I went to local video stores, electronics stores and every gaming place that I could think of, but I never managed to get my hands on it. Birthdays came and went, but I never got Mega Man 2. That game was to remain out of reach for the rest of my childhood. Within a few months, the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis came along and I had my attention on other systems and other titles, but Mega Man 2 always remained in the back of my mind. It wasn’t until my mid 20s, that a very good friend of mine actually came across an original Mega Man 2 cartridge and surprised me with it, on my birthday. When I held that game in my hand, it was like a dream come true. After trying so hard as a kid, I finally had a copy of Mega Man 2 to call my own. I popped that sucker in my old NES and discovered that it had lost NONE of its awesomeness. Playing it again brought me back to when I was a kid and it reminded me of a much simpler time. That is why it’s the #1 pick for my favorite game on the NES. For me, no game brings back those same feelings like Mega Man 2.
There are so many great games for Nintendo that I could have gone on and on with additional titles. Contra, Metriod, Zelda 2, Mario 2, Mega Man 3, Final Fantasy 1, the list is almost endless. But, remember this was my PERSONAL list of top 5 favorite games. I picked these for a reason. These titles are more than just games, they are the essence of my childhood. Each game represents something slightly different. They mean Saturdays at friends houses, rainy days at home, weekends, holidays, sleepovers and so much more. Even to this day, when I am gaming, there is a part of me that is always trying to recapture those old days. They all hold memories, feelings, laughs, and adventures and are intertwined with me growing up. I’m sure it’s not the best list, but it works for me.
I hope you enjoyed this look at my top 5 NES titles. We have a lot of systems left to cover so stay tuned. Next time, we’ll take a look at my top 5 favorite games on the Sega Genesis.