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The NES Advantage Joystick

product placement? what product placement? i dont see any product placement! :oAside form the basic NES controller, the Advantage Joystick is probably the best controller for the NES. 
Nintendo built the Advantage with a sturdy metal base, and the joystick itself feels perfect, just putting your fingers on it feels good, and it’s “give” is just like a real arcade joystick.

The A and B buttons however, aren’t nearly as good as the joystick. They do respond well, but they don’t have the “thunk” to them that they should have, and occasionally (depending on the condition of your unit) squeak as they travel.

The Advantage was also strung out with multiple “enhancements” that basically amount to cheating. The rapid fire mode for the A and B Buttons have adjustable knobs so you can tune the firing speed perfectly for each game, making it perfect for cheating at Balloon Fight, Excite Bike, and Galaxian.

There is also a “slow motion” mode that is basically a rapid fire for the Start Button. The idea is that by pausing and unpausing rapidly it will be as though the game is in slow motion so you can get through tough areas with ease, but I’ve yet to find a game this worked well on.

Overall, this controller is good, and is the best way to play many of Nintendo and Namco’s (and countless other’s) arcade games for the NES.

NES Max Controller
not to be confused with The Maxx
This odd controller seems to have been Nintendo’s low cost option for those who wanted turbo features but couldn’t afford or didn’t like the NES Advantage. 

The NES Max is even smaller than the standard NES controller and has little nubs on the sides that almost seems like the fetal form of the very comfortable handles on the later PlayStation controller.

The Turbo features on the A and B don’t have control knobs like the Advantage does, and the useless “slow motion” feature is also gone.

The most striking feature of the NES Max is the lack of either a D-Pad or a joystick. Instead, there is a funky little “Thumb Disk” that you slide around in a little well in any of the eight directions the controller recognizes. This seems like an early attempt at the eventual analog stick on the Nintendo 64, but seeing as the NES isn’t analog, the thumb disk seems rather unnecessary.

The thumb disk works, but it’s not better than a proper D-Pad, or a joystick. 

Super Mario Bros.

1337 unit alphaThe Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt combo cartridge is by far the easiest NES game to find. Most NES packages included this game, which means that every single SMB/Duck Hunt cartridge in the world represents an likely long gone NES system somewhere out there.

I really don’t have to explain Super Mario Bros., its still one of the best games ever made and pretty much invented the side scrolling platformer as we know it today.

Whenever I was at a friend or relatives house who had Super Mario Bros., it was a thrill just seeing it being played, and it was a still a thrill when I first hooked up my NES and played my own copy for the first time.

Duck Hunt

This was almost as cool as, if not cooler than SMB back in the day. The Zapper worked like magic. How did the gun know if you hit the duck or not? How did it know the size of your TV? It was amazing.

Now as much as ever, the light gun is impressively responsive considering the simple technology. Just the gimmick of being able to shoot at your TV is still appealing today for quick bouts, if you can put up with that damn dog laughing at you.

Legend of Zelda

I remember seeing the infamous “rap” commercial for original Legend of Zelda on during The Smurfs, but I never even cared about the series until the late 90’s.
The Legend of Zelda is really nostalgic for me. Despite sucking at it to this day, (I think I topped out at Level 5) I had a blast playing it, and I remember playing it during breakfast  when I would stay here at Grandma’s and Mom would usually make me cheese grits and scrapple (back when I still ate meat) for breakfast and I would carefully eat the skin off the grits while I aimlessly explored the overworld.

Maniac Mansion

maniac mansionI had no idea what Maniac Mansion was when I got it from the street dealer in Cony Island, but boy did I score good on this.

Basically Maniac Mansion is a point and click adventure game. Despite the tuna-heads at Nintendo heavily censoring the game (not that I noticed or cared), this was a game that kept me up late at night trying to figure everything out and try everything I had at my disposal to interact with the environment. Also, the story is very entertaining, which i guess is key since this is an adventure game after all.

One downside is that the “music” in Maniac Mansion that accompanies each character is in my opinion unbearable, and this is coming from someone who has over 200 chiptune tracks in my iTunes library. Fortunately, you can turn the character theme music off easily, and the rest of the music in the game is pretty memorable. Playing the game in near silence (except for sound effects like crickets, dripping pipes, ticking clocks, and scratchy old records) enhances the feeling of exploring a creepy mansion.

Shadow of the Ninja

Not much to say here, its a fun, well put together Ninja Gaiden wannabe that entertained me for countless hours.
Of course its hard as hell for me and I never beat the game before to this day.


paperboyThis game was fun, it was one of the favorites of the first batch of NES games I owned. Basically you ride your bike down the street and chuck papers into (hopefully) the mailboxes and stoops of your subscribers.

Obstacles impeding your safe progress include storm drains, axe murderers, pint sized tornadoes, RC cars, street performers, random rolling tires, and the grim reaper.

The game might not be so hard if the this kid didn’t suck at riding a bike, because he can’t even ride from the curb onto the sidewalk unless there is a driveway ramp there. Even I could do that when I was a kid, and I couldn’t even pop a wheelie. Also, the Paperboy instantly crashes when he runs over curbside storm drains, real kids DELIBERATELY run over roadside storm drains on their bikes.


anticipation is making you wait for this image to loadThis is an old Rare game, and as stated on the cartridge is “Nintendo’s first video board game!”. The cartridge also features a really cheese photograph crammed with several people presumably “playing” the game, despite none of them probably having ever even been in the same room as an Anticipation cartridge.

Anyway, Anticipation is a board game where you land on different colored spaces that represent different categories, like letters, buildings, numbers, clothing, vehicles, exc. The computer will begin to complete a dot-to-dot picture of the article, and you have to buzz in and guess what the item is. The sooner you buzz in and answer correctly, the more spaces you’ll be allowed to move.

The drawings are for the most part, reasonably challenging to figure out before the computer actually finishes drawing in the whole picture for you, though a few of the pictures are just totally incomprehensible even after you finish drawing. Also, the game is sometimes persnickety about the particular naming of the drawing. For example, a drawing of a spaceship may be a “Flying Saucer”, but will not accept “UFO”.

The music in this Anticipation, despite being tinny, even for a NES game, is still fun and energetic. When I first got Anticipation me and Mom would play this together every so often, and that was really the only time I ever played it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

omg i gawts teh scroll weapon yo :oThis is a game I got for no other reason than the fact that Jimmy’s brother and father play it in their motel room in The Wizard, which was nothing but a feature length NES commercial anyway.

TMNT is an arcade style side scrolling beat em up, this is another game that I used to play for hours on end. Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo all controlled pretty much the same with their various weapons, but since Donatello fights with a staff, he has longer above and below striking range, but however, this makes it a pain in the ass taking out the short, ankle biting enemies which frequent the earlier levels, so he was always the last fighter I’d use, despite him being my favorite on the show and me having his flip top wrist watch as a kid.

One thing The Wizard did portray accurately about this game is that the underwater bomb diffusing level is hard as hell, I never got past it myself no matter how many hours I practiced, but still, this game is cool, and just thinking about it makes me want to eat pizza even more so than usual.

Too bad the free pizza coupon that comes with the game expired when I was in Kindergarten.

Donkey Kong

donkey kongMy friend gave me this, its a compilation of the first two Donkey Kong games.

Donkey Kong on the NES is a perfect example of what a difference the controller can make in a game. I really hated the NES version of Donkey Kong and thought the controls were unresponsive until I tried it with the NES Advantage joystick. The difference for me was like night and day, and with the Advantage joystick, Donkey Kong plays just like it was meant to be at the arcade.

This was probably the best available home version of Donkey Kong available when it first came out, and despite them leaving out the Pie Factory level and the behaviors reportedly being different from the arcade original (never played it myself), its pretty fun.

Donkey Kong Jr. gets very little play from me. While it introduced the strategic vine climbing action that would appear in later DK games, I simply don’t find this nearly as fun as the first DK. It’s still regarded as a classic though.

Balloon Fight

balloon fightBalloon Fight is an arcade game where you fly around the stage popping the balloons of  birdmen and kicking them off the stage while not letting them do the same to you. Also, watch out for the lighting, water hazards, and man eating fish.

This game is simple and fun, and from what I heard is actually a shameless rip off of Joust, though I’ve never played Joust and thusly don’t know the difference. There is also a very fun, obstacle course where you must dodge sparks, grab balloons for points, and avoid being eaten by the fish that lurk in the sea.

Balloon Fight is a pretty well regarded early NES game, yet its sequel Balloon Kid, a full featured platformer for the Game Boy is largely unknown.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Yet another game I got purely because it was featured in The Wizard. This game was the bomb. Despite having already owned Super Mario 64 for five years when I first plugged SMB 3 into my NES, the vast visual and gameplay improvements over its two predecessors is ground breaking. After playing SMB 1 a thousand times over, this was a huge leap forward.

The structure of the levels and the overworld is almost like a board game, and as such, the two player is the best its been until New Super Mario Bros. in 2006, incorporating elements of the classic Mario Bros. arcade game.

Urban Champion

One of the worst games I’ve ever played (not counting games I went out of my way to play especially because I heard that they were bad). A friend gave me this for free, and he got it from a Funcoland for just a quarter. He should have just spent it on a gumball.

Urban Champion is a “fighting” game, though the controls are clunky and unresponsive. On single player, you can beat the game in under sixty seconds, if you can stand it that long. I’ve only used multiplayer to demonstrate to my friends how bad the game is.

I would have been outraged if I had paid full price for this game back when it was a new release, and even for free, I still feel like I’ve been ripped off for the time I spent cleaning it out with rubbing alcohol just to make it play in my NES.

Super Mario Bros. 2

I didn’t even get this until after I got SMB 3, it was fairly uncommon amongst my used game sources, and the copy I have is the first I ever encountered in the wild. I got it mainly because I liked Mario games and wanted to try the infrequently discussed “black sheep” of the Super Mario series.

It’s conversion from Doki Doki Panic is now well known, but for many years people were wondering why the hell almost everything about SMB2 was so alien, with not even a single enemy making the trip from the Mushroom Kingdom to Subcon. Of the few Mario motifs that in the game, the Starman and POW! blocks were actually originally in Doki Doki panic to begin with, with the Koopa Shell, Subspace theme and sound effects replacing the original Arabian themed items and music.

All but one level in the game concludes with a boss, or sub boss fight, enemies must now be either hit with vegetables found throughout the stage, or picked up and thrown at other enemies, and this time you can play as Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad, all of whom have unique strengths and weaknesses.

Despite its oddness, this game captured me in a way that neither Super Mario Bros. 1 or 3 could, especially the main theme of the game, which is a ragtime inspired melody. If not for Super Mario Bros. 2, Doki Doki Panic would have likely remained a very obscure Famicom Disk System title which would today be in danger of being lost forever due to the effect of bit rot on the floppy disks Doki Doki Panic shipped on.

Kirby's Adventure
balloon fight
One of the best NES platformers, and one of my favorites. This game just makes me smile, and you can tell the developers probably had fun creating it. Kirby’s Adventure featured the first appearance of Kirby’s now trademark feature, the ability to copy the powers of the enemies he eats, which makes the whole game a blast to play, and its pretty long too, possibly the largest NES game ever created in terms of data size.

This was one of the last major releases for the NES, and on 9/11, it was the only good thing to be found on my TV.


It doesn't get much simpler than this. Its pinball, nothing more, nothing less.

The table you play is two dimensional (no attempts at 3-D here), is two screens tall, and features a modest, but well designed and fun array of bumpers and point-earning targets to aim at.

Aside from the title screen, there is no music in the game, just the bumps and pings of the table.

There really isn’t much more to Pinball than what I’ve stated above. Just like a real pinball table, you can play once and move on after a few minutes, or get into it and play for an hour or more. It’s well worth the five bucks to download it on the Wii’s Virtual Console, and you won’t even have to smack the cartridge around every time you want to play.


balloon fightThis is one of those cross platform NES/GameBoy Mario puzzle releases that showed up in the early 90’s. Yoshi for the NES is pretty much identical to the Game Boy version aside from color graphics and better sound. The games even share the same soundtrack.

You stack up Boos, Pirana Plants, and Bloopers that fall from the top of the screen by swapping consecutive columns. Matching two enemies of the same type makes them disappear. Matching up the top and bottom halves of an egg makes a Yoshi hatch, which earns you bonus points. Sandwiching a stack of enemies between the egg halves will result in a bigger Yoshi hatching, and thus, more points.

That pretty much sums up the gameplay. It’s not bad, but its nowhere near as good as Tetris or Tetris Attack.

The music is bright and colorful, possibly more fun than the game itself. I think this game was developed by Game Freak, because BGM C later returned as the Pokemon Center theme when Pokemon was later released for the Game Boy.

Anyway, I enjoyed this game more on the Game Boy, because Yoshi only seems fun to me when your only other option is staring out the window in the car or staring at the clock at the DMV.

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