The NES Advantage Joystick
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
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
(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.
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
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
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
for the NES.
This odd controller seems to have been Nintendo’s low cost
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
the very comfortable handles on the later PlayStation controller.
The Turbo features on the A and B don’t have control knobs
the Advantage does, and the useless “slow motion”
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
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./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
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
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
here at Grandma’s and Mom would usually make me cheese grits
scrapple (back when I still ate meat) for breakfast and I would
carefully eat the skin off the grits while I aimlessly explored the
I 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
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.
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
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
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,
Paperboy instantly crashes when he runs over curbside storm drains,
real kids DELIBERATELY run over roadside storm drains on their bikes.
is an old Rare game, and as stated on the cartridge is
“Nintendo’s first video board game!”. The
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
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
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.
Mutant Ninja Turtles
is a game I got for no other reason than the fact that
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
being my favorite on the show and me having his flip top wrist watch as
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.
My 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.
still regarded as a classic though.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
rubbing alcohol just to make it play in my NES.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
cartridge around every time you want to play.
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
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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