The Top 86 NES Games – #’s 73-51

 

READ PART 1 FIRST, YOU GLORIOUS MINSTRELS!                                
               

                                                                                         #73 – Shadow of the Ninja

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Think Ninja Gaiden, but with speedier gameplay, two player co-op, and less cinematics. Shadow of the Ninja doesn’t feel like a rip-off of the Gaiden series, so much as it does an alternate universe; one where Ryu is named “Lord Hayate” and he can grapple onto ceilings as well as walls.

 

                                                                                     #72 – Conquest of the Crystal Palace

 

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Just another quirky side-scroller… or is it?! In Conquest, you have a German Shepherd for a companion. Excellent! As you explore ancient crystal palaces, time continues to move – day shifts slowly into night and back to day. Awesome! If you lose all your lives, you get hung upside down over a fiery pit until you press ‘Continue.’ Take that, other side-scrollers!

 

                                                                                          #71 – Clash at Demonhead

 

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You’re in Tom Guycot’s hood now, and he doesn’t take kindly to fools rompin’ round his routes. Billy “Big Bang” Blitz cares not for Guycot’s rules. Routes aren’t mere by-ways for the Seven Governors. They should be open and free to the populace at large! If Clash at Demonhead has taught me anything, it’s that politics are evil. And that, occasionally, style trumps substance.

 

                                                                                         #70 – The Legend of Zelda

 

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Something something “Hyrule” something something “Triforce” bla bla “Link” rabble rabble “Ganon.” That’ll do. If you’ve so much as glanced at an NES, you know what Legend of Zelda is. It’s a classic! An epic! A game-changer! Dare I say… a legend? Yeah, it’s good. Good enough to put at #70 on a list.

 

                                                                                                     #69 – Yoshi’s Cookie

 

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Doff a baker’s cap and start kneading that dough! Yoshi’s Cookie is about putting two cookies next to each other so they’ll disappear. Sound like every puzzle game ever? Well, yeah, I guess it does. But these aren’t inedible Tetris pieces. These are delicious Yoshi-shaped cookies that cry out as you eat them. It’s an addicting moral dilemma!

 

                                                                                                    #68 – Rad Racer

 

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Rad Racer does racing very well. And if you think that’s a simple task, go take Al Unser Jr.’s Turbo Racing for a “spin.” The sense of speed is phenomenal, as is the rollicking soundtrack. Too bad the station wagons next to you can’t appreciate your sick ride. Teach ’em a lesson all the way back to Nebraska.

 

                                                                                                    #67 –Pirates!

 

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Pirates! isn’t just about pirates (!). It’s about forging your own destiny in a cruel, heartless world. You may be a pirate, pillaging and plundering out on the high seas. But what about politicians, kings, and corporations who steal from the working man in secret, or through written law? Pirates! asks you to consider who the real pirates are; as well as an 8-bit game can, anyway.

 

                                                                                                   #66 – Baseball

 

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I have a soft spot for the original Baseball. The outfielders who can’t throw! The infielders who can’t catch! The base runners who decide to stop at second when they could keep running to third! The computer who cheats mercilessly! And two-player, blessed two-player – where it really is anyone’s game, thanks to how busted the game is. I know Baseball is terrible, but I love it.

 

                                                                                                        #65 – Puzznic

 

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I can tell you this much: you won’t be taking your sweetie out for a “puzznic” on a lovely spring day. Not unless you want her head to get crushed by blocks filled with shapes. Like Yoshi’s Cookie, Puzznic lives and breathes on placing two of the same shapes next to each other. Puzznic‘s levels mean business, though: one false slip and your sweetie’s out to puzz whether you like it or not.

 

                                                                                                      #64 – Nightshade

 

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Nightshade is one of two awesome noir adventure games to hit the NES. It’s also the only good game to come out of Beam Software, arguably the worst developer on the NES. Filled with humor, puzzles, and moody ambience, Nightshade is as close as you’ll get to Monkey Island on the NES. 

 

                                                                          #63 – Romance of the Three Kingdoms II

 

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I’ll admit it: early on in my Quest, I didn’t “get” Koei games. I knew they were well-made, but they overwhelmed my senses. The original Rot3Kchanged my perception of them, while Rot3K II made me love them. I became wonderfully lost in the historical settings and scenarios, not to mention the sheer amount of options. Every Koei fan has their favorite. Rot3K II just happens to be mine.

 

                                                                                                            #62 – Firehawk

 

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Firehawk glorifies the destruction of everything via one “lone ranger” helicopter. The more buildings, bridges, and tanks you destroy, the more you will want to destroy. Even when you’re rescuing hostages, you’re shooting at planes that are trying to sabotage your rescue. Firehawk means business. Firehawk is business.

 

                                                                                                    #61 – Kickle Cubicle

 

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As Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze would say, “Let’s kick some ice!” In Kickle Cubicle, the world has been turned to ice, thanks to Al Gore and his global warming goons. Your job is to dethaw the world by collecting Dream Bags. The properties in Dream Bags melt the icecaps, ensuring yummy, sunny days for all.

 

                                                                      #60 – Wizards + Warriors III: Kuros: Visions of Power

 

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The first two Wizards + Warriors games were interesting, but they centered too heavily on janky, worthless combat. Wizards + Warriors III focuses on exploration, while giving Kuros, the main character of the series, the ability to change into a wizard, knight, or thief. Sadly, few played the third entry, Microsoft purchased Rare into their collective, and the series disappeared.

 

                                                                                                 #59 – Pinball Quest

 

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Got your Rush/The Who/Led Zeppelin mix tape ready to blare? You’re gonna need it for Pinball Quest, a veritable feast of plunking delights. Two distinct tables – “Pop! Pop!” and “Viva! Golf” – and an RPG-mode with six levels will have you tilting until your Mom yells at you to turn down Roger Daltrey.

 

                                                                                          #58 – Micro Machines

 

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Micro Machines accurately recreates what’s it like to play with miniature cars in an oversized world. Race around breakfast, school supplies, bathtubs, and other horrifying enlarged versions of items you probably own. Every race is a new, yet eerily similar adventure.

 

                                                                                              #57 – Super Dodgeball

 

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If anyone were to get into misadventures on the dodgeball court, it’d be Kunio-kun and his gang of street toughs. Super Dodgeball puts the time-honored recess game onto the world stage. Naturally, you play as Team USA: they’re loud, they’re proud, and they can hit other countries really, really hard.

 

                                                                                             #56 – Rainbow Islands

 

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The title screen calls Rainbow Islands “Bubble Bobble II” which makes Bubble Bobble Part II a vicious, time-sucking lie. And anyway, Rainbow Islands is the best rainbow-generating, ice-cream munching version of Bubble Bobble that Taito ever produced. You’d be a grade-A bub not to play it.

 

                                                                         #55 – S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team

 

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S.C.A.T.‘s a lot like Contra except instead of running on the ground, you float in the air! And you have orbs that fly around you and shoot at futuristic evil! And you can set them in any direction you choose! If only all games were kinda, sorta like Contra.

 

                                                                                                  #54 – Mendel Palace

 

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Mendel Palace might sound like a place where flabby Republicans argue and shake their jowls liberally, but it is, in fact, a delightful little arcade game where you rescue your best friend from her killer doll collection. I’d tell you more than that, but it’s best if you explore the palace on your own.

 

                                                                                                  #53 – Zombie Nation

 

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If the NES library were a phone book and you were calling each game alphabetically, Zombie Nation would be the final game on your call list. And you’d be tired and cranky and you might even think that you hate the NES. Then Zombie Nation would tell you about its greased-up old men and vomiting zombie heads and you’d think, “Boy, I’m glad I made it to Z.”

 

                                                                                                  #52 – Baseball Stars

 

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There are more baseball games for the NES than every other sport combined, but Baseball Stars is the one that will be remembered. You could play as ninjas, you could play as horror movie stars – heck, you could even recreate “A League of Their Own” and play as women (joking, ladies). The tight controls, ace mechanics, and extraordinary field play are why fans return to this game nearly twenty-five years later.

 

                                                                                                         #51 – Kiwi Kraze

 

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Kiwi Kraze was originally titled The New Zealand Story, and it involves you, as a Kiwi bird, rescuing other Kiwi birds from zoos across the country. Armed guards, snails, and other New Zealand zoo creatures will prevent their rescue. After Lorde, Gotye, “Flight of the Conchords,” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, I’m glad to see New Zealand finally get its due with Kiwi Kraze.

 

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Latest posts by Dylan Cornelius (see all)

  • I have come to terms with Zelda's ranking, and totally get why you're not crazy about it, especially since you didn't play it when you were six years old like I did. One of the only “huh?” moments for me in this entire quest is Rad Racer. It's like a trippy Pole Position without the satisfaction of actually sitting in a booth with a real wheel.

    Speaking of Zelda, though. Did you ever play the second quest? You might not like it if you don't dig the first quest, but the second one is way more satisfying. There's still the aimless wandering in the overworld you hate, but the dungeons are so much better. They're significantly harder, with more puzzles, and require more strategic planning.

    • DylanCornelius

      I never played the Second Quest. Methinks I ought to give it a whirl.

      As for Rad Racer, I don't know how people dislike it. It's the best arcade racer on the system.

      • Lurkish Moarison

        29 year-old protip : Just type in “Zelda” as your character name and you'll skip the 1st quest altogether.

  • Mateo

    What's the other awesome noir adventure game? (Deja Vu?)

    • DylanCornelius

      Yes sir. You'll see it further up the list.

  • Guest

    Good: Baseball Stars- The Legend of Zelda- Micro Machines- Super Dodgeball- Wizards + Warriors III: Kuros: Visions of Power
    Gems: Shadow of the Ninja- Clash at Demonhead- Conquest of the Crystal Palace- Pinball Quest- S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team- Kickle Cubicle- Kiwi Kraze
    Average: Baseball- Yoshi's Cookie- Rad Racer-
    Never Played: Zombie Nation- Pirates!- Puzznic- Romance of the Three Kingdoms II- Firehawk- Nightshade- Rainbow Islands- Mendel Palace

  • I'd have to disagree with your placing/opinion of certain games, of course. Such as my personal affinity for “Yoshi” far above and beyond “Yoshi's Cookie”. Or my liking Bubble Bobble PART 2 over Rainbow Island. Or my love affair with the original Zelda, even though it's not my fav.

    But I gotta say…..I think, while it'd be unpopular to say so, I'll come right out and say that Shadow of the Ninja is FAR better than Ninja Gaiden. The old NG games are fine, they deserve their spot as “classics”. But as far as actual, functional, fun gameplay? SotN (see what I did there?) has NG beat by a country mile and then some. 🙂

    Keep up the good work man!

  • Green

    Beam Software also handled the NES RoadBlasters port believe it or not, so they weren't entirely awful.

    • DylanCornelius

      They have an abominably low batting average. If you look up their developer profile on GameFAQs, their contribution to the NES is depressing.

      • D.B.

        My vote would go to Imagineering. Not a single game worth playing in all their NES work, AND they continued to make nothing but glitchy rubbish on every other console. Boo. Imagineering.

  • Rom Woodhouse

    Isn’t Gotye a Belgian expat who lives in Melbourne? Australians are allowed to appropriate NZ’s successes as our own, not the other way round! 🙂 Other choices include The Veils, the Finn brothers and The Muttonbirds.