Reviews Archive
         
         
  Zelda II  
 

This heralded a really brave change in direction for the series from Nintendo, acting like a hybrid of the first game and Metroid, it took a top down view for the traveling sections in the over world, and a side scrolling platformer view during the action sections. In hindsight the game probably didn't get as much credit as it deserved as its inspiration can be seen in many other games which came afterwards, such as Gargoyles Quest for instance.

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  North and South  
 

A really accessible and fun strategy game that's not too complicated. The aim is to move your soldiers around to take strategic areas which over time send you more soldiers as reinforcements, and whenever you come into contact with an enemy a real time battle starts. The game is fantastically addictive and really starts to shine when played with two players.

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  Little Samson  
 

A sadly underrated classic for the NES. Little Samson is an amalgamation of every good platformer around from the era, the game play is finely crafted and includes not only all the hallmarks of the genre, but has many commendable aspects of its own. You can change between four different characters each with very different abilities, some can climb up and hang onto walls, some can shoot, one of them lays bombs and another can fly, the levels have alternate paths, the graphics are some of the best out there and the boss battles are all not only exciting and clever, but also very impressive for an 8-bit system.

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  Solstice  
 

A fantastic 3D platformer which contains an extremely well realized world to explore and has a heavy emphasis on puzzle solving. Its certainly heavily influenced by many of the earlier games by Rareware/Ultimate, and Bernie Drummond, but nevertheless contains many unique aspects of its own, not the easiest game for newcomers, check my tips section here to help you get started.

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  Mike Tyson's Punch Out  
 

Classic cartoony boxing game with a really nice caricatured design for all the boxers. The game play is very reaction based with you dodging, jabbing and making sure you don't over exert yourself. Generally just an addictive game that's a lot of fun really.

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  Crystalis  
 

Crystalis is probably my favourite action RPG on the NES, its a very colourful, playable, slick and fast paced game, the graphics and sound are excellent and the storyline is actually pretty elaborate and in depth for an 8-bit NES game.

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  RC Pro-Am 2  
 

The sequel to one of the first weapons and upgrades based racing games (a game which itself inspired later games such as Mario Kart). Its basically a racing game played at an isometric view, with items such as oil slicks and rockets to mess with your opponents. Apart from the improved graphics and handling the important addition here in the sequel is the new option to play 4-player with a multi-tap.

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  Life Force/Salamander  
 

I've decided to go with this as the best of the Gradius styled games on NES, mainly because of its well judged difficulty curve, interesting biological atmosphere, variety of its level designs (featuring both upwards and sideways scrolling levels) and most importantly an excellent 2-player co-op.

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  Maniac Mansion  
 

Originally a massive hit on the C64, Maniac Mansion was a point and click adventure with loads of humour and charm. It was ported very well to the NES but is unfortunately a little bit censored. It does still contain much of what made the game so great in the first place though.

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  Ninja Gaiden II  
 

Ninja Gaiden II Stays pretty similar to the original game, but has better graphics (with some very impressive graphical effects) more power-ups many of which were unique and inventive (such as the excellent clone power-up which creates multiple versions of yourself fighting behind you) a good difficulty curve and general improvements with the level designs.

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  Crisis Force  
 

One of the best shooters ever made (and even more impressive when taking into account when it came out) Crisis Force really shines in every area. Allowing you to switch between three different ships on the fly each with different firing types was a great idea which was implemented perfectly, the graphics were clean, crisp and impressive, even going as far as to include some impressive effects such as parallax scrolling, and the whole thing ran at a great speed and with a 2-player co-op to boot. Amazingly this even manages to make most SNES shmups look bad!

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  Bionic Commando  
 

Bionic Commando is a very unique platformer which actually removes the feature of jumping, it forces you to instead use a grappling hook to swing and climb. As such its one of those games which is fun if you want to play it casually, but really starts to reward people who spend the time to really master its controls.

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  Contra/Probotector/Gryzor  
 

Still holds up as one of the greatest action games of all time, when I first played this game I was amazed at how much control you have over the character, ducking, jumping and dodging perfectly, with the freedom to shoot in every direction, all features pretty much required to survive all the frenetic oncoming dangers.

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  Tetris  
 

What more can be said about Tetris that hasn't been already? made by some guy in Russia, Tetris basically has you slotting different shapes together to try to create lines. It is in my opinion one of the absolute pinnacle designs for a puzzle game.

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  Dragon Quest III/Dragon Warrior III  
 

Probably the best traditional style Japanese RPG on the NES, Dragon Warrior III was much improved over its earlier brethren with a much more expanded class system and storyline, the night and day aspect was also a very cool addition to the game.

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  Castlevania III  
 

Everything that was good about the original game was built upon and improved here, in surely what must be the greatest iteration of the Castlevania series on the NES. The level designs themselves were far better designed and more interesting this time around, you could now pick up friends throughout the game each with varying abilities and play as them, and the story was much more fleshed out than before.

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  Kirby's Adventure  
 

Most definitely the most impressive graphics on the system, HAL Laboratory really went to town with the visuals in this game, and created a game play experience where fun and accessibility were obviously the main focuses, the difficulty curve is much more forgiving than most other NES games mainly owing to the fairness and length afforded by its battery backed up save (a rarity with NES platformers). Also experienced players need not worry about the game being breezed through as finding all the secrets adds to the longevity.

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  Mega Man 2  
 

Easily one of my favourite games ever made, the action and style were perfectly thought out, everything was bigger and better than the original, great set pieces (the dragon towards the end of the game was amazing at the time) and it was much more balanced and playable too, still not an easy game by any means though.

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  The Legend of Zelda  
 

Another milestone release for the time from Nintendo. Taking the non-linear adventure game and infusing it with RPG elements such as an extendable health bar and weapons upgrades was a stroke of genius, and the core level design here was obviously created carefully and in a far more focused and cohesive manner than ever before, leading to make the adventure far more forgiving, rewarding and immersive than those that came before.

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  Super Mario Bros 3  
 

There was no doubt in my mind when I started this list what would be #1, this game was an absolute tour-de-force of design and playability, the presentation was amazing for the time and the whole game shined with originality and new ideas, loved the Racoon suits, loved the Koopa Kid bosses, in fact I would say the game is pretty faultless on all levels. I still play this game on a relatively regular basis now.

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