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Growing up, my parents were cool enough to keep me supplied with a ridiculous number of Nintendo games. I was a huge gamer as a kid, and spent way too much time in my elementary years on the NES, SNES, and Genesis. If I could go back, I probably wouldn’t change that either. Gaming was at a very interesting and exciting space in the ’90s, and I’m glad I got to play through that.
Everyone knows of Mario, Contra, Excitebike, Rad Racer, Metroid, and a few others, but there are some really awesome and under-appreciated NES games that still deserve some love even today. With Nestopia, you can always find and download ROMs to experience these games by PC. Even easier, there are many websites popping up recently that allow you to play NES games through the browser. In this post, I want to turn your head towards five NES games that, with just a click of the mouse, you can try right now!
For a game as legendary as the original Battletoads, it just barely managed to squeak into the top 100 best-selling NES games of all-time. Battletoads & Double Dragon – The Ultimate Team was far off from hitting that list.
Battletoads & Double Dragon gives you everything the original Battletoads offered but with two new playable characters: Billy and Jimmy Lee (from the Double Dragon series). Aside from them, you can also play the original Battletoads – Zitz, Pimple, and Rash.
Battletoads & Double Dragon is a beat ’em up that was best experienced in the multiplayer mode. The sidescrolling action of this game and the Battletoads series is something unlike anything else on the NES. There are a lot of games in the beat ’em up genre, but Battletoads is so animated, colorful, and just fresh and fun to play.
This game is one of those hidden gems of the RPG genre. It’s to the NES as Legend of Legaia is to the PlayStation. No one talked much about it, it didn’t record outrageous sales, but it is an awesome game on the console.
It’s one of the first RPGs that took on the plot of existing in a post-apocalyptic world. You start the game as the main character waking from a cryogenic sleep and you carry on from there in typical RPG fashion. The items, monsters, and graphics aren’t going to blow you away or show anything new. You’ll be using the typical swords and shields, a few magic spells, and fighting off dragons, slimes, bats, and other usual RPG baddies.
There aren’t too many big-name RPGs on the NES. You’ve got the Zelda, Dragon Warrior, and Final Fantasy series. From there on, it’s a pretty open field where only games like Castlevania are able to shine. Give Crystalis a try though. It’s a good example of an early RPG setting the mold for the future of this genre. While it may seem a little plain today, it was great in its time.
The previous two games in the Ikari Warriors series didn’t cut it for me, as the graphics were a little off, but the third improves the formula.
Ikari III features both hand-to-hand battles and weapons like a knife and machine gun. These sound like simple advances, but we’re talking about the NES.
In Ikari III, you run, shoot, and fight through multiple levels following after a terrorist party who has kidnapped a presidential candidate’s child. It blends a lot of interesting elements together. It’s an action-adventure, run-and-gun game where fighting is constantly going down. It’s actually quite difficult as well.
If you were a fan of games like Contra and the original Metal Gear, Ikari III might tickle your fancy.
This may be my favorite NES game of all-time. We’ve already got another big game in the “beat ’em up” genre on this list, but River City Ransom incorporates elements of an action RPG into a button-mashing sidescroller, and it just works beautifully.
The game is non-linear, features an open world where you can run through and repeat levels, and the look and feel is very unique (and often hilarious). The protagonists exclaim onomatopoeia like “BARF!” upon dying, the game features one of Nintendo’s few “nude” scenes (where you can see one of the main character’s backsides should you choose to enter a sauna at one of the in-game shops), etc. The plot is fairly typical, where you’re saving one of the main character’s girlfriends from some ruthless thugs, but River City Ransom plays alongside it very well.
The RPG elements really top this game off. You can buy items in the many shops that will increase your stats and even allow you to perform new attacks, such as kicking multiple times at once or flipping through the air when you jump to damage enemies as you land.
If you like this genre and tossing trashcans, rocks, and bike chains at your enemies sounds like it might be fun, you need to try River City Ransom.
Little Nemo is a platformer from Capcom that didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved.
When you think of platformers, games in the Mario series are probably the first that come to mind. Maybe even something like Banjo-Kazooie or Crash Bandicoot. These games all follow a pretty similar theme and setting. They’re all upbeat, cheerful, and colorful. Little Nemo strayed far from that standard.
The game involves a set of dreams that the main character, Nemo, experiences. In these dreams, Nemo is able to ride on all sorts of animals, like frogs and gorillas, by feeding them candy. In each level, you need to collect a specific number of keys that are scattered throughout it before you can advance.
Using animals along this adventure is pretty essential, and Little Nemo is often regarded as one of the harder games on the NES console. For a game that only features 10 levels, it’s enough to make you want to go to sleep crying. Definitely try this game out if you’re looking for a unique platformer that offers a real challenge.
You’re never too old to enjoy a good video game and the NES is never too old to break out, dust off, and play. It sure is a lot more convenient being able to play NES games right through your browser though. If you enjoyed this list, I’ve also posted five really awesome SNES RPGs that can be played through a web interface.
What NES games online do you miss the most? Anyone out there a big fan of any of the games on this list? Drop me a comment below and we’ll talk about it together. I’m big on gaming nostalgia.