NES Games #-L NES Games M-Z
The Nintendo Entertainment System is my first, your first, our first. The NES is the console that millions of older millennials grew up with, which means, we will never be able to look at it objectively. No matter how poorly the games age, no matter how clunky the console itself looks, no matter how many times we blow our aging breath into decrepit cartridge innards, the NES is still, somehow, the Greatest Video Game Console of All Time.
What if we viewed the NES from an outsider’s perspective? As much as we love Nintendo’s 8-bit landmark, much of its library is difficult, if not impossible, to return to today; particularly if you didn’t grow up with it. Only the faithful are going to play the original Legend of Zelda over one of the series’ many better sequels. Only the faithful are going to seek out hidden gems like Conquest of the Crystal Palace, Shatterhand, or Mendel Palace. Only the faithful are going to argue that Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Legacy of the Wizard or Ikari III: The Rescue are worth playing. We love (most of) these games. Perhaps you love these games. Nobody else cares.
To play NES games is to engage with a distant past, a past where the future of video games was absolutely undecided. The NES library is, by and large, primitive and exploratory. Many developers were making up the rules as they went along, and it shows. “Can we do this?… I don’t know, let’s try it. Oh, that didn’t work. Oh well. Let’s try something else.” Experimentation – testing the limits of what was possible – was key to both success and failure. Glitches, poor controls, and horrid difficulty shared space with incredible soundtracks, technical wizardry, and revolutionary gameplay.
Many NES consoles still work today, which is impressive considering they struggled to function properly when they were new. We know you remember blowing into a cartridge, thinking that dust somehow affected the console’s ability to read the game. But do you remember putting the cartridge in at just the right angle in order for it to function? How about pressing ‘Reset’ several times in a row, because, for whatever reason, performing this seemingly insane and hurtful act helped the game work? We cry foul at first-day updates, patches, and other inconveniences that hinder us from playing modern games, and rightfully so. Still, the past isn’t as glorious as we remember – as anyone whose Super Mario Bros. 3 cartridge won’t turn on today when it worked for hours yesterday will tell you.
The NES is a forerunner and its influence can not be denied. Nintendo’s first console single-handedly resurrected a dying market and turned video game consoles into the sales juggernauts they are today. Genres like the platformer, the JRPG, and the non-linear action-adventure were invented or popularized – or both. Even as modern controllers add analog control and ever more buttons, the NES’ simple controller design – a four-way D-pad and two face buttons – remains the basic template for video game controllers since 1985.
Today and forever, we salute the Nintendo Entertainment System. Birthed from the Famicom’s adorable innards, it came into the Western world disguised as a VCR and fooled millions of parents into thinking that their kids needed what it had to offer. Without it, no Super Mario Bros. No Mega Man. No Star Tropics. Without it, no childhood. Truly, a terrifying thought.