NES B List Titles

My last post was dedicated to highlighting all of the remaining games in my collection that I consider “A list” titles. The best of the best. This next group of games I consider the “B list” games. These games are still highly playable and fun but maybe don’t quite stack up against the cream of the crop. Besides all being good but not classic games for the NES, the other thing they all have in common is the fact I didn’t own any of them when they were originally released. All have been procured in the post NES era, mostly in late 90’s/early 2000’s but one, Monster Party, was added to my collection in the past year as a flea market find.

Adventure Island (game only) – The original game in Hudson Soft’s NES trilogy is a clear Super Mario Bros knock-off but the same could be said about a lot games made in the mid to late 80’s. You play as Master Higgins and you jump and skate your way across various tropical island landscapes trying to save a kidnapped princess. Not very original and the gameplay is fast and difficult. The lack of originality and high difficulty are two main reasons this game never advance beyond “also ran” status for me. B

Batman (game only) – The video game based on the popular 1989 Tim Burton film, Batman is a side scrolling action platformer where you play as the dark knight himself battling Gotham’s baddies while eventually going after the film’s main antagonist, The Joker. Decent game, but nothing spectacular. B-

Battletoads (game, manual) – The polarizing platformer featuring fighting, mutant toads was a blatant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip-off from the get go. Much like TMNT, the Battletoads starring NES vehicle was infuriating and made players want to throw their controllers at the TV screen, especially during the hoverboard/turbo tunnel level. I’ve never gotten past this point and I’m ok with that. B-

Blaster Master (game only) – This was known as the jumping tank game. You control a kid who chases his pet frog down a hole in the earth. On your quest to save your pet, you discover a mutant headquarters. You utilize a jumping tank to blast your way through the mutants and eventually to defeat the mutant leader himself in order to save your frog. The game allows you to play on both foot and in the tank but while on foot, your attacks are weaker and you take more damage from enemies (as you would expect). You also must explore caves on foot and your character looks like a dork with his big helmet covered melon head but that’s one of the least memorable aspects of this game. B+

Double Dragon 2: The Revenge (game only) – More beat ’em up action starting Billy and Jimmy Lee. This time it’s personal as the Shadow Warrior gang shoot and kill Marian and the brothers must avenge her death. Apparently this game ignores the fact that Jimmy Lee was the final boss in the first Double Dragon and Billy had to defeat his own brother in order to win Marian’s heart. I guess the brothers patched things up just in time. A superior game to the original Double Dragon for the NES, you at least get to play co-op which was kind of the whole point. B+

Life Force (game only) – One of my arcade go-to’s in the 80’s as I was a big fan of shoot ’em up games and Life Force was easily one of the most recognizable and unique thanks to it’s pulsating environment filled with grotesque alien creatures. You appear to be inside a living organism blasting enemies and weird hand/arms coming out from red walls. A spinoff of Gradius, Life Force was one of the premier shoot ’em ups for the NES. B+

Gradius (game only) – The original shoot ’em up for the NES and a Konami classic which was the first game available that offered the infamous Konami code. Gradius is fun and addictive and set the tone for hundreds of shooters to come with it’s power ups and side scolling shooting action. B

Monster Party (game only) – A quirky little side scroller where you control a boy who meets up with a monster and agrees to help him take back his home which has been overcome by evil. As the boy, you are equipped with a baseball bat that is fairly weak but you have the ability to morph into Bert, your new monster friend, who can fly and shoot lazers which do a lot more damage. Each level has at least two mini bosses you must beat before you can procure the key and advance to the next level. Its important to transform into Bert right before you battle the bosses as this makes your task significantly easier. The colors, graphics and backgrounds are gaudy, gory and odd which lends it some charm. The bosses are unique as well and always have something interesting to say before they begin to attack. I found myself recently playing through & finishing Monster Party in a couple days thanks to the password system. B

Power Blade (game only) – Power Blade is a relatively late (1991) released action platformer from Taito where you must defend Earth in the future from an alien invasion by restoring the master computer which the aliens have taken offline. Power Blade plays somewhat like Mega Man and instead of a blaster gun you use your boomerang-like blades to defeat your foes. This game has all of the elements of a quality NES game and it even spawned a difficult to find sequel! B+

R.C. Pro-Am (game only) – Remote controlled racer that wasn’t quite as sophisticated as its superior sequel (see A List Titles post) but still loads of fun. A lot of kids had this game back in the day as it was one of the first racing games for the NES along with Rad Racer. B

Willow (game only) – An action-RPG from Capcom, Willow is loosely based on the popular ’88 film starring Val Kilmer. Willow’s gameplay has parallels to Legend of Zelda (traverse an open world, gather weapons & magic spells, get clues, battle monsters) while adding the leveling up aspects of Zelda 2. Willow was a solidly fun title for the NES. B

Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics 2 (game only) – Zoda’s Revenge is the sequel to the puzzle adventure, Startropics. Zoda’s Revenge doesn’t deviate much from the original formula and expands on the locations you traverse by sending you all over the globe and all over time. If you liked Startropics, Zoda’s Revenge should be an enjoyable journey. Also notable as the second to last official release for the NES back in 1994 (Wario’s Woods was the final game). B+


 

 

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