Let's go Nintendo
April 10, 2008 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Is it bad that I knew all of those facts?

I still remember the Christmas I got my NES. I had spent most of my days down at the arcades pumping money into the TMNT Arcade game. So when I heard that there was a home console that would let me play TMNT at home whenever I wanted, I knew it was a must own. Of course, there was no internet back then to warn me that TMNT on the NES was nothing like the arcade game I loved and kicked ass at, and I wasn't buying magazines then either so they had no chance to warn me either, but sufficed to say, the day I plugged in my brand new NES and was greeted with this (having expected this) was a day of brutal disappointment. Still, I was young (I must have been 10 or thereabouts, surely?) and therefore pretty forgiving and I had a lot of free time on my hands to boot, so I played it and came to love it. The fact that most of today’s retro reviews of the original Ninja Turtles game on the NES claim it was one of the hardest games ever makes me laugh given that at one stage I was so good at the game I could knock it over without losing a single life. Of course nowadays I have so little free time that I have to basically schedule time into my diary to play Super Mario Galaxy, but such is the curse of growing up.

But wow, I remember those halcyon days with such joy. I remember buying Mach Rider and being bitterly disappointed, but playing through it anyway in the desperate hope that there was an ending. One $5.95 a minute call to the Nintendo Players Hotline later revealed to me that I would never get all that time back. I remember buying the first Super Mario Brothers game and reading the manual which talked about how you could gain extra points by kicking a shell through a line of enemies in a kind of "domino effect", and asking dad what that meant (as the manual instructed us to doif we didn't know what that was). I remember playing that game endlessly in my afternoons after school and on weekends. It was such a fantastically simple game and it was brilliant.

I remember having the inevitable school yard debates with my friends about which console was better. One friend thought the C64 was better. "Pish posh!" said I. Games on tape? Loading times??? And besides, they were so desperate for a smash hit they made Gianna Sisters, a blatant rip off of Mario! Another friend said that the Master System was better. Naturally I disagreed, but not as vehemently as I did with the C64 because I still wanted to play Phantasy Star, Alex Kidd and some game about Penguins with at least some shred of integrity.

Put simply, the NES brought to me a world of entertainment that still affects my life today. I covet the latest Mario game as soon as it comes out. Same can be said of the Zelda franchise. I think Shigeru Miyamoto is an unparalleled genius... and I still have an aversion to the outside world.

Since the day I sold my NES, I've owned most every Nintendo console there was. I sold my NES to help me buy my SNES. I owned a Gameboy, for a short while, before selling it to buy a Gameboy Colour. I didn't buy an N64 when it first came out but three years ago I met my fiancée who came with one. I bought a Gamecube in the last stages of its life cycle and now I own a Wii. On my way to and from work, and sometimes during thunderstorms I'll play my DS. Yes siree, Nintendo made me its bitch good and proper with that lunchbox shaped console all those years ago and I have no qualms about that whatsoever. Just so long as they keep making great games.

Of course I'll still have no time to play them, but will that stop me from buying Mario Kart: Wii when it comes out in a few weeks? Answer: no. No it will not. I may end up having to pay some neighbourhood kid to play it for me but I'll still play it and love it.

Thanks for the post dhammond. Brought back some happy memories.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:32 PM on April 10, 2008 [10 favorites]

There was no way my mom was going to get me Super Mario Brothers 2. It was sold out EVERYWHERE. I spent days going through the yellow pages calling every toy retailer in the DC-Maryland suburbs asking if they had even one single copy of it. I went into Christmas certain it would be a Mario 2-less year.

Then Christmas morning as I ripped open my pile of gifts there it was. OH. MY. GOD. She got it. Somehow my mother, this supernatural being of power and light had conquered the Gods of retail and obtained Super Mario Brothers 2.

For the first time in my life I lost my voice. THANK YOU MOM!! OH MY... THANK YOU MOM.

To this day I still explain to people that the best character to use is Luigi because he can jump higher, and even though she's a girl it's kind of cool that the princess can fly.
posted by owillis at 12:32 AM on April 11, 2008

Also, if you don't use the NES Max controller you are lame. It has TURBO.
posted by owillis at 12:35 AM on April 11, 2008

The Max was so much more manageable than the Advantage.

Speed runs still amaze me.

Yeah, when the NES came out, I was a Commodore 64 snob. After all, they were computers, and the NES was a toy. Of course the C64 would have better games. (Hey, people still use this logic today.) Then, I saw my Contra on the NES at my friend Jamie's house.

C64 Contra.

NES Contra.

I was absolutely blown away. And Super Mario Bros.? By far the most amazing play control I had ever encountered. It's still good now.

The NES controller style, originally used in the Game and Watch felt both natural and leaps and bounds beyond the Atari joystick with the single button. That model is still in use for controllers today.

So, even though I was growing apart from my friend, I stuck around and endured some more football so I could play his Nintendo, all the while going on a begging campaign targeting my parents. I think it lasted a full year. Getting my own Nintendo was the most rewarding material acquisition experience of my life, by far surpassing buying a condo or a car.

Yeah, I love the Wii, but I doubt Nintendo will ever build a machine that will hit as hard as the NES did.

Oh, wait.
posted by ignignokt at 1:34 AM on April 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

I hate this 'word', but it must be used in reference to my reaction to that video of the kid getting his N64 as it fits it so perfectly.


When I got my NES as a kid, I was also pretty excited, though certainly a much more subdued kind of excited when compared to that kid. But as an adult, while I watch that kid and can relate to the excitement of getting a console for Christmas that you really, really want, I can't help but think "Jesus kid, don't shake and drop the box around like that. These things are frail and expensive!" But there is hope for me yet because along with that thought there's also "For fucks sake, quit pawing at it and plug it in already! Super Mario 64 awaits you!"
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:47 AM on April 11, 2008

Allow me to describe hell to you:

My brother and I ponied up for a used NES in 1985. Pooled our lawn mowing money and picked up that system with a selection of games. We were set. We marched in to the living room like Mark Anthony visiting the 1963 Cleopatra and hooked it up to the TV. We were Gods.

...until my dad pointed out he can't watch the TV while we were gaming on it. We were sentenced to the BASEMENT TV.

13" Black and white. We took it in stride. We didn't care. WE HAD AN NES!

Then reality.

You can't play Wizards and Warriors in black and white. Or Rambo. Or Golgo 13.

Sure, the NES titles we could get by; we had the Nintendo Power Maps.

But grescale in others. it was a hard job.
posted by sourwookie at 2:27 AM on April 11, 2008

Oh, NES Contra. I've been playing it, on and off, for almost twenty years; while the time when my reflexes were such that I could finish it in under half an hour without being hit even once are behind me, I still don't need the cheat code, and it's still fun all these years later.

I wonder how many of the games I play now that I will still play in two decades, still love, still enjoy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:33 AM on April 11, 2008

I, too, have many memories of slumber parties whose whole purpose was to allow those whose families had not blessed them with a NES of their own to be able to enjoy the host's. Holy crap, trying to time the jump so that Mario would endlessly bounce off of a turtleshell, sending it into a wall and then back to Mario, where he would land on it for DOUBLE POINTS and send it back to the wall, and so on and so forth, until the 99 lives limit was achieved was one of the hardest things ever. (I think the second-hardest, only recently discovered, is succinctly describing the process.) Staying up all night, playing Ice Hockey until we couldn't feel our thumbs, is something I am proud to have done.

Man, the NES and my childhood are inexorably entwined: memorizing the Konami code (linking in case, somehow, someone reading this hasn't heard of it) for Contra; finding out about the Second Quest; arguing over who was best to use in Mario 2 (obviously you are misinformed, owillis, as Toad is the best character...quickest dig-speed ftw! Plus, Luigi is hard to control and the Princess has no upper-body strength); finding the code to take you straight to Mike Tyson (007 373 5963...I still remember it) in Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!; discovering Samus' true identity; deleting and re-creating characters in Wizardry until the game gave you insane amounts of bonus points to spend on your stats; creating unstoppable players and teams in Baseball Stars; stomping madly while racing in Track & Field; jousting in Skate or Die! (although that video is the PC version); I could go on and on...

Somehow my parents managed to get us a NES when they were still insanely expensive, but after my friends had them for a while. I'm eternally grateful that they did. Lord, how different my childhood would have been, if it weren't for those grey boxes, those kludgy controllers, those glowing TVs...
posted by m0nm0n at 3:47 AM on April 11, 2008

>>>the day I plugged in my brand new NES and was greeted with this (having expected this) was a day of brutal disappointment.

Ha, I remember that feeling so well. The box and label of Pele's Soccer on the Atari 2600 promised my 7 year old self all the thrills of international-level football, endorsed by a true soccer legend who surely wouldn't put his name to any old crap. The reality was something of a disappointment.

And then there was the long afternoon spent hunched in front of my Vic-20, painstakingly tapping in endless lines of BASIC from a computer gaming book borrowed from the library. The picture next to the code showed an awesome-looking tank, advancing towards a crumbling city amidst explosions and flying shells. But when, trembling with anticipation, I finally typed 'run', it turned out to be a text-based number-cruncher ('Enter elevation... fire... you missed, try again!'). No awesome graphics and nothing blew up. I felt cheated.

Important life lessons in there, somewhere.

Although when I turned on my Sega Megadrive (Genesis) for the first time and heard the console sing "Se-Ga!" I nearly wet myself. That felt like the dawn of a new technological golden age.
posted by boosh at 3:59 AM on April 11, 2008

Gee. As an adult, I have to say that this seems like an awfully poor choice for a video game title.
posted by GoingToShopping at 4:01 AM on April 11, 2008

sourwookie: "...until my dad pointed out he can't watch the TV while we were gaming on it. We were sentenced to the BASEMENT TV. 13" Black and white. "

Interesting that today the basement TV would be the 26" CRT color TV that made way for the 1080p 48" digital TV upstairs.

boosh: "Ha, I remember that feeling so well. The box and label of Pele's Soccer on the Atari 2600 promised my 7 year old self all the thrills of international-level football, endorsed by a true soccer legend who surely wouldn't put his name to any old crap. The reality was something of a disappointment."

My god, were graphics ever that bad?

boosh: "Although when I turned on my Sega Megadrive (Genesis) for the first time and heard the console sing "Se-Ga!" I nearly wet myself. That felt like the dawn of a new technological golden age."

Though a Nintendo fan-boi I am, I agree. When my friend switched on his Megadrive and plugged in Sonic and heard "Se-ga!" it was just... so good. It was only eclipsed by a Battletoads beat-em-up that came out near the end of the SNES' lifespan that had speech for every second character. That was kewl.

GoingToShopping: "Gee. As an adult, I have to say that this seems like an awfully poor choice for a video game title."

I'm just sure that was a completely unintentional connotation on the part of the game creators.

PRODUCER: "OK guys, we need a name for our second rate shoot em up. I mean, we all know the game is crap and won't sell much but we better think of a name. You there! Marketing guru we paid a few thousand dollars for! What out there will not only grab the kids attention, but the media's as well. Nothing shifts units like a good media beat-up."

GURU: "What's it about?"

PRODUCER: "It's about a bunch of Professional soldiers who have a jetpack and some special guns who attack aliens who've invaded Earth. I'm thinking... Professional Alien Destroyers. PAD! Yes, that's it. We'll call this turd PAD!"

GURU: "Turd, eh? Hmmm, that gives me an idea. How about Special Cybernetic Attack Team?"

PRODUCER: "What? Are you high? There's nothing vaguely cybernetic about these guys."

GURU: "The short name is SCAT."


GURU: "..."

PRODUCER: "I love it."
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:41 AM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid we had two gaming platforms - the NES and an Apple IIe. The only game I remember playing on the Apple was Frogger, and that system suffered a hasty demise when my brother got mad at me for hogging it and dropped the floppy drives on the ground.

I had The Last Starfighter for the NES, which I think was one of my favorite games. We also had Mission: Impossible, which I was never able to figure out. And I'm ashamed to admit that, even though I've been a hardcore gamer all my life, I've never beaten Super Mario Brothers or Contra.

In fact, I can't even get past the first level in Contra.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:22 AM on April 11, 2008

I fucking hate the internet. Why does every yahoo think that the best way to present information is a really fucking stupid video? Sorry, still angry over the shopping cart dent I noticed yesterday.

I never had an NES. I had a C64. The games... they were not so good. Easily pirated, sure. I can't even imagine how many pirated games I had by the end of that computer's life--1993, if you can believe it. I mean, how many pirated games I hear a friend of mine had; you know, from his cousin.

To this day, I blame my poor platformer skills on the lack of an NES during those formative gaming years.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:00 AM on April 11, 2008

I used to have a NES. I remember playing Silent Service on it.. very vaguely. I don't remember any other games on it off the top of my head though.

Well, aside from Super Mario Bros. I bugged my mum for it because, hell, I had a NES, and it was supposed to be *the* game to have for it, and eventually getting her to shell out something ridicuous like £45 for a copy from Toys 'r' Us (we normally got stuff second hand).

I remember feeling very upset when I realised it was crap, having made my mum waste all that money on something I didn't much like. It's probably a sad reflection on both me and the quality of the games that I remember that more vividly than playing anything on it ;)
posted by Freaky at 6:09 AM on April 11, 2008

Mario? Contra? Pffft. I still have my NES, and I still play Snake Rattle 'n' Roll.
posted by Mblue at 7:00 AM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I remember getting my first NES as well. For some reason we got the version that didn't come with any games, for $75 and then I got an "Airwoulf" cartage, since I liked the TV show at the time, although I managed to get a Super Mario Brother's cartage pretty quickly (and lost the air wolf cart for a long time)

I had to play on an black and white TV for a long time too, since that's all my mom had (My dad got me the unit when I was visiting him in Texas).

Fun times, Fun times. Remember blowing on the cartage connectors?
posted by delmoi at 7:03 AM on April 11, 2008

Blowing doesn't work, everyone knows the way to get a wonky cartridge to work is to push it all the way in, then pull it out just a bit, so you have to shove it down, which forces it into the slot or something.
posted by drezdn at 7:14 AM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Holy crap, trying to time the jump so that Mario would endlessly bounce off of a turtleshell, sending it into a wall and then back to Mario, where he would land on it for DOUBLE POINTS and send it back to the wall, and so on and so forth, until the 99 lives limit was achieved was one of the hardest things ever.

Are you talking about on the stairway at the end of 3-1 or 3-2? It wasn't a 99 life limit! It was practically infinite! My dad came home one day with vague instructions from some guy at work and then he spent like three nights trying to get that trick to work. Once he did, it was simply amazing. We went past numbers, to letters, to strange symbols. I don't know how many men we had after he mastered that move but it had to be thousands.

After that we left the Nintendo on for months, trying to beat that game. Fucking Bowswer with his mazes and shit.
posted by sugarfish at 7:28 AM on April 11, 2008

Oh man, that blows my mind. I always thought 99 lives was the absolute limit! Goes to show that I never actually accomplished it... ;)
posted by m0nm0n at 7:40 AM on April 11, 2008

In order to 'buy' my NES, I had to pick up 'gumballs.' These were spiny seed pods that one of the trees in our front yard dropped all over the place. I received 1 cent towards a Nintendo for every gumball picked up. I then had to count out the gumballs to make sure I wasn't pumping the stats. In theory my little sister was supposed to help, but we all know she didn't, therefore the Nintendo is mine so you stop playing Duck Tales right now or I will club you with this controller!

No, you go ahead and tell Mom on me. It's my game system. If you tell, I will pour Pepsi over your game. Do you know how many damn dumballs I picked up to get this thing? A lot. At least 10,000. You picked up 548. It says so right here in Dad's Gumball Ledger. So the system is 5.48% yours. So get out. I just want to play Mega Man II in peace.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:50 AM on April 11, 2008 [5 favorites]

you stop playing Duck Tales right now

Dude, Duck Tales was a surprisingly kick-ass game.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:53 AM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, but even if my sister was playing Super Mario Brothers X: Miyamoto 's Secret Stash That Wins You Money and Candybars when I wanted to play something, it was stupid and she had to leave RIGHT NOW. I am the Alpha and Omega of the Nintendo in this house! All my whims must be followed lest you be bereft of your digital worlds! I am King! KING! KI-

Aww, Mom, what do you mean you're taking the TV set away? That's not ffffaaaaiiiirrrrrrr!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm personally most fond of the SNES. I had an Amiga when we had a NES, and while it certainly got playtime, the Amiga was so, so far past the NES that it wasn't nearly as appealing.

But, later on, after I'd graduated to PCs and was living on my own, the SNES became an amazing and impressive game machine. For the kinds of gaming it did, it was better than the PC, and the music in particular was just fantastic.

Oddly, during my SNES period, I missed the best game on that console, Chrono Trigger. I didn't discover it until much later, running it in SNES9X on the PC. Holy shit I was floored by that game, absolutely glued to the screen. It actually broke my Counterstrike addiction almost completely for a good solid week, and if you were a Counterstriker, you'll realize that's extraordinary praise.

Then I got to the ghost forest level, which has kinda spooky clouds floating over the top of the playfield. On the SNES, it's a neat effect, but the SNES9X emulator didn't handle it properly, and I was suddenly stuck.

So, sometime in '98 or '99, years and years after the game shipped, I hunted down a used SNES and a used Chrono Trigger cartridge, and started over from scratch. And, once again, Counterstrike dwindled into non-importance until I'd spent a good hundred hours in Chrono Trigger.

That is, without a doubt, my all-time favorite game. It's gigantic, sprawling, and has extremely complex plotting, and the entire game fits in FOUR MEGABYTES. I can't even imagine how much effort it must have been to squeeze that much game into that little space. I remain gut-level certain that they must have struggled and spit every day to shave off four bytes here, two bytes there, and so on. I've played PC games that didn't have that much content in a thousand times the space.

(By the way, SNES9X and ZSNES, which is arguably better, have been updated to handle Chrono Trigger just fine, and it's quite easy to find the ROMs if you look around. Worth doing.)

So, while I'll remember Legend of Zelda and its compatriots with great fondness, and play the remakes on the DS happily, it was with the SNES that Nintendo became truly great. The Wii is the first console that I think could actually beat the SNES in terms of overall fun... and it's, what, fifteen years later? Took them a long time to get it right again.
posted by Malor at 8:01 AM on April 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, my sister and I split the cost of an NES with Super Mario Bros. We went home, hooked it up and the next thing we knew it was 4 a.m. and we were jittery from drinking too much tea and our eyes were bleary and boggly. I have owned or lived with every Nintendo console released since. We are both still Nintendo addicts, capable of playing for 14 hours straight, lo these many years later.
posted by biscotti at 8:11 AM on April 11, 2008

My favorite NES memory is when a friend from HS loaned me an import version of Mario Brothers 3 that he his dad brought back from a trip to Japan. It had a special adapter, and it was all in Japanese, and this was way back before the interwebs, so we had to depend on Nintendo Power for all the tips and tricks, and obviously, they weren't publishing Easter Eggs to games that weren't out in the US yet.

The day I found the warp whistle by myself is still one of my top 10 life-time achievements, I think.
posted by empath at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2008

My formative years were spent with the Sega Master System and then the Genesis, so I'm a comparative latecomer to Nintendo devoteehood. If it weren't for the PC shareware games that my friends and I all played, I would think that I was in a different video game universe -- everyone else, it seemed, grew up with an NES. Thankfully, through the combined magics of theWii's Virtual Console, computer emulation, and a friend who still has his old Super Nintendo, I've been able to reconstruct the childhood I never had. :) Now I can hold forth on the briliance of Super Mario Bros. 3, EarthBound, or Chrono Trigger (good call, Malor!) and not feel so much like a Nintendo outsider.

Anyway, I'm loving these early gaming stories. Keep them coming!

[promotion target="self" quality="shameless"]I started a new blog last month to foster intelligent discussion of video games. Recently I've been doing analysis of the music in Ocarina of Time. Link (no pun intended) is in the profile if you're interested.[/promotion]
posted by danb at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

For some reason, the music of these games turns me into a 9 year old boy, damn near brings a tear to my eye:

Super Mario

And the rest...

Ironically, the MIDI files probably sound too good compared to the originals -- looks like there are some originals ripped here, but damn if I can figure how to search or play them...
posted by LordSludge at 8:28 AM on April 11, 2008


do-do-duh-do-do... do-do-do-do...do do

(thats supposed to be the intro to Sonic 2)

I remember when my grandmother bought me an NES. Then my mom bought me Zelda. Oh man. That was the best day of my life... Sure, the day my daughter was born was cool... The day I got married... But none of those could compete.

A few years later, my cousin was living with us and we went on a mission to collect all the NES Games. I Went and beat all the games I couldnt or didnt have before... Star Tropics, Star Tropics 2, Batman, TMNT, Bayou Billy, Bible Adventures... Man, I beat them all... Not going to college in lieu of playing games was awesome.
posted by subaruwrx at 8:45 AM on April 11, 2008

LordSludge, others interested in music from the halcyon 8- and 16-bit days: get thee to Zophar's Domain. There are rips of the actual music data from the games, and emulators specifically designed to play them. It's like an NES jukebox (or SNES, or whatever).
posted by danb at 8:54 AM on April 11, 2008

Lord, one of my good friends is a professional music producer and he's been working on a dance music remix of Contra for a few months. It started as a nostalgic laugh for him, but now he's convinced that the guy that composed it is a musical genius. I've heard samples of what he's doing with it, and I'm convinced it's going to be a top 10 dance single whenever he finally finishes the thing.
posted by empath at 8:56 AM on April 11, 2008

beat all the games I couldnt or didnt have before [...] Bayou Billy

Not possible.

Throw controller at screen this level.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:58 AM on April 11, 2008

None of your silly NES disappointments will match the one felt by kids of my generation who purchased Asteroids for the Atari 2600.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:13 AM on April 11, 2008

I'll always remember when I first learned the warp zone in level 1-2 of Marios Bros. I was at a friend's house for the day (you know, that friend who had all games, a huge tv in his room, and knew all the tricks), and really wanted to show my brothers that trick when I got home. But it was time to go to bed--that was not neogtiable... I had to wait all night, dreaming of that warp zone, until the morning came and I had my 15 minutes of glory, impressing my older brothers with this never-imagined possibility.
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:22 AM on April 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Pacman on 2600 was worse than asteroids.
posted by empath at 9:30 AM on April 11, 2008

The best 2600 game was by far Kaboom.
posted by empath at 9:31 AM on April 11, 2008

I loved Asteroids!
posted by peep at 9:32 AM on April 11, 2008

Are you talking about on the stairway at the end of 3-1 or 3-2? It wasn't a 99 life limit! It was practically infinite!

It's 256 or something like that. And if you go over, the game locks up.
posted by delmoi at 9:42 AM on April 11, 2008

This is a great post. I'm having warm feelings about my pre-teen years. Two of my favorite NES games are way down on the list. Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link (the Zelda game everyone hates). I LOVED IT. And Bionic Commando.
posted by peep at 9:50 AM on April 11, 2008

Delmoi, Im pretty sure if you go over the limit, it kills Mario. Its happened to me several times when I wasnt paying attention and I finish the level and on the next level, Mario dies instantly. I could just be imaging... I have a very vivid but dorky imagination.
posted by subaruwrx at 9:51 AM on April 11, 2008

>>>>>> Bionic Commando... Oh yeah.
posted by subaruwrx at 9:52 AM on April 11, 2008

The music in Bionic Commando sounded so much like "Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd. Every time I hear the song I think of the game.
posted by peep at 9:55 AM on April 11, 2008

No discussion of old video games, especially NES, is complete without a link to

posted by lohmannn at 9:59 AM on April 11, 2008

None of your silly NES disappointments will match the one felt by kids of my generation who purchased Asteroids for the Atari 2600.

Asteroids on the 2600 wasn't too bad if you could get past the colored blobs that replaced the crisp vectors of the original. There were many worse arcade adaptations, like Dig Dug and Pac-Man.

I remember digging 2600 Defender, Space Invaders, Ms. Pac-Man (oddly enough, this one was great), Frogger, and even the crappy, flickery Donkey Kong, which only "featured" the first two levels.

Was in high school before the NES was released. I was instantly hooked by a neighbor's NES and Super Mario Bros. in 1988 or so. Today, I am loving my Wii, Super Smash Brothers and the Virtual Console classics. Got a gold Zelda DS and even a GameBoy Micro with Famicon colors.

Fun fact: When Mario says "Let's Go!" I say "Mex-I-Co!"
posted by porn in the woods at 10:18 AM on April 11, 2008

My two favorite NES glitches:

Ikari Warriors - when the 2nd player died, they would sometimes come back with total invincibility

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - after a Game Over, the game would sometimes start you on a random level(usually 8 or 10, if I recall correctly) instead of at the beginning

Some favorite games I haven't seen mentioned:
River City Ransom
Gyromite(I beat this one by myself, even though you have to use two controllers to play)
posted by owtytrof at 11:00 AM on April 11, 2008

posted by owillis at 11:50 AM on April 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Everyone who enjoyed old NES games should play La Mulana. The graphics are ancient-looking, but the game is huge and difficult and incredible. It's also free, which is a plus.
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:23 PM on April 11, 2008


I still believe that code will fix anything that's wrong in my life...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 12:39 PM on April 11, 2008

Base Wars.

Imagine, if you will, a baseball simulation. Except all the players are robots. And with money earned every time you win a game, you can upgrade these robots. Is your pitcher lagging? Buy him a new arm! Is one of your batters hitting fouls? Upgrade his shoulder!

But that wasn't the cool part of Base Wars. The cool part was the reason it was called Base Wars. Your batter hits the ball into the outfield and makes runs for first. The left fielder grabs the ball and launches it toward the first baseman. Just as your runner slides into first, the baseman catches the ball and suddenly-

No, there's no referee call. The game switches to a Street Fighter-style combat mode and the two baseball-playing robots beat the holy shit out of each other. If the runner wins, he heads toward second. If the first baseman wins, the runner is out.

In addition to upgrading their playing abilities, you can also buy your players weapons. Is one of your robots a terrible batter? Well, that doesn't matter if he's wielding a plasma rifle. I can't believe that this game hasn't been remade, because when I was in elementary school, it was the greatest game ever.

Nthing Chrono Trigger, one of the most astonishing games I've ever played. The amount and quality of content is amazing: the time periods, the towns, the dungeons, the quests, the subquests, and the numerous endings. An example of the detail: I did New Game + until I got all my characters to level 99. I didn't expect anything special, but it turns out once you reach level 99 Spekkio turns into a Nu and becomes insanely powerful. I was floored by the idea that they took this little bit of extra time to program something into the game that maybe .1% of their audience would play the game compulsively enough to reach.
posted by Ndwright at 12:46 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Base Wars was one of my favorites too, but the combat was horribly broken. If you had the lance, you won.
posted by hellphish at 1:34 PM on April 11, 2008

Yeah, but it took a Herculean amount of effort to legitimately get a Laser Sword / Laser Gun, unless you knew the "TERMINATOR 2" cheat (which everyone did) or had a copy that someone used it on (which all of them did)...


It was still a fun game though.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:42 PM on April 11, 2008

River City Ransom was underappreciated when it was contemporary. Nobody I knew owned it. It was only later, when NES games came to inhabit a special shelf in K-Mart and sold for $8, that I was able to play it.
posted by sonic meat machine at 1:45 PM on April 11, 2008

Base Wars was one of my favorites too, but the combat was horribly broken. If you had the lance, you won.
posted by hellphish at 1:34 PM on April 11 [+] [!]

Yeah, but it took a Herculean amount of effort to legitimately get a Laser Sword / Laser Gun, unless you knew the "TERMINATOR 2" cheat (which everyone did) or had a copy that someone used it on (which all of them did)...


It was still a fun game though.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:42 PM on April 11 [+] [!]

That may be the case, but I didn't realize these things when I was 8.
posted by Ndwright at 4:20 PM on April 11, 2008

I could complete Super Mario Bros and even Megaman on the NES with a certain amount of ease as a kid - inspired by this thread, I had a pop at both today.

Holy Christing eff - they are hard. Like insano hard. I thought that SMB at least I'd be able to dash off a win in a couple of tries (still remembering where all the warps are) but World 8 ate me for breakfast.

I remember RC Pro Am being an awesome game. I also had Rad Racer, with the supposedly '3D' specs. Anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with that game will know just how abismally lame the kid does in the Power Glove scene from the Wizard - he doesn't even reach the first checkpoint. You could achieve a similar or better result by just holding down accelerate and not steering.

I strayed from Nintendo a little after the SNES (although IMHO Lylat Wars is one of the best games ever) but the DS has brought me back into the fold, hard. It's even sucked me into games which I thought were dreadful and vowed I'd never play. After 350+ hours on Pokémon Diamond, and with 400+ Pokémon in my Pokédex, I'm starting to realise that I may be addicted.
posted by RokkitNite at 5:54 PM on April 11, 2008

Ninja Gaiden.
posted by Demogorgon at 7:58 PM on April 11, 2008

I love this thread. The NES has been the most consuming and rewarding obsession in my life so far.

I first saw it at 11 years old in the fall of 87. My friend had one at his house, and he wanted to show it to me but his dad would not let us play it. So my introduction to the system was to watch my friend's dad play Super Mario Bros for an hour. I guess that experience combined with the new desire to be "cool" at the onset of puberty kept me from becoming too interested in the NES for the first year it was really around.

Then more of my friends started to get them, and after I actually got to play Super Mario Bros, Castlevania, and the rest of the original wave of classic NES games, I became more and more determined to get a system of my own.

One problem was my mom and dad had decided the Intellivision they bought for Christmas 1981 had been a huge waste, even though my sister and I had played the same dozen or so games pretty constantly for three years. Now it was early 1989 and they were not going to get me an NES for my 13th birthday because of the twisted idea that they had not gotten enough value out of the Intellivision which had been pretty much my best friend from age six to nine.

So I made a pretty serious decision for a 12 year old kid. I would buy my own fucking NES! I had around $180 in my savings account, and I got $6 per week in allowance. The core system was about $220 at that point, So I knew that within a few months I could save up enough to get an NES. I could have gotten it sooner by making money shovelling driveways, but I was laid up with a broken leg from hockey.

I informed my mom of this plan right before March break, which is right before my birthday. She said that if I promised not to let it interfere with my school work, she would give me the rest of the money and take me to buy the system the next day so that I'd have it for our March Break trip... the family was going skiing, but I had that broken leg. So what was looking like a pretty boring week turned out to be just about the best week of my life so far.

It was Thursday night when I found out I'd be getting the system. I immediately called one of my friends who had a lot of NES games. I explained the situation; I'd be getting a system, but no games except for the pack-in, and I'd be going away for a week. I asked if he'd be willing to lend me some games. He said absolutely and brought about a half-dozen classic games to school for me the next day... Metroid, Elevator Action, Castlevania, Spy Hunter, Ghost and Goblins, etc..
This guy is still one of my best friends.

After school the next day my mom took me to the bank to withdraw all my money. Then she took me to Toys R US, and I got the last NES they had in stock.

I stayed up later that night than I ever had in my life, playing NES until about 3AM, mainly Metroid. My friend had written down some of his codes so I spoiled the game a bit by jumping around somewhat. The next day we left for our seasonally rented chalet in a little town called Ellicottville, NY. When we got there my other friend who also skied came over with Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Ikari Warriors, and Super Mario 2. He wouldn't let me borrow SMB2 but I got pretty good at Punch Out that week.

I spent the next six months, until eighth grade started, completely obsessed with the NES to an insane degree. You know how things take longer when you're a little kid? That feels like one of the longest, happiest periods of my life, where I was able to be completely absorbed into games. I was really into the art of it all, and loved to try and immerse myself into the game experience as much as possible. For me, it wasn't about jostling on the couch with friends playing Double Dribble. It was about long, solitary nights projecting myself into the sci-fi world of Blaster Master, the pop-art of Mega Man, the LSD inspired Mario landscapes, and so on... at school I'd draw my own pixel art during class and obsess on the details of games with my one buddy who was equally into it.

Anyhow, I know only about five people will ever read this entire post. That's okay, I was taken back just in writing about it, and this thread is certainly about nostaglia.
posted by autodidact at 8:38 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I know I already posted a super-long thing, but I made it sound at the end there like I was only obsessed with it for six months. That's not true, I just backed off a bit after eighth grade started, but was still way more into it that most anybody else I knew until I upgraded to 16 bit and was way more into that that just about anyone else I knew.
posted by autodidact at 8:41 PM on April 11, 2008

Can I just add that I never had to blow on or tap my cartridges, or insert them "just so." I was maniacally obsessive about taking really, really good care of my NES and cartridges. I never really had that many games though. I mostly borrowed games and rented them. I kept my controller wires lovingly stretched out, not wound up like most kids. I also, at age 13, took the intitiative to drill through my parents' home entertainment unit so that I could house the NES in the bottom cabinet, out of sight and more importantly away from any dust. I would load a game and then close the cabinet doors, with the control wires running out through the slits under the doors. I would obsessively dust that cabinet with Pledge, vacuum the area, restack all the game magazines that were piling up inside the cabinet next to the systems (my Intellivision was still in there, until I sold it to buy a suit for my grade eight grad.. I was an OG retrogamer). Anyhow, the NES was absolutely central to my young life and I'm just enjoying sitting here twenty years later sipping a beer and soaking up nostalgia.
posted by autodidact at 8:59 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

autodidact: in all seriousness, if you missed Chrono Trigger, find it and play it.
posted by Malor at 10:41 PM on April 11, 2008

Malor, I replay Contra III every year or so in good ol' Snesx. I will pull out Chrono Trigger on the laptop one week when I'm on a business trip.
posted by autodidact at 11:24 PM on April 11, 2008

... some game about Penguins

Penguin Land
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:18 AM on April 12, 2008

The Great Big Mulp: "Penguin Land"

Yep, that's the one. Awesome game. They're not wrong about the level editor being one of its coolest features. I'd spend ages in the level editor crafting the most devious of levels for my Master System owning friend to go through. The game itself was secondary to me. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but the level editor is where it's at.

It says a lot that although I loved and owned a NES, I haven't bought any NES titles on the Wii's virtual console system*, but that now that the Master System is on the roster I'd buy Penguin Land the minute it came out.

*I would have bought the Super Mario games but I own the GBA version and play it regularly on my DS. And besides, I'm waiting for Mario All Stars to be released on Virtual Console. I may be Nintendo's bitch, but they're not getting more money off of me that I need to give them.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:31 AM on April 12, 2008

We have the Japanese version of the Nintendo Wii and got the Wii Fit. It's pretty amazing. Mario Party 8 is not so amazing, but my 5 year old loves it.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:33 AM on April 12, 2008

autodidact, I'm still reading, and that was a great story. :)
posted by danb at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2008

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