1987, Scrooge McDuck starred in Duck Tales, Captain Jean-Luc Picard “made it so” on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Inigo Montoya found the six fingered man in Princess Bride, and The Nintendo Entertainment System was growing even stronger in it’s second year in America.
My time with the Nintendo Entertainment System was very short lived. It’s really surprising when I look back at the actual years when that little gray box sat under the family television. It’s hold on my memories always seem to place me younger and it’s time longer than it really was. Between the years of 1986 to 1990, the NES ruled my world. I will go over each year with a top 5 (or more) list and even though there were bigger and better games those years, these are the games that helped put calluses on my thumbs.
1.Kid Icarus (Nintendo)
The plot of Kid Icarus revolves around hero Pit and his quest for three sacred treasures, which he must use to rescue Angel Land and its queen, the goddess Palutena. Pit fought his way through three worlds on his quest. Underworld, Earth, and Skyworld. On his journey he used his bow and got special items along the way. I can honestly say I never got any of these special items because the game was so damn hard. But I will still stop everything I’m doing to play it today. And what is up with Eggplant Wizard?
2. Mighty Bomb Jack (Tecmo)
Our hero Jack is on a quest to save the royal Pamera family from the demon Belzebut. Jack must make his way through 16 levels set within a pyramid. Not regarded as a classic, Mighty Bomb Jack has a soft spot in my heart for the mummies, treasure chests, and Jack’s great super hero design. I haven’t played this game since it came out and it wasn’t even one that I owned but I loved it all the same. I hear it’s available on the Wii U’s virtual console, might have to check it out again.
3. The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo)
When you first took this baby outta the box you knew you were in for something special. It’s solid gold cartridge reflected your look of awe back at you as you slid it into your NES. This was my (and a lot of other kids) first foray into the world of RPGs. Again, this was a game I never beat but I was obsessed with. I ate the cereal, watched the cartoon, and came back countless times to have my butt beat by one of the dozens of enemies. The Legend of Zelda had a ton of awesome items to help Link on his journey to rescue Princess Zelda from Ganon. A raft, flute, sword, and boomerang were the items of choice to make this game groundbreaking and breathtaking. But sadly the game was too hard for me, so excuse me Princess.
4. Pro Wrestling (Nintendo)
Nintendo’s Pro Wrestling is hands down one of the best games ever created…well for an 11 year old in 1987. The game featured all of the things (and than some) that I saw on Saturday mornings on Channel 5. You could throw people out of the ring, climb the turn buckles, and throw fools into the ropes. With a roster that included run-of-the-mill wrestlers, the stand outs to me were Starman and Amazon. Amazon was the best of the best with his head chomp and rake to the head, also looking like the Creature From The Black Lagoon didn’t hurt either.
5. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out (Nintendo)
What was there not to love about this game? It had colorful characters from around the world, easy to pick-up mechanics, and the king of the ’80s boxers. Before his downfall (and recent rise), Mike Tyson was the biggest thing in the boxing ring since the late, great Muhammad Ali. He was a huge star and having his name and likeness on a NES game seemed like an honor to us kids in the ’80s. This was yet another game that I dumped hour after hour into but never really got anywhere in. Every victory was a cause to celebrate and that’s what kept me coming back for more.
6. Metroid (Nintendo)
Metroid was never a game I owned. I only had a limited time with this groundbreaking game when it came out, but I loved every second of it. In the vein of Kid Icarus, Metroid was about climbing your way through the planet Zebes in search of the Metroid parasites. It was such a big kick to be able to turn into a ball and drop bombs. A few years later I learned the secret of Samus Aran and it blew my mind. Not just the fact that Samus was a girl but that games could hold secrets that big.
7. Castlevania (Konami)
In the ’80s there was nothing cooler than having a hero use a bullwhip. Couple that with monsters from legend and cinema and you have one of the most popular games of all time. Castlevania (a.k.a. Devil’s Castle Dracula) put you in the shoes of Simon Belmont as he journeys through Dracula’s castle fighting numerous creatures of the night. Equiped with his trusty bullwhip and other items such as holy water and torches, Belmont’s quest was simple…eliminate Dracula and his ghoulish goons. Again, I sucked (not a vampire pun, I swear) at this game but it was a damn blast to play.
8. Goonies II (Konami)
Goonies II was a sequel to a game that never made it to our shores and severed as a very loose sequel to the 1985 movie, The Goonies. What kid didn’t love The Goonies in the ’80s (or today) so a video game seemed like a no brainer. In this NES title you played as Mikey on his quest to rescue the other six Goonies (and a mermaid) from the villainous Fratelli Family. Along the way you battled animated suits of armor, meat-cleaver throwing Eskimos , and fire-breathing dragons. Your weapons of choice? A yo-yo, slingshot, or boomerang. It was cool to get the spring shoes like Data’s in the movie.
9. Ikari Warriors (SNK/Tradewest)
I remember staying up ’til the wee hours of the morning playing this game with a buddy I had at the time. Ikari Warriors was an awesome two-player game that allowed you to run and gun your way through hundreds of enemies. As an added bonus, you could hop into tanks and blast the advancing soldiers or lob a few grenades to let them know you mean business. With character models straight from Rambo, Ikari Warriors is an action-packed classic. You gotta love the way the bad guys boogie when they get shot.
10. Mega Man (Capcom)
Set in the year 200x, Mega Man had a backdrop vastly different than other games at the time. The genre of platformers can sometimes have a very silly and off-the-wall slant to them. Mega Man gave us a believable sci-fi setting with enemies that were whimsical but not really silly. This was a game that had it’s moment’s of difficulty but also gave you the option of which levels you wanted to embark on. Each level ended with it’s own unique boss that was just as much a character as Mega man was. Mega Man is one franchise that has stood the test of time and is in the same league as Mario and Pac-Man
**Thanks to NESGuide.com for all the great YouTube videos**