1990, The year Kevin Costner Danced with Wolves, Johnny Depp makes being Goth cool with Edward Scissorhands, the guys that brought us Airplane and Naked Gun put out Ghost (yeah, weird right?), the IT mini-series scared the crap outta us, Flash (gen.1) begins its short (but awesome) series, Law and Order begins its reign over prime time television, and the zip code of Beverly Hills became common knowledge.
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’ve gone over these five memorable years I had with the NES. It’s been a great walk down memory lane that has left me wanting to comb some flea markets so I can to fill out my collection.
From here I plan on doing my next batch of video game remembrances on the SEGA Genesis. It was the system I traded up to in 1990. I still get sad remembering when I sold my NES and games to just some dude. I hope he took care of it and enjoyed it as much as I did. Enough of that, on to the games.
1. Demon Sword – Taito
This game stands out in my memory as the last game that I remember staying up all night to play, on the NES. It was a pretty straight forward game that used a magical, feudal Japan as its setting. The one thing it had different was the demon sword. The demon sword was a blade that would get bigger, more powerful, and grow branch like blades off of the main blade. Also a great part of the game is your ability to jump high, control direction mid-jump, and run on tree tops. With an influence deeply rooted in Saturday Morning Kung-Fu Theater, Demon Sword was an awesome game. With all that being said, Demon Sword suffered from “Box Art Blunder” like dozens of other NES games. If this is a tale set in the ancient Far East with strong ties to Asian myths and cinema, why the hell do you put a Fabio look-alike on the cover? They marketed it more as a heavy metal album than the kick-ass game it was.
2. River City Ransom – Technos
River City Ransom was the third part of a trilogy which began with Renegade, and was followed by Super Dodge Ball. Both of these games were stellar and the trend only got better with River City Ransom. River City Ransom was (for the most part) an open world “Beat ’em Up” that had RPG mechanics. You could build up your fighting styles and physical attributes to help you progress through the game. With a wacky premise and a spoonful of humor, River City Ransom stood apart from the games that influenced it, mainly Double Dragon and the first installment of the trilogy, Renegade. I loved this game because it was entertaining and was more than just an infuriating experience like others before it. Gotta love the face animations.
3. Batman (Sunsoft)
Batman is one of the first movie adaption games that was actually good. With a set-up that loosely follows the 1989 Tim Burton film, Batman went off the script and delivered a fun game. Burrowing ideas from other games, this version of the Dark Knight didn’t seem wacky or out of place like other movie tie-ins in the past. Batman could throw his signature batarangs and had a cool wall climb/jump that was reminiscent of Strider. The best part was the enemies didn’t look like they did in the flick, no Bob the Goon here. Thank god. The bosses ranged from KGBeast, Maxie Zeus, Killer Moth, Deadshot, and of course the big baddie, The Joker. The only sign that this was a movie tie-in were book ended with the opening cinema and the last fight with the Joker, the good parts in between were all DC comic gold.
4. Super Mario Bros. 3 (Nintendo)
Making its first appearance in the Fred Savage movie, The Wizard. The movie was a thinly veiled Nintendo commercial (remember the Power Glove), but the anticipation for Super Mario Bros. 3 was super crazy. When I talked earlier about how Mega Man 2 really stepped up its game over the original, Super Mario Bros.3 takes the cake…or mushroom. Going back to the drawing board with its third outing, Super Mario Bros. 3 set the future for most of the installments that followed. Now with a map, a more cartoony look, castles, Toad houses, and a butt slide, the same set-up remains today on the Wii U, 26 years later. Mario has stood the test of time and I believe this game is the reason.
5. Little Nemo: The Dream Master (Capcom)
Little Nemo is probably one of the oldest characters to make it to the NES. Little Nemo made his debut in the New York Herald in 1905. Created by Winsor McCay, Little Nemo in Slumberland ran as a weekly comic strip until 1926. Over it’s 21 year run, Nemo made his home in different publications and had dozens of different adventures with his friends from Slumberland. In 1989 a Little Nemo in Slumberland movie was made. The movie was created as a joint venture between Japanese studios and American screen writers. Everyone from Ray Bradbury to Chris Columbus, from Mœbius to Brad Bird had been apart of this film. Released first in Japan, the movie was a flop. The American release didn’t come until 1992 (sadly it was a flop again). Long story short, I had no idea what this was in 1990, but it was fun. I always (and still do) like games where you can have interesting powers or utilize creatures that do. Nemo allowed you to ride different animals to achieve different goals. A mole (costume) to dig, a lizard to scale walls, a frog (costume) to jump, a gorilla to smash and punch, and a bee (costume) to fly. Little Nemo: The Dream Master was a great game and the movie wasn’t half bad either.
Thank you to everyone that has taken this journey with me. It does my heart good to remember the little things that made me happy as a kid. Keeping a hold of that childhood spark can help make anyone a better person and a better parent. So, keep on keeping on and keep one foot on the ground while reaching for the stars.
**Thanks to NESGuide.com for all the great YouTube videos**