7 NES Games That Stand the Test of Time

Post image for 7 NES Games That Stand the Test of Time

by Jay Malone on January 1, 2015

in Nerd Culture, The 80s

When it was announced that the HD remake of DuckTales from WayForward would be hitting consoles and PC, it got me reminiscing about the great games from the past that I loved – ones that were innovative, challenging, and fun.

I loved DuckTales (still do, in fact!) and while it would be easy enough to wax nostalgic about it, I decided to go with 7 other games that are deserving of our adoration – and, hopefully, will one day be remastered for the HD generation.



While on the surface Shatterhand looks to be just another beat-em-up sidescroller, it’s so much more. Shatterhand – before we get too far, can we just pause and reflect on how amazing that damn name is? Seriously, his hand shatters.

Anyway – Shatterhand IS just a sidescroller, but there are so many subtle nuances and innovations that it makes that it’s difficult to ignore. Customizable power ups (that you alter by punching), the ability to climb chain link fences to punch enemies on higher elevations, and a slick soundtrack make this one of the unsung heroes of the NES era.


Blaster Master

Combining side-scrolling, Metroidvania type gameplay, as well as classic isometric third person action-adventure, Blaster Master is equal parts innovative and ball-bustingly difficult. A sprawling underground world paired with enemies with a bad case of don’t-give-a-fuck-that-you-lost-your-frog-ism make this one of the NES’s finest titles, and one that holds up to the scrutiny of 30+ year old eyes.

Of all the things I loved about this game, though, I still remember how amazing it was to my 9 year old brain that you could get out of the vehicle.


Little Nemo: The Dream Master

Based on the comic strip Little Nemo In Slumberland which debuted in 1905(!!), Little Nemo is a lesson in perfecting a blend between two loved titles: Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man. Coupling both horizontal and vertical level scrolling, as well as super-powered suits Nemo could wear to proceed through levels, Little Nemo offers a quasi-Alice In Wonderland level of psychedelic adventure to an equally difficult game.

Of special note, here, and one that should not be overlooked in any of the games listed, is the amazing soundtrack that Junko Tamiya composed for the game. Though the clown still makes me uncomfortable.


Star Tropics

StarTropics holds the honor of being the first and only, time I ever called the Nintendo Help Line – and it also holds the honor of being one of the first games I ever beat. Combining an overworld map akin to Final Fantasy, as well as a dungeon crawl like Zelda, StarTropics reveled in its bizarre concept and execution.

Playing the role of Mike, you land on C-Island intent on finding your uncle. Armed with only a Yo-Yo, you fight creatures, ghosts, and aliens, all while having a robot, helping dolphins, and cross-dressing. However, the thing I think most will remember fondly about StarTropics was the letter. With each copy of the game, there was a letter from your uncle. At a particular time in the game, the player was prompted to dip the letter in water to reveal a secret code. Talk about innovation and breaking the fourth wall!

NEXT PAGE: the NES sports game that holds up better than Tecmo Bowl, and Capcom resurrects a game on this list! –>

Pages: 1 2

Bianchi79 July 22, 2013 at 11:10 am

great list – now I wanna play Super Dodge Ball!

Jay (@JCorduroy) July 22, 2013 at 11:08 pm

I ALWAYS want to play Super Dodge Ball! 🙂

Man, that game could be so killer remade for Steam or Xbox Live Arcade. Online tournaments, downloadable teams, custom courts…

Count_Marzo July 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm

River City Ransom is definitely one of my favorite NES games. Played the shit outta it. I’d LOVE a HD remake/update.

I also must nominate Rampage. A new Rampage could be AWESOME these days trashing cities and their famous landmarks.

Jay (@JCorduroy) July 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Rampage could be killer! I LOVED Rampage as a kid – I was always Godzilla.

And for a RCR remake – found this out after publishing: http://www.polygon.com/2013/4/27/4274246/river-city-ransom-2-currently-in-development-crowd-funding-effort

tanya July 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm

The NES Help Line holy crap I forgot about that. THAT’s a Memorygasm topic for ya!

Jay (@JCorduroy) July 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm

The Nintendo Help Line was what dreams were made of for my young mind. These guys were seers to me – they saw all, they knew all, and they imparted this wisdom onto the youth of America.

Finding out 20 years later that it was just three-ring binders full of maps, well, that takes a bit of the magic out of it, but man…I still want that job.

Howard Decker July 23, 2013 at 10:26 am

Didn’t your mom give you 10 minutes on the call or something? I know you mentioned it on #EDP, so I linked to the NES ep thinking that had to be where I heard you say that

Jay (@JCorduroy) July 23, 2013 at 10:42 am

Yup! I got 10 minutes to talk to the councilor to figure out how to beat a particular boss – I think it was the Ghost boss, but I don’t remember exactly – and then blew through the rest of the game.

BigMeanCat July 23, 2013 at 1:51 am

BIG shout-outs for River City Ransom and Super Dodge Ball! True overnight slamfests, each of them.

But can I also get some love for Crystalis, Solstice, and Skate or Die? Played the crap out of all these games back in the day, and playing on the online emulators prove that this love has not diminished. That, and I would like to add an Honorable Mention for Goonies II (especially since no Goonies sequel existed, but we wanna make the game, so fuck ’em).

Howard Decker July 23, 2013 at 10:25 am

Yes! Crystalis is mentioned on the other NES list we did, 7 UNderrated NES Games. The link is at the top of this page. Thanks for the comment!!

Jeff July 1, 2014 at 11:04 am

Legacy of the Wizard, Adventures of Lolo 1-3,XEXYZ,Faxanadu,Battletoads,TMNT 1.

Previous post:

Next post: