NEStalgia: 5 NES Games I Mourn. A Lot.
Nostalgia reigns supreme when it comes to the Nintendo NES, the 8-bit powerhouse gaming system that defined a generation (or several). Having just relegated my long since broken NES system and dozens of now non-functioning games to the garbage bin, I’m more mindful than ever of how much those spritely timewasters meant to me in years gone by. I loved every bit of the NES’s 2 kb RAM and 52 available colors. I loved NES to distraction.
As I stare at the empty spot where my now-defunct NES collection used to be, I’m unable to concentrate on much else than the games that carried me through my childhood. So after laboring much on the selection process, I present to you the 5 NES games I mourn most.
There was something definitely dark about this game, and I don’t mean the fact that most of it was set in a stark space setting. Metroid itself was something of a sinister and scary title for a child, as I was when I spent hours playing it, and that kept it all the more interesting. (I suspect my love of Metroid gave rise to my adoration of horror movies. The same impetus that drives me to watch scary stuff even if it’s from behind a pillow or through my fingers kept me playing this game even when it pretty well creeped me out.) Maybe it was the cold and forbidding space suit on the heroine. Maybe it was the creepy crawly alien enemies. Or maybe I was just a wimp. Whatever the reason, I miss Metroid as a fun little thrill ride.
Jog your memory: Metroid told the tale of a female bounty hunter whose aim it was to stop the Space Pirates from utilizing the powers of various life forms, including the species Metroids. The game took place primarily underground, hence the dark atmosphere. Its story had a distinctive science fiction slant.
4. Mega Man
Whichever version of Mega Man I was playing at any given time, I was loving every second of it. Mega Man is arguably best known and most revered for its colorful cast of characters, and that’s certainly why I adore it. I think that if the grown up me was subjected to Mega Man‘s soundtrack for as many hours as the child me endured, I’d probably end up in a padded cell. But not even the manic music could detract from the epic Mega Man experience. Mega Man, in my mind, earned a place on this brief list due to extraordinary merit – considering it beat other favorites like A Boy and His Blob, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Castlevania, and Bubble Bobble.
Jog your memory: This 2D side-scrolling gem centered around a butt-kicking robotic hero with an arm-mounted cannon, i.e. Mega Man. As Mega Man defeated bosses he assumed their powers, which came in themes like the four elements or weaponry such as napalm. In the end, Mega Man confronted Dr. Wily, the man at fault for the level bosses’ acts of destruction.
3. Final Fantasy
Oh, how it pained me to have to decide between Final Fantasy and Ultima for RPG love affair of my childhood – and really, of my entire life – but in the end, Final Fantasy’s staying power is undeniable. And I don’t mean just because the title’s up to about its billionth edition, but because the first installments of the Final Fantasy tale, with their legendary bouncy sprites, simply measure up to some of the greatest games ever created.
Jog your memory: Four young warriors, the Light Warriors, looked to defeat four enemies called Elemental Fiends in order to restore light to the elemental orbs that each of the Light Warriors carried. The ultimate goal, now predictable to any fan of the series, was to save the world.
2. Super Mario Bros.
Duh duh duh duh duh duh! Duh. See? Even in text the opening notes of the Super Mario Bros. theme song trigger our collective memory. (Well, they trigger memories for the obsessed.) Who can forget Mario and Luigi, the lovable Italian brothers, who gallantly fought through level after level of rather repetitive themes to rescue Princess Toadstool (later Peach) from Bowser? Although in the original Luigi was only playable in multiplayer mode, the pair made a serious impact on pop culture and have spawned a veritable dynasty, as well they should. For me, this game was the perfect marriage of challenge and silliness. It certainly tested my youthful skills, but the plot and the graphics were far-fetched enough that escapism might as well have been Mario and Luigi’s last name. Super Mario Bros. sucked me in from start to finish.
Jog your memory: Mario and Luigi traversed a not-so-diverse series of terrains that included outer worlds and underworlds. At the end of each progressively more difficult underworld and mini-Bowser boss battle, they were informed they’d stormed the wrong castle. Oops.
1. The Legend of Zelda
Ah…the sweet sound of the Zelda theme song can send me to my happy place. (In fact, I had it as my ringtone for quite some time.) At heart, it’s another damsel in distress game, so common to the NES platform. But its soul is a thing of beauty. Perky graphics and catchy music and sound effects – yes, even that annoying fairy – made Zelda the stuff of memories. Occasionally tricky but endlessly entertaining game play made Zelda the stuff of legends. No matter how many Zelda titles have followed across countless gaming systems, the original Zelda remains the jewel in the franchise’s crown. R.I.P. my weathered Zelda cartridge. You will be remembered often and fondly.
Jog your memory: The Legend of Zelda was the tale of the brave adventurer Link, who set off on a series of harrowing quests to rescue Princess Zelda from the antagonist, Ganon. In order to accomplish this Link had to collect eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom from various underworlds.
So as I bid adieu to my NES I ask, which Nintendo games captured your heart and an unhealthy portion of your life? Leave a comment & deepen my Nintendo nostalgia – nay, my NEStalgia. Go on, I can take the pain.
Also check out: Get Nintendo classic games on your keyring