Twenty-Five to Life [ COMIC ]

Twenty-five years to the day, on October 18th, 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) first went on sale in the United States. [1] Whether you are or aren’t a fan of Nintendo, you can’t ignore their importance nor impact on gaming since.

Rather than post a sarcastic diatribe which requires me to do some major clean (like in the previous comic), I decided to simply post my personal top 10 NES games of all time (in no particular order, except for alphabetical), and hopefully you will as well.

Battletoads – Regardless of how hard this game is, I always found myself compelled to give it another shot and try to get just a little further each time.

Bionic CommandoHitler Master-D had nothing over me!

Clash at DemonheadScott Pilgrim vs. The World is giving this game some much needed press it deserved in the West. Unfortunately, it’s about 20 years too late.

Dragon Warrior I – Seriously lacking a lot of the improvements of it’s successors (even those on the NES), the original still holds a place in my heart and is also the very first RPG where I maxed out EVERYTHING!

Duck Tales – Scrooge McDuck and a pogosticklike cane. Need I say more?

Final Fantasy I – This was the only Final Fantasy that was released in the US during the original NES era. In hindsight I have some major peeves with this game, but at the time it was flawless.

Goonies II – There’s a lot of exploration, customization and trial an error in this game. I used to be able to recite the end game 14 character password by heart. Yes, I played it that much.

The Legend of Zelda – I shouldn’t have to explain why. So I won’t.

Mega Man IV – People will disagree with me on this one, but Mega Man IV was my favorite. The first one was unpolished and two and three were both too easy. Plus, I liked the inclusion of the Mega Buster.

Super Mario Bros. 3 – Best Super Mario Bros. game the NES had to offer and the structural foundation of New Super Mario Bros. series.


  • Marvin

    Here are mine, also in no particular order. :)
    *it should be noted I am a major Mario fan though..*

    Super Mario Bros -the game that got me hooked on gaming
    Donkey Kong -still can’t figure out why Mario can’t jump up the short ladder in the.. third round at the far right side..
    Duck Hunt- NES light gun zapper! Why couldn’t we shoot the dog?
    Super Mario Bros 2- a serious departure from some of the action of the first game, but still tons of fun
    Kirby’s Adventure- first game where Kirby could copy his enemies’ abilities. The duel with Meta-Knight was awesome
    Kid Icarus- felt to me like a vertical SMB (not that that’s a bad thing). I never could get past the first world..
    Duck Tales- for the same reasons Steve listed. :)
    Excitebike- customizable tracks! (sidenote: why hasn’t this feature been used in the Mario Kart series yet? I know the series is doing fine without it, but it would still be a neat feature..)
    Star Tropics- another one of those where I couldn’t get past the early stages of the game (I think I made it to Chapter 3 way back when..?)
    Super Mario Bros 3- many items, many lands, many enemies, many memories. :)

    Some may wonder why Zelda and Metroid aren’t on my list. I just couldn’t stand the first entries in either of those series’. I’ve tried to go back and play them, but they feel so clunky now. I’m not denying that they are classics, however.

  • I’m a compulsive list-maker so I’ll chime in mine as well.

    Excitebike- just a game i could never get sick of playing
    Duck Tales- for the same reasons listed by the two previous gentlemen
    Ultima: Quest of the Avatar- Character creating based on moral questions, hours of fun
    Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!- when i couldn’t beat The Sandman, I’d often start all the way over just to make myself feel better
    Mega Man 2- I didn’t play all of them but I just liked this one better
    Tetris- the game responsible for a family-wide competitive streak
    RC Pro Am- Radio controlled cars. Boring right? Guess not, i spent hours trying to get the letter on each level
    Super Mario 3- ‘The Wizard’ succesfully brainwashed me into loving this game before it even came out
    Double Dragon- To this day I still like to use the word Abobo
    Final Fantasy I- even though I was terrible at it, I loved the graphics, the music, the different character classes…

  • SaCul

    Well if everyone’s doing it…

    1: Gyromite (I can’t count how many times my friends killed me on that game.)
    2: Rad Racer (I don’t like many racing games but somehow rad racer stood out)
    3: Star Tropics (as an 8 year old boy I had a tough time with the puzzles on this one. luckily my mom loved puzzles but was bad at combat and movement. a better star tropics team never existed.)
    4: chip and dale rescue rangers (really liked the multiplayer on this one.)
    5: A boy and his blob (the concept of the game was great.)
    6:M.U.L.E ( not many people have heard of this one, it was a 4 player colony simulator with some resource management thrown in for good measure. as a kid most of the game play flew right over my head, but is great fun now.)
    7: to the earth (your basic zap gun game, but with amazing music)
    8: Battle chess (I’m a pretty good chess player, won tournaments, competitions that sort of thing. I’ve never beaten this game on hard mode… day…..)
    9: Burgertime (something about being chased around by humanoid food items just makes this game great.)
    10: Skyshark (my first shoot em up. It’ll will always hold a place in my heart.)

    • ph34rs33k3r

      Battle chess was so amazing. I played it day and night as a 4 year old on DOS and would watch the epic fights not realizing I was actually learning! What a brilliant design for the youth and it could appeal with action and violence to the older crowds.

  • Perceptor

    What were your gripes with FF1? Just curious, I beat it on my iPhone for the first time a few days ago.

    • In the original version for the NES, if you set multiple characters to attack an enemy and the enemy is killed before the other characters try to attack it the characters will simply attack nothing instead of the next available enemy.

      • Kyle

        I can agree that this was frustrating, but to me, it was part of the strategy that old-school RPGs had, that the new ones don’t have. These days, you can just quickly click through the “attack” and “enemy” selections without much thought, knowing the system will automatically roll over to the next available enemy. FF1, though, made you actually plan, how many characters do you have attack each enemy, or worse, who gets to cast spells (when you have a very small limit to use) that will be wasted on downed enemies.

        • True, there was a high level of strategy to the battles. But the battles were a little slow to begin with back then and when you were battling 9 enemies at the same time, it would make them feel like they were lasting forever.

  • subata

    one day after my birthday is the nes’s birthday.. O_o

    • And my birthday is one day after the launch… which is today.

      • AmIATurtle

        Well, Happy Birthday!

  • The Anarchyz

    First, i have to say that the day NES hit US, was the 1st day of the great resurgence of gaming. After Kazaar and Warner executives destroyed Atari and almost destroyed console gaming, Nintendo started to convince people again to buy consoles (of course those days they marketed them as a toy because of the previous statement), then the stereotypical overweight middle-aged italian plumber that had to rescue a princess from a merge between a dragon and a turtle hit the stores and there was no going back…

    I’m going to post the list later.

  • Nuckel

    Well, Happy Birthday, NES. :3

    This and the original Gameboy were a good start into the world of gaming for me. Would this be the same with modern devices?

  • Trosky

    contra- just got the FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU… out of me when trying to beat it without tho kanami code
    SMB- no words
    SMB2 – loved the music
    Kirby’s adventure- kirby is the best… thought epic yarn is gay
    Zelda- no words
    tetris- i still play it… in the ipod but still
    megaman 2- best music ever
    ballon fight- i rocked this game
    metroid- fuck i never could beat this game
    double dragon- lol abobo

  • Ace

    I don’t think kotaku is entirely correct. I was staying with my cousin in NJ in July 1985 and he had just gotten one as part of the test market (before FOAS?). We pretty much only played SMB, but he also had popeye, kung fu, gyromite, and a few more. I later got one in MA in Oct 85, which was the north east US rollout, and I guess July 86 must have been the national rollout.
    My faves that I haven’t seen mentioned yet are blaster master, castlevania, contra, ikari warriors, life force, metroid, and TMNT!

    • ph34rs33k3r

      Thank you for finally mentioning some Castlevania and TMNT. If only those series had some real people left to make good games for them…

  • IIMcCainII

    SMB – The first time I found a Warp Zone I was like OMFG!!!!
    SMB 2
    SMB 3 – I like Mario…
    Contra – I remember the first time I finished Contra without the Konami code. I doubt I still can do it…
    Chip and Dale rescue rangers – Great graphics, enerving music.
    Excitebike – Adictive…
    Duck Tales – Great game from my fav cartoon.
    Mega Man 3 – the first MM game I ever played.
    Battletoads – … and so I learned how to deal with frustration.
    Castlevania III – the first Castlevania game I ever played.

    Not one of my favorites, but I still suffer that I never reached the top floor at Ghostbusters.

  • The Anarchyz

    Happy b-day Steve

    Now with the list:

    -Megaman 1-6, if i have to pick one, is Megaman 2, it’s not hard as 1 or 4 or 6, but the content is epic, Alien Willy still is my favorite final boss (the dissapearing ship is cool, but it’s used a lot)
    -Super Mario Bros 3: The greatness
    -Super Mario Bros: The greatness before the greatness
    -The Legend of Zelda
    -Battletoads: Just beat it once without cheating, my thumbs bleed that day but it was worth it. Despite the freaking in your face hardness, it always got you to play one more time. Too bad the ending is stupid
    -Castlevania: Belmont FTW
    -Ninja Gaiden 2: The 3rd one is wicked in the US and too easy in Japan, the 1st had the coolness but the 2nd had it all
    -Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out: Seriously, Wii Boxing has nothing on this XD
    -Double Dragon II: Beat-em-up that had a lot more than that.

    Honorary Mention: Dragon Quest III and Final Fantasy I: The start of 2 epic franchises, i don’t put them in my Top 10 because NES graphics are unfair to Akira Toriyama and the storytelling of FF started on the SNES, but there are still great games for us NES fans (in fact, DQ3 is my favorite DQ in RPG gameplay and characters)…

  • spweasel

    Whoa boy! 25 years, huh? I never realized before today that the NES shared its birthday with my kid sister.

    And happy birthday, Steve!

    My list (1 title per franchise, not necessarily in order):

    1) Megaman 3 – Had arguably the best weapons in the franchise
    2) Super Mario Bros. 3 – Slightly better than 2, though I play both pretty often
    3) The Guardian Legend – Most underrated game ever. Ever
    4) Crystalis – I only discovered this recently and have never beaten it. It’s like a more polished Zelda
    5) Zelda 1 – Oddly enough, my brother prefers the second game. He does have mad skills, though
    6) Dragon Warrior 1 – For the precedent, mostly. Darn near unplayable these days
    7) Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out – A puzzle game posing as a sports game. I like
    8) Blaster Master – You play as a tank. That can (eventually) fly. What’s not to love?
    9) TMNT2 – A really solid Beat-em-up from the days when not all licensed games sucked.
    10) Kirby’s Adventure – Just all-around solid platforming

    Special mention to FF1 (which lacks nostalgia for me, but was good on the PSX), Batman (which I both love and hate), and Solstice (the music is really catchy, but gets old by the middle of hour 2)

  • Will

    Happy Birthday Steve.

    My list, not necessarily in order:

    1. RC Pro-Am 2 – Lot of good memories racing against my brother on this one.
    2. Super Mario Bros. 3 – Tons of secrets and items to be discovered. Sets a precedent for future Mario games
    3. Blaster Master – Basically this game is what happens when you give some rapper a show on MTV called “Pimp my Tank”. I can see Mad Mike now. “Dude, we know that walls sometimes get in the way, so now you can drive straight up those suckers! And we decked it out with homing missiles for when bad guys get in the way.”
    4. Zelda 1 – Solid overall. The gold cartridge helped it out, I think.
    5. Guardian Legend – My personal favorite. If you’ve never played it, it’s a cross between Zelda 1 and Metroid, with boss battle fights being more like Galaga (the Guardian character is a shapeshifter). TONS of weapons to use, most of which have upgrades.
    6. Super C – Awesome shooting action, great multiplayer fun. I went with Super C because I think the weapons were better in that game.
    7. Bubble Bobble – My wife and I play this one on the Wii. It’s actually a better 2-player game than a 1-player game. Never got the good ending on it, however.
    8. Tetris – Classic. Been re-released probably a dozen times and the gameplay has changed very little, which is the sign of a strong game.
    9. Metroid – Had cool weapons, a large and fun world to explore and HOLY HELLS IS THAT A WOMAN IN THAT POWER SUIT?
    10. Megaman 3 – The slide addition was neat, plus I liked how you had to redo 4 of the levels when you beat all 8 bosses, except the levels are harder, and with Megaman 2 bosses at the end of them. Awesome.

  • Asquian

    But, but…they DO make games like that anymore. Megaman 9 and 10!

    Loved all 6 on the NES, though I’d say I have the most nostalgia for 2, a friend of mine and I used to spend hours trying to beat it.

  • Mr Cartier

    Happy birthday Steve!

    Whoo boy 25 years and top 10 to think of…

    1. Blaster Master – Can’t live without it. Played it trough three times on nes already (several times on emulator). Love especially the audio of the game. Somehow still my alltime favourite game ever.

    2. Solar Jetman – Weird but damn good space oddity, adapting to different atmospheres and gravities, uprading the ship along the way. Top stuff.

    3. Super Mario 3 – Made lotsa good memories with it with my own bros when I was young.

    4. Kirby’s Adventure – There’s swordplay. Beam was also one of my favourites, but only if sword wasn’t availible. What’s not to love?

    5. Bionic Commando – Game where I learned to play with the lasso thingy with from. (lotsa training). Still never made it trough at that time. Was too young at that time.

    6. Ice Hockey – The master of all ice hockey games, well at least to me. Countless hours spent with this.

    7. Life Force – Never made it trough without the Konami code, and now I’m too old to bother.

    8. Contra – Same here, it was a fun game to blast away those creeps, tho.

    9. Bubble Bobble – Rare game again that I have honestly beaten when I was young. Sweet baby dragons with acid bubble breath. Sorta. Ain’t that cute!

    10. Megaman 1 – a) The first of the Megaman/Rockman series, while little ragged on the edges, still very good game. b) When I was a tiny toddler, this was one of our first games and we gathered to play it as a whole famly (I mainly watched tho). My father played the whole game to the Wily’s castle several times with nothing else but the basic pea-shooter and couldn’t pass, as we didn’t figure out how to change weapons, until our cousin came by and accidentally changed a gun (what, one can change weapons?!?). c) I plan to pass the whole game with nothing but peashoother too, except where I absolutely have to use something else for that short bit (lile open a door). So far I’ve get drawn with Elec man 5 times per session at average, playing on the wee hours, untill I give up and go to sleep when I visit my bro about half yearly.

    Shame only 10 can fit to my personal top 10.

  • Jarrett

    I owned an NES when I was like 5-8 so although I didn’t play many titles, here’s a list of some of the ones I remember owning/playing

    Excitebike – one of my favorites when I was a kid. Still have the cartridge even though I haven’t owned an NES in over 10 years
    Super Mario – Need I say more?
    Duck Hunt – I really hated that dog laughing at me all the time -_-
    Baseball – A classic very simple and fun baseball game. Still have this cartridge too.
    TMNT – When I was a kid, TMNT was my thing so playing the first game for the NES blew my mind
    Mike Tyson’s Punchout! – Very fun boxing game although I remember I kinda sucked at it (I know this because my older cousins came to my house once and got a lot farther than me)
    Tetris – The game that made me start to love solving puzzles

  • PorkRoll

    No Faxanadu?

  • corpsegirly

    adventures of lolo 1
    legacy of the wizard
    super mario 3
    adventure island
    mainac mansion
    dragon spirit
    legend of zelda

  • Iceholder

    -Mario Bros./Duck Hunt: This was the very first game I played on the NES. Tried Mario first, really liked it, and was hooked for life… I just didn’t know it yet. Duck Hunt was fun, dog and all. Though I still hear his laugh in my dreams some nights…

    -Mario Bros. 3: Very fun, very addicting. My dad tried to show me where the warp whistles were, but, well, I was more interested in the journey, rather than the goal.

    -TMNT: I love this game. I love it to death. Sure, the Dam/Bomb level makes me want to summon Cthulu and run rampant on the town, but I love it anyways.

    -TMNT II (arcade game port): multi-player TMNT? YES PLZ.

    -Star Wars: … it’s a love/hate relationship.

    -Bart vs. the World: It was a pain in the arse, but it was fun.

    -Lemmings: LOL

    -Mega Man 2: This was the only Mega Man game I owned for a good, long while. I love it to death for getting me involved in the MM games.

    -Legend of Zelda: It’s LoZ. LOVE.

    -Clash at Demonhead: This game was given to a friend of my dad’s when I was too young to play video games. he thought my dad would enjoy it. He played it for a while, but it wound up in the back of the line of games. I discovered it one day in 4th grade by complete accident. I have never seen my dad’s friend ever since that one time, which is a shame, because I want to shake his hand for giving my dad THE BEST GAME IN EXISTENCE. EVER.

  • Marvin

    Btw, about the comic: why didn’t the NES say anything? :D

  • Giesewickl

    Hey. I still own one original NES. My little sister (12) still plays with this console. Our favorite games are:

    Super Mario Bros 2- very different from the first one. i liked the story behind, too.
    Super Mario Bros 3.- Best Super Mario on NES!
    Kirby’s Adventure- Quote:”first game where Kirby could copy his enemies’ abilities. The duel with Meta-Knight was awesome” nothing to add.

  • Wayward

    I am proud to have grown up alongside the NES.

    SMB3: The king.
    Elevator Action: Cuz smashing enemies with elevators never gets old. NEVER.
    Zelda: Set the stage for the epic.
    Double Dragon: Was a big fan of beat-em-ups.
    Adventures of Lolo: My first puzzle game and one of my faves.
    Tetris: Yea you know.
    Kirby’s Adventure: Loads of power-ups you take from others.
    RC Pro Am: Normally not a fan of racing games, but this one just kept me glued.
    MT’s Punch Out: My personal achievement when I was young was finally beating this.
    Sky Kid: Not as well known as others, but I spent a long time playing this game.

  • TheyCallMeTomu

    NES is Christmas Cake!

  • Budster87

    I know I’m a bit late on this one, but I love the fact that someone else loves Mega Man 4 as much as I do. For me it was the first legit game I beat without any help. Still beat it several times a year because of that fact.

  • I’m glad I’m note the only one who feels like that about Megaman IV – it definitely rocks! It’s good to know I’m not alone in the world…