Life Force

Lifeforce Boss

Life force was released by Konami in 1988 for the NES. It’s a classic space shooter and the sequel to another great NES space shooter Gradius. Life force is a port of Konami’s arcade game of the same name. You control the Vic Viper a sweet spaceship that is upgradeable.

The gameplay in Life force is split up between six levels. A cool feature is that some levels are horizontal scrolling and others are vertical scrolling. It’s a nice way to make things interesting in between levels.

Powerups can be collected and used to get multiple ship upgrades. Some of the upgrades cost more powerups than others. You can upgrade your speed, add missiles to your ship, get a ripple gun which is stronger than the standard bullets, get a laser gun which is the strongest gun, add options which are little dots that fire bullets like your ship, and finally force field which protects your ship from bullets until it takes too much damage.

The graphics and control are very well done. Each level has it’s own theme and the end bosses are very big and really do the best you can with the NES hardware limits. The in game music is timeless and a joy to listen to.

Life force also contained the famous Konami code: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start so you could start with 30 lives. Even if you didn’t use the Konami code you could continue your gameplay if you died. You would just have to start each level over again.

You can play 2 player co-op which is a lot of fun. Having a friend cover one side of the screen while you take the other sure does make things easier. If you share powerups each ship can be a beast.

Lifeforce is one of the best space shooters for the NES and a classic that is a must own. If you don’t have a NES you can purchase it on the Nintendo Virtual Console for the Wii.

Life force Title Screen
Lifeforce Title Screen
Life force Gameplay
Life force Gameplay
Life force Boss
Life force Boss
Life force Boss 2
Life force Boss 2
Life force Gameplay 2
Life force Gameplay 2
Life force Gameplay 3
Life force Gameplay 3
Life force Gameplay 4
Life force Gameplay 4
Life force Gameplay 5
Life force Gameplay 5
Life force Gameplay 6
Life force Gameplay 6

Super Mario Bros

Super Mario Bros Warp Zone 2

Super Mario Bros (SMB) was released in 1985 by Nintendo for the NES. It’s easily one of the most recognizable video games ever and the most popular game ever produced for the NES. SMB was the best selling video game for more than 20 years selling over 40 million copies. Super Mario Bros popularity is what led to Mario being a household name and on products from food to underwear. It also resurrected the video game industry after the great video game crash of 1983.

SMB was the sequel to the arcade classic Mario Brothers. The gameplay is similar to Mario Brothers but there are differences ie: in SMB you can jump on a turtle to kill it, in Mario Bros you had to jump to hit the turtle from underneath and then run up to it and kick it.
The story goes that the evil Bowser had kidnapped Princess Toadstool. You can play as either Mario or Luigi on your quest to find out what castle Bowser has Princess Toadstool hidden in. There are 8 worlds in the game. Each world consists of 3 levels and 1 castle level. To complete a world you must defeat all 4 levels.

SMB was the first time you could get a giant mushroom, a fireflower to throw fireballs or the famous invincibility star. These became Nintendo staples would be forever understood by gamers and appear in countless Nintendo games to this day.

SMB was available in several different cartridges for the NES. You could get SMB by itself, in a combo cart with Duck Hunt, and with Duck Hunt and World Class Track Meet in another combo cart. There are also 5 screw cart and 3 screw cart variations available.

There were some famous glitches in SMB. The infamous minus world glitch is one that comes to mind. Some of the other glitches involved mushrooms falling through the screen and infinite 1ups that can lock up the game.

SMB is one of the cheapest to purchase NES games so there’s no excuse if you don’t own a copy. It’s a video game masterpiece that will always be remembered as one of the greatest games ever.

Super Mario Bros Title Screen
Super Mario Bros Title Screen
Super Mario Bros Level Start
Super Mario Bros Level Start
Super Mario Bros Gameplay
Super Mario Bros Gameplay
Super Mario Bros Gameplay 2
Super Mario Bros Gameplay 2
Super Mario Bros Gameplay 3
Super Mario Bros Gameplay 3
Super Mario Bros Gameplay 4
Super Mario Bros Gameplay 4
Super Mario Bros Gameplay 5
Super Mario Bros Gameplay 5
Super Mario Bros Flag Pole
Super Mario Bros Flag Pole
Super Mario Bros 1up
Super Mario Bros 1up
Super Mario Bros Warp Zone
Super Mario Bros Warp Zone
Super Mario Bros Warp Zone 2
Super Mario Bros Warp Zone 2

Super Mario Bros 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 Gameplay 2

Super Mario Bros 3 (or SMB3) was released in 1990 by Nintendo for the NES. Super Mario Bros 3 was a huge success that was extremely popular and continues to be until this very day.

The story is pretty much the same as all the other Mario games in that the evil Bowser has kidnapped Princess Toadstool and it’s up to Mario and Luigi to rescue her. The gameplay is more like Super Mario Bros than Super Mario Bros 2 which depending on who you talk to is a great thing. There’s more powerups in Super Mario Bros 3 that allow you to do things like fly and turn into a statue.

There are 8 worlds to explore. Like in the previous Mario games you can warp to different worlds, only this time you need to use a whistle to accomplish this task. There are two different main screens for the gameplay. One being a map where you can move your character to go to different levels or mushroom houses, card games or castles. The other mode is the gameplay of each level. This is where the gameplay builds off of Super Mario Brothers. A fun feature is the ability in two player games to battle against each other in the original Mario Brothers mini game.

Super Mario Bros 3 was also featured in the 1989 movie titled The Wizard. It was basically an hour and a half long commercial about how cool Super Mario Bros 3 was and all the other Nintendo stuff back in the day. Even the crappy Power Glove makes an appearance. Who can forger the epic cheezy line from the Wizard: I love the Power Glove its so bad!

Super Mario Bros 3 is one of the best games ever released for the NES. It’s a must have if you have a NES.

River City Ransom

River City Ransom Gameplay

River City Ransom was released in 1989 by Technos of Japan for the NES. It’s a beat em up style game that combines RPG elements. These two genres make a good mix and River City Ransom has some excellent gameplay as well.

You play as Alex and Ryan. The story goes that Ryan’s girlfriend has been kidnapped by an evil dude named Slick. As you are on your way trying to rescue Ryan’s girlfriend, you are confronted by 9 different gangs depending where you are in the city. They all want to kill you for being on their turf. It’s up to you to show them who’s boss.

The fighting gameplay is like Double Dragon where you can pickup weapons that are dropped from defeated enemies. You can perform kicks, punches, and jump kicks. River City Ransom has two player simultaneous co-op which really makes the game a lot more fun. Teaming up to take on the gangs with a friend is a great time.

Enemies will drop coins after you defeat them which you can use in the vast amount of shops in the city. You can buy all different kinds of items and food to make Alex and Ryan stronger. The graphics and music are well done and the gameplay is challenging but not too hard. One memorable thing about River City Ransom is that after you defeat an enemy they have a phrase that they say. Barf seems to be a very popular one! =)

The NES cartridge is not terribly rare but it does fetch a bit more than most carts of it’s era. It’s usually around $20.00.

River City Ransom Title Screen
River City Ransom Title Screen
River City Ransom Gameplay
River City Ransom Gameplay
River City Ransom Gameplay 2
River City Ransom Gameplay 2
River City Ransom Stores
River City Ransom Stores
River City Ransom Shop
River City Ransom Shop

Battletoads

Battletoads Gameplay

Battletoads

Battletoads was released by Tradewest in 1991 for the NES. It’s is a beat em up platformer game.

The story goes that an evil woman named “the Dark Queen” is trying to take control of the universe. She kidnapped one of your toad buddies (Pimple) so you need to save him. You can play as either of the other toads: Rash or Zitz. As the story unfolds you learn more about the Dark Queen’s evil plans and how you can stop her.

This game has very good graphics for it’s time. Since it was released in 1991 a lot of gamers had moved on to other systems like the Sega Genesis or Turbografx 16. The gameplay is fun and very challenging. It’s really the best playing in two player simultaneous mode with a friend. It’s much more fun to play the game through in co-op except the only bad thing is that your friend can hit you so you need to be careful not to kill each other.

To me, this game is fondly remembered as one of the hardest games to complete for the NES or any system for that matter. It also has some of the best ever in game pause music. If you don’t believe me try it out!

Battletoads Title Screen
Battletoads Title Screen
Battletoads Intro
Battletoads Intro
Battletoads Gameplay
Battletoads Gameplay
Battletoads Gamplay 2
Battletoads Gamplay 2
Battletoads Boss
Battletoads Boss
Battletoads Cut Scene
Battletoads Cut Scene

Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden Cut Scene

Ninja Gaiden was released in 1989 by Tecmo for the NES. The gameplay is that of a side scrolling platformer game. The gameplay is addicting and challenging and that’s why there have been so many more sequels to this game. This is the one that started it all.

You play as ninja Ryu Hayabusa who has come to America to kill those who have murdered his father. As the story progresses you find out you need to help save the world. There are 6 main acts which comprise of 20 stages of levels.

This game received high praise for the get quality cut scenes it used. For it’s time it was well done and really added something to the game. It helped to better tell the story and make the game player feel more involved.

One of the negatives about the gameplay is how Ryu bounces back when hit. This can make some of the levels difficult especially when it’s crowded with enemies or there are pits nearby. Many games of this day used this type of collision detection schemes so it’s a small complaint.

When it was released it was well received and it soon become a favorite of many NES gamers. All of the sequels for the NES were also well remembered as quality games. If you’ve never tried this game you’re missing out on one of the best NES games ever!

Ninja Gaiden Title Screen
Ninja Gaiden Title Screen
Ninja Gaiden Gameplay
Ninja Gaiden Gameplay
Ninja Gaiden Gameplay 2
Ninja Gaiden Gameplay 2
Ninja Gaiden Gameplay 3
Ninja Gaiden Gameplay 3
Ninja Gaiden Boss
Ninja Gaiden Boss

Ninja Gaiden Cut Scene
Ninja Gaiden Cut Scene

Ninja Gaiden Cut Scene 2
Ninja Gaiden Cut Scene 2

Ninja Gaiden Act 2
Ninja Gaiden Act 2

Metroid

Metroid Title Screen

Metroid was released in 1986 by Nintendo for the NES. It’s a game that combines many different genres: action, adventure, and shooter. Nintendo definitely pulled it off in the form of an epic game that would spawn countless incarnations.

One of the spectacular things was that the world was wide open for you to explore. Some of the rooms could only opened by using weapons or techniques you would obtain later in the game, this kept you exploring the world and pushing onward.

Metroid was one of the first games to have a female as the hero. Your character Samus, is on the planet Zebes trying to thwart space pirates that are using the Metriods for world domination. Samus must defeat the evil Motherbrain, and the two other bosses Ridley and Kraid.

One thing that I will always remember about this game is the outstanding music! It was so atmospheric and it set the mood, whether it was dark and brooding or light and airy. It’s been remixed over and over during the years since it came out and is one of the favorites of “Chip Tuners” around the world.

The graphics don’t disappoint either. For an early NES game the graphics are sharp and well detailed. The play control is also spot on, so you really can’t blame the game if you can’t make a jump or get out of the way fast enough. It was actually built on the same engine as another Nintendo classic “Kid Icarus” which is another fine game by the way.

You really can’t go wrong with Metroid and it should be part of you classic gaming collection. If you haven’t played it you owe it to yourself to experience one of the best NES games.

Metroid Title Screen
Metroid Title Screen
Metroid Gameplay
Metroid Gameplay
Metroid Gameplay 2
Metroid Gameplay 2
Metroid Password
Metroid Password

Tetris

Tetris Title Screen

Tetris was released in 1989 by Nintendo for the NES. This is the “officialy licensed” version of Tetris as there were two different versions of Tetris published on the NES.

The “other version” was released by Tengen (an unlicensed publisher that was owned by Atari). The Tengen version of the game created a huge mess of legal problems for both Nintendo and Tengen.

Atari’s version in a lot of ways was better than Nintendo’s version. In Atari’s version you could play two players cooperatively and versus each other, whereas in the Nintendo version it was only a single player game. Atari’s version was only on sale for one month before they lost the lawsuit and had to recall all the unsold games. Because of this Atari’s version is a collector’s item today. Anyway enough with the history lesson and I’ll get back on topic…

Tetris was one of those games that invited more than just the avid gamer. Adults and others who really didn’t play video games back in the 80’s started to play it and they quickly got addicted to the simple but challenging gameplay. This is something that made it one of the most famous games ever.

The gameplay is simple and fun: create lines using different shaped blocks called “Tetraminos”. Clearing 4 lines at once is a Tetris which you get the most points for.

There was a sequel on the NES but the gameplay was drastically changed so that while it still had the same name it really was an altogether different game.

Tetris is one of the best selling NES games of all time. It is a must have if you own a NES. It was so popular that it was the included add-in game with Nintendo’s portable system the GameBoy.

Tetris Title Screen
Tetris Title Screen
Tetris Select Game Screen
Tetris Select Game Screen
Tetris Select Level Screen
Tetris Select Level Screen
Tetris Gameplay
Tetris Gameplay

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy Town

Final Fantasy was released in 1990 by Square for the NES. It was the first of many epic games that Square would produce in the Final Fantasy series.

This game was responsible for teaching many gamers what a role playing game or RPG was. The story was huge and had you exploring dungeons, sailing ships, flying airships and more.

It’s about a team of four light warriors who set out on a quest to destroy evil and bring peace to the land.
You must defeat the bosses of the different elements earth, fire, water, and wind. There are a vast amount of items to collect. You can customize your characters weapons, armor and purchase different spells for certain characters.

The cool thing is you can choose your own characters to make your team. You can choose from a Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Red Mage, Black Mage, and a White Mage. Later on in the game your characters will grow up and you will realize the full potential of their skills.

The graphics and music are classic 8 bit at it’s best. The music has been remixed multiple times and is regarded as instantly recognizable and timeless.

Final Fantasy Title Screen
Final Fantasy Title Screen
Final Fantasy Character Select Screen
Final Fantasy Character Select Screen

Final Fantasy Gameplay
Final Fantasy Gameplay

Final Fantasy Battle
Final Fantasy Battle

Final Fantasy Town
Final Fantasy Town
Final Fantasy Weapon Shop
Final Fantasy Weapon Shop
Final Fantasy Magic
Final Fantasy Magic

Mega Man 2

Mega Man 2 Title Screen

Mega Man 2 released in 1988 by Capcom for the NES. It was the sequel to Mega Man which was a good game but Mega Man 2 placed the series on the map to stay.

The evil Dr. Wily has 8 new bosses for you to defeat: Air Man, Bubble Man, Quick Man, Crash Man, Flash Man, Heat Man, Metal Man, and Wood Man. After you defeat each boss you get a unique weapon that you can use for the rest of the game.

Mega Man games have always been challenging and this one follows the same formula. The gameplay is the classic mix of action and platforming rolled into one. The music is still hailed to this day as some of the best video game music ever.

This game differs from the original NES game in that you can collect an energy tank (it has a letter E on it) that will refill your health when used. The only other new feature was tha you now have a password system so a player could continue their game progress at a later date.

This is the highest selling Mega Man game Capcom has ever released and it’s also known as the most popular game of the series.

The graphics look much like the first game but that’s a good thing. The controls are tight and responsive. The music is absolutely classic in fact it’s known as one of the best soundtracks of any game on the NES. The music to this day is constantly remixed due to it’s quality. Chip Tuners around the world love this music and it’s easy to understand why.

If you haven’t played this game you really need to! It’s very inexpensive and it should be a part of any retro gamer’s collection.

Mega Man 2 Title Screen
Mega Man 2 Title Screen

Mega Man 2 Stage Select
Mega Man 2 Stage Select

Mega Man 2 Flash Man
Mega Man 2 Flash Man
Mega Man 2 Gameplay
Mega Man 2 Gameplay