After completing a lot of day dreaming and soul searching, I decided to combine the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) into one post for this installment of my “deserted games” series. Why? It’s certainly not because I didn’t love the SNES to death, because I did. But as fun as the NES was, we didn’t have many games for it. Could I spend the rest of my days playing Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and 3? Maybe. But only maybe. So with a list of choices in hand, I had to make some tough decisions. Some were obvious, and others less so. I’m sure at least a couple of my game choices would still drive me bananas in the heat and quiet. And man, does it get quiet on this here island…except for those dang birds that keep squawking! This is supposed to be a deserted island! Just quit with all the noise and help me get this coconut!! Sheesh.
As the Atari was running it’s course in the mid to late 1980s, two systems were introduced that brought gaming to new heights. Little did folks assume at the time that the choice between the two would forever set gamers (or maybe just me) down one road, Nintendo, or the other, Sega. I don’t know why my parents chose the NES over the Sega, I really don’t. Price? Availability? Game selection? Did me and my siblings beg for that little gray box? However the NES ended up in our house, Nintendo soon became the cornerstone of my present and future gaming ways. I chose the five games below with a mix of joy and nostalgia. These two Nintendo consoles marked a very contented if somewhat introverted time of my childhood, when my brother became old enough to join in the fun, and when many a homework assignment was pushed aside in order to spend more time with Samus and Ryu.
If I were to ever be bold enough to make deserted island list of only five games from any system, Super Metroid would absolutely be on that list. I know it’s at the top of many “top #” lists, and it has every right to be. Super Metroid is true classic. It contains the perfect combination of platforming action, puzzle-solving, and story telling (all without being too in-your-face about controls and guidance). It’s mostly up the player to decide where Samus goes and how she handles encounters; and there’s no one way to solve any situation. The 16-bit graphics hold up beautifully even today, and it continues to be a game that gamers cite as near perfection in play.
Super Mario World
In my crude ranking of NES and SNES games, the two Mario games that sat atop the pile were Super Mario 3 and Super Mario World. As revolutionary and stylized as Super Mario 3 was for the NES, Super Mario World was, for me, the better game. First off, I love, love, LOVE the soundtrack to SMW. I haven’t played the game in in some time, but I still find myself humming its ubiquitous theme song on odd occasions. The level designs (and there were so many levels!) are brilliant and jam-packed with secrets (many of which I’ve still yet to find). But the addition of Yoshi, my favorite character in the Mario universe is really what pushes this game over the edge. Seriously, if I could have my own Yoshi AND his accompanying bongo beats whenever I rode him, oh…what a grand life that would be!
Tecmo Super Bowl
Though I can count my experiences with sports video games on one hand, I hold in high regard the few that I have played. (Except for Atari’s Homerun, that is…well, awful doesn’t even begin to describe it.) Tecmo Super Bowl was a really great NES game. Sure, it looks hokey compared to Madden 341 (or whatever number they are on), but the game offered solid play that was easy to understand, even for folks who didn’t quite understand football generally. And unlike many sports games, Tecmo Super Bowl featured real teams with real players! Eventually I understood the game well enough to play on my own, which was, and is, rare for me and sports games. I never made to to the Super Bowl, but with nothing but time on my hands and sun in the sky, I bet I could.
Street Fighter II Turbo
In another nod to me and my brother’s gaming days together, we had a blast with Street Fighter II Turbo. Full disclosure: I’m pretty terrible at fighting games, yet I still love them so. They fulfill a visceral survival instinct while instilling the need for strategy and method in play. I never became a Street Fighter master, and I still have trouble pinning down Ryu’s classic hadokens and dragon punches, but I had (and still have) loads of fun trying to make winning difficult for the other player. I will say though, I became pretty darn good with Zangief. Okay, so I was never going to win any tournaments with him, but I could pull off his 360 pile driver without hesitation. He remains one of my go-to characters in any Street Fighter game, and I’m sure we could get along well for eternity…maybe.
Super Castlevania IV
Prior to Super Castlevania IV, the only other Castlevania I had attempted was Castlevania Adventures for the Gameboy. And that game was terrible. In comparison, Super Castlevania IV was like a ray of sunshine, complete with a choir of angels and the dawn of a new day. The game was not exactly easy…in fact, it was downright difficult at points. But between the creepy locale and the sinister though sometimes peppy soundtrack, Super Castlevania IV set the stage for future successes in the series. And you don’t have to look much beyond the good Castlevania games to find a great platformer. Complete with puzzles and plenty of enemies, Super Castlevania IV quickly became one of my favorite SNES games, and it set the stage for hours upon hours of entertainment.
Whew – that was a tough list! And there are so many games that came so very close to making the cut, like Donkey Kong Country, Earthworm Jim, and Mega Man X to name a few. But there are soooooo many early Nintendo titles that I never played, so what’s on your list? What are your NES or SNES “deserted island” games?