Today marks the 25th birthday of the Nintendo Entertainment System! So much could be said about the little grey guy, though I believe it's most important contribution to the world of video games... aside from from kick starting the electronic entertainment revolution that's still well in affect today... is how it saved gaming as a whole on the home-front. Just a few years prior, the Atari 2600 and it's glut of crappy games made both kids and parents collectively throw their hands up in disgust (and toss their consoles into the garage). But the NES gave video games another chance in living rooms across America, mostly cuz it had a far cooler set of friends than Pac-Man & E.T. I'm talking about Mario, Link, Samus, Mega Man, all those cool cats...
But there's also Vic Viper, Scrooge McDuck, Rygar, and a host of others, many of whom don't get nearly the attention they deserve. I'm somewhat talking about the Wii's Virtual Console. It would seem like a no-brainer to recommend a bunch of titles to download on that end, but unfortunately, some of the best that has ever graced the platform has yet to make an appearance, and perhaps never will for whatever reasons. Anyhow, here's your homework assignment for today; before the clock strikes midnight, figure a way to play these games, most of which doesn't get nearly as much attention as they deserve:
Mega Man 3 - Everyone says part 2 is the best, and it's absolutely amazing. But part 3 is actually better! With refined controls, cooler bosses, tighter level design, even catchier music.
Life Force - Gradius gets all the attention, but this off-shoot title is loads better. More so than perhaps Contra, you had better know the Konami code if you want to stay alive.
Ninja Gaiden 2 - Every modern day, "cinematic" game owes everything to Ninja Gaiden. The first was what broke new ground, but the sequel is far easier/more fun to play.
Metal Gear - I'm willing to bet that most MGS fanboys have yet to touch the original, perhaps because they were too young. And those that have were immediately turned off by how archaic it all is, especially when compared it's 32-bits and beyond iterations. Well, those folks are either simply ignorant or weak-sauce.
Ducktales - Perhaps the best licensed title in the history of gaming. I guess it helped that the dude behind Mega Man was also behind this one. Man, the soundtrack to the moon stage is one of those things everyone has to listen to at least once before dying.
Gremlins 2 - Actually, here we have the second best licensed game ever. You've got beautiful sprites, awesome music, eye-popping animation, and most importantly, great action. The ultimate out of left field, "whoa, this game is AWESOME!" game.
The Mafat Conspiracy - The sequel to Golgo 13 (which is also really awesome btw) was one of the very first NES games to feature mature themes. Based on a Japanese manga, which itself is inspired by James Bond, it simply oozed manliness.
Faxanadu - This way underrated action RPG hybrid featured somewhat frustrating controls, balanced by an intense, intoxicating atmosphere, highlighted by some the catchiest tunes ever for the system.
Rygar - Easily the most "epic" feeling 8-bit game of all time. God of War and similar titles can be traced to this one; the opening sunset is still far more awe-inspiring than most high resolution imagery of today.