Nintendo Turns 30 - Birthday Week


By Mark Falanga Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A lot of wonderful things happened in 1983. The birth of the internet, McDonald’s introduction of the awesome McNugget, and millions of people witnessed the evil empire get taken down by Ewoks in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

But alas, it was not all good times. The North American Video Game Crash of 1983 wiped out the business of every video game console. According to legend, the video game E.T: The Extraterrestrial for the Atari 2600, was so bad, that the company who made it dumped at least nine semi truckloads of the unsold cartridges in a landfill in New Mexico. The hope for a good video game console all but faded away in North America…but not Japan.

In July of 1983, the Nintendo Corporation released the Nintendo Family Computer, and would forever change the video game landscape. It took two years for the system to reach American shores, and was rebranded as the Nintendo Entertainment System. After this success they released the system worldwide and a new cultural icon was born.

However, a console is only as good as the games they have and boy, this one has some classics but how do you rank them? Well, the fine folks at BTR have asked me, as their tech guru, to pick out the top five games for the NES. Man, is this ever sweet.

#5 Tecmo Super Bowl

Prior to this game, no other sports game had licenses from players’ associations nor the league the game represented. It was either one or the other, meaning that you could either play as your favorite team or favorite player, not both. When Tecmo Super Bowl hit stores in 1991, it opened up a whole new world to football lovers. Not only did it have licenses from the NFL and the NFL Players Association, but it had a full season mode, in which a player could control a team through a 17 week NFL schedule. After that, the player could then compete in the playoffs and then on to the Super Bowl. Plus, the game had a battery backup installed on the cartridge that would keep stats of all players over the course of the season. In fact, the game is still popular today. NFL Films did a special on Tecmo Super Bowl and showed the national championship tournament in Madison, Wisconsin. The fact that there’s a national championship for a 22-year-old game shows that this game is as good as Bo Jackson’s running ability.

#4 Mega Man 2

Normally, if a game doesn’t sell well, you wouldn’t want to make a sequel of it. Well, the Mega Man franchise breaks that logic. Despite the unprecedented gamble of following the commercial failure of its predecessor, Mega Man 2 proved to be a major success. To this day, it’s the 33rd best selling game Capcom has ever made. The game features the titular hero Mega Man, as he battles his way through eight robot bosses created by the evil Dr. Wily. If you’re not familiar with Mega Man, a trademark of the character is that whichever robot he defeats, he gains their power. For example, in Mega Man 2, there’s a robot boss named Metal Man who shoots metal blades. When Mega Man defeats him, he gains the ability to shoot metal blades. The legacy of this game lives on today. In fact, in the new game for Wii U, Super Smash Brothers, Mega Man is featured as a character in the game, and can use the abilities he learned in Mega Man 2, like the metal blades, leaf shield, and crash bomb.

#3 The Legend of Zelda

This game is an adventure game, and the formula is pretty simple. You play the hero of the kingdom and need to rescue a princess who has been kidnapped by an evil being. Seems simple enough, right? Well, that’s not the case with this game. The Legend of Zelda for the NES made the quest truly epic. There were items you had to buy, hidden doorways to open, and all not to mention that the last level of the game was next to impossible, with countless secret passageways. What more could you want? Well, the game answered that by there being a second quest, once you beat the first, in which the items and levels were hidden in all different places. The game boasted hours of gameplay which was rare for its time. Most games like the original Super Mario Bros. can easily be beaten in 25 minutes. So like the aforementioned Tecmo Super Bowl, this game had an internal battery that saved your progress as you went along. Though such longevity in playtime was a risk for the company behind the console, it certainly paid off, as its legacy can boast  an almost ludicrous number of sequels.. Also, with the latest sequel coming out in 2014, you can rest assured that Link, the hero of the land of Hyrule, won’t get rest any time soon.

#2 Contra

Meeting a new friend is always tough. As a kid growing up in the 1980s, video games were a great way to break the ice, and no other game did that better than Contra. In the game, you take the role of two marines who have to stop an alien invasion from taking over the world. It also offered simultaneous gameplay in which you and the 2nd player were on the same team, which again, was rare for that time. If you’ve never played this game and are curious to, you can play by clicking here. You’ll notice that for an old game, it still rocks. However, there’s one fact about this game that lingers on. Is it the fact that the cover is just two screen shots from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Predator? No, it’s the Contra code! By pressing Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A Start at the title screen, you would gain 30 lives at the start of the game instead of the usual three. This is one of the most well known cheat codes in video gaming. It lives on in T-Shirts and was even featured in the movie Wreck It Ralph.

#1 Super Mario Bros. 3

Why is this game number one? Well, for starters, your parents or possibly even your grandparents know of Mario. He’s a household name in the video game world. The second reason…this game is absolutely insane! It takes the basic formula of the first Super Mario Bros. game and adds a bunch of new features. Along with the improved graphics, it gives Mario the ability to transform into a raccoon, frog, or even a Japanese animal called a tanooki. What made the game even more tantalizing to the gaming community was that it was featured in the movie, The Wizard, before it was on sale to the public. Many have called this one of the best marketing moves ever made by Nintendo. The game went on to sell 18 million copies and is still popular to this day, as it’s available through the Nintendo Wii’s store for purchase. To put it as simply as possible, if you haven’t played this game, you’re just not a gamer.

Well, there you have it, the five best Nintendo games of all time. Hopefully, this list makes you appreciate the fact that the game of Halo currently playing wouldn’t be possible without the success of all of these games. So the next time you play a new video game, remember to always play with power!