I recently became addicted to yet another YouTube channel, Cinemassacre. If you’re not familiar with it, its home to a number of game-related web series, like The Angry Video Game Nerd and James & Mike Mondays, that have kept me in a nostalgic state since I discovered them a couple of weeks ago. Seeing these two play and rant about the games that filled my childhood with joy – and rage – has brought back all those memoires of NES-fueled evenings in front of the T.V. of me attempting – and failing miserably – to save the girl or the world or whatever else was in 8-bit danger, sometimes in couch co-op with my brother, who was always better at these things than me. Yes, couch co-op. Y’all can celebrate that online multiplayer so popular now but being side-by-side with your buddies was an experience sorely lacking nowadays.
As much as I enjoy video gaming, it wasn’t until Final Fantasy VII that I played a game to the end; before that was a long trail of unfinished games too difficult for me to make it to the end screen. As much as I sucked at these games, I still put them in and hoped I’d get just a little bit further than the last time. Thanks to Cinemassacre, I’ve been rediscovering these old favorites and remembering the good, bad and ugly of gaming.
Inspired by Tim Burton’s film adaption, Batman is more than the usual crappy cash-in. As would be expected there is more than digitized versions of the film’s scenes and a few go a bit too far but overall it’s a fun experience, especially once you get the hang of the awesome wall jump ability. Wall jump. Now, it's pretty common but back then, it was a game-changing creation that added a whole new level to the beat-em-up genre.
Bubble Bobble (1988)
This was one of the couch co-op games that gobbled up untold hours of my time. The simple game mechanic – trap baddies in bubbles – makes this game easily accessible and a ton of fun for gamers of all ages. And could those itty bitty dragons be any more adorable?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)
As much as I love the animated series and early films (the new ones are just. so. wrong.) there were times I hated this game. I could breeze through the first two levels but, dang it, once I made it to the third, it was pretty much game over. Incredibly hard, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seemed to revel in torturing the player with trick jumps, high point enemies and water a freaking turtle can’t swim in. Seriously, turtles that can’t swim. But that’s Nintendo for you; everyone is part Wicked Witch and can’t handle a few inches of water. Except for those dreaded water levels because logic doesn’t exist. Still, one of the best the NES had to offer.
Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)
A lot of people claim Super Mario Bros. 3 as their favorite plumber-starring NES game but for me, it’s all about the weird, dreamlike second entry where Princess Toadstool floats (you know who I used) and bad guys cross dress. Sadly, it doesn’t have the two player mode the others and would’ve been way better if it did but even without it, it’s my favorite NES Mario adventure.
Blaster Master (1988)
Quite possibly the hardest game I ever owned, Master Blaster more than once made we imagine the NES flying through the window and explode against the brick patio below. I don’t even remember seeing the first boss, much less defeating him. But I kept at it and while I never beat it, I still loved it, even as I watched my little guy die again and again and again.
Gaming has come a long way since the days of Nintendo’s dominance but these older games still challenge and charm gamers willing to lose more times than they can count. As much nostalgia the NES inspires, one would think those mini versions of the 90’s consoles would be more than limited addition but thanks to still-working consoles, eBay and Amazon (and emulators readily available) players can still experience these classics even if they don’t have the old brick-like console packed away somewhere dark and damp.
What games do you remember having a love/hate relationship in your fetus days? Tell me in the comments; maybe I’ll find one I’ve never played before.