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The Best Overlooked Games for the NES

By Edited Jul 5, 2015 2 2

Unsung NES Classics

8-Bit Treasures

If you were a kid growing up during the 80s or early 90s, there is a strong chance you had a Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, at home. After all, at one point, Nintendo reported that close to a third of all households in the United States had an NES in the home. Talk about a popular video game system! The NES was incredibly popular, and there were hundreds of great games to choose from, so in all likelihood, you missed out on some of the hidden gems from this era of video gaming.

But it's not too late to play them. Fans of retro gaming know that plenty of places still sell used video games, and many more are available for digital download. First, let's go through the list of some great overlooked NES games, and then you can decide for yourself if any of these games seem like they're worth hunting down.

Vice: Project Doom

American Sammy's Sci-Fi Action Thriller

When this game was released at the tail end of 1991, it and other NES games were already facing next-generation competition from the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, so it is not hard to see why this great game got lost on the shuffle. It also probably didn't help that Vice: Project Doom was released about six months after its big marketing push. D'oh!

Anyway, if you can track down a copy of this game from publisher American Sammy, you will be treated to eleven stages of high-octane sci-fi adventure, as your character goes up against evil alien bureaucrats in levels that feature driving, shooting, and side-scrolling goodness.

Metal Storm

Super Fighting Gravity Robot

At the time of its release, the Irem-produced action game Metal Storm had very poor distribution, so many gamers may have missed out. This is truly regrettable, as Metal Storm is an inventive title with some really unique approaches to action gameplay and graphics.

For one thing, the original Japanese title for Metal Storm was "Gravity Armor Metal Storm," referring to your character's ability to manipulate its gravitational orientation. What does that mean? It means you can jump, switch your gravity, and walk on the ceiling. Awesome. Plus, it's robots in space. Need we say more?

Solar Jetman

Hunt for the Golden War(p)ship

Released in 1990, Tradewest's Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship (misspelled as Warship on the original game box) is a classic multi-directional shooter that should provide a challenge to even the most grizzled retro gamer. As the pilot of a spaceship, you are able to travel freely throughout a planet's atmosphere using a boost button, but don't get overzealous, or you're likely to get caught in a gravitational pull that will leave you marooned on a barren world.

Once you get the hang of the controls, though, you will be cruising around this game's 13 planets like a pro. And hey, even if you don't, there's always the password function.


A Yo-yo Never Seemed So Lethal

StarTropics and its sequel are both truly unsung treasures of the NES era. In an adventure game style reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda series, you control young hero Mike Jones, a boy who must face several dungeons-worth of bats, snakes, ghouls, and aliens using (at least at first) only his trusty yo-yo. Talk to dolphins, pilot a submarine with your trusty robot sidekick, and defeat the prime evil of Zoda. Sounds about right for an island vacation.

Blaster Master

Not Master Blaster

First of all, this game is not Master Blaster, No, that's a character from Mad Max. And a song by Stevie Wonder. No, this is Blaster Master, an action-adventure game produced by Sunsoft in 1988. This is a true NES classic, with colorful graphics, tight play control, and action that switches between side-scrolling vehicle stages and top-down dungeon exploration.

The basic story of this game is that you play as a young boy named Jason who follows his pet frog, Fred, down a hole in the Earth, finds a tank named SOPHIA THE 3RD, and proceeds to nuke whatever mutants get in the way on the road to defeating the brutal Plutonium Boss. Oh, and you will have to do all of this without a save file or a password, so it may take a while.

Little Nemo: The Dream Master

I Could Do This In My Sleep

If you have ever played a Mega Man game, you know that Little Nemo publisher Capcom has created some truly legit side-scrolling action games. But what you may not have known until now was that one of the best of them starred a boy in his pajamas jumping into frog's mouths (the original Japanese title for this one is even Pajama Hero Nemo). Released in 1990, this game was meant to tie in with the animated feature that was being produced at the same time, and it has correspondingly beautiful graphics for its time.

With the dreamlike, innocent levels at the beginning of the game, and the use of friendly animal sidekicks, this game seems like its perfect audience is a younger one. That is, until you reaching the horrific Nightmare Land levels...

Other NES Classics?

You Make the Call

That concludes this list of underrated, overlooked, and plain old unsung classics of the NES generation of video games. If you agree with these choices and want to share your memories of playing these games, or if you disagree and want to bring attention to another game that should be on this list, add your voice in the comments below!

Also, if this article has convinced you to pull your old Nintendo Entertainment System out of the closet and play some classic games, you may need to resurrect your system and games using these techniques. After so many years, it is often amazing when an NES works at all, but proper upkeep and care should help you maintain your system for years to come. And if that does not work, try purchasing digital copies of these classic games to relive your childhood video game experiences.



Mar 3, 2014 12:17pm
I have an emulator that runs about 800 games, so I'll see if I can dig these up. Another sleeper title is "Maniac Mansion." A great puzzle type point and click adventure.
Mar 3, 2014 3:40pm
I agree, "Maniac Mansion" is another good one. Very unique for the NES. :)
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