The most common top five NES game list goes like this:
1) Super Mario Brothers 3
2) Legend of Zelda
4) Mega Man 2
5) Bubble Bobble
These are all solid choices. What I find interesting is after all these decades (and they HAVE been decades), there is universal agreement that Super Mario Brothers 3 is the top game of the system. This is astounding considering the variety and quality of the NES library. SMB 3 is so good that people routinely debate if it is better than Super Mario World (the flagship Next Gen game to the NES). No one compares SMB 3 to any other NES game because there is no comparison. SMB 3 truly transcends the NES.
Legend of Zelda has two quests which gives it such playability. Contra never gets old and has co-op. Mega Man 2 is solid, solid. Bubble Bobble is a girl friendly game, has tons of levels, and is co-op fun.
(I’m omitting the sports games. Some are very fun, but the market value of them is in the toilet even for the best ones like Blades of Steel.)
A more experienced NES gamer would make his top five list like this:
1) Castlevania III
2) Zelda II: Adventure of Link
3) Double Dragon II
4) Mega Man 3
5) Life Force
There is nothing that can take the place of SMB 3 but at least SMB 2 or Castlevania III or a Ninja Gaiden offers something different. The other games on the list fit the jobs the other games did on the first list.
But what are the most overrated NES games and underrated NES games? Overrated includes their absurd market value. The ratio of demand over the supply is too extreme and absurd for such a game.
Overrated NES games:
1) River City Ransom
2) Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers 2
3) Mega Man V
4) Star Tropics
5) Dragon Warrior III
1) River City Ransom didn’t sell then but New School Gamers love it because they get to ‘fill up stats’ and enjoy the ‘Japanese humor of BARF and eating drinks’. There is no real challenge to the game. You just increase your stats and win. River City Ransom is a precursor to Modern Gaming which I loathe.
2) The Capcom’s Disney games are vastly overrated including Ducktales. The games are very short and very easy because they were made for children. Rescue Rangers is interesting since it has SMB 2 mechanics and co-op multiplayer (something Nintendo wouldn’t do until Super Mario 3d World released in 2013). Rescue Rangers is also a good girlfriend co-op game. But the market price on Rescue Rangers 2 is like $100+. I understand the limited supply of cartridges due to the game selling at the end of the NES life cycle, but good grief. The game is not that good and certainly not worth over a hundred dollars.
3) Mega Man V is a retcon of Mega Man 3 concerning Protoman. The robot masters in V are lame and the music is fairly weak aside from Charge Man’s theme. Mega Man V goes so far to reusing bosses within the game. I’m seeing $70+ for this game which is absurd.
4) Star Tropics sold well during its time due to the huge marketing budget at the time. This was to be the Zelda game designed for Americans. But the game is lousy and not much fun. You are constantly jumping platforms and the controls seem wonky. Some idiot designer made it unable to progress past the first town unless you talk to EVERYONE. There’s a reason why the market value of Star Tropics today is like $5. Few people like playing it.
5) This goes for all the Dragon Quest games. They are BORING. In their day, there wasn’t much of an alternative. But the reason why Dragon Warrior games have a high market value today is due to very limited supply and due to cult of stuck up Dragon Quest fans. The only reason why Dragon Warrior 1 is so cheap is because Nintendo Power GAVE AWAY copies. I enjoy Dragon Warrior 1 because the game ends pretty soon. The other games just add more seeming monotony.
Underrated NES games:
1) Destiny of an Emperor
How come you never hear any Dragon Quest fans or RPG fans mention this game? Take a look:
Zanac has the AI respond to you giving a different experience. It’s easy to have a love/hate experience with this game. Gun Nac would also be a good one but it costs $170 at current market prices.
Some people say Metroid is ‘overrated’, but I say it is vastly underrated that everyone keeps crapping on the game while having orgasms over Super Metroid (or even that piece of shit Zero Mission). I just re-played and beat Metroid yesterday on original NES hardware. The game has only three failings:
a) Games starts you off with 30 life. It takes forever to refill your energy tanks. Solution: get an energy tank and all your energy tanks are filled up. There are more than six energy tanks in the game. Go get them. Keep your NES on if you have to go away. Game shouldn’t take you over two to three hours to finish. Best ending is under one hour anyway.
b) Lack of map makes tedious wandering around. Solution: use an online map and save yourself time. Even back in the 1980s, we had Nintendo Power maps to use.
c) Many parts of the game are frustrating and cheaply designed. Solution: stop your bitching and be a better gamer. All this crap about hardcore and casual games today has hardcore gamers crying to their mommy about NES Metroid. Metroid was designed to be the ‘hardcore’ NES game of its day. Metroid is not meant to be an easy game. The problem is Super Metroid. Super Metroid came out and didn’t make any dent because most Metroid players were disappointed with how the game was a cake-walk became popular later on with the New School Gamers who love Super Metroid’s ‘atmosphere’ and how the easy difficulty made the game a complete walk-in-the-park. So when these people go and play NES Metroid, they are shocked, shocked, shocked at the difficulty. “The game is badly designed.” No. You just suck. Metroid is supposed to be difficult. It’s like faulting The Lost Levels for its difficulty. You may not find the difficulty fun, but some people do. There are MANY easy games for the NES. Metroid is not for you. The original commercial of Metroid shows it being played with the NES Advantage not because the Advantage is the ideal joystick for the game but the joystick represented ‘hardcore gamer’ back in that day. Experienced gamers of the 1980s were comfortable with joysticks due to the Atari Era and arcades. Hence, joystick = hardcore gamer in that time. It is like during the Wii Era how a classic controller represented experienced gamer while the Wii remote represented a new gamer.
Metroid is still fantastic and vastly underrated today.
I’m amazed how effective this puzzle-adventure game is (and I hate puzzle adventure games). The descriptive writing is spot on. The continuous sense of dread is dead on from torches running out to monsters everywhere. The game has the most terrifying Game Over screen ever. The music is brilliant. The atmosphere is incredible. Even though I know all the ‘puzzles’, I still replay this game for its amazing immersion.
If Aonuma is going to make puzzle adventure games, why not make them as effective as this?
5) Mario Brothers
The non-super Mario Brothers is one of my most played NES games and one of the best multiplayer games out there. It never gets old. People are realizing this as due to the limited run of NES carts and popularity of the Mario and Nintendo branding, I’m seeing the cost of this beginning to rise. It is now $30 and rising. If you have a NES collection or wish to buy one, I’d get this one fast before it gets to $40 to $50.