Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 3, 2014

Email: Challenge accepted + a few other things

Master Malstrom –

Since you called me out on my last e-mail, I’d be remiss if I didn’t respond. Here are 30 NES games, that I’ve actually played, tiered by how much I like them in descending order:

TIER 1
Contra
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Zelda II
Life Force
Blaster Master
Mega Man 2
Mega Man 3
Super Mario 2/USA
Zelda
Metroid

TIER 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
Castlevania
Spy Hunter
Bubble Bobble
Balloon Fight
RC Pro-Am
TMNT 2: The Arcade Game
Battletoads
Ninja Gaiden
Dragon Warrior

TIER 3
Slalom
DuckTales
Clu Clu Land
Double Dragon II
Kung Fu
MagMax (obscure but fun shmup where you start as a little ship that turns into a big honking robot)
Legendary Wings
Anticipation (this is a GREAT party/drinking game)
Snake Rattle ‘n Roll
After Burner (Tengen – a better Top Gun experience than the Top Gun game)

On a different note…if you want to make people sweat with an SNES list, you should limit it to 5 games. I’d definitely agonize over having to pick that few.

Finally, I saw your post wondering what killed the shmups. As a huge shmup fan, I’d posit that the answer is catering to the hardcore – what else? Before the mid-90s, you could drop a quarter into a shmup, blast a bunch of enemy ships with a friend, and have a great time. Then the hardcore moved in and demanded that shmups turn into the kind of video game d!ck-measuring contest that they love. The result was the bullet-hell shooter, where the entire point of playing them is to show off, and having fun is incidental. Most of them reward skirting as close to the edge of death as possible and require extensive memorization to have even a slight chance of not being killed instantly. They’re the shmup equivalent of that DragonForce song from Guitar Hero III.

Shmups are dead because bullet-hell shooters are basically the only kind of shmups that are still made today, and even though the hardcore eat them up, they’re completely repellent to regular people.

Clu clu land? Really?

One thing about Dragon Warrior 1 is that it is very cheap. Thank you Nintendo Power for giving them away. I might pick it up. I tried playing Dragon Warrior II, and it felt like the game overshot it for me. However, that was on emulator.

Shmups used to be fun. Life Force is great fun. I noticed in the 16-bit generation that shmups stopped being fun. I loved the arcade ports of R-Type, for example. R-Type 3 is very impressive game, but it isn’t that much fun. It isn’t as fun as Gradius was, for example.

 


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