As we approach the 25th anniversary of the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America next week, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my favorite games from that generation of video game consoles. While there were several NES games I owned, rented, or played at friends' houses, I've selected five that represent where I logged the most hours and generally had the most fun playing.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
My parents got me this game for my seventh birthday. I'd become familiar with The Legend of Zelda by first playing it at my babysitter's house in early 1988. After enjoying that game, and then getting sucked into the Zelda II marketing hype from coverage in Nintendo Power Magazine, I knew I had to take the plunge. The better part of 1989 & 1990 I spent playing this game. Even after I'd defeated Shadow Link in the final palace, I couldn't get enough of visiting villages and working to increase my attack strength.
Super Mario Bros 3
Not only was my imagination captured the moment I saw this game portrayed in The Wizard, I don't think I've ever been more excited for a video game to be released than I was for Super Mario Bros 3. My mother patiently put up with my requests to call every video game retailer in the greater Columbus, GA metro area until we finally tracked down a copy at Wal-Mart about a week after the official release in early 1990. World 4 with the giant enemies and pipes/blocks still brings a smile to my face.
I used to play this game in the Diamond Jim's arcade inside Peachtree Mall before it was released on the NES. My dad actually bought me the Nintendo version as a consolation prize for not being able to find us two tickets to the 1989 Iron Bowl (the first ever played at Auburn for you college football history buffs). It worked out for the best, though, because I was still able to watch the Iron Bowl on TV, and then had countless hours of fun with Marble Madness. It's tough to capture in words how happy I was the first time I beat the final level in this game. To call the level challenging is like saying the Mario franchise is kind of popular.
Super Mario Bros
Ah, the first game we all got to play on the NES. Finding my console on Christmas morning of 1987 with this game was like Ralphie receiving his Red Ryder BB Gun in A Christmas Story. Just how ingrained is this game into my psyche from countless hours of gameplay? To this day, I frequently find myself whistling the Super Mario Bros theme song when I'm walking around the house or office. Figuring out how to get to level -1 also made me feel like a rockstar for weeks at school.
This game definitely contributed more to my understanding of the rules of baseball than my limited stint as a tee-ball player ever could. I convinced my parents to buy me this game just as Atlanta Braves fever was starting to sweep the southeast in the early 90s. I always played as Utah on the game, and the player named Auga seemed to always launch home runs when I got him up at bat. The graphics were poor in this title, but it was definitely my favorite multi-player game ever released for the NES.