Top 11 NES Games, Part II (4-6)

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 1.07.37 PMIf you missed the first post in this series, Part 1 (7-11), you should read that as well. This is Part II (4-6).

Here’s where we left off…

11. Marble Madness
10. Tecmo Bowl
9. Contra

8. RC Pro-Am
7. Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels

Today we fill in #’s 4-6. Let’s get on with the list starting with…

6. Excitebike


Most underrated NES game? It is in my opinion.

Excitebike has three modes: solo race, with computer racers and Design Mode where you get to create your own racetrack, which in 1985 was pretty much unprecedented in video games up until that point. And it was awesome, but it was always just a matter of time until I just started creating back to back ramps to go launching through the whole level.

Excitebike was one of the first games I ever owned, and it took me very little time to discover that the key to success was three-fold:

  1. Press as much of the B button as possible without overheating.
  2. Never, under any circumstances, run your front wheel into anyone else.
  3. Always match the angle of your wheels to the place you’re landing.

If you can consistently follow those three pointers, you are guaranteed to have success at Excitebike. The goal was to beat the clock and finish in the top three places. Levels got harder and harder. Not sure I ever actually beat this game.

The most fun thing to do in Excitebike was change up the competition to see how many CPU racers you could take out and still finish in the top 3.

Whenever you crashed, your bike and rider was thrown to the top of the track into the grassy area. Sometimes you’d land right next to the bike and could immediately hop back on and ride. But sometimes you’d get thrown way up into the grass and have to run back to your bike. As far as I could tell, it was totally arbitrary as to how far you’d get tossed. Super frustrating when you get tossed a long way.

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game


This game got me through Couple Skates in elementary school.

The Skateland DJ would start playing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin or Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover”, and he would come over the intercom and announce to grab a partner’s hand for the next 3 minutes.

And I would bolt for The Arcade Game.

At first, I lost a lot of quarters playing TMNT, that is, until I learned the following sequence:


…boom. Ten lives, and select level.

And suddenly my quarters became way more valuable.

You get to select your player – Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael or Leonardo. We used to argue about whether Leo and Don were better than Raph and Mike simply because their weapons could reach farther, but I’m pretty sure they’re all the same besides their bandanas. Actually the turtles were actually different colors of green too, but only in the cartoons.

In fact, now that I think about it, my favorite turtle is Donatello, and I wonder if you could trace it back to the fact that his bo staff is the longest weapon.

The game play was basically this: it’s a side scroller where Foot Soldiers repeatedly come out in pairs to attack you. If they were smart they’d all just come out at once and attack you together, but the Foot Soldiers are clearly stupid.

Every level had a different boss. Bebop. Rocksteady. A bunch of second-level Bad guys, and eventually Mr. Krang and Shredder himself. Shredder would split himself up over and over again so you wouldn’t know which one was the “real” Shredder. Super hard.

The best part about this game was the clever ways you could attack the Soldiers that were strategically placed along the levels. Tons of creative ways to kill them if you timed it right. A fire hydrant or a speed limit sign turned into allies.

And pizza heals you. Obviously.

4. Super Mario Bros. 3


If you’d asked me 30 seconds ago what the “goal” of this game was, I’d have told you it was to save Princess Toadstool.

But then I went to the Wikipedia page just now to find out what year it came out and discovered that the actual point was this…

“Mario and Luigi embark on a mission on behalf of Princess Toadstool to stop Bowser and his children—the Koopalings—from terrorizing the kings of seven regions in the Mushroom World. The Koopalings stole the kings’ magic wands and transformed them into animals.”

That explains a lot. I always wondered who all those old dudes were at the end of every world.

The biggest change in this game: you could fly.

But what I never understood is this: How come a leaf is the token you pick up to fly? And then how come it transforms you into a raccoon? Because those don’t fly.

There were also whistles that took you to the Warp Zone via a tornado and you picked up those whistles (along with tons of other upgrades) and kept it on your menu bar until you needed to use it.

In level 1-3, you would squat down on a white block at the end of the level and it would take you behind the final screen to the first whistles. Then in the first mini-boss castle level, there was a secret place you could fly up to and get your second one. Then just get to World 3, and you could use them back to back to get to World 8: The Dark Land.

SMB3 is the best of the Mario franchise in my opinion. (Although, you could make an argument for Super Mario 64 and I wouldn’t really put up a fight.)

Let’s update the standings.

11. Marble Madness
10. Tecmo Bowl
9. Contra

8. RC Pro-Am
7. Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels
6. Excitebike
5. TMNT II: The Arcade Game
4. Super Mario Bros. 3

Again, please promise not to hang me until I’ve finished the list. There are still three left. Wonder which ones they will be?!?!

In the meantime…

Where did I get it right/wrong?
Which are your favorites?
What games are you hoping are in the Top 3?


Continue on to Part III of this series.

7 thoughts on “Top 11 NES Games, Part II (4-6)”

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