Thursday, April 10, 2008

A World of 8-Bit Agony
or... The Top 10 Hardest NES Games

The year was 1988 and all I wanted for Christmas was a Nintendo Entertainment System. I must have been a good boy, because I got one! Looking back on the games, I think it's safe to say they were harder. Long gone are the days of limited continues and game overs. As a child I took my frustration out as only I knew how: throw the controller across the room. I don't think todays controller would be able to handle such punishment. So, in honor of the games that with put me in therapy when I'm 50, here is my personal list of the hardest NES games ever (without using cheats). With so many NES games made, I doubt two people's list would be the exact same. So don't worry if you don't see the bane of your childhood existence of my list.

#10 IronSword: Wizards & Warriors II -I don't remember too much from this game except for two things. 1) Fabio was on the cover and 2) All you do in this game is jump around and get lost. This game almost didn't make the list. But the level of frustration is what got it on here. The enemies aren't even that hard, but you have to try and find a bazillion keys or you can't go anywhere. If this game wasn't so boring I might have tried to figure out what to do.

#9 Shadowgate - Definitely original in terms of most games around at the time. This one was a PC-like first person puzzle game which actually translated well for the NES. It was kind of like Zak & Wiki. Do this, then that, but not before you do this with that. You die in the game... a lot! It was a pretty long game, too. It would most likely be easier now than when I was a kid, though.

#8 Caveman Games - Definitely an original idea. A very humorous game. Unfortunately the controls are awful and there's a huge learning curve. You're pretty much on your own to figure out how to do each event. Once you figure everything out, this makes a great two player game.

#7 Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! - It lulls you into a false sense of security. Once you figure out all your opponents patterns and realize how easy King Hippo really is... then... BAM! Out comes Mr. Sandman, Super Macho Man and Mike Tyson (or Mr. Dream depending on what version you have) and cleans your clock. The first two are a brutal challenge. Then Tyson comes out swinging for the first few minutes and you can't even hit him! I don't think I ever beat old Mikey. Now that's it on Virtual Console maybe I can redeem myself.

#6 Bart Simpson vs. The Space Mutants - This game would be so much easier if they had fixed the controls. Did they even play this before they released it? You can't even do a running jump because the run and jump button are the same! Along with doing mundane tasks and collecting items there's not much else to this game.

#5 Mega Man - Along with having the worst boxart ever and an awesome soundtrack, this was the first and hardest of the series. There's no password system so if you can't finish in one sitting you're screwed. Luckily it's not as long as the rest of the series, but it's still pretty frustrating. The charge shot was also a few games away. As hard as it was, it paved the way for many great Mega Man games and franchises for the future. We can only hope the blue bomber is in the next Smash Bros.

#4 Contra - I'm sure you saw this one coming. If you don't use the Konami Code, this one is close to impossible. One hit and you die. Tons upon tons of enemy troopers and turrets. There's plenty of power ups (just depends how long you can hold on to them) One of the first great side-scrolling shooters. Play with a friend on this one.

#3 Ninja Gaiden Series - All three of these titles are hard. In the first one you couldn't even wall climb. In addition to long levels and time limits, regenerating enemies are a royal pain the the arse. Just touching an enemy can send you flying. Thankfully there was some awesome music for this one.

#2 Battletoads - I have a love/hate relationship with this game. It's so fun to play until you reach the level where you have to dodge and weave blinking walls with your flying scooter. I can't tell you how many times I died on that level. Also, if you play co-op you can damage your teammate. On a positive note, this game has some of the best NES music during the game and even on the pause screen.

#1 Ghosts ‘N Goblins - The great granddaddy of frustration. Not much too say about this one. Do you know anyone that has beat this game? You can only get hit twice! One. Two. You're DEAD! No continues. No mercy. No chance!

Honorable Mentions: Blaster Master, Bionic Commando, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Castlevania Series, Metroid, Castlequest

Did I miss any? I'm sure I did. What games made you want to pull your hair out?