From 1985 until the early part of the 90s, the NES was the dominant gaming console. Hundreds of games were produced for it and many have become timeless classics. Compared to modern gaming hardware, the NES is practically as weak as a calculator, sporting unresponsive controls, incredibly limited memory, and 8-bit pixilated graphics. Games that seemed amazing in 1988 are nearly unplayable over 25 years later. But a few rare games from this console have actually aged remarkably well and are nearly as great to play today as they were when first released.
Bionic Commando – This 1988 side scrolling video game redefined the platform genre. Unlike similar previous games, you couldn’t jump, instead moving vertically using a grappling hook that allowed you to climb and swing like Tarzan. Additionally, the game used a health and item system similar to adventure games like The Legend of Zelda. Overall it was massively innovative and the tight controls still hold up to modern gaming expectations.
Where to Find – The original game is only available on the NES, but a modern remake called Bionic Commando Rearmed, which updates game play slightly, while still keeping almost all of the original content, is available for download on PSN or Xbox Live.
Tetris – While this game is best remembered as the game that helped sell millions of Game Boys, a NES version also existed. The simple game play of creating lines out of randomly dropped objects created from four blocks enthralled a generation of gamers. Even today, sequels to the game build on the original idea, but the basic game play has essentially never changed.
Where to Find – You can find this game on pretty much any system you want. PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Facebook, PC, Android, Wii, and DS versions have all been published since 2007.
Crystalis – This game is arguably the culmination of fusion of adventure games and role playing games that started with Star Tropics. It features a basic leveling system reminiscent of Dragon Warrior and action game play very much like The Legend of Zelda. The story was simple, but enthralling and it was easy to lose track of time while trying to defeat the evil computer DYNA.
Where to Find – Unfortunately, unless you own the original cartridge and a working NES, you can’t enjoy the original game. Two Game Boy versions exist, but both are inferior to the original.
Dragon Warrior IV – This is a rare game that was released for the NES after the SNES was released. The end of cycle release paid off well as this game is leaps and bounds better than every other role playing game on the NES and comparable, if not better, to some SNES games. This game pretty much builds on every idea from previous games in the series, keeping the best game play mechanics and discarding the worst. Furthermore, the game was told in chapters, which really allows you time to truly get to know the various characters. Most role playing games from this console don’t hold up over time, but this is the rare one that does.
Where to Find – A Nintendo DS remake was released in 2008. The remake adds content and allows you full control of your party in chapter 5, but otherwise retains all of the charm and content of the original.
Mega Man 2 / Mega Man 3 – The original Mega Man is far too hard a game and far too short as well. The immediate two sequels just about perfected the game play both in terms of length and difficulty. Modern sequels, Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, released in 2008 and 2010 respectively, used these two games as templates, which shows how well the game play has held up over the years.
Where to Find – These games are both available, in there original form, on the Wii Virtual Console or PSN.