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NES Nostalgia: Games From My Youth

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I wanted to call this “NES Games That Influenced Me” or something like that. Honestly though, I can’t totally remember WHY I remember these games, only that they evoke some mood or emotion when I play them. I guess you could call it nostalgia. Yeah, that’s probably it. The main reason for this is I wanted to try writing about something I haven’t tried.

So here we go, six games I played when I was younger and what I can tell you about their place for Mr. Dave Pizza in the elusive 80’s and early 90’s. Note, I did not create nor own the footage in this commentary, they are just used as a visual aid. Okay, dear readers, put on your power-gloves.

1. Super Mario Bros. on NES (Obviously)

I have played this game SO many times. Any time I get a little downtime these days I usually play through a few levels. Only recently did I start to notice that I don’t even think of it in terms level obstacles any more. It’s just mushroom here fireball there. One summer home from college, I spent ages learning how to speed run it, just for fun. I have beat this game in under 5 minutes, although I used warp pipes so some people might not consider that genuine. I know there are super ninja speed-runners out there too so, that’s that.

The NES was an institution in our household as a kid, and this is one of the games we always played. When somebody finished a level I’d celebrate, and when they fell in a hole, I’d scream.

Eventually I was initiated and learned how to play it myself. I learned where all the warp pipes were, which blocks had powerups in them, and how to sneak around. In your twenties these are translatable skills. At least amongst peers. And if you play a musical instrument you should probably learn at least one Mario song for parties.

Here’s a link to a cover-band/musical-group called PostmodernJukebox covering the main theme with live instruments and tap dancing.

2. Bart Vs. The Space Mutants

If there’s a game I loved as much as Mario, this is it. There have been several Simpsons games throughout the years, and I’ve played a good percentage, but this is probably my favorite. The gameplay is kind of quirky and fun. It basically goes like this.

Space mutants are purple. Bart must turn everything purple orange by whatever means. Collect letters and defeat bosses level by level. It’s quite a lengthy game, and I really struggled with it, but there are so many Easter eggs and secrets in the game it has a lot of replay value. I don’t mind The Simpsons now, it is still very funny, but back in the early 90’s, The Simpsons was IT!

3. Paperboy

Okay, first off, this game is hard! It’s also super fun. It is a simple concept, but like certain NES games the controls are at once intuitive and confounding the same time. You should get the idea though. The sound design of this game is inviting, and something nostalgic.

I feel like there’s some sort of patch in gamers that have not ever heard of this game. It sounds kind of boring right, Paperboy? At least maybe back then compared to other games. It’s good fun though and pretty comical. That was one thing I loved about NES Games, they often were pretty fun and lighthearted, especially with multiple players!

4. McKids (Obscure McDonalds NES Game)

This game is on track with some of the gaming weirdness of the early 90’s. The game is about collecting arches and other objects for Ronald McDonald. As in McDonalds, the restaurant. I know, it’s so weird, but if you were like me, McDonalds was pretty awesome back then. It was mostly about the awesome toys I’d get from Happy Meals back then, or a hot fudge sundae (which are actually still pretty good.) When I found out there was a McDonalds video game, I was stoked.

The game is kind of mediocre, but good enough. I think I was pretty good at this but I don’t totally remember. I simply wanted to talk about it, because I remember playing it every once a while with a thought of “hmm, that was kind of weird.”

5. Mega Man

Another game I’m still bad at. When I played it all the time, however, I was pretty good at it. And it’s a fun game to be good at. You’ve probably heard of this game, I’d be surprised if you hadn’t! It has a catchy title, but if you’re thinking this is your average shooter or contra or something, it’s not. The bursting, stifling nature of the gameplay is what makes this series good. That and the awesome robot monsters I guess. If you make it through the first level you have my respect. There are I think ten Mega Man games altogether now, including a new version on Switch. I might have to check it out. I’m waiting for the right moment I guess.

6. BattleToads

I’m definitely remembering why I liked this game after this recent play session. It wasn’t just because BattleToads seemed like a nice spin off of Ninja Turtles. Actually, that’s not so far from the truth, but that’s kind of divergent from the subject. Anyway, it’s pretty good. The animations and level creation, everything is super rad as it was back then and the gameplay mechanics are very easy to pick up. If you’re a game dev, I recommend you check out this game if you’re digging through a stack of original NES cartridges, because it does a lot of things right, which we can learn from in the context of game design today.

Closing Remarks About NES Nostalgia

This was a pretty interesting topic for me. I guess I must have played quite a few games when I was a kid, because there are so many others beyond these I remember. That is good though, because it makes me realize that they have a place in my being beyond mere hobby. I’ll probably return to some more retro gaming topics, but I think this is a good start.

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