Games of Christmas Past, Part 2

As I was saying, I’ve played a lot of great games over the years for various systems. Some were Christmas gifts, a lot weren’t. There are far too many for me to go in detail about, so I thought I’d just mention a few for the various systems I played during the late 80s and 90s. And the cool thing is a lot of these games are readily available for download on the Wii Shop Channel, Playstation Network, or XBox 360 Arcade, and they’re usually quite cheap. So if any of my very few readers are still looking for Christmas gifts for siblings, children, or themselves then these would all would be a great addition to anyone’s library. I’ll also just list a bunch worth checking out too. So, without further ado…
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Mario Bros. 3 boxart. Image taken from Wikipedia.
Perhaps the most acclaimed video game for the NES was Super Mario Bros. 3. While the American Super Mario Bros. 2 featured drastically different gameplay and setting than the original SMB, Super Mario Bros. 3 was really the sequel fans of the original game were looking for. It took the platforming fun and colorful levels of the original and expanded on their example exponentially. There were countless new additions and gameplay mechanics to be found in SMB3, though the most popular was the addition of the new Super Leaf power up that transformed Mario and Luigi into their raccoon form pictured above on the box art. Inexplicably, the ears and tail of a raccoon allow the heros to fly for short periods of time adding a whole new world to explore amongst the clouds without the necessity of climbing on vines. Another new addition was the map screen that separated the various levels into stages that the player could go around, take shortcuts to or from, or simply skip over if they possessed the right item in their (also new addition) item inventory. When it comes down to the nitty gritty, it is hard to compare SMB3 to the original SMB. While they feature many of the same play mechanics, enemies, and a similar setting, there are so many new additions to SMB3 to make it stand on its own above perhaps all other Mario titles until the advent of three dimensional graphics in Super Mario 64. Even after 20 years and various reissues, SMB3 is still a fantastic game for its age that (if the more recent New Super Mario Bros. titles are any indication) can still be enjoyed by young and old(er) a like.
The other two, big Nintendo franchises also had their beginnings on the NES, but unlike SMB3 neither Zelda nor Metroid really hit their stride until their Super Nintendo iterations. They are both still great games, but they are difficult and have some frustrating play mechanics. If you like burning every bush in Hyrule with a candle to find the elusive dungeons in Zelda, or like falling into an unescapable lava pit in Metroid then by all means give them a play, but if not then give them a little time to appreciate their humble beginnings and move on to their more developmentally mature sequels.
Really there was only one other game series I can think of for the NES that really reached its pinnacle on that system: Mega Man.
Boxart for Mega Man 2. Image also taken from Wikipedia.
There is some debate as to what the best game in the Mega Man series is with most arguing for either Mega Man 2 or Mega Man 3. In all honesty, I can’t choose which of the two I like better as they are both fantastic, but since MM3 really only builds on the foundation established by its predecessors, I’ll only talk about MM2. The first Mega Man game was interesting on its own, but there were some obstacles and enemies that seemed nearly impossible to overcome (Yellow Devil anyone?). On top of its difficulty, there was no way to save progress, so players were just S.O.L. if they had too much trouble overcoming those enemies and obstacles. The sequel retained the same gameplay style, but was nowhere near as insurmountable as the first (though it was still very difficult), and it offered a password system that allowed players to not lose their progress when they turned the power off. These changes coupled with great level design, better bosses, memorable weapons, and fantastic 2 channel music made MM2 an instant classic both in the series and in video gamedom in general.
Some other games for the NES worth checking out, but nowhere near exhaustive are: The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man 1-6, Bubble Bobble, Super Mario Bros. 1-2, Castlevania 1-3, Ghosts N’ Goblins, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior 1-4, Star Tropics, Battletoads, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1-3, Excite Bike, Blaster Master, Contra, Donkey Kong, Gargoyle’s Quest 2: The Demon Darkness, Duck Hunt, Paperboy, River City Ransom, Ninja Gaiden, Super Dodge Ball, Tecmo Bowl, and Tetris.
Game Gear

As I mentioned, I had a Sega Game Gear as a kid. I had quite a few games for that little system and most of them were Sonic games. I think all of Sonic’s Game Gear titles were not as appreciated as they should have been thanks to the fact the Game Gear didn’t perform nearly as well as the Sega Genesis even amongst Sega fans. My favorite Game Gear Sonic title was Sonic Triple Trouble.
Boxart for Sonic Triple Trouble. This image also taken from Wikipedia.
Really, STT isn’t different than any other Sonic game, but, similar to my reasons for enjoying Mega Man 2, STT retains the difficulty of the series without making the Chaos Emeralds a complete pain in the butt to obtain. Unfortunately, STT and all the other Sonic Game Gear titles are difficult to find these days. They were released as bonuses in the GameCube version of Sonic Adventure, and some saw rereleases in Sega compilations like the Coleco Sonic, and, I think, some of the Plug and Play series (I can’t find a good link explaining what the Plug and Play series are, but basically they are controllers that plug directly into a TV that contain numerous classic games. I don’t know if they’re still around or not, but Target had them when I worked there 4 or 5 years ago). If you can track any of them down, all of the Sonic Game Gear titles are worth checking out.
I never really spent much time playing the Sega Genesis outside of Sonic games at a friend’s house, so I can’t really comment on that system. Outside of the Sonic character directly competing with what would later become the the Mario franchise, the Genesis didn’t have the clout of Nintendo’s SNES when it came to iconic games. That isn’t to say the Genesis didn’t have fantastic games, because it did. I’ve come across Sega fans who’ve familiarized me with Ristar, Shining Force, Alex Kidd, Ecco the Dolphin, and Phantasy Star. I’ve played numerous of those titles now, and I can safely say they are enjoyable even if I haven’t had the time to complete them. Most of these games are available on the Wii’s Virtual Console and some may be available on XBox Live Arcade or PSN.
In my next post I’ll discuss the awesomeness that was the Super Nintendo, its successor the Nintendo 64, and Sony’s upstart Playstation.
Leave a comment


  1. I wanna see some saturn and dreamcast love up in this lol nice postKodaK

  2. Never had a chance to play ANY Saturn games. I don't think I've played any even still. I did have some time with Dreamcast though I never owned one. I'll mention it in my next post or the post after.

  3. i still love Super Mario 3. I think it may be my favorite game ever.


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