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Saturday, May 14, 2011

GPX Top 25 8 Bit Games Of All Time...My Mom Agrees With Me!

Oh how we love lists! I have been playing and collecting games since I was barely walking, it was something my uncle and older brother surrounded me with. I had all kinds of gadgets from an Apple II and Commodore VIC-20 to Odyssey, Intellivision, Microvision, and Atari.  But of course none of those would compare to the late birthday present I got on October 19th 1985. My Mother and Aunt took me into Manhattan to get a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)...

I almost exploded, the joy this system gave me as a child is immeasurable. They instantly had a tool to keep me in line (always)...All it took was one threat "Do your homework or no Nintendo" - Bam! Homework done. "Eat your vegetables or no Nintendo!" Damn it! They got me, swallow that damn Broccoli.

It's no surprise there are so many popular blogs, emulators, musical groups, and conventions that celebrate the 8bit era. I can probably say with little argument, from most people, the NES is the greatest console ever made. The amazing thing of it? It was actually created in 1982 with a release in 1983 as the Famicom. Short of a recall and replacement of the motherboard, the Famicom, soon to be, the Nintendo we know and love, was an enormous success. Atari at one time was going to be the releasing agency in North America. I think Atari still feels the burn on their assess from walking away from that decision.

The console itself isn't the greatest because of itself (if that makes any sense)...it's the games and the characters many of us related to or loved to play with.  From the amazing R.O.B. accessory - which, of course, most of us didn't get too much out of; although I (at least) played with it often. Everything before this system was very awkward and not really compelling (So much for us kids being entertained by basic colors and flashing lights).

Fuck MTV - I want my Nintendo!

25. Afterburner
25. Afterburner
After Burner was an amazing game simply because if was one of the first great experiences we as children got in the arcade with the rolling cockpit.  While we didn't get the same experience playing the game at home. It didn't stop many of us playing, at controller cord length, jumping up and down on the edge of our beds turning our heads as we banked and rolled in the game. Notoriously difficult, it gave way for many other titles like it and helped pioneer everything we see today for games of this type.  Someone might try and confuse this as a shooter similar to Gradius or R-type - they would be mistaken - this was the closest we as children got to feel what it was like for Tom Cruise in Top Gun.  Sure that might not have been for a kid my age, Mom took me to see it anyway. So this game is here more for it's inspiring of our next generation of games, how hard it was and the decent port it had from arcade to the NES and the Master System.


24. Festers Quest
24. Festers Quest
There was something compelling in this game that caused me and my friends to continue to play.  Was it a shooter, was it a Zelda game with funky shooter weapons.  I have no clue.  But it was so much fun, we couldn't deny it. even with the weird spiraling ability that seemed to sometimes miss the enemy...we didn't care, even if The Angry Video Game Nerd raged on it - Keep shooting, don't suck and you'll get it!








23. Blaster Master
23. Blaster Master
One of my personal favorite games growing up, Blaster Master was a great story of a boy trying to find his frog that fell in some radioactive substance (I have no idea...) jumps out his window into a giant hole in the ground, follows, falls in and finds himself staring at one of the coolest video game vehicles we have ever seen - Sophia the 3rd...Oh Sophia...we blew some shit up together nicely didn't we!  The game provided action that was similar to Metroid where you would have to advance in 8 levels of maze like areas to beat bosses and gain the abilities necessary to continue to newer areas, but had the ability to go back and forth to all the levels.  You were also able to get out of Sophia and walk into small overhead view scenes, which seemed to be in 3D modeling to fight against mutants and bosses.  No Save points or passwords...That was one hell of a difficult game.  Invite some friends, get some pizza and go for it!


22. Abadox
22. Abadox
This game was a very strange game indeed.  One which was given to me by my uncle returning from the military, then taken away by my grandmother when she saw me playing it...to be returned by Mom later trying to explain to my Grandmother "He is not worshiping the Devil, let him play his games in peace" - Thanks Mom! Abadox certainly was a strange game - I mentioned it in one of my Random Gaming sessions that if the film "Event Horizon" could have been a good game of what happened to the people in hell, this was it.  The truth of the matter - you are in a space suit and you fly into a giant planetoid with a huge mouth on the side...Think Star Wars, instead of a giant worm, just imagine the hole was a giant mouth, and everything you encountered inside was hellish and parasitic...Fun...To add to the awesomeness, if you died you start again from the beginning or from a mid point.  In similar style to R-Type, Abadox afforded power ups you picked up on the way, like speed ups, weapons and orbs that float around you and absorbed bullets and energy pellets from enemies.  But if you are hit by 1 - you die.  Insanely tough game.  Good luck. 


21. Tecmo Bowl
21. Tecmo Bowl
Why is this game on this list...Many would wonder - but if you were growing up in the 80's and liked Football, granted - back then was an easier time, we were all outside playing football with our friends...agreed.  But what about at night, or in the wintertime when the snow was too high?  You want to play some football!  Tecmo Bowl filled an amazing void beautifully with this game.  It's popularity still exists today, I can't count how many times gamers want to play a Tecmo Bowl tournament to showcase their old school Tecmo abilities...I have to tell you...I'll destroy all comers in this game!!! wassup! Who needs Madden and his "Now here's a guy who think's he can run faster, but running faster!" - Nah, give me some Tecmo Bowl!



20. Gradius
20. Gradius
Quite possibly one of the hardest Shooters ever made - the series of games that spawned from Gradius have all followed suit from the great concept of the original.  You fly on the Vic Viper (later versions had many other types of ships) and as you shoot down special items you're able to collect more and more to fill a meter that allows you on the lowest level to speed up or later to gain options.  Which are orbs that follow your ship and shoot in conjunction with you. Many of us can easily remember the great music of this game and the loud voice that would sound off as we gained a power up "SPEED UP!", "OPTION!".  I still run all kinds of score attack tournaments to Gradius at conventions.  I love it.    



19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Many of us grew up watching The Ninja Turtles on TV, saw the movies and loved playing the games on the NES.  It had so many options from normal side scrolling action to driving the Turtle Van.  The difficulty was moderate to hard and that made it a great challenge.  It spawned many sequels and most people can remember playing the arcade version in 4 player mode.  This one started it all.  No matter who you picked, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael or Donatello you were going to have a lot of fun.






18. Dragon Warrior
18. Dragon Warrior
I will totally admit, I convinced my parents to give me some extra money to buy this game by explaining how it was the next Final Fantasy...Yeah, what are you going to do, but I got the game and I loved it.  I would later on collect the entire manga series spawned by it.  Dragon Warrior would not sell as well in North America as it did in Japan and while Final Fantasy received more accolades Dragon Warrior is the RPG many others after it would measure as a template for their own games.   








17. Little Nemo: The Dream Master
17. Little Nemo: The Dream Master
I played this game often with my family, it was bought for my younger cousins and I remember teasing them at the time, but I look back at this game and remember loving the music.   Little Nemo is a cult favorite and is utilized often in this generations chiptunes musicians often.  My favorite rendition is from "The Adventures of Duane & Brando". I'll tell you one thing, while games don't necessarily inspire bad things to happen, I certainly fed my dogs and cats candy trying to see what cool things I could make them do. O_o Derp... 



  

16. Contra
16. Contra
 ^ ^ v v < > < > B A Select Start...It became a cultural phenomenon to know this cheat code.  Quite possibly the most famous cheat code we have ever seen - denoting the difficulty of this game.  One of the greatest if not the best shooter of all time Contra was fun, hard and had a lot of cool options.  Taking the title from much of what was occuring in our world at the time specifically the "Iran Contra's" we followed two soldiers in a run and gun style of shooter fighting and killing all kinds of alien menaces. The weapons were also some of our favorite pass times.  Going flipping crazy with a spread gun was the highlight of many of our days. 



  

15. Ninja Gaiden
15. Ninja Gaiden
How I loved this game.  Not only amazing for it's gameplay and music but it was the first game to ever truly incorporate cinematic cutscenes in it's storytelling. Ninja Gaiden followed the story of Ryu Hyabusa who had to use his Dragon Fang blade to over come an evil organization trying to combine to special statues to bring rise to a powerful evil, all while trying to find the man that killed his father in a duel, the highly memorable opening sequence. While Ninja Gaiden brought about a lot to the industry it was not the only Ninja based title making waves on the scene, but it is the one that took the spotlight.
  

14. Puncout!! (Mike Tyson's Punch Out)
14. Punchout!! (Mike Tyson's Punch Out)
Punchout!! which was originally Mike Tyson's Punch Out was a huge leap into the fighting game genre, while there was no 2 player mode it introduced us to one of the earliest boxing titles, even if it was campy and comic book like. The difficulty in this game was staggering. If you somehow reached the end to old Iron Mike, Most of the time he was a one hitter quiter.  








13. Renegade
13. Renegade
Renegade is as old school as it gets when it comes to beat'em ups.  It's one of the reasons we have games like River City Random, Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, Final Fight and all that proceed it.  I played this game sparingly on the Master System.  It provided some of the first options for enemies to take multiple hits, multiple movements on characters on a game space instead of just left and right an entire genre.  







12. Tetris
12. Tetris
Puzzle games don't always get the spotlight as they should and Tetris is one of those games that has not been left in the dark, notably, but it needs more recognition.  Tetris is one of the best 8bit games of all time simply because of the impact it made not only on the NES but on the Game Boy.  When it was time to release the Game Boy and mate it to a title that would help it's sales sore; Tetris was the perfect game.  From difficulty to the very specific and memorable music.  Tetris was sure to keep players addicted and coming back.  One of the Industries best Pro-gamers, my friend @Triforce Gamemaster is one of the best Tetris Players on the planet, think you got what it takes to make him sweat?  




11. Double Dragon
11. Double Dragon
Not only has Double Dragon become a cult classic for gamers all over the world, it is still one of the most fun revolutionary beat'em ups anyone can play.  Introducing the ability to play Co-op led to games like Streets of Rage and Final Fight's ability to do the same, as well the pick up of weapons after disarming the enemy.  Double Dragon also boasted some interesting characters that were lifelike, like the famous Andore, a la Andre the Giant.  






10. Battletoads
10. Battletoads
Very few games held a place in my heart and even less such an intense love and hate at the same time. Battletoads was one of those games that I loved to play and yell at as I constantly was tested with each increasing level. Amazing Music, cartoon graphics and funky beat'em up strategies along with puzzle like levels and objectives.  It made for a great and complete game.  One of my favorite platforming titles.  One whose difficulty was legendary.  Not only did you have the beat'em up aspect but you also had a variety of rat race style puzzle levels that would test your memory, patience and hand / eye coordination.  With some Co-op play choose one of the three characters and go nuts.    




9. Ghost'N Goblins
9. Ghost'N Goblins
I first got to play this game in the arcade next door to our families bakery in New York.  Yet another notoriously difficult title to play but had some very basic elements that drove our addiction toward it.  From killing zombies, ghosts and random goblins or demons hurling lances at the enemy. To the always awkward explosion of your armor and clothing leaving you naked with one touch made this one of the best games of all time.  Who knew, random nudity would be such a factor in a game like this? 






8. Donkey Kong 3
8. Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong is quite possibly the greatest arcade game there ever was, next to Pac-Man and Galaga but it spawned such a following and later evolved into a title that would forever change the world.  Mario Bros.  Donkey Kong 3 is significant for being the first entry we got in the Nintendo as an 8bit title and while it was essentially the same great Donkey Kong game with different levels and better graphics, it still held true to it's heritage.






7. Mega Man
7. Mega Man
I had exhausted my family and allowances keeping up with the many sequels of Mega Man.  At One point I am pretty sure I convinced 4 relatives to buy me 4 different versions 2 on my birthday and 2 for Christmas  confusing my parental units. Mega Man is a long standing fan favorite and has been included in more titles than I can think of without turning this entire article into a Mega Man documentary.  From his own titles to add on characters in popular games like the Marvel Vs Capcom series, Mega Man will be with us for a long time.  The original still holds up to the newest generation of titles and games with beloved enemies like Cut Man, Bubble Man, etc.  Some of our friends love Mega Man with such passion they have made careers out of Mega Man, our good friend Brentalfloss add all kinds of awesome lyrics to Mega Man music you can catch his records on www.screwattack.com. There is even more music at www.ocremix.org where are friends there and the ridiculously huge pool of talent that remixes gaming music.  


6. Castlevania
6. Castlevania
Quite possibly one of the best games in a horror series without the need for gore or gratuitous violence. Castlevania played like an interactive film experience from the get go.  Playing this title and it's sequels brought us into the world of the supernatural and tried to leave the cheese for other games to pick up on.  The Belmont family has been fighting Dracula and his minions for generations, pick up your whip and your wits and get into this immersive "stroll" into Dracula's lair.







5. Final Fantasy
5. Final Fantasy
This is one of my favorite RPG's of all time, Part 4 and 6 coming 1st and 2nd.  But as far as RPG's existed, without this title, there would be no real market for them.  The concept of playing these games for such a period of time and customizing the gameplay in such a manner was never tried before.  Those people that gathered at comic book stores taking hours to setup games of Dungeon's and Dragons finally got a video game to match their tastes. While this game originally did not sell so well, it opened up the door for other companies to take aim at the genre like Dragon Warrior which was another amazing title.  When Final Fantasy 2 hit the US (which was really part 4 in Japan) it explosed the RPG world.   




4. Metal Gear
4. Metal Gear
Oddly enough I have never really been a big player of the Metal Gear series, I would play them and beat them and move on, but I loved and respected them for what they were.  This title added so much ability to do things in the game you felt like you were really there.  from all the weapons, the gadgets and tech you needed to survive to the equipment you needed to move on.  It was almost a military RPG.  Gamers loved it.  It is still a beloved title today and still as hard to complete now as it was then.






3. Metroid
3. Metroid
One of the toughest and most popular titles the NES released. this game set to change the concept of the shooter, the alien platformer, the battle suit, the power up concept and moving back and forth through a labyrinthine maze.  It was amazing to actually beat this game and at the time a feat among other young gamers.  One thing was for sure, it was never the "i'm giving up, it's too hard" mentality...it was always the come back and keep trying.







2. Super Mario Bros.
2. Super Mario Bros.
"It's a Me Mario!" We did not hear those words until much later, but the game had a solid place in our hearts regardless.  Even with the wacky sequel and then return in the 3rd, we loved every moment of these games.  Mario on his own is one of the most recognized character brands in the world, on the same level of Mickey Mouse.  Plumbers all over the world rejoice.  I have amazing stories that point various aspects of my life.  Before I knew it, when I was 9 years old I was playing a game of Super Mario Bros. 2 with a girl that would be my future wife.  When I was 16 I was dancing in a Sweet Fifteen (Hispanics do 15's) and ended up beating up that same girl from years ago in in Super Mario Bros. 3...Go figure...




1. The Legend of Zelda
1. The Legend of Zelda
This game to me is probably the greatest game of all time.  Simply because it sparked some of the greatest video games we have all been so lucky to be able to play.  The music, the characters, the storylines.  The ability to play a game with an RPG experience that lets you connect so closely with the character yet is more visceral than an RPG.  So many sub-genres and titles that have spun off from this and have never been able to match it is a testament to the amazing concept of this game.   







Here are some of the other choices that I was toughing out for top 25 in no specific order.  

Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Monster Party
G-Loc
Excite Bike
Robocop
Prince of Persia
River City Ransom
Rygar
Skate or Die!
Spyhunter
WWF: Wrestlemania
Batman
Batman Return of the Joker
Choplifter
Phantasy Star
Rampage
Shinobi
Wonder Boy

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