A look at the Sega Saturn from the perspective of a Sega fan

I got my Sega Genesis for my 12th birthday in 1994. I instantly fell in love with that thing. The first game I played was the amazing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that came bundled with my soon-to-be favorite game console for several years. Prior to getting a Genesis I couldn’t really say I was a fanboy or even just a fan of any platform. I had an NES, and before that we had an Atari. Before that I did all my gaming at the arcade.

As someone who was a HUGE fan of video arcades and arcade games the Genesis was a blast. By the time the Sega CD and 32X came along I was seriously contemplating buying either or both of those upgrades to gladly keep my Genesis alive. But things started to really turn around the closer the Saturn came to launching. The hype began building up. I starting to really consider saving all of my after school money I was earning from throwing newspapers, mowing lawns, and working in the corn fields on the side.

At the time, what drew me to the prospect of wanting to get a Sega Saturn was a combination of my love for the Genesis, arcade games, and the transition to the new world of 3D gaming. As the 90’s dragged on a few things started to become apparent to me early on. First thing I noticed about the Saturn was the lack of games. Remember when you are a kid flipping threw the gaming magazines all you have to go on is the information they offer. I didn’t have any way of knowing what games were coming out unless Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Pro, or Sega Visions told me about it. Considering Sega Visions ceased following the launch of the Saturn, I didn’t really have much faith in the new product early on. I can’t say I “knew” it was going to fail. Far from it, I wanted one but I wasn’t sold to the point of I have to have one.

Whenever I would read a review of a Saturn game and the reviewers would point out how the game felt rushed, incomplete, buggy, or some other similar phrasing, I started to get skeptical. I distinctly remember reading a review for Virtua Fighter where the reviewer flat out said skip the Saturn and stick to the much cheaper 32X version. I also remember reading a really lousy review for the Saturn version of Mortal Kombat II, a game that was running smooth on the Super NES! I felt like if the Saturn can’t even handle a game both 16 bit consoles did okay, not to mention the 32X version was a huge selling point on making me want a 32X, I started to get a bad feeling about Saturn. That’s not to say it didn’t have games I wanted to play, just not very many must have games were jumping out at me.

The few games I was interested in, Bug!, Clockwork Knight, Panzer Dragoon, Virtua Cop and Sonic 3D Blast, all looked like they weren’t really showing off the true potential for what the Saturn was promising to do. At the time as I kept reading reviews of mediocre games, articles on how poorly the Saturn was selling, and the more I would see game after game getting announced for the new Sony Playstation and with no Saturn version planned, the more I started to lose interest. By the time the N64 finally started to make waves I had all but moved on from the Saturn. I wouldn’t give it another thought until the day my friend showed me his brand new Dreamcast. My reaction was, oh, when did they kill of the Saturn? I honestly stopped paying attention. As a self-proclaimed Sega fan this bothered me. I was saddened that the Dreamcast was already out and pushing the Saturn into obscurity. I also felt bad that I had missed my chance to get in on Saturn when it was still current tech. Then the more I looked into it, the more I realized, I wasn’t missing out on much.

I realize that over the years the prevailing attitude of the majority of sheeple on the web has shifted from thinking the Saturn was a mess of a console, to the Saturn was an overrated piece of junk to now it being considered a hidden gem or an underrated masterpiece. Whatever your attitude is, keep in mind this is a reflection from the perspective of someone whose whole life revolved around the Genesis.

At the time, as in during it’s life span I went through many phases. The first phase was excitement for a new console from Sega. This phase didn’t last long. I was already torn between wanting to get a 32X to give my Genesis new life, to wanting to save up money for a Saturn when it arrived. I even remember reading about the E3 thing, a whole month later in a magazine, thinking, what just happened?

I had been following the PSX and Saturn launch hype for months so I was shocked to learn Sega blew their wad and was now seeing all their hype fizzle. I maintained some hype for while, thinking erroneously Sony wouldn’t last. My logic was Playstation was too similar to the doomed 3DO. I ended up being wrong but more on that down the way.

My attitude started shifting as I started reading reviews. I kept holding out hope with each review that maybe the next game would prove to be worth owning. I would demo some of these games at local stores from time to time, so I wasn’t relying entirely on other people’s impressions. Still, the reviews were not doing the system many favors. There were a few hidden gems along the way but at the time I kept thinking this is not a good score. At first I thought everyone was judging the console unfairly. But looking back I think the opposite, I think they were being too soft because they didn’t want to accept Sega was messing up so bad.

When I realized the Saturn was in trouble was about the time I read a review, or even a preview, for the game Virtua Fighter Kids. My 13-year-old brain thought, wow, that’s a stupid idea for a game. Even then I felt like the system must be in trouble if they are resorting to such an obvious cash grab knowing full well it was just a cheap way to get another game on stores shelves in a big hurry for minimal effort. I knew that if this was the case the system was in trouble. All it really took was flipping through the magazine past thew 2-3 pages of Saturn games before stumbling upon the 8 or more pages of Playstation games to start to realize, Sony was getting all the love. Remember N64 wouldn’t be on the scene for a whole year later and even as I started reading articles on the upcoming Ultra 64 I started to get worried the Saturn was in trouble. By the time the N64 came out I had already forgotten about the 32 bit consoles and was already buying into the 64 bit hype train. I ended up dropping the money to get an N64 on launch day.

Looking back the most obviously issue with Saturn was the games. A few years later after I had grown up, gotten a job and began collecting video games as a hobby I went back and dug into the Saturn library. Unfortunately the passage of time was not a friend of the console. The games that would have blown me away in 1995/1996 had I gotten a chance to experience them then, were severely outdated in 2004 when I was buying them up. I didn’t go after any of the super rare or ultra expensive games, but I had a decent enough assortment when it was all said and done. In the end my Saturn collection consisted of X-Men Children of the Atom, Sonic 3D Blast, Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers, Sonic 2, Virtua Cop 1 and 2, NiGHTS into Dreams, Bug!, Clockwork Knight, Panzer Dragoon, Revolution X, Daytona USA, World Series Baseball, Mortal Kombat 3, Gex, even Tomb Raider. I might have had a couple other games but honestly nothing stood out in my mind as particularly noteworthy. I felt NiGHTS was so overrated I became very hostile to the Sega bots online that insisted I was playing it wrong. No, the game just didn’t appeal to me, at all. The fighting games were mediocre at best, the X-Men game was fun but not worth the asking price. Panzer Dragoon felt too bloated for what was basically a Star Fox type game which I wasn’t a big fan of Star Fox either. While I did enjoy Virtua Cop 1 and 2, and even as bad as it was to some people, I really had a lot of fun playing Bug! and Sonic 3D Blast. The rest of the games were just, eh nothing special.

I since went back and checked out much more of the consoles library via emulation. However that’s shoddy at best. The real trouble with Saturn collecting is all the expensive games aren’t worth the price you pay. Even if a game was on both PS1 and Saturn it could go for 3-4 times as much money on Saturn than PS1, and for all intents and purposes they’d be basically the same game. I grew so disgusted with Saturn collecting it was the first system I sold off. I traded it into a used retro game store for a big box of GameCube games and never regretted it.

I think the Saturn did have potential, but the truth is, I think most of that potential was too little, too late. Sega squandered all of their good will with Genesis fans before they even launched the Saturn. As the months turned to years I started to lose interest in the system. Today, even if I had the money I probably wouldn’t buy very many Saturn games. The console is, in my opinion, vastly overrated. It’s good for a few quick arcade ports and it has a handful of great hidden gems if you got the money to seek them out. The majority if the library, however, is available elsewhere for far less money. The handful of true exclusives aren’t even all worth the price of admission making Saturn truly a collector’s console.

30 SNES games for a new collector to begin with

Now for whatever reason you didn’t already have one of, if not *the* greatest video game consoles of all time, well nobody is judging you, here is a list of 30 games to probably get you into collecting. Like my previous lists, I want to avoid too many of the obvious picks, instead focusing on games that really give you a good variety of popular and less known, but not exactly the “hidden gems” everyone talks about.

Like my other lists these are only numbered to keep track, they are not ranked.

1. Super Mario World

If this isn’t the first game you pick up with your new Super Nintendo, what the HELL are you doing collecting SNES for? Seriously it was the most iconic game of the 16-bit era, probably the best of the Super Mario games, at the very least *the* best of the 2D Super Mario games, it’s one of the greatest video games of all time. So yeah, day one pick this up it’s almost mandatory at this point.

2. Mortal Kombat II

Just like how on Genesis you can buy MK1 and skip the rest, do that with SNES but buy MKII and pretend the rest don’t exist. Not only is this the best home version of one of the best 2D arcade fighting games ever made, it’s still a pretty solid game for the SNES library. Also skip Killer Instinct, everyone says that game, we all know it was just a Mortal Kombat cash in clone so let it go.

3. Super Star Wars

I normally don’t pick Star Wars games for general collectors, they tend to be more geared to hard core gamers and die hard Star Wars fans. While this game *IS* hard, even on the easiest setting it will challenge all but the most seasoned gamers, it’s also a very good game, even if it was stripped of the Star Wars license. It has great level design, epic boss battles, makes fantastic use of the Mode 7 psuedo-3D and it just has a great sci-fi/space fantasy vibe that makes for a great action video game.

4. Kendo Rage

Before you say now wait a minute you said no hidden gems. This game is not a “hidden gem” by my definition, in fact I consider it even more obscure than that. How obscure? Well I had the game as a kid, loved it played it to death, and it took me YEARS of combing used video game stores before I stumbled upon another copy and if i hadn’t asked the clerk to help me identify the games I was describing, I might not have recognized it at first, the game is obscure. Also it’s hard. I love it because it has a good weird mix of Castlevania, Ghosts N Goblins, with some Sailor Moon and Kirby Super Star, okay I know that’s a weird combination of games, but trust me that’s the best way to describe this game so yeah do some ebay digging and see if you can get a copy, trust me it’s worth it.

5. Donkey Kong Country

The typical response is grab the trilogy and have at it. Okay look there are over 700 games on the SNES and if you spend all your time going after the super popular Nintendo 1st party titles your going to miss out, so grab the first one, it will hold you over and is a masterpiece in it’s own right, and have fun. Make sure this game is in your first 30 purchases the rest can come later, hell maybe make then 31 and 32 respectively I don’t care but keep them out of the first 30, trust me you won’t regret mixing it up with a little variety.

6. Legend of Zelda- A Link to the Past

Arguably the best Zelda game ever made, easily the best 2-D Zelda and certainly one of the best Super NES games, you have the rest of your days as a collector to go chasing the JRPG’s and the shmups, but you can’t go wrong with getting Zelda early on.

7. Battletoads and Double Dragon

I will get this out of the way, the SNES is flooded with arcade fighting games, shoot em ups and JRPG’s. The Genesis does the first two FAR BETTER so stick to getting those games on Sega, as for the JRPG’s, well there are a ton, they are pretty much all the same in some way or another, no there is a lot of time to chase those too popular, too expensive and over hyped games, grab yourself a grade A 90’s arcade style mash up featuring martial arts bad asses along side some mutant frogs. This is sci-fi arcade beat em up at it’s best. Yeah the game is also on Sega but let’s not get into that now.

8. Bust A Move (Puzzle Bobble)

Everyone is going to tell you get Tetris this or Dr. Mario that, yeah well tell them to shut up those games are best on the Game Boy, the only GOOD puzzle game exclusive (in a way) to the SNES is Bust A Move, the Taito arcade classic semi-sequel to Bubble Bobble on the NES. I say sorta, but let’s not spit hairs this is a great, ultra fun, vibrantly colorful chipper game you can’t pass up for too long. Hidden gem, no, ultra rare probably over priced, maybe, at least rare the price is well worth it this game is AMAZING.

9. Batman and Robin

There are a million and one Batman games, this is the one to get on the Super Nintendo.

10. Super Ghosts N Goblins

Arcade games are fun. Sequels of arcade games that beat the original are easily twice the fun, oh and this time it’s 16-bit. Yeah these games are short but hard, hey whatever they are still great fun and this is still as good as, if not better than, the Sega game.

11. Sim City

I don’t just put this on here because it actually, literally, is my absolute favorite Super Nintendo game of all time, no seriously I play this game almost as much as I do Minecraft, which I play more than I should care to admit. But it’s still a great game to add early on to your SNES library to show you the depth of the consoles variety while also giving you a fun Nintendo take on the Sim genre. There are a ton of Sim games on the console but the original is a good place to start. It has KING BOWSER KOOPA what more do you want?!

12. Kirby Super Star

Like the Mario and DKC games, you will inevitably buy them all, or at the very least a good lot in due time. Why not start with one of the easiest to pick up and play games in the saga? This game has a ton of variety and is one of the best Kirby games ever made. The other games do what they do better in their own way, but this game gives you a sample of all the things Kirby is known for so it’s a great starting point and the theme song will get stuck in your head. It is already stuck in your head isn’t it? Don’t lie yes it is.

13. Robocop vs. The Terminator

While the SNES is more known for it’s RPG’s and Platformers and Sega for it’s sci-fi themed games, and this game is on Genesis, this is still the better version to get, and it’s a GREAT game with tons of fun and a whole bunch of replay value.

14. Zombies At My Neighbors

This is like Zelda, everyone is going to suggest it and there is no point in putting it off, see a copy pick it up.

15. Super Metroid

Again, I must stress, this list is not RANKED so for the love of all things that is good, if you get a SNES and you get a chance to buy this game, don’t hesitate or wait because it’s not far enough on the list, it very well could be the number 1 reason to get a Super Nintendo for a lot of people. This is the game that really started the “Metroidvania” style of game play that would be very common later on.

16. Super Mario RPG

Again, the console is WELL KNOWN for it’s RPG games, and Earthbound is NOT worth the asking price so you might as well get the Mario/Final Fantasy cross over and do yourself a favor. If you really want to experience the SNES at it’s fullest potential yes you will need some JRPG’s eventually, but damn I can’t stress this enough, they are expensive because EVERYONE wants them, so get this one to hold you over and get you started, it’s fine the game is 5 star, it’s a perfect ten, I mean it’s a great game you won’t regret it.

17. Super Mario All-Stars

Okay, yeah it’s just a collection of the 8-bit games redone with new 16-bit graphics and sounds, and yeah it just adds customizable controls, and oh yeah it also adds save states, but um, why am I having to sell you on this, IT’S a collection of the 3 most iconic games in HISTORY with SAVE STATES and NEW graphics, this is arguably the first true video game “remaster” by some definitions and it’s one hell of a starting off point.

18. Mega Man X

The best 2D Mega Man game ever made? That’s for you to decide. No I lied, the gaming community decided when this game was released and our collective opinion remains unchanged. This. Game. Is. GREAT. ‘Nuff Said. Okay fine not sold, take everything fun from Mega Man games and multiply that by a dozen, beef it up to 16-bit goodness, throw in a super cool hidden SFII reference, throw away all the crap that bogged down the not-so-good Mega Man games and throw it onto the greatest game console that the Big N has ever released and you got your self a game you need in your collection yesterday.

19. NBA Jam

If I didn’t put this on my Sega list, I should have or very well could have. This game is easily one of the best, and hands down the most iconic and recognizable arcade basketball, maybe even sports game, of all time. Throw it into your SNES, plug the Red and White audio cables into your stereo, crank up the bass along with the volume and bust out those dunks that make the announcer scream BOOM SHAKA LAKA all night long.

20. Spider-Man/Venom Maximum Carnage

While the Sega fans got the better stand alone Spidey game, the SNES got this game, okay it was on Sega also but this is not the Sega list it’s my Super Nintendo list. Damn why were the 16-bit console wars so damn great? Anyways this is probably the best brawler/beat-em-up on the console, aside from a certain turtle game I won’t mention. The SNES doesn’t do one-on-one fighting  games nearly as good as the Genesis, it does the side scrolling brawlers at least as good, if not better, so this is a very good comic book themed game to really sink your teeth into. Also you get to play as VENOM, I mean dude how is that not a thing in more Spider-Man games?

21. F-Zero

Might as well. It’s fast paced, futuristic sci-fi racing what could go wrong? This was one of the earliest games to show off the systems “mode 7” capability and it was all we gamers needed to know this machine was the real deal. Since Nintendo doesn’t seem to care to make any new games in the series any time soon, why not go back to the one that started it all?

22. Final Fantasy 3

If you count this game higher than 3, go back to Japan. This is the one we all played, for many of us, myself included, this was *THE* entry point into the JRPG genre and for most it was also the template we measured all future JRPG games against. This and Super Mario are probably the easiest to get into and the best place for an entry point for someone that doesn’t want to get overwhelmed with these text heavy games too early on. There are plenty of RPG’s on the console and you have the rest of your life to seek them out, this needs to be in your collection before pretty much all the rest of them, aside from Mario that is. This game defined the genre for a generation and it wasn’t surpassed until it’s direct (but incorrectly numbered, stupid Japanese) sequel.

23. Super Bomberman

If you don’t get yourself a Super Multi-Tap for some sweet 5-player Super Bomberman pretty much as soon as you can then you are cheating yourself out of a fantastic experience. There might not be that many games that use the multi tap that are worth owning, but this game is worth the price of admission all by itself. Pretty much any console that has a Bomberman game that supports 4 or more players is going to be high on any wish list. Treat yourself and your gaming friends (and even your non-gaming friends its casual friendly) to a night of blasting bombs at one another.

24. Knights of the Round

Sticking to the theme of playing to the systems strengths, here is another worth while side-scrolling arcade brawler that is sure to keep you entertained for several hours. The game is set in a fantasy world, and I honestly confused this for Golden Axe when I was a kid, so you can bet my surprise when I plugged Golden Axe into my Genesis and I was so furious. I played this game at a Pizza Hut long ago and dropped so many quarters into it every time I got the chance. The gameplay holds up today, the music and characters are still very well done and the level design is what you want in an arcade beat-em-up from the 90’s.

25. Super Castlevania 4

There is a never ending debate on the internet, which 16-bit console was better Super NES or Sega Genesis. A similar debate is which Castlevania game was better, this one or Symphony of the Night, (I throw my lot in with SOTN but to each their own) still this very game is at the heart of that debate and one of the reasons a die-hard self-proclaimed Sega fanboy like myself still freely admits the Super NES is probably the greatest game console of all time. Sure Bloodlines on Genesis is a good enough Castlevania game, but why settle for good enough when you can get the real deal, and this game is the real deal. Think of it like this, this games is the Empire Strikes Back of the Castlevania series, it’s that good. If I wasn’t such a Sega fan I would say this game and a handful of others would be all you need as a gamer. Needless to say, this was one of the games that, almost, made me switch sides from being Pro-Sega anti-Nintendo to very much a Nintendo loyalist. Even the prospect of just a port of this gaming coming to a new Nintendo console is usually enough to get my attention.

26. Primal Rage

Again, fighting games are almost always better on the Sega Genesis, that’s pretty much a given unless you live in a weird bubble where the 6-button pads never existed, if you bring up the crappy 3-button pads in a debate I walk away, seriously nobody games with those everyone has 6-button pads and all things being equal, the 6-button pad is better, the Genesis is faster, look fighting games are best on Genesis, RPG’s are best on Super NES, let’s just agree to that. Still, Primal Rage is one of those rare fighting games that is still great even on the Super NES. (I can hear the fanboys screaming at their monitors right now, you picked this over SFII!) No I didn’t but hell, SF II is played out at this point, It’s available on so many consoles, in so many varieties, seriously at this point if you are getting into SNES collecting STAY FAR AWAY from SFII games, period. They were good, damn good, at the time, they suck by today’s standards, and I don’t mean because the arcade port is available. Look let’s focus on this game, probably the LAST arcade game Atari ever had their hands in that was worth a damn and let it be that, the Atari swan song that it is and still a FANTASTIC fighting game, actually good on the Super Nintendo. If you are serious about playing SFII, play it on any console BUT the Super NES, and ignore the fanboys who never experienced SFII the way it was meant to be played. Or at the very least, get this game first and find yourself having fun appreciating one of the rare fighting games that was good on the console and pick up those thousand SFII clones at a later time.

27. Sunset Riders

Another one of those side scrolling arcade action games the system is well known for. I know there are people who can’t look beyond the JRPG’s, but if you aren’t a fan of those don’t get so down on the Super NES just yet, I know the fanboys make it sound like those are the best games on the system, thankfully you and I aren’t fanboys, at least not Nintendo fanboys. Okay, so infighting and trolling aside, yes this is a very good game. It does have it roots in the arcade and yes there is a Sega port of this game, this one is nearly identical in most ways but as I understand it very good and you don’t want to just turn your SNES into a JRP hub up front now do you? If you like arcade games this is a great port, for what it is.

28. T2: The Arcade Game

This is another arcade game, its also a shooting game and fortunately it does support various peripherals so you can sample the different play styles. The arcade game is still better in every way but this is a good game to pluck into your SNES console and get a few minutes of great fun before you get too bored, and it’s good to come back to from time to time.

29. Super Smash TV

Notice my lists are heavy on arcade games, well there is a reason for that, they are quick and easy to pick up and play, they are often fun even today, and they really try to demonstrate what their respective console was going for. This isn’t the best version of the game ever, but it is playable, and if you get yourself a Super NES Advantage stick, or two, your good to go. This game was not just a staple of 90’s arcades, it was one of those games that got ports across the spectrum of home consoles and was well worth playing, depending on your willingness to adapt.

30. Street Fighter II Turbo

Ignore everything I just said, this is *THE* 16-bit SFII game to get. Ha, had you fanboys going for a second didn’t it. Okay, so most of what I said above is mostly true, this is still the best version of this game available on the Super NES and it’s one of the few good fighting games on the system. Super is better on Genesis, and frankly, just about any system it’s on but Super, and the original is garbage, it is just accept it and move on. But this version is still damn good, for what it is. I had a Genesis and I played SFII SCE and Super SFII all the damn time. When I did get a Super NES I fell for the lies the fanboys told me and bought these games, one by one, trying to recapture the magic of the Sega versions, to no luck. There are different opinions and if you live in a vacuum where you will never own a Sega Genesis, and play only on the Super Nintendo, I guess your 12 years old and it’s 1994 all over again, anyways, then yeah get some SFII games and have fun, but I strongly recommend getting them on anything newer and if you have to play them on a 16-bit console get the Genesis versions, with proper 6-button controls and flip the fanboys a middle finger.

There is my list, sorry if this got heated I just deal with a world that distorted the facts to a twisted reality where Sega always sucked and Super NES was always just assumed to be the best ever. Despite being an honest to god Sega fanboy, again my online handle is segagamer12, and the Genesis was my first home console I ever owned, I do freely admit the Super NES is better, but only by a very slight margin and only because of a couple of games that push it over the top. However, when it comes to fighting games, Genesis is better in almost every instance. You just have to GROW UP and stop talking about the stupid 3-button pad like here in 2017 it’s still the only joystick available for the console.

 

30 NES games to get started

In a few months Nintendo is planning on releasing the SNES Classic Edition. As a follow up to the popular but under-produced NES Classic Edition, I expect this thing to be quite popular with gamers and collectors. However, due to scarcity and the fact the NES mini has already been discontinued, I thought I would write a 30 NES games to start up a collection for the lapsed gamer who might want to get back into NES gaming, but who doesn’t want to shell out the money for an NES mini. This list is based on my own preferences but I think it should be a good reflection of the NES library. I think these are 30 games that any gamer should pick up early on when starting their NES collection. I might write similar guides or lists for other consoles if I enjoy this enough. Also I am not ranking these, this is not a top 30 NES games, so the order is not that important these are just the 30 games I personally feel every NES collectors should get right away.

1. Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt

The first game every collector should have is the most obvious one. Seriously, if you are trying to go back in time to revisit the NES, or you are a kid just discovering it for the first time there is no other game as iconic or important as this game. There are different variations and combinations of these two games, but the classic SMB/Duck Hunt cart is the most obvious one to get.

2. Duck Tales

This game gets a lot of attention, and with good reason. The cartoon was classic, the tune is catchy, the characters are very retro and the game play is fantastic. What more can I say? I was trying to avoid games that rely so heavily on nostalgia, but fortunately Capcom recently upgraded this game on modern consoles as DuckTales Remastered, so it has the potential to reach a younger audience thus not relying entirely on nostalgia.

3. Batman

Probably the best action/platformer on the console and certainly one of, if not the best, comic book/super hero games in the NES library. A great game with good music, fun game play, decent challenge, and great graphics for the console. Also based on an amazing movie that is still worth revisiting while you are at it.

4. Iron Tank

Not everyone is going to pick a random tank combat game, but I think if you are going to get serious about NES collecting you need this game in your collection. It’s not as well known as some of the other games you hear banded about, but it’s still a lot of fun. This is one of those “NES hard” games where the difficulty is going to turn some people away, but the game play, the graphics, and the challenge all make it a very worthy game to add to your collection quite early on.

5. Legend of Zelda

Most people this will be either their first or second purchase. This game is so icon it practically defines the entire NES generation. I can’t say enough good things about this game, I played it to death as a kid, so much in fact the battery died in my cart.

6. TMNT 2: The Arcade Game

I could just say buy all 3 games, 4 if you count the fighting game, but I think this is probably the one to start with. Save the first for when you are padding your collection and get 3 when you are ready for more beat-em-ups. I say start with 2 because it’s the easiest to pick up and play, its the most iconic, it is based on the arcade game so it has that retro arcade feel to it, and it’s the one based most off the cartoons so would be the most familiar to a lot of people. The first game is good too but I recommend 2 for an early collector.

7. Dr. Mario

It shouldn’t take you too long to pick up this game. It’s arguably the best puzzle game on the console, and certainly a higher priority to me than Tetris. Although Tetris is well known, chances are you have multiple copies of Tetris spread across however many gaming platforms you have, so why not put off getting Tetris and start with the, in my opinion, superior game anyways?

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street

I know this game gets a lot of hate, especially since a certain Youtuber trashed it so famously. Still it’s actually not that bad of a game. The common criticism of it not having that much to do with the movies aside, which I would argue it actually does the job of re-creating the nightmare just fine, it does have its flaws. Still, as a HUGE Nightmare on Elm Street fan, I personally love this game, warts and all. It’s actually a decent, crazy fun 4-player experience. Sure you likely won’t beat it without cheating, but honestly how many NES games can you beat without cheating anyways? Also, part of the charm in collecting NES carts is revisiting the 80’s, and nothing is more 80’s than Freddy Krueger.

9. Casltevania

I try not list the obvious games but since this isn’t a top 30 list and it certainly isn’t a list of hidden gems, I figured this is just one of those iconic games every NES collector needs in their collection, and fairly early on too. I won’t get too into it, the game launched one of the longest running horror franchises in gaming history.

10. Super Mario Bros. 3

I would almost suggest getting these games in reverse order, starting with 3, then 2 and ending up with 1. Either way, all three of them belong in your NES collection, but the first and 3rd certainly belong in your first 30 for sure.

11. Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man

Take your pick, get either the Namco licensed ones or the unlicensed Tengen carts, Mr. or Ms. Pac-Man both games are good, and either one should be early purchases. I strongly believe that both of these games are just true staples in gaming history that should never be over looked. Personally I love them both equally and can never choose one over the other. But for the sake of this list, and because money could be an issue for most people, you should be good to pick one and have hours of fun from time to time.

12. P.O.W.

I love arcade games. A lot of the best arcade games from the NES library can certainly be found on modern consoles for sure. If you are going to start a collection, I would recommend going after this game over some of the more common, heavily talked about games. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it. Sure it’s not the best game to begin with, but it’s a good pick up and play action game for the NES reminiscent of the classic arcade experience.

13. Contra

Speaking of great arcade ports… Seriously Contra is practically *the* NES game to collect at this point. It’s a great run and gun, it’s a great 2 player action game, and it’s a fantastic port of an arcade game. Most people say this version is actually superior to the real arcade version it is based on, I happen to be one of those people.

14. 3-D Battles of the World Runner

You are going to be collecting NES games you have plenty of time to pick up the staples. Why not get a quirky game that makes good use of the 3D gimmick while also being another throw back to awesome arcade game play. It’s a pretty decent “Space Harrier” clone if you want to get down to it, and it’s a lot of fun.

15. Popeye

Another arcade classic. I played Popeye so much as a kid. I actually enjoyed it even more than the famous Donkey Kong arcade hit. Granted the game hasn’t aged all that well and yes it mostly is just a Donkey Kong clone, albeit an official one if you want to get down to it. Still the game is fun, the music is catchy and if you are looking for a nice little arcade game to get you going this is as good a place as any to start, and let’s be honest do you really want to just get DK like everyone else or wouldn’t you rather have this, a game that is unique and probably a little more collectible than DK? I know I would.

16. Ninja Gaiden

I almost didn’t want to pick this one, first, it’s too obvious, second, its super hard. But let’s be real if you are looking to collect NES games this is going to be one of your first 30 purchases for sure. It’s a great game totally worthy of all the praise. Is it hard, HELL YEAH, but it’s also very fun.

17. The Simpsons: Bart vs. The World

You need at least one bad game in your collection to start off with, might as well get one that makes for a good talking piece right? Is the game bad, yes, but let’s be real the purpose of collecting the physical carts if you are going that route is to relive the 80’s, Simpsons games were terrible but we all played them, we all rented them over and over knowing they were bad but somehow hoping against all hope that if we just got good enough we might uncover a good game underneath. Also it’s not all bad, it does have some decent mini games and unlike the other games, it does have a coherent story, at least as coherent as an episode of the cartoon.

18. Zelda II: Adventure of Link

Love it or hate it you need this game in your collection ASAP. I personally loved it. In fact I can’t decide which Zelda game I enjoy more, I honestly put equal amounts of time into playing each one. I have owned every re-release of both Zelda NES games and I highly recommend both as a good starting point, and bonus, you get a little variety in the gameplay if you get this one and the first early on.

19. Blades of Steel

I don’t typically recommend getting sports games right away. I prefer to put them off until I have had a good library of non-sports games and then slowly pick them off one at a time. This is one of the better sports games on the console. Even if you don’t like sports NES sports games are mostly pretty good. This is certainly more fun to play than a game of baseball or golf, in my opinion. I might even do a separate list of the best NES sports games, who knows.

20. Joust

I know, another classic arcade game. What can I say, the NES was billed as an arcade in your living room, and it was so much better at delivering on that promise than everything that came before it. Joust is a good game, it’s a fairly good port, and I think it’s a game any collector should pick up because it’s just so easy to pick up and play.

21. Battletoads

It’s divisive to most but it’s still a good game, mostly. This is another one of those ‘NES hard’ games that is more frustrating than fun, but it has so much 80’s charm it’s just totally worth buying just for the humorous moments. Grab a friend and just have at it. The game is not just hard it is extremely hard, but any NES collector who wants to be taken seriously needs to add this game to their collection as early as they can.

22. Anticipation

One of those quirky NES games that just captures the spirit of the decade perfectly. Over the top, lots of mini games and puzzles, multiplayer, and it’s just got so much going on how can you turn this down?

23. Mega Man 2

I could just say pick any random one but we all know 2 is the one to get.

24. Little Nemo Adventures in Slumberland

I don’t know what the internet reaction to this game is, I haven’t really read many reviews, but I personally enjoyed it so much as a kid. Now, A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my favorite movies, and part of that is I love the idea of a dream world. This game, and the movie, both do a very good job capturing that part of the imagination. This one is hard also, but seriously if you are playing NES games you should expect to pick up a few hard ones as you go.

25. Blaster Master

Here is a game that does get named a lot, but usually in hidden gems discussions. With the recent remaster on Switch, what better time than starting up a new NES collection to buy this classic? The game might not be on the top of anyone’s lists, it’s still a super fun, not overly difficult action game with some pretty original gameplay.

26. Ghosts N Goblins

If you thought I was going to make a list of 30 NES games to start your collection and leave off this game, you were nuts. Again, yes, it is an arcade game, and yes it is difficult, but by now hard/arcade ports are pretty much the best games to get on the NES, at least when you are getting back into it or just getting started.

27. Star Wars

I know the SNES games are better, but it’s Star Wars how can you not get excited? I happen to enjoy the 8-bit version slightly more than the SNES one at times because the driving isn’t as clumsy as it is in the 16-bit versions. They only made 2 for the NES, both are good but this is the one to get first.

28. Kid Icarus

It was either this or Metroid and I think getting started you will have more fun exploring a game that doesn’t have a bazillion sequels/remakes. The game is fun, but hard and this time it’s not even based on an arcade game.

29. Wild Gunman

You need more than one light gun game especially if you do get Duck Hunt early on with the Zapper, you’re going to want a second game to justify having the Zapper and shelling out money on that CRT tube TV set you had to in order to get it to play right. Also it was featured in Back to the Future, albeit as an arcade game which it was not originally. Still a fun game and very much worth getting early on.

30. Chip N Dale’s Rescue Rangers

Much like DuckTales this game is just a blast to play. The 2 player action is fantastic, the game really captures the essence of the show quite well and despite being released recently on modern consoles, it still holds up quite well as a great retro NES game.

There you have it, 30 great NES games to get you started on your journey to collecting for one of the greatest, most beloved home video game consoles of all time.

 

 

 

ARMS:Global Test Punch:IMPRESSIONS

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This past weekend Nintendo sent out a free demo for Nintendo Switch users to try to test the  game’s impact on servers, they called the timed demo a Global Test Punch. This was the same approach they took to their last e-sports contender, Splatoon, for Wii U a couple of years ago. I missed the Splatoon Global Test Fire, although I did end up buying the game anyways. I managed to get in on the ARMS test punch two different times this weekend, the first was on Friday and again on Saturday. I didn’t bother trying again on Sunday, I already had my fill and learned all I needed about the game.

First, I went in like everyone else, on even footing having no experience. I was playing with the Joy Con’s attached to the tablet as I refuse to play any game using motion controls these days. I won my first 5 matches in a row and was feeling pretty good about myself. I am not a competitive online gamer at ALL. I despise the online atmosphere, the trash talking, the way competitive gamers take their games way to seriously, so I normally only tryout a new online game the first day or so and move on. If a game requires online only play or doesn’t have a significant offline single player mode, that game is not for me. I do, however, love fighting games. But I want a good campaign more, or arcade ladder mode I can play against a CPU opponent, I want the option for a multiplayer mode for when I am in the mood, but I am a loner I play games for the experience, not to socialize. With that out of the way I went in the test punch using it as a demo to try the game out, not as a way to actually be competitive. Needless to say I said I was either going to play just a few rounds, or if I was on a winning streak quite once I lost.

I played through the little introduction level, beat up the bot character, learning the basic controls. I went into the game handicapped against motion control players, at least according to some commentators I watched online. This turned out to not be true on Friday, when everyone was starting out with no practice, I did okay, won 5 in a row and I was having a blast. I was able to play the different modes as the demo just picks random modes and throws you in, which I liked for the purposes of a demo/beta test but if the real game is like that, I might get bored of it.

Impressions:

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Controls:

I didn’t try the motion controls on day one, I learned the buttons and I thought the controls were perfect. It reminded me of Smash Bros. very simple pick up and play mechanics, with enough depth for the competitive gamers to really get serious, while being accessible enough for a mostly casual playing gamer like myself. Not that I am a casual gamer, far from it, but I play more casually in my style. In fact, the only game I am good enough to be competitive in is Mortal Kombat, and the first time I tried that online my perfect winning streak was demolished and I never went back.

The controls are basic, punch, guard, jump, dash, power shot, grab, not much to it. I didn’t try the different weapons I stuck to the default boxing gloves. I was playing exclusively with Ribbon Girl, which I suspect will continue to be the case as I just gravitated towards her and immediately felt natural playing has this character in this game. She has a neat double-jump coupled with some really basic moves that I was able to pull off with ease. I honestly didn’t even bother trying the other characters I just stuck with Ribbon Girl the whole time. I might sample other fighters once I get the full game but for the Test Punch I was fine with sticking to one character for familiarity sake.

The game does play similar to Wii boxing in some ways but is much improved and a ton more fun. I did try the motion controls on day two but I didn’t get to replay the tutorial to learn the basics so I went in blind, wasn’t able to get my character to do anything as I was pounced upon very quickly and couldn’t take even a second to learn the controls. I quickly went back to using the Joy Cons and felt very comfortable. I only played the first day for about 10 minutes out of the 1 hour long demo so I was not at all prepare on day two for how already advanced the other fighters were. I supposed if I had spent the entire hour on Friday getting good at the game like most people I might have stood a greater chance, but over all I lost too much time and all the things that worked on day one the fighters were countering with tricks and moves I couldn’t even figure out.

Graphics:

spring man

I like art style of this game and the colors. It does remind  me of Splatoon quite a bit, which I fell in love with just based on the style before the game even launched. I enjoyed this game’s art direction very much. It felt like being inside a Saturday morning cartoon fighting other cartoon characters. This is Nintendo at their best, which is why they hire artists to create games and not engineers. Needless to say I enjoyed the graphics tremendously. It had a sort of retro Game Cube look at times, and yes I am kind of taken aback that I am calling GameCube retro, but that is the case so fine.

Characters:

Arms-Trailers_02-10-17

Before the demo went live I watched the goofy little Nintendo Direct dedicated to the game where it introduced all of the characters that would be playable for the demo. I don’t remember all of their names but the anime looking spring boy and Ribbon Girl were the two that I immediately thought I would try. I picked Ribbon Girl for the two day demo so I decided to just stick with her. I might try the other characters once it launches but just from playing against them I got the feeling there isn’t a lot of depth to these characters at the moment, which is good in a way because some Nintendo characters getting tired I was ready for Nintendo to introduce some new characters. With that in mind, I can imagine these characters as a part of the official Nintendo cannon of characters. Just like the Inklings in Splatoon, these characters have a very distinct Nintendo feel to them and I am perfectly happy welcoming them into the ever expanding Nintendo family.

Game play:

I touched on this a little with the controls. The game is very accessible like most Nintendo games. The controls are simple and intuitive enough anyone can pick up and start playing, while deep and varied enough for the pros to really latch on and find plenty of ways to play.

I really liked the 4 player brawl, the 3 player free for all, the 1 on 1 matches the most. I didn’t care for the volleyball much, I won every watch so it was easy to pick up and play but I didn’t enjoy it. I also hated the 2 on 2 tethered mode. Mostly because you were tethered to a player with inferior skills, my partners usually died quickly leaving me to carry the match against 2 people who were bashing me endlessly. In 3 player free for all it’s easy to switch back and forth between the two, gang up on one character and once the other guy is in the groove, turn your attention to bashing them. I won every 3 player match I was in so this was by far my most favorite mode in terms of winning. I was 50-50 in 1 on 1 matches, I won mostly early on when everyone was starting out, but I started losing day 2 after I came back with little practice. That being said, I loved it, the gameplay was spot on and a total blast.

Overall thoughts:

I learned enough to know I am going to be playing this game a lot. I do enjoy Smash Bros. from time to time and I can pick up a Mario Kart every once in a while, but this game felt natural to me, like it was the type of game I had been waiting for Nintendo to make. Between this and Splatoon, I think Nintendo finally has enough of a strong catalog of new IP and characters to bring in a whole new audience while bringing back their loyalists like myself.

Confession, I had so much fun playing this I couldn’t wait for release so I already pre-ordered my copy from Amazon Prime. It is supposed to be waiting for me on my door step on release day. I honestly think this is going to be the big sleeper hit Nintendo was needing to ensure the future success of the Switch. I was skeptical at first thinking it was just another attempt to bring back the Wii gamers. Not so, sure most people will be playing with motion controls, but I am glad to say that the basic button controls are good enough to be able to enjoy the game on their own. Once I get the full release in my hands I might try motion controls once more just to see how I feel once I can try the tutorial with them, but for now I am happy to say this game is a blast and I highly recommend it to anyone with a Switch and say to those who don’t, buy a Switch and get this game.

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Sim Town for PC- Thoughts and impressions.

I have always enjoyed playing Sim City, it has and always will be one of my favorite games of all time. Recently I began wondering why there wasn’t a Sim Town and so I did a Google search and discovered there in fact already was one. It was released on Super NES as Sim City Jr. a game I never play because it is entirely in Japanese and my current reading level is no where comprehensive enough to play a text heavy  game. I managed to fumble my way through Zelda Famicom but that was pretty easy as I have played Zelda NES numerous times already.

So what did I want in a Sim Town game that Sim City didn’t already offer? Partially the ability to control exactly what types of businesses, houses, and buildings are placed was a big thing. Sim Town offers just that level of customization. There is a down side, the game is targeted towards younger children and has a tone that even as a Nintendo fan I find too primitive for my tastes. Still I am having some fun with the game but I can’t help wishing there was a more robust version of this sort of game. I want the level of sophistication and complexities of a proper Sim City, I just want to be able to create a small town, suburban feel if I want rather than focusing entirely on Metropolis sized mega-cities. I want to still have the ability to play Sim City the traditional way too. I just would like the option of building a small town where I decide to build a bowling alley or a grocery store instead of just deciding to make a square Residential or Commercial.

Truth be told I haven’t tried any of the modern Sim City games, the newest one I have is Sim City 2000 and that is 2 decades old at this point. I have contemplated trying the newest Sim City game but I have yet to find the time, money, or motivation, to get around to it.

My initial impression of Sim Town was, despite the obvious decision to dumb down the game to make it more “kid-friendly” I really enjoy the level of control over what exact type of buildings you get to create. I also like that you get to read the bios of individual sims and this aspect has me interested in trying one of the proper Sims games. I honestly never have gotten around to trying a Sims game, mostly because as a hard core, traditional gamer I find them to be too casual focused for my general tastes. Well as I have aged my gaming preferences have changed with me and I found that I still enjoy Sim City more and more each year so one think Sim Town did was open my up to the idea of trying out one of the modern Sims games and then looking into a newer Sim City game as well. Money is tight as is time so I am not sure which direction I will go from here all I can say is if I was fifteen years younger I might really enjoy Sim Town more. Right now it just makes me wish I was playing a proper game with similar features. If you have a young child and want to introduce them to the Sim City style of play this is an obvious choice, just keep in mind there is some tricks you will have to do to make it playable on a modern computer, unless you go the browser route which I refuse to do.