“There is nothing new under the sun.” King Solomon said that, and I’m pretty sure he cribbed it from someone else, possibly someone who was reviewing classic games. Given the preponderance of web reviewers obsessed with the classic Nintendo, one might well ask why anyone would bother setting out on a project to review every single Nintendo game ever made. The answer is actually pretty simple: because I want to.
I’m John, this is Every NES Game.
The Story So Far…
I have loved the Nintendo Entertainment System since the first time I saw it and held its boxy little controller in my chubby little eight-year-old hands. I remember marveling at how “realistic” the graphics were; no longer was the protagonist a glowy box: this was a THIRD GEN system with THIRD GEN graphics! Mario has a moustache – and you didn’t even have to read the manual to know that! This WAS the future.
A Primer on the First Three Generations of Gaming
To really understand system generations, you have to first understand things like release cycles, market demand, competition and other economic stuff that I really don’t want to bother going into right now. Just take my word: game systems of the same gen always release at about the same time.
The First Gen systems are the extremely early game systems that were meant for commercial use, such as the Coleco and Magnavox Odessey. I’m pretty sure my old friend the Gordon owned one or both of these systems, and now he works on computers. Meanwhile, I spent my childhood cutting the heads off crickets and watching their corpses hop. Now, I study law. Hard to say who got the better deal.
The Second Gen systems that come to mind are the Atari 2600, Intellevision, and the second gen Odessey. I cut my proverbial gaming teeth on the Atari 2600, playing the likes of Demon Attack, Pitfall, E.T. and Pac-Man. Even in my childhood, when these things were still magical, I was dimly aware that there was something “off” about those last two, but beggars couldn’t be choosers.
The Third Gen systems are the likes of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Master System (which no one cared about), and the Atari 7800 (which no one remembers). Many children never played the 7800 or Master System, but almost every 80’s child out there at some point played the original NES.
There are, if Wikipedia serves, 799 officially licensed Nintendo games in the North America region, a figure that doesn’t account for the myriad unlicensed games that were released by third party companies. As a child I played, at one point or another, maybe a few hundred of these, sustained in my expensive habit by innumerable video game swap meets, rental places and pawn shops.
Now that I’m an adult, though, I can play them all, because grown-ups can do what they want! Even have ice cream for dinner!
I intend to give all the games an overall rating from 1 to 5. This rating isn’t going to be a fancy breakdown of the sound quality, the graphics or the challenge, because normal people don’t play games to see pretty pictures, hear beeps that sound slightly cooler than other beeps or even fall off the same stupid cliff 150 times in a row. I’m rating these games based on whether I enjoyed playing them, pure and simple. Then I’ll explain why I did or didn’t enjoy the game. If the game sucks, I’ll make this brief. The numbers will roughly correspond to the following descriptions:
|Indicates that the software is not a game, or the game is unplayable without one of the rarer (and, by extension, more useless) peripherals. “Games” requiring the use of the Power Pad or R.O.B. will automatically get this rating. It’s ok – none of them deserve better than a 1 anyway.
|The game is broken in some fundamental way. It simply does not work or fails to deliver the basics of its reason for existing.
|This game is dismally awful and beyond any hope of redemption due to subject matter, gameplay or interface.
|Dismally awful and beyond redemption, but at least it tried.
|Playable, but not something you’re likely to want to play.
|Playable, but not particularly worthy of attention. Most likely suffers from some crippling error.
|A decent game; basically any game that would be worth playing all the way through, but is otherwise unimpressive.
|A good game that is playable, enjoyable and interesting.
|A very good game; usually one with significant replay ability or addictive qualities
|An excellent game; one that has stood the test of time even by modern standards.
|A gem among games. A game so classic or emblematic that it should appeal universally and without fail to nearly every classic gamer.
A Little Help From My Friends
Throughout this blog, I hope to include the opinion of at least one alternate reviewer for most games. Whenever possible, this will be someone whose opinion differs vastly from mine. Of course, dear reader, you’re welcome to contribute in your own way – preferably by starting flame wars in the comments section.
The Bottom Line
As I said before, I’m doing this because I want to – because I love the NES, but I’m also doing this because I believe it will be entertaining for some, nostalgic for others and potentially even helpful. After all, a lot of these games are widely avaialable for purchase, if not from Nintendo directly then on the robust secondhand market. This information could be the difference between purchasing a hidden gem like Cocoron and a horrid stinkpile like Chubby Cherub.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.