Ranking My NES Games

I owned only five games for my NES. This is in part because my parents are cheap and in part because I got the NES late in its life cycle (because my parents are cheap). When you have only five games for your system, you get enough mileage out of them remember them clear as day 20 years later. I could surely go another few decades without forgetting a single detail of these games, but continuing to procrastinate on an NES post will only make me seem older.

1. Crystalis




  • Grinding
  • Cartridge frequently lost its save data
  • Not crappy enough to get a sequel

Final Grade: ++

2. Baseball Simulator 1.000


  • Ultra League teams had special powers
    • Pitches
      • Zigzag
      • Invisible
      • Super fast
      • Cannonball
    • Hits
      • Earthquake
      • Make a catching fielder fly into the outfield wall and drop the ball
      • Spinning ball that’s impossible to pick up
    • Fielding
      • Jump 50 feet into the air to catch a fly ball
      • Other powers probably (I didn’t use fielding powers much)
  • Good pitching/batting graphics


  • Boring title
  • Crappy graphics when fielding/baserunning
  • Non-Ultra League teams played normal baseball (boring)

Final Grade: +

3. Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt


  • Groundbreaking


  • Quickly surpassed by sequels and spinoffs

Final Grade: +

4. Tecmo Super Bowl


  • Cut scenes (because the regular graphics were so bad)
  • Play selection screen
  • You could play as the NY Giants


  • Shitty graphics
  • Seriously shitty graphics
  • Not ESPN NFL 2K5

Final Grade: ~

5. Flying Dragon


  • One-on-one fighting system was pretty cool if you’d never seen another one
  • The spin kick


  • Repetitive, ugly, bitch-work side-scrolling segments between one-on-one fights
  • Bulls-eyes telling you where to aim/defend
  • No ending, just repeating everything over again

Final Grade: ~~

15 Replies to “Ranking My NES Games”

  1. Crystalis is till better than any action RPG game ever made. And here’s some snazzy Crystalis remix thing:

    When I played Super Tecmo Bowl, I had one strategy: Select a tackle and button mash in hopes of sacking the QB. It was the only remotely consistent strategy I could figure out.

    Those Culture Brain games were fascinating. They were unabashedly “foreign” in that they didn’t redo the box art to look more “American-friendly.” I always wanted to rent them because they looked so different, and they always sounded cool on paper, but they always ended up sucking pretty hard. Can’t think of a single game of theirs I ended up liking, but I kept trying.

    • I cannot in good conscience refute your claim. Not that I’ve played many action RPGs. Maybe if Link to the Past (only Zelda I’ve played to a significant extent) had a Crystalis-like spell-casting dimension, or maybe if Kingdom Hearts cut out all the sap, I could rate those ahead of Crystalis. (Those are still maybes.)

      My Tecmo Super Bowl strategy was to chase after the ball and button-mash when I got close. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I read instruction manuals…

      In the case of my two Culture Brain games, I had no idea they were foreign when I was younger (nor did I think any of my games might be Japanese). I thought the baseball teams on the cover were either minor league or fictitious, and the players look only slightly less white than most anime characters. Flying Dragon definitely has that Asian feel to it, but all that ninja kung fu stuff is supposed to be Asian anyway. Interesting note: the master in the Flying Dragon backstory is named Juan. Maybe that was changed over?

  2. Now I want to play Crystalis. I love rpgs, and it sounds super awesome. Can’t wait for the post forthcoming.

    • It’s pretty quick if you know what you’re doing. Some guy on YouTube beat it in 53 minutes while taking advantage of only one glitch that probably saved him about 5 minutes. I’m pretty sure I could beat the game within five hours. I’d give a beginner 10-15 hours if he’s unafraid to rely on a strategy guide when he’s stuck. The moral of the story is that when a game is this short, you could play it in the time it takes you to decide whether you want to play it.

  3. I’ve been greatly looking forward to playing Chrysalis, since action-RPGs are my genre of focus. I played a few minutes of it in a browser and quickly realized I needed to not be playing it in a browser, and also that it was going to take a lot of patience, but it definitely seemed cooler than Zelda. It’s a shame that the only remakes of the game are supposedly shittier than the original.

  4. You think your parents were cheap? When I was a kid, I exclusively played free PC games that were included with cereal boxes. My first console was a Gamecube.

    (First time linked by Baka-Raptor? I’ve hit the big time!)

    • That’s pretty terrible. I was only deprived enough to resort to playing one cereal box game.

      Your review of ESPN NFL 2K5 is everything a fellating review ought to be. I never played it and know nothing about sports video games in the 3D era, yet I now recognize it as the greatest football video game of all time.

  5. Top 5 NES Games in no particular order

    Dragon Warrior 4
    First 8 bit game to have a great story spanning multiple chapters making the final advent of the hero feel every much as deserved and necessary as it should be. Setting up the world and atmosphere before you take over the hero is a pretty great literary device in my opinion. The diverse ensemble of characters ensures that you will find at least 4 to your liking. The DS remake is certainly worth a look.

    My favorite head to head couch game. It’s like Chess except your pieces get to battle it out. The more rare or useful the piece the cooler monster you get. The pieces somewhat aligned with their traditional roles as I recall, the rook was either a golem/troll, the bishop a valkyrie/wight, the knight a unicorn/bassilisk, your queen as a phoenix/dragon and your king as a wizard/sorceress. They remade a PC version recently called Archon Classic which is worth a look.

    R.C. Pro AM
    Racing Remote Control Cars that could fire rockets before Mario Kart existed. Like any good arcade game the levels were endless until you lost and progressively more challenging.

    All the reasons you describe although I’m sad to say I never made it past the third sword before my NES started the slow spiral of death.

    Dragon Spirit: The New Legend
    My first experience with a bullet hell shooter. The princess is in another castle but luckily you are a badass two headed dragons that fires lightning all over the place.

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