Ninja Jajamaru-kun
Jaleco | Platformer | 1985 [JP] | 2007 [US Virtual Console]

A beloved, iconic game in its native Japan, we here in America somehow missed out on the adventures of Jajamaru-kun for years until Nintendo mysteriously decided to greenlight it for release on Wiiís Virtual Console a few years ago. Not the most explicable of choices, but not entirely unwelcome. Itís no masterpiece, but at least it gives Retro Game Challenge fans context for appreciating the superior Jajamaru pastiche, Robot Ninja Haggleman. -- Jeremy Parish




Super Mario All-Stars
Nintendo | Anthology | 1994

As you should well know by now, the game we received in the U.S. as Super Mario Bros. 2 was a hack of something completely different. Japanís Mario 2 didnít arrive in its original form until 2000ís Super Mario Bros. DX for Game Boy Color... though we did receive a tarted-up remake in 1994ís Super Mario All-Stars. Something of a forgotten masterpiece, All-Stars was a great value, but it was also a major innovator: Rather than simply anthologizing a bunch of NES classics, it also introduced the concept of remakes altogether... something the industry thrives on these days. -- Jeremy Parish




Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa
Konami | Platformer | 1988 [JP] | 2008 [US Virtual Console]

Presumably a casualty of Nintendoís strict annual publisher allocations, Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (ďI Am Called Bio-Miracle UpaĒ) is a pretty respectable action platformer from Konami, in case the proliferation of the company logo in the screen above didnít give it away. While hardly a top-tier game, it was a respectable product from a genius developer. Happily, Americans can try the game for themselves via Virtual Console. -- Jeremy Parish




Uforia
Sunsoft | Platformer | 1992 [EU] | 2010 [US Virtual Console]

While it hasnít yet seen the light of day as of press time, Sunsoft and Victor Ireland have vowed that Virtual Console will be seeing Uforia before long. Thatís great news, as the game is widely regarded as one of the best NES games never released in America. This cartoonish, open-ended platformer was localized for Europe but never the U.S., and has long been on the short list of NES games worth importing from the UK. -- Jeremy Parish




The Minibosses
Some Musical Dudes | NES Cover Band | 1999

When I was a kid, playing NES and geeking out nearly as much to classic rock, I used to think how amazing it would be to get a band together to play blistering versions of my favorite game tunes. I didnít know any instruments, and of course that entire concept seemed patently ridiculous, because what musician would want to play NES music? Then, a decade later, Penny Arcade linked to a band called The Minibosses and I realized that I was actually kind of a visionary genius. Also, NES tunes make for amazing garage rock. -- Jeremy Parish




Etsy
Crafting Collective | Website | 2005

Videogame blogs (like this one!) have very little to offer the world besides poorly sourced misinformation and badly expressed opinions, but they have resulted in a few interesting side effects. The most interesting of them is probably the propagation of videogame related arts and crafts, and Etsy.com is the prime purveyor of the artform. Some might question the ethics and legality of selling doilies based on copyrighted images and characters, but given that Iíve just put together a 400-page book full of NES screenshots, Iím not going to press my luck. Besides, Iíd hate to lose my primary source for knit NES memorabilia. -- Jeremy Parish




ROM Hacks
Bored Hackers | Modified Software Code | 199X

Few pursuits in fandom are quite so noble as the fan translation; dedicated hackers spend months translating and reprogramming games to bring unlocalized masterpieces to their fellow gamers. Thereís lower-hanging fruit on this tree, though, and those danglers take the form of ROM hacks. While youíll occasionally stumble across a comprehensive hack that completely reinvents a classic and brings it new perspective, most ROM hacks just make Mario naked or turn the heroes of River City Ransom into Wilford Brimley. You know: high art. -- Jeremy Parish




Sprite Comics
Internet Cartoonists | Copy-and-Paste Comix | 1997-20XX

Some bored nerd somewhere once looked at the burgeoning webcomics scene and wanted in on it despite a complete lack of artistic skill. ďNo problem,Ē he thought. ďIíll just rip some sprites from my favorite videogames and write new and glorious adventures for the characters!Ē Tragically, though, most sprite comics are written by kids whose writing skills are as clumsy as their drawing abilities, making this one of the less-respectable iterations of the noble webcomic tradition. Still better than ďLove Is...,Ē though.-- Jeremy Parish




The Wizard
Universal Pictures | Film | 1989

Not content to merely rule the television, Nintendo set its sights on the silver screen as well. Their aspirations took the form of what basically amounted to a 90-minute commercial for NES games starring Fred Savage and the eventually famous Jenny Lewis. The Wizard was basically Rain Man for the Nintendo set, and its main draw was the promise of a few minutesí footage of the upcoming Super Mario Bros. 3. These days, its main draw is that you saw it when you were eight and canít shake your ironic affection for it. -- Jeremy Parish




Nintendo Cereal System
Ralston-Purina | Extruded Corn Paste | 1988

In the fine tradition of C-3POs and other extruded corn paste breakfast confection ostensibly tied to popular childrenís properties, the Nintendo Cereal System had an extremely clever name and practically zero relation to the Nintendo properties crudely rendered on the front of its box. Not that we cared as we spent our Saturday mornings glued to the television in the thrall of a sugar coma. -- Jeremy Parish




NES Advantage
Nintendo | Peripheral | 1987

What with America missing out on the Famicom Disk System and all, the NES Advantage was the must-have add-on for our consoles. Not only was it a solidly built joystick with great response and slick styling, but it added auto-fire and a slow-motion mode that made action games far more accessible (even if it went about implementing slow-mo by repeatedly toggling the pause button). All the cool kids had one of these. -- Jeremy Parish




Worlds of Power
Scholastic Books | Loose Novelizations | 1990

When parents began to complain that cartoons like G.I. Joe were nothing but glorified ads, Marvel Sunbow added 60-second PSAs so they could pretend their long-form toy commercials were socially responsible. Worlds of Power was probably borne of the same need to impress parents; Scholastic, Nintendo, and ďF.X. NineĒ teamed up to create whitewashed versions of the NESís most popular games. See, kids could say, showing off their latest Reading Is Fundamental haul, videogames can make you smarter! Now please buy me Castlevania II so I can track down this ďgraveyard duckĒ they keep talking about. -- Jeremy Parish




Bio Force Ape
Seta | Platformer | Unreleased

Long believed a game forever lost after appearing at CES in the early í90s before vanishing from sight in both Japan and America, Bio Force Ape became the subject of rumors and hoaxes for years. Then the actual production ROM showed up in a Japanese auction. Having played it, I can see why Seta canned it; the game is bizarre and feels unfinished. Yet that surrealism (players control a mutant monkey that suplexes his way through blast processed levels) also means its legacy is greater than the one that almost got away. Itís also really damn weird. -- Jeremy Parish




Battle Kid and the Fortress of Peril
Sivac Games | Platformer | 2010

With Battle Kid and the Fortress of Peril, the NES has come full circle. Blantly inspired by I Wanna Be the Guy and other masochistic NES-inspired modern-day action games, Battle Kid takes that style of play back to the source as a full-on brand new NES release in 2010, cartridge and all. All thatís missing is the Seal of Quality and a cheap, photocopied manual replacement since the rental shop lost the original. The action is insanely difficulty, its existence is insanely cool, and the whole thing is just kind of plain olí insane, too. -- Jeremy Parish




Aliens
Square | Platform Shooter | Unreleased

And just to prove that the NES lives on well beyond its official discontinuation, the past couple of weeks have seen yet another fascinating addition to the platform's history: the revelation of another lost prototype game. This one is notable (and sold at auction for tons of money) primarily for the names attached; it's a Square-developed title based on Aliens. Square's Aliens actually made it to market for MSX, and this appears to be a port of that work, or perhaps the original version that was later reworked for MSX. Whatever the case, it's a painfully amateurish attempt at a Contra-style shooter and goes a long way toward explaining why Final Fantasy was Square's desperate last bid to stay in business. -- Jeremy Parish