Mushroom Hunting: NES Edition

Article by Jake Alley? | January 9, 2011

Nostalgic for old NES games? Any classics you really hate having missed in the first place? Just want to see that style of game design revived? Pretty much broke? Hereís an NES flavored batch of modern-day deals that any fan of 8-bit games will find worth snagging.

Final Fantasy III
Matrix/Square Enix | DS | RPG | Nov. 14, 2006

Square Enix seems intent on shoving the older games in the Final Fantasy series down everyoneís throats over and over, and for the most part itís safe to ignore these efforts. Final Fantasy III, however, stands out amongst the 8-bit offerings in that unlike the first game, it didnít make it over to the U.S. the first time out, and unlike the second, itís actually worth playing. First appearance of the job system and all. This shouldnít be confused with the SNES game released in the U.S. as Final Fantasy III, of course, but by all means hunt down that one too.

Mega Man Anniversary Collection
Atomic Planet/Capcom | GameCube/PS2/Xbox | Anthology | June 22, 2004

The Mega Man series contains at least two of the best games ever to see release on the NES, and even the lousy ones are halfway decent. A few years ago Capcom released an anthology collection of all six on a single disc, along with a couple of weird arcade spinoffs and the nearly universally reviled seventh and eighth games for the SNES and PSX respectively. For those not willing to deal with traditional Mega Man trial and error here and there, a hint system is included, and for veterans who want extra challenge, the way the Gamecube version mapped A and B incorrectly should really screw with your muscle memory.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Konami | PS2 | Stealth Action | March 14, 2006

What does Metal Gear Solid 3 have to do with the NES, you ask? Isnít it a PS2 game? Yes, it is. However, the special edition (Subsistence) came with a bonus disc containing, amongst other things, English translations of the original MSX versions of Metal Gear and its sequel -- and youíll note the lack of a ďSolidĒ in those title. While the first Metal Gear received a somewhat sub-par NES port and made it over the pond, this bonus disc is the only time Metal Gear 2 has been released in the U.S. -- and itís arguably the single best game in the series. Infuriatingly absent is the morse code variant from the original manual, needed to advance beyond a copy protection check, but thatís what GameFAQs is for. Metal Gear Solid 3 is worth playing in its own right if you need extra incentive to find this particular bundle.

Retro Game Challenge
Indies Zero/Namco Bandai/XSeed | DS | Fake Anthology | Feb. 2, 2009

If youíre reading this and own a DS, you must buy this game. Ideally by going back in time far enough to boost sales and get the sequel brought over. While it comes wrapped in an odd Achievement-driven narrative based on a Japanese game show, Retro Game Challenge is really a collection of eight NES-style games which are fully original yet feel like lost classics. It also captures the feel of í80s gaming culture, with an NPC to spout schoolyard rumors, flavorful manuals, and an in-game gaming magazine you can leave ďon your lapĒ in the lower screen to look up cheat codes and hints as you play. All nostalgia aside, though, in one package you get a vertically scrolling shooter, a tricky platformer, and an RPG, each of sufficient quality to be worth buying separately.

Bionic Commando Rearmed
GRIN/Capcom | PS3/Xbox 360/PC | Platformer | Aug. 13, 2008

Bionic Commando: Rearmed is the original NES Bionic Commando with a nice facelift and some extras thrown in. As the original game is one of those rare few NES classics that wasnít kept alive through constant sequels and remakes, itís quite possible that you may never have played it. If thatís the case, the remake isnít a bad place to jump in. Budget price, platforming challenges that give you a grappling hook instead of a jump button. The only better update to the Bionic Commando experience would be for someone to throw a perfectly emulated version of the original Umihara Kawase up on WiiWare.

Mega Man 9
Inti Creates/Capcom | WiiWare | Platformer | Sept. 26, 2008

Two years ago, Capcom finally caught up with the rest of the world in realizing that the Mega Man series peaked with either Mega Man 2 or 3. So, in either the craziest or most sane move ever to grace the industry, they rolled back everything about the series, from the gameplay to the graphics to the wonderful musicóbasically, itís the midpoint between the two. That is to say, you canít slide, but they threw in Rush. The result is easily the best in what we have just established is an excellent series, and itís available as a download for your console of choice for only $10. This year saw the follow-up, Mega Man 10, which is a little less inspired all around but still good for a fresh fix of classic platforming.

Zarathustra Productions | PC | Platformer | June 7, 2010

Eversion is profoundly influenced by the original Super Mario Bros?. There are the happy clouds, the Goomba-like enemies, the general design of World 1-1, and the fact that itís even called ďWorld 1-1.Ē It also maintains a certain loyalty to NES game design, getting a lot of milage out of a small set of elements, using a very limited color palette, low resolution, and controls consisting only of walk left, walk right, jump, and one other button. Itís rather short, but itís a good solid puzzle platformer, available for free of the developerís website. Thereís also a ďHigh DefinitionĒ version available for $5 with a third ending added for those feeling less cheap.

La Mulana
Asterizm/Nigoro | PC/WiiWare | Platformer | May 27, 2005

Much like Eversion is an homage to NES platformers, La Mulana is an homage to exploratory MSX platformers. It lies somewhere between Metroid and Montezumaís Revenge in terms of overall level design, and is surprisingly huge and well-designed for a freeware indie game. Much like Eversion, if youíd prefer to throw money at it, a WiiWare version sporting upgraded graphics is slated for release in the coming months.

Jeff Lait | GBA/DS/iPhone/Mac/PC | Roguelike | 2003-2010

Powder is an 8-bit-style roguelike with an extreme emphasis on keeping your god of choice happy, along with the all the others ideally. It was originally developed as a freeware homebrew GBA title strangely enough, and has since been ported to practically everything one can carry around with them. Thatís really about all there is to say. Itís free, itís a roguelike, it doesnít play exactly like Nethack.

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