Namco’s classic arcade shooter received a perfectly sound port for the NES. Namco took the core of Taito’s Space Invaders and twisted the mechanics underlying the basic “shoot the aliens; all of them” premise just enough to let Galaga stand out from its inspiration. Personally, I think it’s pretty okay, but this is not my genre of choice, and while it deserves a spot on the comp for sure, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time playing it myself (I have it on some Namco Museum PS1 comp somewhere).
- Ghosts ’n Goblins
The sadistic Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a bit of a surprise, given its horror and religious undertones and its punishing difficulty…not to mention that the NES port was handled by notoriously incompetent studio Micronics. That all being said, this was arguably the developer’s best attempt at porting an arcade hit to the console, and Arthur’s quest (and subsequent second quest) to rescue Prinprin isn’t a bad game as it originally was released…just really fucking hard. Plus, the suspend feature will be a huge asset for those who wish to just see it through to the end. Just be aware it’s a compromised conversion of one of the most pain-inducing games — in a franchise priding itself on such maniacal challenge — of all time.
(Personally, I’d rather have Mega Man 3, but as it may become apparent, I have a very strong bias towards that Capcom legend)
I haven’t played the NES port of this game, but I have dabbled a little with the arcade original on the DS Konami Arcade Hits, and it’s a very serviceable horizontal shooter that helped launch one of the prominent franchises in that subgenre. There’s been some tweaking to the code to get it to run on the NES, naturally, but on the whole it runs pretty close to the arcade. Gradius is also the progenitor of the famous “Konami code”; throw it in when the game is paused to get a maxed-out Vic Viper! In short, it’s a fine addition that I can’t really endorse too much because of my limited exposure to it.
- Ice Climber
And here we are at dud #2, Ice Climbers. A very early platformer released a little before Super Mario Bros. would innovate the shit out of the entire game industry, Ice Climbers is a tedious slog up a vertically scrolling mountain with poor jumping controls and slippery responsiveness that makes it frustrating after a little while. Even the two player opportunity can’t save this one. Definitely one that should have been benched for something else (like Ice Hockey or something).
- Kid Icarus
Kid Icarus is one of the more front-loaded games I’ve played; it’s pretty damn tough in the early goings with Pit’s limited skills and health, but perseverance will eventually make the game lessen its challenge and the player will suddenly be shredding through its last couple levels. A big reason for KI to feel so hard at first is its lack of downward scrolling early on, making its somewhat precarious platforming a huge gambit, with waves of enemies making landing on those thin slabs of land all the more complicated. I’ve never made it very far because of this. Not my favorite Nintendo title on the platform, but still may be worth a look if you like Metroid and want something sort of similar.