- Kirby’s Adventure
The “newest” game on the NES Classic Edition happens to be one of the absolute gems on the collection. While a bit on the easy side, Kirby’s second…adventure leaps and bounds over the Game Boy origin by adding in Kirby’s trademark power stealing ability, making level exploration hit the right degree of satisfaction. Plenty of hidden buttons lurk in the game too, giving an extra incentive to look everywhere. Charming graphics, stellar music and some pretty memorable boss fights further cement Kirby’s Adventure as a standout on a device full of them.
- Mario Bros.
I don’t mean to be harsh on poor Mario Bros., as the game itself is fine. I’ve always found the NES port lacking in some way; it doesn’t seem as responsive as I remember the arcade game feeling. Also, it’s at its best in two player, which Super Mario Bros. 3 manages to pull off in its silly minigame mode better than this version does. So there’s little justification in my mind for this to be here beyond name recognition. Again, I’d rather see some other game be here…like Contra or something. :p
- Mega Man 2
Arguably the finest game in the entire Mega Man franchise, Mega Man 2 is more than worthy of being a part of this collection and rightfully deserves inclusion over its predecessor. Refining the somewhat wild design of the original game into a very well-oiled and challenging sequel that made Capcom a major player on the NES and beyond, as well as establishing Mega Man as one of the all-time greats in the medium. The riches in game design (only really marred by those damned disappearing blocks in Heat Man’s stage and questionably the Quick Lasers) are paramount, and Mega Man’s powers here would go on to be considered his finest set in the classic line (although Metal Blades are a bit overpowered). Exceptional music, too. In short, a definitive classic.
Metroid is a pioneering work; it remolded the concept of an action game into one more interested in exploration than in gunplay. With vertical and horizontal scrolling and a vast labyrinth of caverns to poke around in stuffed with secrets, the sprawling world of Metroid deserves mention and accolades alone. But it also brought along Samus Aran, Nintendo’s first starring woman, and her Power Suit and its myriad of abilities made her a star. While Super Metroid would take the rough foundation laid here and turn it into gameplay gold, the crust of the series here is pretty damn impressive, too.
- Ninja Gaiden
Honesty time: I’ve never gotten as into Ninja Gaiden as much as many of my contemporaries; it’s a solid action romp that stands among the best on the system, but I’ve always found it a little finicky and cheap for my tastes. I blame the constantly respawning foes and some unfair level design primarily made that way by those enemies. That being said, Ryu’s first quest is a great action game that when it is clicking, it simply flows. Backed with a pulsing soundtrack and a pioneering set of cutscenes, this is a genre definer for sure. I just don’t dig it all that much in contrast to Mega Man and Castlevania.