Publisher: Sammy (1990)
Here's a full-court, five-on-five basketball game along the lines of Double Dribble. Unfortunately, Ultimate Basketball doesn't offer the same level of playability or arcade charm. The players all appear to be holding their "johnsons", and the controls are awkward. Passing is problematic, and too many inbound passes sail right out-of-bounds, which is inexcusable. Stealing is hard, but drawing underserved fouls seems to be no problem at all! No warning is given as the clock ticks down at the end of each half, which is really irritating. Ultimate Basketball's graphics are very good, with a finely detailed court and even players sitting on the bench. Dunks, three pointers, and foul shots are rendered with impressive full-screen animations. These high-flyers are fun to watch, but it's hilarious when they "forget" to dunk and come down with the ball instead - resulting in a traveling violation! The CPU opponent is excessively cheap, intercepting and stealing at will, so you'll want to stick with the two-player action. Ultimate Basketball offers a half-time show, but it's incredibly boring, so what's the point? One thing Ultimate Basketball does have going for it is the music - it rocks. But despite high marks for audio and presentation, Ultimate Basketball takes a back seat to Double Dribble when it comes to b-ball action on the NES. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Codemasters (1991)
Ultimate Stuntman is absolutely terrific, but its name is somewhat misleading. The game offers a variety of unique and exciting stages filled with fast-paced, non-stop shooting action. The first stage plays like a turbo-charged Spy Hunter, as you careen down a road in a car, flying off ramps and shooting everything in sight. The second stage resembles more of a traditional side-scroller, as you jump between platforms, collect keys, and shoot the bad guys. My advice for this stage is to shoot constantly
, even when jumping. Next there's a Crazy Climber-inspired level where you scale the side of a building while avoiding falling objects and giant spiders. Subsequent stages feature additional challenges like bomb disarming, bosses, and more driving action. I had so much fun playing this game that it was hard to stop long enough to write the review. The graphics are outstanding and the control is right on the money. If you want to have a good time on your NES, you can't go wrong with Ultimate Stuntman. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 11,300
Publisher: Icom (1991)
Save mechanism: Battery
Publisher: Nintendo (1984)
Is Nintendo really responsible for this worthless piece of crap
? Granted, most old fighting games (especially pre-Street Fighter 2) have aged poorly, but this one-on-one slugfest is pathetic
. With its cheesy graphics, hokey music, and unresponsive controls, playing Urban Champion is a colossal waste of time! The two cartoonish fighters look and control exactly the same, except one has blue hair and the other has green hair! Your lame attacks are limited to high and low punches, and you can also block. The fights tend to unfold in slow motion, and the sluggish controls negate any chance of skill or strategy playing a role. The sheer monotony of trading punches with the other guy is only relieved by the occasional police car driving by, or a lady dropping a flowerpot from a window. It's somewhat comical how the fighters strike innocent poses until the cop passes, but that novelty wears thin in a hurry. Once you push your opponent to the edge of the screen, he'll roll off, letting you progress to the next screen. Urban Champion's backgrounds are uninspired to say the least, with generic storefronts that cycle endlessly. You can duke it out against a friend or the computer, but I strongly recommend you don't. Personally, I prefer to play a game with more depth - like Pong
for example. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 9,380
1 or 2 player
Vice: Project Doom
Publisher: Sammy (1991)
Sammy is a first-class game developer, so it's no surprise that Vice kicks some serious ass. In Project Doom's storyline aliens have infiltrated the human race and your team of investigators is trying to expose them. Project Doom has a real cinematic flair. Like a motion picture, you play the first stage before
you actually see the title screen! Likewise, well executed cut scenes convey an interesting tale between the stages. Most levels are your standard NES "jump and shoot" fare, but Project Doom is a big step up in terms of quality. Your character, decked out in jeans and a leather jacket, is realistically animated, especially when climbing ladders. He's equipped with short, medium, and long-ranged weapons. Thugs range from spiky-hair creeps, to pumpkin-head freaks, to giant ferrets, to guys in hoods on pogo sticks (huh?). The platform stages are well designed, but occasional narrow ledges account for some cheap deaths, and the only thing worse than falling off a ledge is being knocked off (curses!). Besides the platform stages, there are also break-neck car chases and first-person shooting levels. The car stages play like vertical shooters, with flying cones and roadblocks that are great fun to plow into. The backgrounds look outstanding, with gorgeous city skylines comparable to those in Streets of Rage on the Genesis. With its killer graphics, additive gameplay, and nonstop action, Vice: Project Doom will push your NES to the limit. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1986)
It may look awful, but Volleyball isn't so bad once you get the hang of it. The controls aren't particularly intuitive, so it might take a few practice games before you get comfortable. The teams are six-on-six, and the court is presented from a raised side angle. Behind the court you can see a crowd and scoreboard, and there's even a referee sitting at one end of the net. Between serves there appears to be a lot of "dirty dancing" happening on the court, with players thrusting their hips in a suggestive manner. I have no idea what that's all about. Once the ball is served, one button is used to bump and set, and the other for spike and block. Performing a set requires judging the ball's shadow and carefully positioning your players. Spikes are tough to execute because you need to time your leaps perfectly. It's undeniably satisfying when you execute one though, especially when you nail some poor schmuck in the face. Volleyball is mildly entertaining against a friend or the computer, but I should point out a few issues with the game's design. First, you control three players at a time, but don't know which trio will be selected until the last possible instant. Second, the high-flying ball often goes off the top of the screen, which is seriously problematic when you're trying to time a spike. Volleyball will do in a pinch, but as you've probably guessed by now, there are better volleyball titles for the NES. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Werewolf: The Last Warrior
Publisher: Data East (1990)
Our high score: 11,400
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Jaleco (1991)
Publisher: Nintendo (1984)
In the climax of many old western movies, it was common for the hero and villain to face each other in a shootout in the middle of an empty street as the townsfolk looked on. Each man would place their hand near their gun, but neither would draw until the other guy flinched. Wild Gunman recreates the scenario over and over again, trotting out one gunslinger after the next. There are a nice variety of foes including a tall lanky gunslinger and a short Mexican wearing a poncho. When they yell "fire!", you have literally a fraction of a second to get off a shot. Wild Gunman's controls are very forgiving and highly responsive. Your reaction time is actually displayed on the screen after a successful shot, and it's interesting to see how fast your reflexes are, with times as low as .27. A successful shot results in a comical animation, like a hat flying off or pants falling down. The first of the three variations is easy and repetitive, and I played until I was bored. The second variation adds more challenge as you face two
villains side-by-side. Sometimes they both shoot, but sometimes only one will draw, so you need to pay attention. The third variation depicts the front of a saloon with various characters appearing in the windows. It sounds like fun, but like the first variation, it's too easy and drags on for too long. While not particularly challenging or addicting, the game does have a certain degree of charm and personality. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: B
Our high score: 128,300
Publisher: Epyx (1987)
Wizards and Warriors
Publisher: Rare (1987)
In contrast to the realistic warrior depicted on the game's label, Wizards and Warriors is a somewhat whimsical platformer. You control a goofy-looking knight who hops his way through forests, caves, and castles. I say "hops" because each area is a set of narrow platforms that tend to go up and up. The jumping controls are forgiving enough, but taking a fall can drop you back a long way
. As you're falling past dozens of ledges, you might ask yourself, "Am I going to have to climb all the way back up?
" Yes, I'm afraid you are. Your knight wields a sword (duh!
), but its controls are weird. Pressing a button causes the thing to waggle in front of you. Considering enemies die just by making contact
with the blade, you wonder if hitting a button is even necessary!
The platform jumping is needlessly complicated by endless birds and bugs that relentlessly swarm you. Why must developers inflict these things upon us? Considering the constant damage I seemed to be taking, I'm amazed I made any progress in this game at all! It's rife with design flaws, but Wizards and Warriors is fun to play for score. There are tons of items to collect, and it's satisfying how they flash point totals as you snag them. The soundtrack has a nice Elizabethan flavor that's not unlike Ghosts 'N Goblins
(Capcom, 1986). Wizards and Warriors is not what I had in mind, but it's moderately fun in small doses. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 46,425
Publisher: Epyx (1986)
Wrath of the Black Manta
Publisher: Taito (1989)
Our high score: 57,000
Publisher: Nintendo (1985)
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Our high score: 96,700
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Namco (1988)
It's hard to find fault with such a faithful translation of this "semi-classic" arcade game. Xevious was not only the first vertically-scrolling shooter, but offered the ability to fire missiles at airborne enemies while bombing ground installations below. For best results, I suggest holding down the fire button the whole time and concentrate on timing your bombs. By precisely aiming between two closely-positioned ground targets, it's possible to take both of them out with a single bomb. The scenery consists of generic foliage and brown roads, and the buildings lack the 3D illusion they conveyed in the arcade version. Another difference is the difficulty level. The arcade game was relentlessly hard, but this version is far more accessible. The problem is, once you become proficient at the game, you'll still have to sit through the tedious early stages each time you play. Xevious was also one of the first games to incorporate large "bosses", and thankfully they're not very hard to destroy. One thing I don't
like about Xevious is those black missiles that seem to materialize out of nowhere. The game includes a two-player mode, but it's alternating turns only. Xevious hardly seems like the groundbreaking game it once was, but this well-designed shooter is still a good time. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 59,750
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1989)
Our high score: 23,020
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: Nintendo (1992)
You might be expecting (and hoping for) a side-scrolling romp, but Yoshi is actually a well-constructed Tetris clone. Easy to learn, this little puzzle game is hard to resist! The game "board" features four slots, with objects like ghosts, squid, eggshells, and plants falling from the top. When you stack two of the same type, they disappear and you score. But instead of moving the falling pieces, you swap the columns
using Mario on the bottom of the screen. As with Tetris, the game demands fast reflexes and quick thinking, especially as columns begin to grow. It sounds simple enough, but there's one little wrinkle. If you allow the top half of an egg to fall on a column that contains a bottom half, the two will join and eliminate everything in between - resulting in a nice bonus. This not only adds strategy, but also encourages a certain degree of risk-taking. Yoshi isn't much to look at and the music is only fair, but a game like this doesn't require a lot of flare. Several skill levels and speed variations are available. There's a two-player head-to-head mode, but it's flawed. Instead of competing for score, the winner is the player who lasts longest
, which does not
encourage competitive play. Even so, Yoshi is a charming little title that should appeal to fun-loving gamers of all ages. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2 Fast
Our high score: 810
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Nintendo (1993)
Coming on the heels of the addictive puzzler Yoshi, Yoshi's Cookie provides a completely different challenge. This time you are presented with a grid of cookies of various shapes. You rotate the rows and columns trying to create a complete row or column of the same cookie, which eliminates that row. You must clear all the cookies to advance to the next level. Meanwhile, new rows and columns approach from above and to the right. I like the fact that you can actually "clear" the levels as opposed to playing until you get overwhelmed. I also enjoyed how it's possible to stumble across cool combos accidentally. Yoshi's Cookie is original and fun, but it didn't quite suck me in like the original Yoshi did. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3 Med
Our high score: 10,850
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Pony (1986)
As Zanac beautifully illustrates, a shooter doesn't need cutting-edge graphics or devastating explosions to be satisfying and fun. This game appears totally generic on the surface, but its addictive gameplay is anything but! A vertical shooter of the highest quality, Zanac excels with crisp controls, clean visuals, imaginative weapons, and rock-solid gameplay. Your ship is quite agile, and despite the barrages of missiles you encounter, a skilled player can always find an escape route. The enemies are simple in shape and modest in size, but since they are generated at random, you'll encounter a different pattern of attacks each time you play. That's a pretty innovative concept for an NES title. Your upgradeable main cannon fires forward, but you also have a devastating "special weapon" that comes in four varieties including a spinning force field and timed smart bomb. Special weapon icons are labeled by number, so you can strategically select the best one for your current situation. The game is a blast to play, and there's no sign of slowdown even when dozens of objects fill the screen. Zanac's background graphics are attractive renderings of planet surfaces and space stations, and the high-energy soundtrack will really get the blood pumping. With little fanfare, Zanac's gameplay achieves that perfect balance few other shooters can match. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 93,600
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Publisher: Nintendo (1989)
Save mechanism: Battery
Zelda, The Legend of
Publisher: Nintendo (1986)
Publisher: Kaze (1991)
This might just be the most bizarre title I've played on the NES - or any
system for that matter. Zombie Nation is a side-scrolling shooter that lets you unload rapid-fire missiles to demolish buildings, tanks, aircraft, and even take down a possessed Statue of Liberty. If you were controlling a helicopter this game would make perfect sense. Instead you're controlling the humongous head of some chubby Asian dude who appears to be hocking loogies
at everything in sight. How the "zombies" fit in is anyone's guess. Are those army men firing at me zombies? I don't know, but I like the high-pitched noises they make when I incinerate them. Periodically you'll see a falling body, and catching these will augment your firepower. And firepower is where the game really shines. The degree of destruction you can unleash is truly awesome as you obliterate buildings that instantly go up in flames. Even the game itself struggles to keep up with the carnage, causing your head to flicker badly as a consequence. Take extra care to avoid the laser beams, which pretty much drain your entire life bar. Even those that appear to be in the distance are deadly. The graphics - especially the city skylines - look pretty spectacular. You only get one life, and novice players will find themselves staring at "game over" after just 5 or 10 seconds. You can select among four stages and two difficulty levels. Zombie Nation really took me by surprise. This shooter is so weird, crazy, and downright stupid that I can't get enough of it. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Easy
Our high score: 202,500