I’ve been watching a lot of Angry Video Game Nerd lately, and if you don’t know who that is feel free to check him out at Cinemassacre.com (he swears a lot, be warned). After watching him play a bunch of crappy games, I’ve been thinking about the past and my own experiences with NES games while growing up. Come join me on a trip down memory lane if you feel inclined.
I feel like I’m getting old… back in my day, we didn’t have the Internet to look up walkthroughs or go on boards to ask people to help out. We had to either find a friend with the same game nearby, figure it out ourselves, call the Nintendo Hotline (and run up a phone bill), or refer to our trusty Nintendo Powers. If the Nintendo Power issue you got that month didn’t cover the game you were playing, and you got stuck, you were just plain screwed at that point.
The one thing I remember most about Nintendo Power was the Top 30 list of games that were ranked by something… and who knows what. Another thing I loved about Nintendo Power was when they gave me a free game for subscribing. Apparently back in the early 90s (I had to look it up at Wikipedia because I can’t even remember when I got the subscription), Nintendo Power was giving away Dragon Warrior free with a new Nintendo Power subscription. Although it was a primitive RPG, it still remains one of my favorites.
So after you read through your Nintendo Power, you still probably needed a little help with some games. Games like Battletoads REQUIRED Game Genie to beat. I have yet to meet someone that can beat Battletoads for the NES without using a Game Genie/Stage Select code. The game is borderline impossible with Game Genie, never mind without it. Some of the Game Genie codes were insanely helpful, like extra money in some games, unlimited lives, invincibility, etc. Some of the Game Genie codes make you wonder why they even wrote them up to begin with. Partial invulnerability is one of them… like what the heck does even mean?
Another thing people used Game Genie for was to just play games normally. If you weren’t able to get a game to work in the NES straight-up (more to come on that later in this article), you would attach the Game Genie and sometimes that might just do the trick.
Now, the NES had its share of crappy games. I wasn’t much of a renter, so I would buy a bunch of games and some of them would be awesome, and a lot of them would be complete and utter garbage. Some of the garbage games I own include but are not limited to Win, Lose, or Draw, Jaws, Yo Noid!, and The Karate Kid. Sadly you had no way to know which games were good or bad before you bought them because there was no Internet. You had to, again, read a Nintendo Power review, ask a friend, or just trust that the series was good or the publisher had a good enough reputation ( NOT LJN ). Not only were a lot of games crappy, they were still $40-$50 a piece!
Amongst the garbage games were a lot of “gems”. Some of my favorite NES games were Kid Icarus, Star Tropics 1&2, Contra, Super Spike V’Ball, Blades of Steel, the Marios, the Zeldas, the TMNTs, and a couple others. Probably one of the games that I played the most would have to be Battletoads, and it is an amazing game… but nearly impossible.
Keeping the NES alive (Tales of the flashing red light)
Now who would have thought that after all the people blowing into their NES cartridges it would actually be bad because it would get moisture on the connectors and cause damage . Heck, the fad was so big they even made a shirt after it . People blew into their NES carts because the NES was notorious for not making a connection with the cartridge. You’d see graphics issues, the power light on the NES would blink constantly, and the game would break when you started playing.
The way to fix it, and it took me years sadly to figure it out, is to replace the 72-pin connector in the NES . I replaced my NES’s pin connector, cleaned my games (with some rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip), and the games start up without a fuss (well the ones that didn’t get too much oxidation from blowing on them for years). If you have your NES still around and you still play it as much as me, you might want to look into it.
Well I hope you enjoyed my trip down 8-bit memory lane. If you have any stories to share, feel free to post them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!