5 NES Games That I Played Far Too Much

Whilst it wasn’t my first machine for gaming, the NES was one of the most significant gaming systems I ever owned.  Over its many, many years of loyal service I played a lot of games on it, either owned or borrowed.  Some stuck in my memory for various reasons, some good, some bad.  The games below are the ones I remember playing far more than others over those formative years, for better or worse.  Take a look!

The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda

Alright, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way here.  I loved this game and played it so many times.  Yes, I opened the map that came with it for if you were stuck.  Yes, I used the “Zelda” cheat.  And yes, I needed a guide to get to the end of the game.  But damn was it a great journey at the time.

Legend of Zelda NES
It’s dangerous to go alone…

The features of this game shaped pretty much every subsequent game in the series, with a focus on dungeons that introduced new items with associated puzzles, a gradual increase in strength as you explored the land, and of course the now iconic boomerang.  Pretty much everything here set the stage for a series that will likely be remembered for as long as the hobby exists.  It still holds up surprisingly well to this day, and there are certain areas, bosses, and moments that are forever etched in my memory.

Kabuki: Quantum Fighter

This is a less well known one, and wasn’t actually all that good in hindsight.  But at the time I loved this game!  It’s a platformer (because of course) in which you are sent inside a computer that it trying to take over the world or some such nonsense.  Obviously your avatar inside the virtual world threw computer chips at enemies, or attacked by whipping your long red hair at them.  It made no sense.  Enemies ranged from ninjas, to giant alien hell beasts for seemingly no reason, and the levels seemed to be completely unconnected.

Kabuki NES
Little known fact: your computer has a sewer system in it.

But I loved it for some reason!  Maybe it was because each level presented you with a new weapon to play with, or due to the fact that it was fairly short so the end was always in sight (although it took me forever to finish it).  Either way, the shonky graphics, silly theme, and slightly off controls didn’t manage to stop me from playing a hell of a lot of this game.

Marble Madness

I hate this game and also love this game.  My sister and I played this to death for some reason.  It wasn’t good as such, but it had that addictive quality that so many arcade games managed to include.  The concept was simple: guide your marble through the obstacles to the goal before time runs out!

Marble Madness
I know there were lots of different routes through the levels, but I could never figure them out.

Firstly, time carried over from level to level (6 in all) meaning you had that constant feeling of pressure.  Those early levels needed to be perfect for you to have enough time later on.  Secondly, the obstacles in your way were hard as hell.  Blowers would launch you off cliffs, enemy marbles would bash you around, and for some reason waves would send you flying off course.  Finally, the isometric view combined with the momentum your marble had made control very difficult, but without feeling unfair.  The sense of satisfaction of rolling around a corner with perfect pace was wonderful!  I think I only finished it once in spite of playing it countless times…

Super Mario Bros. 3


Another obvious one.  Well it’s obvious for a reason as this is often referred to as one of the best platformers ever made.  I actually don’t remember getting this, but I remember playing it a lot.  I remember being amused by the frog suit, impressed by the world map, and confused about being able to transform into a statue.  I never found that especially useful.  Anyway, there was so much variety here!

Super Mario Bros 3 NES
I loved the map. In hindsight it doesn’t really add much, but it was a cool feature at the time.

The levels were impressively varied too, with all your standard sand, ice, grass, etc. levels having their own spins.  Maybe the enemies would be giant, perhaps you’re be on an airship, or there was always the possibility that the sun would try to murder you.  There were secrets!  Mini games!  Different bosses (well, different-ish)!  I finished this one more times than I can remember, and I’d love to see it on the Switch.  Come on, Nintendo.  Where’s that virtual console?

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I’ve mentioned this one before.  This game crops up on various lists, normally talking about how damn (aha!) annoying one of the levels is.  In spite of the difficulty, I played this a lot.  I don’t remember finishing it, but I remember loving it to bits, even during that horrendous underwater level.  The turtles were all different enough thanks to their weapons (Donatello being amazing, Raphael being useless), and the levels suitably different to each other.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer April
The bosses were pretty good too.  I remember fighting the Technodrome and thinking it should be much bigger though.

I loved that fact that if one of your turtles was defeated, you had a chance to find them tied up in one of the later areas, giving you a chance to rescue them.  I’d never seen something like that before.  There was a map to explore with buildings and sewers to find.  Then there was that super catchy overworld music then gets stuck in my head for hours at a time.  When I get my games room with the NES hooked back up, I’m going to want to play this one again.

This was a tricky one to write, as there were quite a lot of games to choose from.  Mega Man4 was finished over and over again (thank god for that password system).  Burai Fighter was an odd scrolling shooter that felt pretty unique to me at the time, and one I don’t hear referenced very often these days.  Rad Racer and Duck Hunt got their fair share of action too.  I could go on, but I won’t waste any more of your time apart from to ask you what your favourite NES games were.  What did you play over and over again?  Let me know!

29 thoughts on “5 NES Games That I Played Far Too Much

  1. This is a great list and those are some fantastic games, though I know near to nothing about Kabuki: Quantum Fighter.

    Regarding the NES, I remember playing Super Mario Bros. 2 religiously, and I still break that out every so often. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was another one (I always forget it was ‘Hero’ over that way!) and man, I had nightmares about that dam level every so often. I wish I had stronger memories of playing games on the system growing up as much as I played those two. Friday the 13th might have been a distant third along, and I know I played quite a bit of Rad Racer and Marble Madness, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did like Rad Racer quite a lot! Kabuki was a weird one. I don’t remember getting it and I have no idea why I would have picked it out over other games. I played it avidly for a long time though.

      Oh, and SMB2 is secretly the best one 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      1. My cousin has T&C Surf Design and played that all the time, so I definitely had my share of that growing up. He also loved the Jaws game- and boy, was that a winner.

        He did introduce me to Zelda 2, though, so I guess it wasn’t all bad. Haha. I’ll have to try out Kabuki once I get my hands on it. Gotta love trying games that other folks grew up with that you haven’t experienced at all!

        …and the secret is safe with me about SMB2. Just don’t let anyone else know. There could be revolution. 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The NES is responsible for my life-long adoration of video games, without question. My top 5 most-played would easily be Contra, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Super Mario Bros 2 USA, and Mike Tyson’s Punch-out. Mega Man 2 is a close 5th.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a great list! I played The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3, The Little Mermaid and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure a ton growing up. I still play most of those really regularly.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to love it for the music that played whenever you got on a horse. The gameplay is pretty ridiculous – you need to jump on random background bits trying to find “historical baits” to lure misplaced historical figures back to their regular time period. I think there’s four baits in each “world” and I’ve only ever managed to find 3 at most. It’s a true smash-your-head-against-the-wall kind of game. I love it though!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m on the Super Mario Bros. 3 train, too. For a time it was *all* I played on the NES. And then I played it again and again on the SNES thanks to Super Mario All-Stars. Such a classic!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Zelda is #1 for me as I still enjoy playing it today, I never was a fan of SMB 2, don’t know I just never got into it. I had fun with Mega Man 2, Contra and Super C. And yes Mario 3 what a great game!.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s pretty weird, and the fact that your main weapon is hair when you’re inside a computer doesn’t check out! I think they had a platformer and wrapped the computer stuff around it. I’ve got a sudden urge to play it now.


  6. SMB3 and Zelda make my list too. I have played Ninja turtles a fair bit and have dabbled in Marble Madness. I remember seeing a Quantum Fighter walk through in Nintendo Power and thinking it looked really awesome… have wanted to try it out ever since.

    A few of my biggest time wasters would have to be Dr Mario and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also I thought I’d add Mario 2 (US version) to that list. As was mentioned above, Mario 2 is often considered to be too different than other Mario games. Yet, it stands up surprisingly well on its own merits.

      Dare I say it, the tie to mario bros perhaps holds this game back a tad. I’m pretty confident that if it was the exact same game, with no connection to the mario series, it might have been more warmly received.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When it was released as Doki Doki Panic in Japan I believe it was reasonably well received. But slapping a known franchise on it probably made it sell very well in the West!


    2. Kabuki was a weird one, as in no way did it feel like you were inside a computer. There were monsters, sewers, and alien ships. Mind you, who was thinking about plot back then?

      I never did play Punch Out at the time. Feels like something I really missed out on.


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