The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released in North American back in 1985, when I was 4 years old. Soon after its release we had one in our home, and many of the games we played as kids on the NES still stand out as favorites of mine. Of the games we owned at home, and played at our friend’s houses, there were various features and attributes that stood out as “wow” moments: something exceptional, strange, or exciting. If you recall any of your own “wow” moments not listed below from your NES experiences I encourage you to share them in the comments.
#1 - A Second Quest
As if the first quest wasn't good enough, The Legend of Zelda also include an entirely separate second quest, with notable changes such as alterations to item and dungeon locations. This added a new level of depth and attributed a high replay value to an already fantastic game.
#2 - Stealing Boss Powers
Mega Man introduced a new feature to gaming that still holds up today: the ability to steal the powers of the bosses you defeat. Not only was it fun to absorb and use unique powers, but those powers also acted as game mechanics necessary to progress in the game. E.g. specific powers were stronger against specific bosses and others were needed to clear pathways. This encouraged players to determine the best path for challenging bosses, strategies determined by trial and error, word of mouth, and Nintendo Power magazine.
#3 - This Isn't the ArcadeStrider - arcade version (left) and NES version (right)
I remember the joy of playing Strider in the arcade: the beautiful animations as the character graciously flipped in the air, the stunning VFX as you attacked, and the rich environments. The day I brought home the NES version was a day of grand excitement...And then I played it. I was shocked by how simplified it was, and didn't understand at such a young age why it was so different.
#4 - Dynamic Time Change
Unlike the original Castlevania, a traditional linear adventure, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest allowed the player more freedom of exploration. And with the addition of a day and night system, the player had to be tactful not only about where to venture, but when and how far as well, as enemies would be more difficult to defeat at night time. Surprisingly, every night seemed to be cursed.
#5 - Mr. DreamPunch-Out!! - Mike Tyson (left) and Mr. Dream (right)
Originally released in Japan without Mike Tyson, Punch-Out!! added Tyson for the American release and added him into the later Japanese versions as well. But after Tyson's 3 year contract expired he was replaced with Mr. Dream and the title of the game was shortened from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! to just Punch-Out!!
#6 - Female HeroMetroid - second quest without the suit (left) and completing the game (right)
In a time when the video game hero character was dominated by men, the unknowing audience of Metroid assumed that the armor-clad space bounty hunter Samus Aran was a man, until after completing the game when it is revealed that she is actually a female.
#7 - A Familiar Enemy
Is that...Hitler?? The answer is, well, yes, at least definitively so in the Japanese version of Bionic Commando. While the Japanese version clearly displayed swastikas, the American version opted to use a more generic symbol (refer to the comparison image).
Brian Riggsbee lives in San Francisco CA. He enjoys gaming, writing, creating art, practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, chasing adorable dogs, and spending time with his wife and boy.