The 24 Greatest 8-Bit Games Ever Made
Retro Recap: Literally the polar opposite of Metal Gear, Contra gave NES gamers one simple goal -- SHOOT EVERYTHING.
8-Bit Background: The NES version was released in 1988, along with the inclusion of the famous game-breaking Konami Code.
Actually, we take that back. Even with 30 lives, you were hard-pressed to make it through the insane mess of gunfire, barbed wire, and alien crossfire that Contra flung at your head. Running and gunning by yourself was hard even WITH unlimited ammo, but adding a second player to the mix became a test of how much you could really rely on your buddies. While the original Japanese ads for the game sighted Contra as a mix of Rambo, Commando, and Alien, gamers just recognized that it was simply a true challenge. (After 15 years, I still haven't beaten it.)
Retro Recap: One of the first "non-linear" games to be seen on the Nintendo, Metroid was a game of many important first, including the game's heroine.
8-Bit Background: Originally released on the Famicon Disk System in 1986, Metroid sported a multiple save-game system while the NES version implemented passwords.
Samus is really a girl: that phrase alone shook the perceptions of many gamers upon seeing the end of Metroid, provided that they were good enough to earn the right to see the secret. Even people who heard the news didn't believe until they saw it for themselves, since the explosives-packing, armored hero of the game wasn't thought by anyone to be a heroine. Of course, the added incentive to play the game was apparent in the huge, open world of Planet SR388, with various powers lying in wait for gamers patient and intrepid enough to comb the caves of this massive games. At least we can (kinda) relive that experience with modern Metroid titles, and Samus still gets undressed.
#4: Final Fantasy
Retro Recap: The game that started a global phenomenon, Final Fantasy was just the beginning of what would become the world's most recognized RPG franchise.
8-Bit Background: Launched on a 2-megabit cartridge for the Nintendo/Famicon in 1987, forever changing the world.
Everyone knows the story. The company known as Square was about to go bankrupt, and a seven-man team pooled the last of their efforts into a game called Final Fantasy. Random battles, an overworld map, customizable parties, naming your own characters at the start of the adventure, and an unforgettable quest made this game the Holy Grail of the Nintendo. Years later, the Fantasy's proved to be anything but Final, with just about every other RPG series either trying to catch up or learn from this titan of a franchise. When the world does eventually end in a nuclear mega-war, only three things will probably survive: cockroaches, Twinkies, and Final Fantasy.
#3: Mega Man 3
Retro Recap: Selling more than a million copies, Mega Man 3's tough gameplay didn't deter gamers that had survived the first two titles.
8-Bit Background: This big game came in a small package, releasing on the NES in 1990 via a 3-megabit cartridge.
Pulling teeth, lifting a car over your head or performing open-heart surgery: any one of these things is significantly easier than completing Mega Man 3 (or the ninth one), and Nintendo fans still can't get enough of it. Excellent soundtrack aside, this was the Mega Man game that introduced plenty of things for gamers to get excited about -- the introduction of faithful robot canine Rush, eight new Robot Masters, and the mysterious character called "Proto Man". Anyone who's played the game is bound to remember the huge enemies and challenging levels, which all combined to make it more difficult than most modern games.
Retro Recap: Originally just titled "Punch-Out!", the version marketed by Mike Tyson finally gave gamers to right to say that they could knock out the champ.
8-Bit Background: Launched in November 1987 after Nintendo of America President Minoru Arakawa attended a boxing match featuring Mike Tyson.
Oh, how the mighty do fall. Mike Tyson was on top of the world a mere two decades ago, and Punch-Out just might have been the only thing that kept him in Nintendo-owning homes around the world. Of course, Punch-Out was a fantastic game just by itself, with the colorful cast of boxers (including King Hippo and Super Macho Man) continually testing gamers' reflexes and hand-eye coordination. But when Tyson got his name slapped on the game, it was just another reason to whip out the controllers and try to beat Mike. Of course, the NES port also had one famous thing that the original arcade game didn't -- a little guy by the name of Mario. Oh well. At least we've got a brand-new Punch-Out in the ring for the Wii.
Retro Recap: Considered the pinnacle of platforming on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Mario Bros. 3 is still the best selling standalone game EVER.
8-Bit Background: Mushroomed on the NES in 1988 (Japan) and 1990 (America), with a special pre-release preview in the famous video-game flick "The Wizard".
Super Mario Bros. has and always will be a household name. By 1990, everyone had heard about the game, seen someone play it, or heard the familiar jingle from the first Mario adventure. Super Mario Bros. 3 was so hotly anticipated that it blew the lid off the world when it was finally released, much of which was fueled by the game's famous cameo in "The Wizard". Strangely enough, this game marked one of the first times you didn't have to worry about just Princess Toadstool, instead taking the fight to Bowser's mean little crop of Koopa Kids. Of course, the Mario Brothers were more than prepared with a boatload of new moves, powerups, and tricks to stay one jump ahead of the curve. The levels were wacky, the game was addicting, and hours upon hours of careful jumping yielded endless days of fun. With 17 million copies sold, no one can say that Mario isn't the king, and Super Mario 3 is still a crown jewel of the video game world.
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