After the crash of 1983, the market was a strange place. Games were being demonized, the pure mention of the words “game console” would be received with a lot of skepticism, and launching a new system would be considered a real endeavour. Nintendo would be solely responsible for bringing back the trust to the industry, with a roll of nice games, and a smart strategy to avoid the same discredit received from everyone after 1983.
However, it was a new beginning for the gaming industry. A lot of great releases came around at the “end side” of that decade, and things started looking better.
Nintendo released the “Nintendo Entertainment System”, carefully avoiding any mention of “video game consoles”, opting for a “high-tech entertainment device fit for all family”; The company also restricted the release of any titles on its system with a high quality control procedure, where only vetted games could be ported to the NES. With a few simple rules and a short time, the market was confident to bloom again, and the first cycle of “face to face” would appear in the form of the Sega – Nintendo rivalry, that would pertain for years to come.
I can say it was on this spot in time that some of the best games I ever played came out: not to mention some well-known best sellers, such as Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, an important series of games was born in 1987, and the game that followed me in my childhood was made in 1986.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World (Sega Master System)
This game is amazing. Trying to dethrone Mario as the king of the platforming genre, Alex Kidd is more vibrant, colorful, and brought interesting power ups and secrets to the play, until being surpassed as mascot by Sonic the Hedgehog, a few years later. In this game you travel through 17 stages, defeating regular enemies with his fists, and level bosses with his abilities in “Jan-ken-pon” (the zero-sum game of rock-paper-scissors).
The game has no checkpoint in the stage, and Alex can take only one hit at any point. The power-ups included are in a great selection, such as shockwave rings, flying canes, invincibility powders, special stones to read enemies’ minds, and extra-lives. Most of them can be purchased in stores, or collected through the game. Alex kidd can ride bikes, boats, and a “pedi-copter”, a pedal-operated helicopter to navigate different terrains or defeat enemies.
This game received a good acclaim from the public, being currently rated between 7 and 9 out of 10 in several sites. It can be purchased in several online game stores (such as PSN and Nintendo e-Shop), alone or in Sega Collections.
Metal Gear (MSX)
The first installment of the famous series Metal Gear, the original game debuted in 1987 in the MSX computer system, and received some good reception from the public for presenting a different idea from the several “Mario-clones” at the time. During the development of the game, the team realized that the processing power of the machine could only render a few enemies at the screen, and it prompted for a change in the approach of the game: instead of action style, Metal Gear would be a stealth game, where avoiding enemies is rewarded, while alerting them takes points away.
With this simple change, Hideo Kojima created one of the best games of its time, and paved a good way into a new series, that would see its latest release in 2015 with Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.
Spawning stories since 1987, and chronologically starting in 1964 with the Metal Gear Solid 3 (!), the series “created” the genre stealth action, and it’s widely known for its convoluted story, abundance of characters, and controversial topics in the war theme.
The series today is widely recognized as a huge success, despite some “bad blood” between Kojima and its parent company, Konami. The last installment of the series was released to public amidst an intense battle between creator and publisher, leading to the departure of Kojima from the company. While the future of the series is in the shadows, the past is already sacred.
Combining the mystery around a mythological creature with an action oriented controls, the NES received the first installment of a series that would become famous in the following consoles for generations: in 1986, Castlevania is released to public.
Although short for the time, Castlevania gathered enough followers to confirm 2 direct sequels in the NES (Castlevania II Dracula’s Curse and Castlevania 3 in the following years), and placed itself in the hall of “must-haves” from the NES library.
Mixing several creatures with Dracula himself, you journey into a mysterious castle as Simon Belmont, the next in line for the vampire killer job. Until reaching Dracula, you battle werewolves, giant bats, mummies, Medusa, the Grim Reaper himself, and even Frankenstein Monster, using your trusted whip and a few “throwable” items, such as daggers, crosses and holy water.
Castlevania paved the way for a life-long series, spawning over 20 titles, mostly on Nintendo consoles. One of the most recognized work in the series came from Koji Igarashi, including the phenomenal success in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, on Playstation in the year 1998. However, a few creative differences between the director and the publisher Konami (again), lead to the departure of creator. Regardless of what the future would hold, Castlevania remains today as top 10 games to play on the NES.