The 10 Most Cinematic Moments on NES

Categories: Gaming

This week is the 30th birthday of the Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as the reason fun exists. I'm pretty sure not buying your kid an NES in the '80s actually constituted a form of child abuse. It was the magic box from which whimsy and happiness flowed out in 8-bit candy apple laser dreams. I have had girlfriends I've loved less than my NES.

It's weird to think about it now in an era of photorealistic graphics and completely immersive virtual reality set-ups, but even back when games sported art slightly less technically impressive than an average Sunday comic strip, they were capable of moments of real cinematic genius. They could tell a story even with the most basic of electronic tools, and today we celebrate the ten that you never forgot.

Top 10 NES Games We're Buying This Year

10. Mega Man 2 is one of the greatest entries in the series, and since Capcom is on an HD remake kick lately, I would like to throw this title into the hat for consideration. The intro to the game isn't a masterpiece of writing or anything, but the build from sad lament at the endless futility of evil to the majestic climb up the tower into the high-powered main theme while Rock looks out over the city prepared to fight on is still a great moment that is endlessly copied.

9. Endings in the NES era were a mixed bag. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse was one of the few that actually had multiple endings, which gave the game a lot of replay value in a time when you couldn't just look them up on YouTube. Trevor's ending with Sypha was particularly rewarding. Not only was it probably the hardest fight aside from Trevor by himself, but it offers a real tender moment as the orphaned girl finds understanding for her powers and love with the vampire hunter. Remember when you had to actually read the manual to know the back stories?

8. Shadowgate adds a unique wrinkle to the area of cinematics in the 8-bit era. The game actually made dying in a game fun. There were dozens of unique, witty and morbidly hilarious ways to shuffle off the mortal coil, which was pretty amazing at a time when Nintendo was whitewashing anything that could be considered at all family-unfriendly.

7. Tecmo made some really great sports games, and they always included fantastic highlight shots. Tecmo World Wrestling was never going to go down in history as a good wrestling game, but they really put a lot of effort into making the finishing moves into dramatic moments. Modern wrestling games could learn a lot from them, actually. Skip to 2:55 in the video to see what I mean.

6. Clash at Demonhead was a fairly obscure platformer, but it got some love as the name of a band in Scott Pilgrim, so it's had a bit of a renaissance. The opening is just about as classic a set-up as you could want and shows off how NES games could use small framed shots to reconstruct the way movies guide scenes with specific camera lenses.

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I had the Blaster Master Worlds of Power kiddie novel. It was bliss.

MadMac topcommenter

Isn't "Top Secret Episode," the game where you NEVER get Golgo 13 out of the cubical office? When I was a wee-child-young-un if I had any idea this game was a precursor of things to come I would've self immolated with crayons and poprocks.


Cool. You have the goods to do a c64 list?

gossamersixteen topcommenter

I don't think shadowgate was ever released on the NES, though I could be wrong.. It was on the SNES and Genesis, and even the Jaguar haha..


Bad News Baseball!! Yeah those close play sequences were awesome! 

I've actually been playing R.B.I. Baseball for the last week or two.  Super simple and fun. And Nolan Ryan pitches for Houston

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