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Top 101 NES Games, #90-81

90. The Goonies II (Konami, 1987)

Goonies II is a strange case in many ways.  While there was a game based on the Goonies, it actually never got a home release outside of Japan, only appearing in the west on the Playchoice-10 and VS systems in the arcades.  Then, as if that wasn't odd enough, Konami decided to produce a sequel to it even though there wasn't a sequel to the movie.  It changed up the format quite a bit, taking cues from games like Metroid; you explore a very large environment throughout, uncovering clues, finding upgrades for your character, and eventually rescuing all of the Goonies from captivity.  Even at this early stage, though, Konami definitely showed off the quality in their games with some detailed visuals, smooth animations and a quite good soundtrack (including a rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough").  It may not have had a corresponding film, but Goonies II was a classic game just on its own merits.

89. Kickle Cubicle (Irem, 1990)

Another arcade port, though this time it's an action-puzzler somewhat similar in format to the Adventures of Lolo series.  As the titular Kickle Cubicle, you freeze enemies into ice blocks and then push them to defeat other enemies, pick up bonus items for points (getting double if you push an ice block over them) and land them in the water to freeze it, creating new pathways.  It sounds simple enough at first, but it quickly becomes extremely challenging, having you navigate all manner of hazards and master mechanics like the spinning hammers and spring blocks to get ice blocks where they need to go.  Each world is also capped off with a boss fight, which can prove pretty challenging in itself.  Definitely one of the more overlooked NES action-puzzlers, but it's certainly worth a try in itself.

88. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (Konami, 1992)

The first TMNT game was an action title with some open-world elements, while the second was a port of Konami's popular arcade game, losing some of its graphical fidelity but actually improving upon its gameplay (much sharper hit detection!) and adding in two new levels.  The third game in the franchise was an original game in the same format as 2, though adding some new twists.  Each turtle now had their own special move that could deal out the damage, and would cost 1 life point every time they used it (unless they were already at one point, in which case they could spam it as much as they liked).  Numerous new bosses appear as well; not just from the cartoon series, but also from the movies and comic books.  It does get to be a bit long and is fairly one-note gameplay-wise, but it's nonetheless another solid title from Konami.

87. Legacy of the Wizard (Nihon Falcom, 1989)

Falcom made a number of attempts to gain a foothold in the west with their action-oriented fantasy RPGs, but not too many of them made it big with audiences in the days of 8 and 16-bit gaming.  Legacy of the Wizard was arguably their most successful attempt, meshing elements of Zelda with those of Metroid to create an open-ended experience with just as heavy an emphasis on puzzle-solving as action.  Playing as five members of a family, each with their own differing abilities and stats (jumping higher, having greater range, doing more damage with their weapon, and so forth), you set forth to explore a dungeon, find four magic crowns and slay the dragon in the center of the maze.  Acquiring new tools throughout quickly becomes essential to clear some obstacles, and only by utilizing each character's unique talents can you reach every area and find everything you need, including the sword required to slay the dragon.  The game is rather difficult for a number of reasons and the mechanics can be clunky at times (particularly the block-pushing puzzles), but some charming visuals and a kickass soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro and Mieko Ishikawa make it a captivating journey even in spite of that.

86. Double Dragon (Technos, 1988)

Definitely one of the most popular beat-em-up franchises of the 80s, Double Dragon was nothing short of an institution  at the time.  It had several sequels and home ports to just about every platform imaginable, a live action movie and even a cartoon series.  Probably the most well-known and successful port of the time was the NES version, which was a very different beast from the arcade (and pretty much every other home port, for that matter).  Much different levels and a unique leveling system tied to unlocking new moves made it a distinct experience, as did a two-player versus mode well before the age of Street Fighter II.  It was also notoriously buggy and lacked a two-player mode owning to the developers' inexperience with the hardware, but that didn't hamper its enjoyment factor at all.  A great version of a classic.

85. Wai Wai World 2: SOS!! Parsley Jo (Konami, 1991 in Japan)

Konami was definitely one of the most prevalent and successful names in 8-bit gaming (just see all the other games on this list they've produced), and it got to the point where they weren't just cashing in on licensed properties, but they were even making fun of their own IPs.  Wai Wai World was just that - a mashup of several Konami franchises all in one cartridge, revisiting levels, characters and mechanics of all of them.  Wai Wai World 2 is more in that vein; you go through scrolling shooter stages, platforming stages and even a racing level.  Throughout it all you can collect powerups to transform into a number of Konami heroes - from Simon Belmont to Upa to Goemon to Bill Rizer of Contra fame, each with a different set of abilities to utilize.  It may not be an especially deep experience, but it's a fun and charming action game, and that's what the NES platform (and Konami) really did best.

84. Final Fantasy (Square, 1990)

It's a tale well-known to any RPG fan - Square was a relatively unpopular game company on the brink of bankruptcy, and in a last-ditch effort to turn things around, decided to cash in on the RPG genre with a title that drew heavy inspiration from the Wizardry franchise.  To their surprise it became a huge success, kicking off a massively popular media empire that continues to this day.  It's not hard to see why it was so successful, either, as it had quite a lot to offer for the time.  An enormous game world to explore, tons of different enemies and bosses to battle, and the ability to pick your own party of four characters (with six distinct classes) made it a game with a lot of replay value.  Later games in the series would try out plenty of new ideas, expanding on the series' signature class system and trying out all manner of new mechanics, but they retain a consistently high level of production value and imagination.

83. Journey to Silius (Sunsoft, 1990)

Journey to Silius is another highly-regarded title by Sunsoft, and it isn't hard to see why just from a screenshot - the game looked absolutely phenomenal for 1990.  Large, stylish sprites, detailed backgrounds, polished mechanics and high quality music showed up too, all of which helped cement Sunsoft as one of the NES's premiere developers.  A slightly less savory element to their games, though, was the punishing difficulty, and Journey to Silius is definitely no different there.  Enemies require some very well-honed tactics to get past, ammo for your special weapons is rare to come by, health even moreso, and dying at any point (even at the stage boss) forces you to redo the entire gauntlet from the beginning.  Bosses are no slouches either, often requiring extremely precise pattern-dodging and firing to get through intact.  It's an impressive and very polished game, but it certainly feels like punishment at times too.

82. Joy Mech Fight (Nintendo, 1993 in Japan)

Street Fighter II, while not the first fighting game ever made, is definitely the one that kicked the genre into high gear, and it seemed like everybody wanted to make their own version to cash in; from big companies to eastern Asian pirate groups, everyone wanted a slice of that pie.  Nintendo took their own crack at it on the NES; not exactly a practical system for it owing to strict memory and sprite limitations.  They found a way, though - by giving all the characters disconnected limbs, they could keep the gameplay fast and the animation smooth.  It has a fairly long single-player campaign where you face off with progressively tougher waves of robots and make your way to the big boss at the end, but of course it also had a competitive two-player mode with eight playable robots with their own distinct special moves.

81. Akumajo Special: Boku Dracula-Kun (Konami, 1990 in Japan)

Konami spoofs themselves again with a game where you play as a kid version of Dracula out to defeat a challenger to his throne; namely, the demon Galamoth.  Rather than the dark gothic feel of the series, though, this game is bright, colorful and silly, with upbeat takes on Castlevania tracks and some creative twists on familiar enemies and locations from the series.  Dracula himself retains several of his distinct abilities, having an upgradable fireball attack and the ability to transform into a bat to maneuver through levels, and gains several more as well, like the ability to walk on ceilings or freeze enemies in ice.  Between each stage you also get a variety of minigames to earn extra lives and power-ups.  Just a fun, light-hearted spoof of its parent franchise that pays homage to everything great about it.