Nintendo NES Buying Guide & Best Games

Nintendo NES Buying Guide & Best Games

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Buying Guide and game recommendations for new console collectors!

Games shown:
Super Mario Bros. 3
The Legend of Zelda
Super Dodge Ball
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out
TMNT II: The Arcade Game
Final Fantasy
Bubble Bobble

Video Transcript:
Metal Jesus: Metal Jesus here, and I’m back again with John Riggs.

John Riggs: How you feeling?

Metal: Dude, how’s it going, man?

John: Thanks for having me back. Appreciate it.

Metal: You are here for a very special episode I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

John: Special episode?

Metal: Special episode!

John: Wow. Oh my goodness.

Metal: This is going to be a buyer’s guide for the original Nintendo.

John: Oh, the old NES. It’s my favorite system of all time.

Metal: Yeah, and the reason why I want do this is because this is for people who are just starting out to collect and get into the NES. What do you look out for as far as the hardware goes, as far as the controllers, everything.

John: What are you looking for, what kind of games are you looking for? If you start out with zero games, we’re going to show you ten solid titles, not necessarily my favorite games of all time, just 10 great games that will get you going in the right direction.

Metal: This is going to be an awesome episode. Let’s take a look!

Metal: So I’m going to start off with, this is the NES that I had as a kid.

John: Now, that is an iconic-looking NES right there.

Metal: The toaster, right?

John: You see that on iPhone covers, you see that as the this is the Nintendo version or the skin to so many things. That’s where it all came from.

Metal: So a couple things to know about the toaster, the classic NES, is that it was designed to look more like an appliance for the North America market and, so, essentially it has this little flap here.

John: Yours is actually still connected!

Metal: Yes, well, I took very good care of it, as you can tell.

John: It looks like it.

Metal: I know, surprise, surprise, a game collector. However, this is not a working one. That’s very important to know because you can find these things out at garage sales and things like that. In my experience, if it’s an original owner, it probably doesn’t work.

John: It may not. There are some ways you can fix it. You can boil the pins and stuff like that. There is some fixing to it.

Metal: Right, and so that brings up a point, that essentially when you put the original NES cartridges in there, they kind of go in like that, and then they push down.

John: That’s the toaster part of it.

Metal: Exactly. Those pins wear out, and just like in this one, they’ve worn out over time. They have that little blinking light.

John: Oh, get that all the time.

Metal: Yeah, so it’s very common. The good news is that you can go and you can buy new pins, and it’s relatively easy to swap them out.

John: Absolutely. Just a couple little screws is all it takes.

Metal: Yep. So the controller that came with it, the classic square controller. What are your thoughts on this dude?

John: Ah, I think it’s legendary, it’s iconic. A controller like that has been in my hands a long, long time.

Metal: Oh, I know.

John: It started out uncomfortable. I think my hands just formed into it because it’s not the most designed, like for —

Metal: Yeah, yeah. Over time, it will dig into your palms.

John: Just a little bit.

Metal: But I mean, coming off the Atari 2600 though, and the joystick and the big base and stuff, this is pretty revolutionary at the time. But it’s not my favorite for this system. Just be aware though, when you’re out and about, you’ll probably end up getting one of these, but you’re not stuck with it.

John: You’re not stuck with it. There are plenty of other controllers you can go through.

Metal: Like the dogbone.

John: Now this looks like it could be a bootleg controller, but this is not. This is actually the one that came out with the second generation Nintendo. We’ll cover that in a little bit.

Metal: Right, right. So I actually like this one quite a bit, simply just because it feels like the buttons are raised a little higher. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it definitely feels more comfortable simply because it’s rounded.

John: Right. And the buttons are convexed, while these ones are concave.

Metal: Yeah, that’s what I’m feeling there.

John: But that definitely can fit your hand a little bit better. So, so smooth to use. I personally use that one when I do play Nintendo games currently.

Metal: Then, you have this.

John: That’s a weightful beast too.

Metal: You know, it’s meant to be like an arcade stick.

John: You’re supposed to just leave it flat on a table, joystick in your hand.

Metal: What I love about this is the turbo.

John: It does have, well, it says turbo.

Metal: Well, okay. It’s basically pause and unpause. Is that what it is?

John: That one’s slo-mo.

Metal: Oh, slo-mo, okay.

John: Yeah, slo-mo is pause and unpause.

Metal: Yeah, it’s basically like sitting there pausing and unpausing the game for you.

John: Turbo isn’t bad but it does have the knobs.

Metal: Oh, right, so you can dial it. It’s been awhile since I’ve used this.

John: Yeah, it’s okay. I used to use those quite a bit, too. One or two player compatibility so it does come with two ports. If I can find the other one here, in this octopus here. There we go, two ports for you, one in one, one in the other. Only for two player alternating, of course.

Metal: Right, but I really do feel like this is definitely, I mean, every NES game collector should have one of these and they’re not too expensive.

John: They’re not, you can find them pretty cheap. I’d say, $10 to $15.

Metal: It’s solid.

John: And you’re good to go. With the joystick added, great for [inaudible 00:04:50], absolutely.

Metal: Yeah, that’s typically what I use it for.

John: I have psoriatic arthritis in my thumb, so a lot of the games are out the question for me anymore. That’s what I’d absolutely go for.

Metal: We talked about the original toaster that we got but, thankfully, Nintendo released a newer one, basically.

John: Ta-da, the top-loader!

Metal: That’s right.

John: The top-loader, very cool. Let me talk about what it doesn’t have. It doesn’t have, for current gaming, the AV port, the component. Very unfortunate about that. So, you’re still using co-ax or you have a way around co-ax, totally cool. Other than that, so portable, so great. Top-loaders, you don’t have to worry about the pins wearing down by dropping them in there, very little blowing your cart factor, when you have something like this. When this first came out, I wish we could all go back in time, they were $49.99 new. Of course they were in a box because they were on the store shelves. This was their attempt to saying, hey, we’re still making Nintendo games, even though the Super Nintendo came out. But if you have one of these, these are phenomenal and this is the way to go.

Metal: This is definitely collectible, so if you run across it at a garage sale, even if you’re not interested in collecting for NES, you might want to grab one because–

John: We know people who are interested in them.

Metal: Yes. That’s a bit of the hardware there. Anything else that you can think of?

John: I would say, there are several third-party controllers out there. You can use those to your advantage. No pun attended. What to look out for is, like how the Atari 2600 and the Sega Master system and Sega Genesis have the same port, this is exclusive to the eight-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.

Metal: Good point, good point.

John: So it looks like this kind of weird thing.

Metal: It looks like a shape.

John: It looks like that. If it looks like that, I think you’ll be good to go for your Nintendo controller. But seriously, dog bone is the way to go. If you can’t find a top-loader, toaster. They work. You just hope it gets to work.

Metal: All right dude, so that’s the hardware. Let’s talk about games, man.

John: That’s what it’s all about!

Metal: That’s right.

John: Bring you back to the games. I chose 10 solid titles. Again, these aren’t the most expensive games in the world. They’re also not the cheapest games in the world, but to be honest, they’re not my personal favorite games of all time. I just wanted 10 great games if you’re a new collector, little something for everyone in this set. Right off the bat, you got to go with Super Mario Bros 3.

Metal: It’s funny you had that disclaimer, because that’s a great game!

John: It’s the best game, one of the best games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and many people claim this as their favorite game of all time. And I’m not surprised.

Metal: I would say it’s my favorite Super Mario game of all time. I mean, even though they can argue that the original game, I guess, everyone’s memorized all those levels, that is a masterpiece.

John: This is a masterpiece. My first time ever playing this, I remember it today. I was in Santa Cruz, California, and I was on a Player’s Choice 10, two weeks after the movie “The Wizard” came out. I was like, glorious and drawn to me. I was able to play it for all of like, whatever Player’s Choice 10s were, five minutes or ten minutes or whatever it was. If you’re collecting, you got to have this in your collection, no question.

Metal: Absolutely.

John: Another one to add to your video collection, a game I was thinking about, even if you beat it or other games you can beat, you’ll go through, what about a game that just has unlimited game play value? That’s where Tetris comes in.

Metal: Yeah, I mean Tetris, even today, I have it on my phone. When I get a new phone, I get Tetris on it because it’s so fun.

John: They’re still making new games of Tetris. I mean, how would you think that, it’s Tetris pieces, the same Tetrads.

Metal: It’s perfect.

John: But it’s the perfect game, and why wouldn’t you do that? This is one made by Nintendo. They do have Tetris II, which is great, and even if you can find this guy, which is the Tengen version of Tetris, which is the one that went through the whole liability lawsuit.

Metal: Very collectible right there.

John: Very collectible. They’re all Tetris, and they’re all great, so any Tetris will be fine. But I think you should absolutely have Tetris in your collection.

Metal: I think why Tetris works so well on the Nintendo is because that D-pad. That D-pad worked perfectly with this. Super precise, it’s definitely an awesome version.

John: My 60-year old mother, when Tetris came out, she played Tetris. Didn’t even get video games, doesn’t understand them. She played Tetris and loved it, and actually was better than I was. That might be saying something.

Metal: That’s how it goes usually, right?

John: Usually the case. Got to go with Gold, Legend of Zelda. Another one to add to your collection. When this game first came out, it took me literally two years to beat. Can you imagine playing any game today and playing it continuously for two years? One game. That is insane. Absolutely have this in your collection.

Metal: Such a classic game. Obviously, we don’t have to tell most people here, but it’s such an iconic game. What I love about this is that, again, it came out on the gold cart, and that was so special at the time, right?

John: It was.

Metal: But we should let people know though, there are two versions of that cart.

John: Correct. There was this one and then there is one has the same label, but it is on the standard grey cart. The grey cart one actually may be as far as value, may be worth a little bit more, because that was the one that came out later in the release.

Metal: Everyone had that.

John: Yeah, this is the one that came out originally. It’s a classic game, great music.

Metal: Absolutely.

John: It’s an adventure. I wanted to have some games with two-player compatibility, two-player both for competitive or cooperative, and one game that came to mind was Contra.

Metal: Yep, yep, such an awesome game.

John: I can’t get past the first level without the 30-man code. I’m just throwing that out there right now. I pretty much suck at this game.

Metal: So tough, but again it’s a classic game. It’s the kind of game that, yes, it’s tough, but you want to beat it. It’s such a moment though, right?

John: There is. But it is two-player simultaneous. You go through the game, has a cool little alien feature to it, very HR Giger-like. Very cool. I still fall in the water every time, the bridge, the bridge explodes? I can’t make the bridge, so that might tell you I am at this game here. I’m not a huge sports guy.

Metal: I’m glad you picked this game.

John: I’m not a huge sports fan, I’ll be honest with you, but when it comes to sports, I don’t know if this is considered a sport.

Metal: Yeah, it is!

John: ‘Course it is. Super Dodgeball!

Metal: Dude, when someone mentioned to me that Super Dodgeball on NES was an awesome game, I was like, really? Wait, seriously? It is. It is so much fun.

John: It is fun. You can play it, again, one-player, two-player. It has the element of each player has their own power-up move, like a special move, when you run or run and jump, and lob these dodgeballs at them. You’ll be good to go. There’s a one-player mode, and there’s also the Battleball mode, or whatever the other option is. It’s not really even a game, you’re just throwing dodgeballs at each other. Remember that? It’s that weird third option that people kind of forget about. This is one I could play, I still play it all the time.

Metal: It’s definitely cool.

John: They’re still making new versions of that game, but always cool to have. When it comes to like, I don’t even know where I’ll go with this, I’ll just show it. It’s Castlevania III. How about that? I wanted to have a Castlevania game, at least one of them in here. Castlevania I, it’s iconic, it’s arcade. Castlevania II, I love it personally, it has more of the adventure aspect, but Castlevania III I think really gives you that Castlevania feel. Great music. It has the option for picking up friends along the way, so you can pick up Alucard and play as him, you can pick up other players as well. Totally cool game, great music.

Metal: I don’t have this.

John: Really? Really, wait a minute. It’s one that has multiple endings, depending on who you take with you as part of your quest. So, even after you beat it, finally, because it’s a hard game, you can go back through and bring someone else along and there’s multiple paths where you can go this way instead of this way. So, it has a lot of options in there for you to take along. The core of it is still Castlevania with the great animation and everything that comes along with it. Great game to have.

Metal: I think this one might go in the pocket there.

John: I just had it a second ago, wait a minute, where did it go? Again, not a huge sports guy, but this game, Punch-Out!! Are you kidding me? So awesome. This is Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! They also have non-Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Metal: That’s right, that’s right, because Mike Tyson got in trouble in the 80s. didn’t he?

John: Well, yeah. Just a little bit.

Metal: Was this a Nintendo game release? This is a Nintendo game, right?

John: This is a Nintendo game.

Metal: I see. So when Tyson got in trouble, they’re probably like, they probably pulled back a little bit.

John: Maybe there was, oh, something with a contract or something, I’m not exactly sure. You could probably Wikipedia it, but they did come out with Punch-Out!! Same game except for, instead of Mike Tyson, they have Mr. Dream. It’s still the same, one uppercut knocks you on your ass and you’re down for the count. Have you ever beaten Mike Tyson at this game?

Metal: No, no, but it’s funny because you’ll hear about people online or in the game community, like they’re still excited to beat him today. They’re still working to beat him, or if they can, they’ll go back every year just to keep their like chops up, you know? It’s a thing.

John: I’m sure you’ve played this before. If you haven’t, each boxer has their own style. Once you learn that, and learn their methodology, you can take them out pretty easily, to an extent, to a certain extent. Mike Tyson, I’ve never knocked him out, but I’ve won by decision once. Don’t ask me how I did it!

Metal: That’s awesome!

John: I don’t know if that counts or not, but we’ll call it good. Another game I wanted to have for two-player compatibility is this one, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, a totally cool beat-em-up. A totally cool beat-em-up. You can play as any of the four ninja turtles, doesn’t really matter. They all basically play the same.

Metal: Now, this isn’t the one that people complain about being too difficult?

John: No, that’s the first one.

Metal: Okay.

John: This is the one based on the arcade game. So it’s the two-player.

Metal: This one’s fair.

John: This one’s great, it’s not a bad game at all. Totally awesome. I think you should have it and, with two-player simultaneous, you can go through the game. It’s like the arcade game, but because it came out on the Nintendo, they decided to give it a couple extra levels too, so if you know front and back the arcade game, this one has a little bit extra for you. Pretty cool to have.

Metal: So this next one here, I remember playing. Final Fantasy.

John: Oh yeah.

Metal: So good. I do remember playing this back in the day, and if I remember right, it might have been the first time I called a hint line.

John: Oh right, the hint line!

Metal: Yeah, because I was just like, it was before the Internet, it was before, in my little, small town, you couldn’t buy a strategy guide. You were stuck! You were really stuck!

John: That’s how it works.

Metal: I called the hint guide, the hint line, sorry, and got past it, but I loved this game when it first came out, blew me away. I was a big RPG fan anyways and this was a classic.

John: It is a classic. Now me personally, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not the biggest RPG fan in the world. Turn-based style? If I hit you, I’m not going to wait for you to hit me. You know what I’m saying? I get Dragon Warrior, I get Final Fantasies, and the Ultimate series and all that too. I get it, not for me so much, because I want that fast-paced action but this game somehow drew me in.

Metal: I think it’s worthwhile for a lot of people to go back, if you are a fan of GRPGs, to go back and see some of these originals and see where, today, they’re still taking ideas and concepts from this. I mean it was amazing.

John: Oh, yeah. It’s the original. People who today, they grow up and they’re like, well, the first game I played was Final Fantasy VII. Which dinosaurs like us, is like, really? That’s the first role-playing game you played, really, Final Fantasy VII? When I was in high school, when I graduated? This one takes it all the way back, and to me, just is fun.

Metal: Yeah, no, definitely a classic.

John: We have nine games so far. To make up 10, I know it’s so hard to choose 10. You’ve got to understand this. When you originally asked me to grab 10, I think I grabbed thirty and then, through process of elimination, narrowed them down.

Metal: It hurts, doesn’t it?

John: It does a little bit, but let’s put it this way, if I was stranded on a deserted island, no access to any other games but these 10 games, I’d be in pretty good shape.

Metal: You would be.

John: The tenth game I chose, just because it’s old-school fun, is Bubble Bubble. Two-player simultaneous game, blow bubbles, pop them. There’s over 100 levels, so that’ll keep you moving for a while anyway. Again, it’s another game just like the rest of these. I’ll still play them today. They stand the test of time, is what I’m saying.

Metal: That’s actually a really good point about the NES, and I think why the NES has continued to be a great system to collect for is because the games are fun. They’re boiled down to the essence, essentially, of just having a ton of fun.

John: They’re fun to have. I like them personally. I love the new stuff, I have a Playstation 4, I have a Wii U and all that. But sometimes I want to pop the game in, push start, and play it. I don’t want to go through five logos. I don’t want to go through a five-minute story cut scene. I just want to get right to the meat of the action here. That’s why I’ll always have a friend with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Metal: So at the end here, let’s do some honorable mentions just off the top of our head.

John: Okay.

Metal: Because, as you were saying that, I’m realizing that the game that I love is not in here. It’s one of my favorites.

John: Sorry.

Metal: That’s okay, it’s my fault, like I should have brought it. Speaking of which though, is Excitebike. Dude, I loved Excitebike back in the day and so that would be my honorable mention because it’s a game, again, that I can go back today and one, I just remember how to play it. I’m awesome at that game, right.

John: You know all the tricks and everything, you know the back tire thing and how to level yourself?

Metal: Yeah, absolutely. Growing up as a kid, I was really big into motorcycles. I had like a little dirt bike in my backyard, and so Excitebike was there to live out that fantasy.

John: They made it just for you.

Metal: Yeah, but it’s still fun today and that’s the key. So that’s my honorable mention. What about you?

John: My honorable mention, if I could choose one more game, you’re going to make me think about it.

Metal: No pressure.

John: Metroid. I would absolutely throw in Metroid. That was the 11th game between Metroid and Bubble Bubble. No, wait, it was between Metroid and Castlevania III. It was down to that wire. Metroid, the term today used is Metroidvania for the 2-D, side-scrolling open world, but you have do certain things to unlock areas. That’s half of the origin where Metroidvania came from.

Metal: So doing this video, I know we’re just reminiscing here, but man, it’s like Nintendo was on fire with this console.

John: Metroid.

Metal: Oh, there you go. They were just on fire, so many great franchises, and again, we just barely scratched the surface here.

John: Oh my God, 678 licensed Nintendo games. I think there’s 20 or so games from Tengen, which is the, they have their own story. Then, there’s all the Color Dream games, and the Wisdom Tree games. People are still making Nintendo games today.

Metal: Yeah, that’s true. That is very true, and hacking them. Like, here we go.

John: Hey, look at this. Why did this not be number one on my list? The Metal Jesus Rocks Video Game. Are you serious?

Metal: But it lives on, it lives on.

John: Okay, perfect.

Metal: So, this is just kind of like to wet your whistle, if you’re interested in getting into collecting for the NES and, hopefully, this will like get you started here and as passionate as we are.

John: I grew up with the Atari 2600.

Metal: Yeah, me too.

John: I found a love for video games there, but Nintendo was my escape, it was my passion. That’s where I really unlocked this, video games is art.

Metal: Yep. Absolutely.

John: I could go on like this for, I know YouTube has a limit on how long you can go, so I’d better keep it short.

Metal: Well, that’s cool man. Well, hey dude, thanks for coming on and doing this video. I’m so excited!

John: I’m excited, too. Now I’m looking forward to, now I’ve got to challenge you, too. Let’s play some games.

Metal: We have to hook one of these up and play some games here.

John: That’s right. You’re going down.

Metal: All right, guys. Well, hey, we’d love to know in the comments, what other games you’d recommend to first-time NES collectors. Post in the comments below. As always, I want to thank you for watching my channel. Thanks for subscribing, and take care.

Metal: Ah yes, such a great console. I love the original Nintendo, so iconic. I have a bunch more of these kinds of videos on my channel, so please subscribe. I release a new video every single week. Thanks for watching.