Saturday, 30 November 2019

NES / Famicom A-Z

The mighty NES conquered all in its native Japan and the US and is understandably beloved by many. With a library of well over 1,000 games over all territories, it will take a huge effort on my part to feature them all here, but I'll give it a go, and since I never had an NES growing up, I'll be playing many of them for the first time. Up next, not counting text-heavy Japanese language games of course, is:

C is for...

Cabal by TAD Corporation / Rare (1990)

This military-themed single-screen 3D shooter was quite innovative for its day, and Rare did a good job with this conversion considering how little support they had, but it has never been a particularly appealing one to play, or even look at. Fans of the arcade original will probably find much to enjoy here though.

California Games by Epyx / Rare (1992)

There can't be too many people that haven't played this game on some-system-or-other. This version doesn't look quite as nice as some others but all the events are here and it plays pretty much the same as ever - BMX, surfing, and skateboarding remain the most enjoyable events but none are terrible.

Capcom's Gold Medal Challenge '92 by Make Software / Capcom (1992)

Released to coincide with the Barcelona Olympics of the same year, this is pretty much a standard multi-event button-masher. There are 18-odd events in which you can compete as one of 12 nations so there's plenty here to keep you and your friends busy. The controls take some getting used to but this is pretty good.

Captain America and The Avengers by Data East (1991)

Despite the name, the only Avenger you can control in this game besides Cap is Hawkeye. The game switches between the two on alternating stages which are in the Shinobi-style multi-tiered platform/combat style. It's not as good as Sega's classic, naturally, but it's not a bad effort, especially for Marvel fans.

Captain ED by Sho-Fuku (1989) - Japan Only

I think this one is meant to be a vertically-scrolling shooter but it's a very strange example. In addition to enemies, stages are home to many coloured tiles that impede your progress and/or deplete your energy. A very peculiar game for a shmup but perhaps worth looking into for collectors due to its obscurity if nothing else.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers by Mindscape (1991)

The Captain Planet cartoon was pretty popular around this time but I doubt this game did much to win the 'Eco Warriors' many new fans. Stages alternate between side-scrolling shooter stages and platformy stages but neither kind is very enjoyable, with loose controls and harsh difficulty ruining proceedings.

Captain Silver by Data East (1988) - Japan Only

As with many NES arcade 'conversions', this one differs from its coin-guzzling parent considerably. Whichever version you play, the word 'swashbuckling' is usually used to describe the side-scrolling adventure to retreive the titular captain's lost treasure. Uninspiring and frustrating platform/combat fare.

Captain Skyhawk by Rare (1990)

Another one of Rare's releases which casts you as a lone fighter pilot taking on alien invaders over a hilly top-down isometric landscape. It can be a little tricky working out which shots will hit you, but the visual style is really nice, the controls are smooth, and it's addictive too. A tough but original shooter.

Castelian by Hewson / Bits Studios (1991)

Better known to most by its correct name, Nebulus, this interesting platformer is nonetheless a decent addition to the NES's library. Ascending each of the tall, twirling towers is a challenge for the ages, but it is appealing and addictive too. Can you help Pogo bring down these towering eyesores? (full review here)

Castle of Deceit by Bunch Games (1990)

I believe this was an unlicensed title, released only to lucky US players. It casts you as a wizard who must venture into a castle which is, presumably, full of deceitful things. It just seems like a fairly standard scrolling platformer to me, but sadly it's not a very good one. Are there any good unlicensed games?

Castle of Dragon by Athena / Seta (1990)

It's time to rescue another kidnapped princess in this little-known hack 'n' slasher. It's a Castlevania-style side-scroller based in and around a castle, unsurprisingly, and while it's not a huge castle, it is a damn tough one so it should keep you going for a while. If you don't throw your controller at the TV...

Castlequest by ASCII Corporation (1989)

This one is very similar to the SG-1000's excellent The Castle so, like that game, it's a flick-screen platform/puzzle game set in a large castle. There seems to be a greater emphasis on colour-coded keys/doors here, but it's also much harder and rather unfair, and the controls are a bit whiffy too. It's a big game though.

Castlevania by Konami (1987)

One of the first titles many associate with the NES to begin with is this Konami classic, and it was one of the most important too. It's still atmospheric and challenging but the series has been tweaked and polished significantly over the years. Is this original still worth your time? How could it not be? It's Castlevania!

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest by Konami (1988)

Following hot on the heels of the popular original was this sequel, and it expanded on it superbly as any good sequel should. It introduced adventurey elements as well as an intriguing day/night cycle, and it looked nicer too! It was tough-going, especially the cryptic puzzles, but it was and remains well worthy of your time.

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse by Konami (1990)

Arriving for the third and final time on the NES a couple of years later was Dracula's Curse, for which Konami got rid of all the adventurey stuff from the previous game. It's not as basic as the original though, featuring several playable characters for one thing, and is a superb platform/combat game, but also a very very tough one...

Caveman Games by Ocean (1990)

Another multi-event sports(ish) title, but this time set in the Neolithic age! Events range from dinosaur racing, starting fires, clubbing (one-on-one fights), and other weird stuff. However appealing this idea might be, though, it is unfortunately ruined by poor and unresponsive controls. Points for originality!

Chack'n Pop by Taito (1985) - Japan Only

This less-well-known predecessor to the great Bubble Bobble was ported to a number of systems, but this version may be one of the best! Like the others, the controls and gameplay take a bit of getting used to, but it's an unusual and addictive game, quite unlike any other. Shame only Japanese players got it. (full review here)

Challenger by Hudson Soft (1985) - Japan Only

Well this one was a pleasant surprise, as I should've expected from the mighty Hudson! It's a fast-paced action game consisting of several different game styles, notably platform and overhead run 'n' gun, and there's much more to it than it initially appears too. Fun game with that 'one more go' factor.

Championship Bowling by Athena / Romstar (1989)

Every Nintendo console seems to have a bowling game and the NES is no exception. There's nothing amazing about this one but it supports up to four players which automatically makes it a great game to play with friends, and it definitely takes practise to master. You may not put it down once you start!

Championship Lode Runner by Hudson Soft (1985) - Japan Only

Lode Runner may well be the orignal platform/puzzler, and it really was a puzzler too - some stages were pretty tough to figure out, even with the first game, and this sequel features even tougher stages! The simple graphics are pleasant and the controls are reliable, so at least failure will be your fault!

Championship Pool by Bitmasters / Mindscape (1993)

Not many people seem to play pool/snooker games but they can be oddly relaxing. This one was released in the US only, for both the NES and SNES, and offers a range of play modes and 'ball' configurations. Shot accuracy can be a bit of an issue but the game comes into its own against friends (up to eight players!).

Championship Rally by Human Entertainment (1991)

There can't be many games that got a UK release that didn't get a US release but this is one. It's a one-player top-down rally game and is packed with features, including a variety of courses, weather conditions, and car customisation options, but it's rather annoying to play. Definitely one for collectors though.

Chaos World by Natsume (1991) - Japan Only

For some reason I thought this was going to be a platform game or arcade adventure or something, but it's actually an RPG. If you manage to get through the many pages of Japanese text you'll find a fairly appealing Zelda-style game but the masses of text will cause a problem sooner or later. For Japanese speakers only.

Chessmaster by Software Toolworks (1990)

For some reason, chess games were all the rage for a short while. The most popular were Battle Chess and Chessmaster, but even with its advanced 'chess engine', this one still lacks the novelty value of BC. What we're left with may well give you a good game, but it's still... just chess. You know if you'll like it.

Chester Field: Ankoku Shin e no Chōsen by Vic Tokai (1987) - Japan Only

Despite the odd half-and-half name, this is another Japanese-exclusive, but it's an interesting one. It's an arcade adventure with a vast land full of evil men and beasts awaiting liberation by our brave lone knight. There are a few text issues but nothing too troubling that I've seen. Looks like it might be worth a little effort.

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers by Capcom (1990)

I rarely expect much from film/TV tie-ins but this one isn't bad at all. It stars the two titular gophers (or whatever they are) on a quest to save a kiddie's kitten or something. The action is fast-paced, the controls crisp, the graphics and music excellent, and the game is addictive and great fun. Nice job Capcom!

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2 by Capcom (1994)

The mission is a bit more serious for our fuzzy heroes this time - something to do with defusing a bomb at a restaurant - but apart from that it's pretty much just more of the same. Happily, that means more stages filled with more runny leapy tomfoolery with our brave fedora-wearing gerbils.

Choplifter by Brodebund / Jaleco (1986) - Japan Only

Another one that it's very surprising to find restricted to a Japanese release. Choplifter was popular in the West wasn't it? It was made in the West! Oh well, it's a pretty good version anyway, much like the Master System version to which it is similar. It seems quite a bit harder to me though. Oof!

Choujikuu Yousai Macross by Namco (1985) - Japan Only

Based on my experience of Macross games so far, I expected this to be a) a shooter, and b) hard. It is both. It's perhaps better known as Super Dimension Fortress Macross and it's a very simply horizontal-scroller, basically consisting of one stage that repeats forever. How long you'll be able to play (or want to) is debatable.

Chōjin Sentai Jetman by Angel (1991) - Japan Only

Although a Japan-only release, this one should be at least a little familiar to Western players as it's part of the Super Sentai series which is where the Power Rangers came from! It's a side-scrolling platform/combat game through which you can choose which of the team members you want to play as, and it's pretty good too.

Chubby Cherub by TOSE / Bandai (1986)

Given his somewhat unflattering name, you might expect the hero of this action-platformer to be on a diet, but he spends most of this game eating! It's a strange game too - even the cute little puppies are enemies! The Japanese and US versions differ quite a bit though, with the former being the more appealing option.

Chuuka Taisen by Taito (1989) - Japan Only

Another Japan-only release, although I'm not sure why - even the Master System got a Western release under the name Cloud Master. But anyway, it's a horizontal shooter featuring a guy on a cloud shooting... all sorts of weird stuff, and it's actually pretty decent. Lovely distinct graphics and excellent controls help.

Circus Caper by Advance Communication Company (1990)

In this circus-themed platformer, it's your job to help a young lad rescue his sister who has been kidnapped by the pesky circus! Cue side-scrolling platformer with various circus-themed stages and mini-games. The graphics are really nice though, quite un-NES-like, and it's not a bad game if the circus stuff doesn't freak you out.

Circus Charlie by Konami / Toho (1986) - Japan Only

This conversion of Konami's coin-op old seems a bit basic for an NES game - it's a side-scrolling action game split into five scrolling stages, each with its own objective such as jumping through fiery hoops or balancing on balls. It's tough and can be frustrating, but is also fun while it lasts - which isn't long, unfortunately.

City Adventure Touch: Mystery of Triangle by Toho (1987) - Japan Only

Like many Japanese games, this one is based on a manga and will likely be very strange to anyone not familiar with it. You basically wander around a city looking for stuff but most of your time will be spent hitting the many gnomes that fill the streets. It's not terrible but it's all rather odd.

City Connection by Jaleco (1988)

There can't be many games around that are a mix of the platform, puzzle, and driving genres, but this is one such title! It's your job to drive around each platformy stage painting the 'road' surface white whilst avoiding the fuzz who are out in force. It's certainly a unique game, and it's pretty addictive too.

Clash at Demonhead by Vic Tokai (1990)

Another one with a slightly-strange name from the usually-reliable Vic Tokai. This one is a side-scrolling fighting/shooting game with many stages set over a large map, and you can choose between certain stages when you reach a fork. It can be frustrating to play but it's interesting enough to keep you playing too.

Cliffhanger by Spidersoft (1993)

Yes, these were the days of many movie tie-ins, most of which had little to do with the movies in question, and most of which sucked donkey balls. Cliffhanger is a great example of this. The graphics look like the product of a 6-year-old messing with MS Paint and it's also highly unpleasant to play. Avoid, avoid, avoid...

Clu Clu Land by Nintendo EAD (1984)

Well known as one of the earliest Famicom/NES releases, the amusingly-named Clu Clu Land is also a bit of unusual one to play. It's a maze/puzzle game which requires you, as a puffer fish, to twirl around poles to reveal pictures made of gold ingots. Strange but pretty original, not to mention addictive. (full review here)

Cobra Command by Data East (1988)

This port of Data East's arcade game arrived the same year as its big brother but aside from both being chopper-based, there were few similarities. The latter was a bog-standard horizontal shmup but the NES version is a Choplifter rip-off. However, aside from some decidedly slow/jerky scrolling, it's not a bad example.

Cobra Triangle by Rare (1988)

Contrary to initial appearances, this is not a water-based overhead/isometric racing game. There is some racing involved, in addition to some combat, but there are also more complicated missions that task you with rescuing swimmers or defusing bombs, and there are even boss fights! Original and fun but bloody tough too. (full review here)

Cocoron by K2 / Takeru (1991) - Japan Only

The NES certainly doesn't have a shortage of scrolling platformers, but this one manages to stand out by letting you design your own character! You can create it from a large selection of parts, and it can be modified during play too. It's a fairly standard (and tough) platformer otherwise but what a great gimmick!

Code Name: Viper by Arc System Works / Capcom (1990)

There seems to be quite a few military themed platform/shooters on the NES and this is one of the best from what I've seen so far. Aside from this it plays exactly like a cross between the awesome Rolling Thunder and the awesome Shinobi. It's not quite as good as either but, despite being a bit of a rip-off, is still excellent.

Columbus: Ougon no Yoake by Tomy (1992) - Japan Only

Many may or may not wish they could relive the adventures of Christopher Columbus, and this game gives you the chance to do just that! Unsurprisingly, it's an RPG which allows you to travel to various real-world locations. Unfortunately, it also therefore contains lots of text and was released only in Japan, so...

Commando by Capcom (1986)

Although good for its time, I was never the biggest fan of this famous overhead run 'n' gunner. This port, however, comes directly from Capcom themselves so it should in theory be about as good as it could be. Happily it is rather skillish too, providing brave players with lots to shoot and action that is just as frantic as ever. (full review here)

Conan: The Mysteries of Time by Mindscape (1991)

Bleurk! It was pretty obvious almost immediately that this one was not going to be a corker. It seems to be a basic platform/combat game but the poor graphics, awful player control, and uninspiring stages will have you running for the hills within minutes. One of the worst games I've ever played.

Conflict by Vic Tokai (1990)

Hmm, a strategy war game; these have never been my forte, but it's apparently a decent one. The campaigns are viewed from above and divided into hexagons which represent different terrain, facilities, or military units, and it confuses my simple mind, but stragegy fans should check it out!

Conquest of the Crystal Palace by Quest (1990)

This poor game never seems to get talked about these days but it's more than worthy of some attention. It's a platform/combat game set in the days of swords and magic crystals and other mystical stuff, and has some appealing stages. Some enemies are a bit unfair but apart from that it's pretty good.

Contra by Konami (1988)

Another one of the games that epitomises the NES for many. This version is so popular, people sometimes forget it was an arcade conversion! It's a very good one though, of course, and offers some of the best run 'n' gun action in the gaming world, for one or two players. Tough but so playable.

Contra Force by Konami (1992)

This less-well-known sequel/spinoff is exclusive to the NES and is a bit of a departure from the ultra-popular original. There is still plenty of shooting, but the action is slower-paced and is more of a platform-shooter than a run 'n' gunner. Would be much better were it not for lots of slowdown and flicker.

Cool World by Ocean (1993)

I haven't seen the half-animated/half-live-action film this game is based on, admittedly, but I had no clue what was going on when I played this. It takes place in a brightly-coloured side-scrolling world, though, and the leapy action is reasonably compelling, with explorations rewarding you with many secrets.

Corvette ZR-1 Challenge by Milton Bradley (1991)

What a weird one this is. Known as Race America in the US, it's a little-known one-on-one racing game where you start off with a drag race, then whomever was in the lead gets the larger window at the top of the screen, with the other racer getting a smaller window below. The actual racing is very simple and boring too.

Cosmic Epsilon by Asmik (1989) - Japan Only

It's easy to see where the inspiration for this one came from - Space Harrier! As in Sega's classic, you control some flying dude viewed from behind as he flies through the various stages shooting everything in his path, and it's pretty good. The shooting mechanic is precise and the stages are enjoyable to play too.

Cosmic Wars by Konami (1989) - Japan Only

This is another turn-based strategy game which I would ordinarily be scared of, but since the opposing armies are made up of Gradius characters, it's automatically the best strategy game ever! Sadly, it's another Japan-only release which means I can't read the instructions to learn how to play it though. Bah!

Cosmo Police Galivan by Nihan Bussan (1988) - Japan Only

Another one I'd never heard of, and it looked like it was going to be a rather whiffy platformer at first, but it's actually a Metroid clone, and a decent one too. I was also surprised to find that it's an arcade conversion, but this is nothing like the original which is more of a run 'n' gunner. A hidden gem?

Cowboy Kid by Visco Corp / Romstar (1992)

It's time to hit the Wild West in this fairly late Visco release which casts you as a cowboy who is made sheriff, and it's your job to clean up the various areas of your town in good old Wild West style - violence! It's pretty good fun too, although the never-ending bad guys don't give you any time to relax.

Crackout by Konami (1991)

A good Breakout-style bat 'n' ball game can often be a treat but this one has long been regarded as a bit whiffy, sadly. It's not that bad in all honesty, but repetitive graphics and poor stage design, including many with unfairly-placed bricks, don't do it any favours. Give it a try if you like but Arkanoid remains king. (full review here)

Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge by Technos (1992)

I had no idea what to expect from this one, but as it turns out it's another multi-event sports title, but with a twist: this time it's set in 'the streets' and features several teams (gangs?) of hoodlums competing in several Olympics-inspired events. The controls aren't very intuitive but it's an original game for its type.

Crayon Shin-Chan: Ora to Poi Poi by TOSE / Bandai (1993) - Japan Only

I had a feeling this one might be based on a manga, which it is, but I also thought it would be incompehensible, which it isn't. It's actually an intriguing mix of block-puzzle game and tennis! There is a lot of Japanese text, mainly in cut-scenes, but they don't interfere with play too much. Give it a try.

Crazy Climber by Nichibutsu (1986) - Japan Only

I'm very confused as to why this one never made it outside Japan - it's a genuine arcade classic isn't it? Even today, NES fans will find it elusive as it used a special controller for the Famicom! It was a pretty decent conversion from what I can tell, too. Oh well, play it on a PS2 'classics' compilation instead!

Crisis Force by Konami (1991) - Japan Only

Along perhaps with Zanac, this is regarded by many as one of the NES's finest shmups. I'm not sure it's quite that good but it's definitely a quality vertical-scroller. The stages and weapons are decent and it even has two-player support. Quite why it was never released outside Japan is a mystery though. (full review here)

CrossFire by Kyugo (1990) - Japan Only

At first glance, this Japan-only side-scroller looks like being a blatant Contra rip-off, but it's actually more of a platform-shooter than an out-and-out run 'n' gunner. It's also - unbelievably - harder than Contra too. You don't even get a gun to start with! It's also very unfair with cheap deaths aplenty. Not one for part-timers...

Crystalis by SNK (1990)

The last thing most gamers would expect from SNK is an action RPG but that's exactly what they gave NES owners just before their Neo Geo days. It's actually set in the future long after a nuclear war, in a swords 'n' sorcery-type world, and on first impressions it's also fantastic. Looking forward to more of this one.

Cyberball by Atari / Tengen (1990)

Lots of systems got a version of Atari's futuristic take on American football, and this isn't a bad one. The graphics aren't great but I forgot how entertaining this game can be, and the NES version works as well as any other. Who doesn't want to play as a team of trundling clankers juggling an exploding ball?

Cybernoid by Hewson / Acclaim (1989)

This classic Raffaele Cecco flick-screen shooter is best known as a Speccy game, so it's a bit strange to see it here. It's also a bit strange to find that the already-notoriously-hard game is even harder here, mainly thanks to faster enemies. It's not as colourful as the Speccy game either, ironically.

Cycle Race: Road Man by Tokyo Shoseki (1988) - Japan Only

And lastly we have... a cycling simulator? Why yes, for it's basically an overhead racing game like F1 Circus or something, just with bikes! It's actually really good too, if you can get to grips with the controls. Various teams and riders are available and the race across Japan is rather scenic one.

Left out on purpose: Cadillac (poker game), Caesars Palace (casino/gambling game), Captain Tsubasa Vol. II: Super Striker (unusual football game with lots of Japanese text), Casino Derby, Casino Kid & Casino Kid 2 (all casino/gambling games), Castle Quest (text-heavy chess-like strategy game), Chibi Maruko-Chan: Uki Uki Shopping (board game, lots of Japanese text), Chiisana Obake: Achhi Sochhi Kocchi (not even sure), Chiyonofuji no Ōichō (sumo wrestling), Choujin Ultra Baseball (sports), Chuugoku Janshi Story: Tonpuu (mahjong game), Chuugoku Senseijutsu (fortune-telling game), Classic Concentration (puzzle game for children), Color a Dinosaur (children's colouring game).


  1. Bet you regretted starting this one when you realised how many NES games begin with "C", ha!

    Interesting fact about Color A Dinosaur: it was the first game that Tommy Tallarico (Earthworm Jim, Cool Spot, Global Gladiators) did the music for.

    1. Haha, yeah, but most NES letters will have a ton of games. I've done a lot of shorter ones recently so I thought I should tackle a bigger one. Back to a short one next though!

      I didn't even play Color A Dinosaur, I'll have to check it out now for the music :P