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Author Topic: The most original NES games?  (Read 3499 times)

Spooniest

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The most original NES games?
« on: March 13, 2018, 08:32:46 am »
There's a thread about what the hardest NES game is, now here's its companion. Which NES games had the best execution of an original concept?

Things to consider that might help narrow down the list: innovation is relative to the time period. Something that was original in 1985 can't really be fairly judged against something that came out in 1989 the same way you can judge a 1989 game based on the innovations of 1985. Time moves forward only, if a game is older it wins more originality points. I know that's dumb but it makes it easy to  understand and talk about, heh. Another idea that might be useful is to ask what the most original games of each year the NES was having new game releases were (i.e., Most original of 1985, most original of 1986, etc).

Secondly, for the intent of being clear, I'll say that originality is a subjective idea. One person might consider one thing original, and another might think it's simply a botheration to play. But unoriginality is one of those things that you can easily spot. If a work is patently unoriginal, then it kind of stands out. Something like Ninja Gaiden 3 or anything after Mega Man 2. Gimmicky quasi-improvements like changing the Item-1 Item-2 and Item-3 stuff to a robot dog buddy that you can make action figures out of are not exactly ideas you can call interesting, but let's say it has kept Capcom making games, so it's not a bad thing. Nobody likes arguing against business, since everybody needs money. So let's save that discussion for another thread, maybe?

Finally, I wanted to say that, to me, the most original games on the NES were ones that sort of hung out on the fringes of popularity, because it's a common thread in every era of human beings that the most unusual and innovative creators tend to not be as prolific (and therefore marketable) as those who churn stuff out as fast as they can without regard to the ideas they are really expressing. There's a lot of grey area in between those two extremes, and that's what makes a discussion lively, right?

I'll name only one that I find the most interesting in terms of concept: Metroid. Most games set in space at that time and throughout gaming history have involved sitting in the cockpit of an X-Wing. Metroid is a game where you can do more than shoot wave after wave of enemies... You can explore. Space isn't any fun unless there's some exploration involved, as the ill-conceived new Star Trek show has shown us (STRONG NERD OPINION DETECTED: NEUTRALIZE--NEUTRALIZE--). Spaceship Shooting games are as old as electronic gaming itself, almost, but Metroid let me get out of the ship. Interesting.

nesrocks

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2018, 10:39:19 am »
Recently I've been realizing how Punch-out is pretty darn impressive game design-wise. It is about boxing, but the focus on gameplay instead of realism is something that made it excel and stand out to the point that you may not even think about it as belonging to a boxing games genre. It's its own thing.

Her-Saki

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2018, 11:21:44 am »
I can at least list three:

Adventures of Lolo: puzzles were fairly basic (like Tetris) until this saga. It combines the thought-provoking puzzle stuff with a fast-reaction game (even if you have a plan, you must execute it ASAP with all your input skill). It also has that nice kidnapping animated intro and solid sprites that stand out from other games of the genre.

Metal Slader Glory, aka my weakness: VN genre was, honestly, fairly otaku/cherryboy-wise until this game. I would like to know if Yoshimiru knew this and with this idea in mind made the greatest game of the genre for the Famicom. I don't need to say why is original because EVERYTHING is original (aside from the non-popular ecchi puns).

Hiryuu no Ken: at the beginning you can only play the "child" mode, that I think is a reference to how beat'em ups were played in arcades in those years (1987-91), you just advance and punch everything you face. Period. However, the other side of the game is what really makes this saga original, the point battle system. You need to hit a body part of your enemy at once (don't worry, it has been made to be dynamic), and defend the same way properly. This concept was killed years later with kickboxing games but anyways, for those years was an alternative to classic beat'em ups.

Ys (did I say three? oh): It may be now not so original due to massive ports but it certainly differs from the classic RPG turn-based system with its push-enemies-back action (which never gets old for some reason).

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2018, 01:31:47 pm »
A bit of a stretch perhaps, but Otocky for FDS - arguably one of the very first console musical games, quite a lot of fun overall.

Magic of Scheherezade by Culture Brain - I believe it was the first action RPG/turn-based RPG for the Famicom. Lots of fun characters and events overall, quite certainly worth a playthrough.

All the Kunio-kun games pretty much, especially the sports titles. I am beginning to think that the less realistic a sports game is, the more fun it is play, and that certainly applies here. :D

Getsu Fuuma Den + The Lone Ranger (Konami). They are platformers with first-person dungeon crawling elements, pretty unique for the time, and you don't see that many games do that even today. Frankly, I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Golgo 13 (Vic Tokai) - multiple genres - shooting, flying helicopters, sniping, and platforming. Also, probably the only game with implied (very obvious though) sexual themes for the FC.

Pinball Quest (Tose/Jaleco) - a pinball game with RPG/shopping elements, where you have a plot/bosses etc. Quite original for 1989.

A Boy and His Blob (Imagineering) - you have an amorphous blob that you can use to solve puzzles, as it can turn into lots of useful things, as you feed it candy. Pretty decent adventure game IMO.

One I forgot about for some reason - Sweet Home by Capcom. It inspired RE, and there was basically nothing exactly like it on the FC, so it surely deserves some attention at least.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2018, 03:39:12 am by cccmar »

PresidentLeever

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2018, 03:28:21 pm »
This is a topic that I've been looking into rather thoroughly in the recent couple of years, but for all systems. Full list that I have so far for NES (innovative/ahead of their time games, but they tend to overlap): http://minirevver.weebly.com/nes-games-ahead-of-their-time.html

Binary Land - Action Puzzle/Maze
-The control mechanic used works as a metaphor for a bond between the two characters (done much later in Brothers)

Legend of Zelda - Action Adventure, top down view
-Open ended structure
-save feature
-warps
-rudimentary map system
-equipment inventory
-shops and mini-games
-hidden rooms
-can block some projectiles
-dark rooms
-can bomb walls (lacking visual and audio clues)
-boomerang, ladder and raft (cross water)
-use your voice to kill a certain enemy (JP version)

Metroid - Platform Adventure/Sidescrolling Action Adventure
-early foundations for the platform adventure/metroidvania
-freeze enemies and use them as platforms
-partially destructible environment
-ball form (explore narrow paths, avoid some attacks)
-sub weapon (missile)
-bombs and bomb jumping (kinda clunky here)
-female protagonist
-weapon and hp upgrades

Solomon's Key - Puzzle Platformer
​-Early puzzle platformer, partially destructible and creatable environment, early trapping/trap 'em up, hidden levels, power ups that change form if you hit them, smart bombs, alternate endings depending on your performance

Ghostbusters (1984 port) - Early rtt/trapping/sandbox game
-Map out your route before traveling in a top down racing segment, pick between four different cars with different properties

Metal Gear (MSX2/NES, 1987) - Stealth Action/Action Adventure
-Stealth mechanics
-radio communication feature (can get tips from NPCs)
-binoculars (view adjacent screens) - respawns enemies on NES
-interesting gear (enemy uniform, tracker item (can be placed on you by the enemy if you get captured), silencer, etc.)
-boss introductions
-find destructible walls by listening for differing sounds when hitting them
-creates a sense of vulnerability at times (the dogs, losing your gear before the first boss)
​-fairly impressive PSG music
-checkpoint at the beginning of each area and when exiting or entering a building
-basic level up/rank system (Zelda, Metroid)
-some interesting level design (flying enemy triggering an electric floor trap, moving infrared beam alarm room, tank fire in the desert)
-escape sequence (Metroid)
-save feature (loading puts you in the previous elevator room though)

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - JRPG/Platform Adventure hybrid
​-Customizable character building/free-form advancement, good enemy AI, more advanced melee combat than in most 8-bit games, transform into a fairy that can fly through door locks, no backtracking after beating a boss (unless you missed the dungeon item), different encounters depending on the terrain tile you're on in the overworld, semi-avoidable random encounters, reflect some projectiles with the reflect spell, "spell" spell - transforms enemies into blobs

Bionic Commando - Action Platformer/Action Adventure
Hookshot mechanic (replaces jumping)
-spy on enemy communications
-neutral areas where you get attacked for opening fire
-SMB3-like hub map with patrolling enemies

Ys: Vanished Omen (1987 port) - ARPG, top down view
​-Basic dialogue trees, gradually learn enemy stats by killing more of them, bargain with one of the clerks, teleport back to town (wing), health regen outside dungeons if standing still, detailed artwork during important dialogue, save anywhere except during dialogue or boss battles, somewhat non-linear structure,

River City Ransom - Beat 'em up/ARPG Hybrid, 2-player co-op
-enemy comments during gameplay that don't interrupt the action
-RPG elements: gain new moves by leveling up using food and books, 2 item inventory, open ended structure for the genre, shops
-good arsenal of moves for the time (pick up and throw enemies or use them to punch others (lol), block move (punch/kick incoming attacks at the right time), punch boxes to make them slide, throw weapons, jump kick, run)
-comical tone
-change difficulty on the fly
-password save anywhere
-help menu in-game
-unlimited lives (lose half your money and start in the previous mall area when dying)
-expressive sprites
​-sauna bathing
-some platforming (Double Dragon)

Little Ninja Brothers - JRPG/Beat 'em up Hybrid, 2-player co-op
-the other player can join or leave in-game
-comical theme
-avoid random encounters (flee before battle mechanic - dice roll based)
-jrpg boss battles

Final Fantasy III - JRPG
-Job system
-"Per enemy type" multi-targeting
-Numbers indicating who is striking what target in the next round
-Unlearn spells
-More equipment customization
-More interactive environment
-Summons
-Damage indicator on the actual monster sprites
-Temporary party members that follow the party in the overhead view and can be talked to manually
-Underwater exploration
-Pretty major overworld change
-Proper row system
-Shops and stash in the airship, etc.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 09:56:35 am by PresidentLeever »
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werewolfslayr925

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 03:39:36 pm »
Well, PresidentLeever kinda beat me to certain things, but I always thought that The Guardian Legend was very innovative. Yeah, it has a similar gameplay premise to Metroid, but the execution is different. As the OP points out, Metroid lets you get out of the ship. TGL makes you a cyborg who is a ship and uses the powerups she gathers both on foot and in the air. If Metroid is a combination of Zelda and Mario with a little more Mario, then TGL is that same combination with a bit more Zelda and a little something of its own.

Speaking of Mario, the original Super Mario Bros. is very innovative for its time. This essay explains better than I can how that's so. (Zelda did likewise as a huge expansion of concept on what Adventure accomplished years before.)

I was also going to say Kirby's Adventure in the sense of bringing the whole "using enemies and their powers against them" mechanic, but Doki Doki Panic/SMB2 did that a few years before (even if Kirby did it better).
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PresidentLeever

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 05:56:53 pm »
That's a pretty interesting article about fundamentals we might not even consider since they've been there for so long. I disagree about Pac-Man though - going from escaping the ghosts to eating them is a change on the level of the donkey kong hammer, and while it doesnt have a downside on its own similar to not being able to jump, there's the risk/reward dynamic of trying to eat as many ghosts as possible before it runs out for more points leading to more tries. The different AI of the ghosts also adds another layer to the difficulty.

It's kind of interesting that action as a genre term became synonymous with violence in games and film. I realize it has its use (such as for Action Platformers like Castlevania, Shinobi etc), but I would rather describe it as physical movement through and interaction with an environment which may or may not include violence - so in a sense the platformer/jump 'n run is a subgenre of action games.

But anyway, regarding the composite gameplay idea. While the mix of platforming focused and action focused levels is a decent point I think the bouncing on enemies to essentially use them as platforms and keep your flow is a more interesting way of blending genres and a more important reason why it's an innovative game. You don't solve the platforming problems by simply killing enemies (IIRC it can actually be bad to shoot them at times or to slowly move up to and hop on them), but bouncing off of them while running tends to help and they tend to be placed with a continuous forward motion in mind. But the bouncing is done better in later games I think.
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magictrufflez

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2018, 07:53:28 am »
I only really play RPGs, so I have to admit that even though FF3 is not even close to my favorite FF, its game systems are pretty close to what the SNES FF entries use, which is pretty impressive (and already mentioned).

Lagrange Point is also unique to me for both some of the game systems as well as the setting. I have beef with how lazy the writers were at points because it's clear they kind of phoned in naming things, but a SciFi RPG on the NES with a decent plot twist is definitely pretty original IMO. (Not as good as Phantasy Star 2, but what late 80s/early 90s console RPG is?)

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2018, 09:47:18 am »
  • Battletoads. I don't think I've seen another game with as much variety in the level design. Standard side scrolling beat-'em-up, dangling and swinging from a rope, horizontal and vertical scrolling, riding giant mechanical snakes, surfing, swimming, a pseudo-3D spinning cylinder, and did I mention the Clinger Winger level... It's the level design and gameplay that make this one stand out, but it also has excellent animations and music. This game seemed to push the limits of what the NES could do.
  • Bionic Commando. Swinging instead of jumping was a novel idea. The game stumbles when it gets away from its core mechanic (i.e., lame overhead levels), and the AI is terrible. But that arm!
  • Super Mario Bros. 3. Probably enough has been said about this one.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2. The ability to play the entire game as different characters with different physics / abilities gives this a lot of replay. Being able to pick up an enemy or projectile and use it as your own projectile is a fun twist.
  • Ninja Gaiden! My favorite game. Even with a few flaws (stupid boss AI, respawning enemies, poor collision detection), this game succeeds in that it lets you feel like a ninja. You cannot beat this game unless you are aggressive, fast, bold and deadly. You know, like a ninja. Having trouble with a level? Stop trying to be tentative and careful. Stop waiting and reacting to what enemies are trying to do to you. Take control like a boss! Run in there and KILL! You're a ninja!
  • Castlevania 3. The ability to choose your teammate and change at will, plus the alternate routes you could take, give this game a lot of replay. Grant is especially fun to use, with his agile jumping and wall-clinging abilities. Syfa is alright, and Alucard is lousy. Really, it's all about Grant. The game should be called Grant's Quest. :D
  • Tengen Tetris. This is the true version of the classic puzzle game, one that addicted people en masse and haunted their dreams. Music, graphics and dancers send up the Russian theme, because this is a Russian game. Co-op mode is fun, although it lacks a means of tracking progress. The official Nintendo version of Tetris is a joke compared to the Tengen version, with its awful music, lack of theme, shoddy graphics and poor difficulty progression. I remember the heartbreak when it was recalled for being unlicensed, and too late we thought of the idea of renting the game, then swapping the cartridge innards with a crappy game (Pitfall) so the crappy game could be destroyed and we could keep the Tengen Tetris. Cool angular black cartridge, too.
  • Caveman Games. The most fun head-to-head game I remember for the NES, consisting of a bunch of caveman-themed mini-games. Sound effects and graphics, plus the frantic button mashing, made for a lot of laughs.
  • Solar Jetman. A fun exploring game with a great physics engine. Perhaps the best way to empirically learn Newton's laws of motion as a youth.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 09:54:36 am by PolishedTurd »

Thrakk

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2018, 04:51:41 pm »
Bart vs the Space Mutants. The platforming was kinda yuck but there was quite a lot of originality

KingMike

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2018, 10:11:53 pm »
I only really play RPGs, so I have to admit that even though FF3 is not even close to my favorite FF, its game systems are pretty close to what the SNES FF entries use, which is pretty impressive (and already mentioned).

Lagrange Point is also unique to me for both some of the game systems as well as the setting. I have beef with how lazy the writers were at points because it's clear they kind of phoned in naming things, but a SciFi RPG on the NES with a decent plot twist is definitely pretty original IMO. (Not as good as Phantasy Star 2, but what late 80s/early 90s console RPG is?)

I thought to some degree Lagrange Point had fan input on development, like through one of the Japanese gaming magazines.
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realworksuks

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2018, 12:10:27 am »
I'm glad Battletoads and Mario were already spoken about.  But Smash TV comes to my mind.  It's a game about a futuristic game show where athletes are competing for their lives I believe.

I would also like to mention Megaman.
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SleepyFist

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2018, 04:59:48 am »
Blaster Master is pretty unique,
you've got platforming run and gun mixed with overhead shooter segments,
The fact that you can platform in a battle tank for is pretty fucking awesome too.

Dragon Quest/Warrior is also responsible for laying the groundwork for rpgs to come, so it was probably unique at the time, but kind of overshadowed by the genre it helped spawn.
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KingMike

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2018, 10:15:54 pm »
But Smash TV comes to my mind.  It's a game about a futuristic game show where athletes are competing for their lives I believe.
But that's an arcade port so it's not really an original "NES" game.
Though I guess it gets some originality points for using the 4-Player adapter to support a "Dual-Fisted Action" (according to the box but I guess the more common term would be "twin stick") mode for using two controllers per player (though I've heard Crazy Climber did that in Japan many years earlier, using both of the original Famicom's controllers for a single player)
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realworksuks

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2018, 02:29:26 am »
But that's an arcade port so it's not really an original "NES" game.
Though I guess it gets some originality points for using the 4-Player adapter to support a "Dual-Fisted Action" (according to the box but I guess the more common term would be "twin stick") mode for using two controllers per player (though I've heard Crazy Climber did that in Japan many years earlier, using both of the original Famicom's controllers for a single player)

Thanks, I didn't know it was an arcade port.  Nice to add that to my gaming knowledge  :thumbsup:
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ultimaweapon

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2018, 10:34:33 am »
There has been a lot of good games listed. Here's two that may be overlooked.

Cobra Triangle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEDwRZ85f0s&t=5s

Track N Field 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxA9ORtEhTY

The Battle Of Olympus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E9E4o_IPhA
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magictrufflez

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2018, 09:53:22 pm »
I thought to some degree Lagrange Point had fan input on development, like through one of the Japanese gaming magazines.

If it did and the developers went with some of those lazy names (Land 1 and Land 2 are planet names for pete's sake), I'm actually even more disappointed in them for not just saying "you know what? this is stupid and we're just using a 14-letter sequence of vowels for the planet name because that would be more creative."

I mean, the game does a lot right, but what it does wrong, it does REALLY wrong. I would kill to have someone fix the text.

brettburlingame

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2018, 07:59:45 pm »
River city ransom for sure 8) 8)

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2018, 06:01:05 am »
Tetris

Super Mario Bros

Mike Tysons Punchout

Zelda

Ninja Gaiden

no particular order

Bregalad

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Re: The most original NES games?
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2018, 04:28:22 am »
I'm surprised Fire Emblem hasn't been mentionned yet. Basically this game invented the tactical-RPG genre altogether. Sure by today's standard it's completely un-original because the concept was re-used to death, but back in the day moving your units on a chessboard and alternating between player and computer turns was a brand new idea (I guess).