The Analogue Interactive founder revisits his favourite games for Nintendo’s iconic console, the NES
In the gaming culture hall of fame, few consoles come close to Nintendo’s NES. Earning its stripes as the biggest selling console of its day, the NES helped reinvigorate the US’s crumpled gaming market following the crash of 1983, through its revolutionary 8-bit game play and iconic library of game titles.
In the subsequent years – in the face of successive consoles – nostalgia for the NES and its titles has grown. Gaming enthusiast and entrepreneur Christopher Taber established his company Analogue Interactive to satisfy the needs of retro videophiles, creating the Nt console to play these iconic games with the benefits of modern advancements. Built with original hardware, the console is a generous re-design as close to the original as possible, but with the added refinement of razor-sharp pixels and audio that can be enjoyed via HD or SD television. Compatible with NES, Famicom and Famicom Disk system games, the console provides access to nearly 2,000 titles from the past. We talk to Taber about his favourites
Recca is without a doubt my personal favourite Famicom game. It’s a manic ‘shmup’ (shoot ’em up). This means obscenely fast gameplay, and if you aren’t familiar with the genre (or bullet hell shmups in general) it looks absolutely bonkers. The game was developed in 1992 by Naxat Soft for a shmup competition called Summer Carnival ’92. Developed specifically for hardcore players, it has an enormous amount of character to it. It’s incredibly difficult, uniquely trippy and has a pulsing techno soundtrack. Recca is a technical masterpiece for the Famicom. It truly pushed the limits of the hardware. The sheer amount of varied activity on screen speaks for itself. One of the coolest things about Recca is that if you manage to beat it, you start the entire game over, but this time with essentially a more difficult rearranged version of the same levels. If you think the first time through was madness, the second part will make you cry.
Gimmick! has always reminded me of a sort of Kirby’s Adventure meets Mega Man. It has a comparable aesthetic feel to Kirby’s Adventure, but with the challenge and required precision of a Mega Man game. Gimmick! is another extremely difficult game, but one that brings a unique and growing satisfaction as you get the hang of it. Each level is intricately crafted in a way that puts you in a particular focused mental state. The character you play, Yumetarou, has a star attack that must be mastered to make it through. Calculating the trajectory of where your star attack bounces is paramount. If you throw the star just right, you can even ride it to secret areas, which is a necessary trick to fully complete the game.
River City Ransom
The true gauge of River City Ransom’s fun is revealed when every time I beat the game, I want to start over and play it again. River City Ransom is beat ’em up with RPG elements – you run around in a non-linear world, beating the shit out of everyone, collecting cash and buying new techniques and power ups. The techniques are one of the coolest parts of the game. They provide you with ultra satisfying player moves such as ‘Dragon Feet’, ‘Stone Hands’ and ‘Javelin Man’ (you pick up and throw enemies like a spear). Aside from being a great beat ’em up, River City Ransom has a great sense of humour. It’s filled with a loads of quirks all over the place like gangs named ‘The Generic Dudes’ or ‘The Frat Guys’. The gameplay, sense of humour and fighting style make it a cult classic.
Kirby’s Adventure is a pleasure to play – easily one of the most fun NES games of all time. It’s lush with coluor, animation and detail, though not all aesthetics, the backbone is of course the wonderful diversity of Kirby’s notoriously cool abilities. There are over 20 enemies whose abilities you can copy by sucking them in. Couple this with a loads of secrets, hidden areas, switches and mini games and you’ve got the timeless classic that we all know.
I’m not quite sure what exactly it is about Balloon Fight that I love so much. It’s a pretty simple game. Maybe it’s bouncing around the screen as fast as possible like a maniac, or it’s the soundtrack, or maybe it’s because it’s a great co-operative game best played with a friend (just be careful not to pop your team mate’s balloon). Originally an arcade game, Balloon Fight was released on Nintendo’s Vs. System in 1984. It was released a couple of years later on the NES while still maintaining its original arcade feel. The quick in and out gameplay has always been an alluring game style for me. Every time I sit down to play a ‘quick’ game of Balloon Fight with a friend, a lot of shouting and hollering later, two hours end up passing by.