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Rare NES Games – TheFantasyTimes

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By Nikita Gambhir

Rare NES Games



The Nintendo Entertainment System is a legendary console that has saved the video game industry, produced numerous franchises, and is an iconic figure in pop culture and history. It is renowned for games such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda, among others. However, not all games on the NES received the recognition or sales they deserved at the time, some only emerging as gems of the collecting and preservation communities years later. These are the games that deserve to be remembered and appreciated despite not being the ones people typically associate with the NES.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters is a game that was back-ported during the early years of the 16-bit console wars, and it utilized the NES’s humble controllers well. It has clean and readable sprite work, good controls for the era, and satisfying gameplay, making it an 8-bit beauty that is worth playing.

Capcom released Rescue Rangers 2 as an excellent follow-up to the puzzle platforming action of the first game. However, it was released in late 1993, well into the 16-bit era, and had limited copies, so it was quickly forgotten.

Bonk’s Adventure, a port of a PC powerhouse title from Hudson Soft, follows a big-headed prehistoric child on an epic quest, dealing with monsters and dinosaurs along the way. It was released in mid-1993 in Japan and early 1994 in North America, which is why it is not known to many people.

Snow Bros. is a puzzle-action game in which two princes are turned into snowmen and must fight off hordes of monsters. It was released at the cusp of the Super Nintendo’s launch, so it did not receive much attention, but it has all the makings of an 8-bit classic.

Little Samson is a beautiful, enthralling, and energetic action platformer that feels right at home on the NES. Its excellent sprite work and sound design make it highly sought after, but it comes with a high price tag.

Bubble Bobble 2 is one of the era’s best puzzle platforming games and a beloved series in the NES’s library. However, it was released in mid-late 1993, after many had moved onto 16-bit consoles, and it became one of the first rare games on the NES.

Wacky Races is an excellent game by the renowned Atlus studio that features Hanna-Barbera’s sneaky, snarky dog Muttley as he travels the globe to collect items for his owner. It was released in 1992 in limited quantities, so it is rare and desirable.

Bucky O’Hare, a video game adaptation of one of many 90’s animated action series, is a top-notch game with excellent sound design, level layouts, sprite work, and gameplay. It is a fitting swan-song for Konami, bidding farewell to the 8-bit machine that changed the entertainment industry forever.

In conclusion, these games may not have received the recognition or sales they deserved at the time, but they are still excellent games that deserve to be remembered and appreciated. They are gems of the collecting and preservation communities that showcase the NES’s capabilities and the creativity of its developers.

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The savior of the video game industry, birthplace of countless franchises, and iconic face of pop culture and history, the Nintendo Entertainment System is legendary. Nintendo’s 8-bit powerhouse is rightfully known for games like Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, and many, many more. Not every game on the NES got the sales or recognition it deserved at the time, though, sometimes emerging years later as jewels of the collecting and preservation communities.


Related: Best Villains From NES RPGs, Ranked

Some games were released well after the console’s heyday, with the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis having taken the cultural zeitgeist by storm. Others were recalled and buried or restricted to being mostly rental-only titles, making them scarce on store shelves. These aren’t the games people remember the NES for, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be forgotten or overlooked.





8 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters two turtles in combat

Lots of games were being back-ported during the initial few years of the 16-bit console wars, including some starring everyone’s favorite heroes in a half-shell. Fighting games in general aren’t at their best when players have, at the most, 4 buttons and a D-Pad to work with (Nintendo’s systems did have rather humble controllers at the time), but Tournament Fighters made admirable use of what the NES had on offer.

The sprite work is clean and readable, the controls are good for the era and the gameplay remains satisfying overall. While harder to find than its 16-bit siblings, NES Tournament Fighters is also available in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection for modern consoles and PC, for those wanting to play this 8-bit beauty without breaking the bank.

7 Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers 2

Chip N' Dale: Rescue Rangers 2 platforming screenshot

Capcom spent a lot of the 8- and 16-bit era releasing a slew of awesome platformers, based on Disney’s Saturday morning cartoon lineup and theatrical releases. Rescue Rangers 2 is an excellent follow-up to the puzzle platforming action of the first game, with some quality of life improvements and more elements from the cartoon being incorporated into the levels and narrative.

Related: Most Expensive Video Games Ever Sold

The greatest aspect holding this game back from being a beloved classic was its release window. It launched in late 1993, well into the 16-bit era, when NES games and consoles were being shifted to price-slash shelves. Combined with a limited release in far lower numbers than the original, this meant that Rescue Rangers 2 is a classic that came and went with little fanfare. It sadly missed its chance to shine when it was new on the shelves.

6 Bonk’s Adventure

Bonk's Adventure Bonk jumping from large green dinosaur's head

Another late launch, this time a port of a PC powerhouse title from Hudson Soft. Bonk’s Adventure is about a big-headed prehistoric child going on an epic quest, dealing with monsters and dinosaurs along the way.

The gameplay and overall feel of the game is brought over from the PC Engine well, albeit with expected and notable graphical downgrades from the more powerful consoles it was originally meant for. Had it not launched in mid 1993 in Japan and early 1994 in North America, more people might know about this wacky 8-bit adventure.

5 Snow Bros.

Snow Bros. characters in vertical platforming level

Two princes are turned into snowmen and have to fight off hordes of monsters. Snow Bros. is a puzzle-action game that sees players bury enemies in snow before rolling them into balls and hurdling them away. The graphics and sounds are crisp and catchy, the controls are smooth, and the gameplay is simple yet compelling. It has all the makings of an 8-bit classic.

Related: Rarest Limited Edition PlayStation Consoles

Released at the cusp of the Super Nintendo’s launch, right when the Sega Genesis was establishing itself as the king of arcade-quality ports, Snow Bros. didn’t move units the way it might have a few years earlier. Time has been kind to the game’s reputation, but painful on the wallets of those hoping to buy a physical copy of this cartoonish romp in the snow.

4 Little Samson

Little Samson characters in temple-like throne room

A beautiful, enthralling and energetic action platformer that feels right at home on the NES, Little Samson is a powerful entry in the Nintendo Entertainment System’s extensive library. The graphics and sound capability of the NES had been largely mastered by developers by 1992, as demonstrated by the excellent sprite work and sound design here.

Little Samson is highly sought after and coveted as a result, fetching high prices on the secondary market. It’s also a common game to see emulated or reproduced on newer cartridges, for those unwilling to pay up the big bucks. Some might contest it, but those who have played Little Samson will tell you that it’s worth every penny.

3 Bubble Bobble 2

Bubble Bobble 2 stage screenshot

One of the era’s best puzzle platforming games, and a face for the Taito company’s video game division. Bubble Bobble is a beloved series in the NES’ library. It’s maintained a cult following for decades, with arcade cabinets, re-releases and spinoff entries coming out sporadically. Bubble Bobble 2 was one of the first rare games on the NES, with many not knowing of its existence until the early days of the Internet spread the word across the gaming community.

Related: Rarest Limited Edition Nintendo Consoles

Releasing in the west in mid-late 1993, many had long moved onto the 16-bit consoles. As such, they had no reason to believe that a big-name third party studio would still be releasing hard-hitting titles on older hardware. Bubble Bobble 2 is a blast, especially with a friend, but it’s not advised to shell out the money for a physical copy unless you’re a true die-hard fan (or come across a once in a lifetime deal).

2 Wacky Races

Wacky Races NES Muttley leaping platforms

Don’t be fooled, players aren’t competing in the actual Wacky Races themselves. Instead, they take charge of Hanna-Barbera’s sneaky, snarky dog Muttley as he travels the globe to collect items for his owner, the evil Dick Dastardly, defeating bosses and avoiding perilous pitfalls along the way.

Another excellent game by the renowned Atlus studio, Wacky Races looks great, plays great and does justice to the beloved cartoon mutt that’s been stealing the show since the 1960’s. If the game hadn’t come out in 1992 in limited quantities, more people would be singing its praises as a masterpiece. Once word spread of how rare and desirable the game was, prices for it shot through the roof, and likely won’t be coming down anytime soon.

1 Bucky O’Hare

Bucky O'Hare traversing dark lair

When Konami put out a game, it meant something great was coming to players’ screens. Bucky O’Hare is a video game adaptation of one of many 90’s animated action series, starring the titular rabbit and his crew leading a resistance movement against an evil alien empire.

The sound design, level layouts, sprite work and gameplay is all top-notch and does the franchise justice in translating the action to the then-aging 8-bit hardware. If there was an appropriate swan-song to bid farewell to the 8-bit machine that changed the entertainment industry forever, this would be it for Konami.

Next: Best Sega Genesis Games, Ranked

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