Nintendo Power #100 – The 100 Best Games of All Time / MY LIFE IN GAMING
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Nintendo Power #100 – The 100 Best Games of All Time / MY LIFE IN GAMING

August 30, 2019

– Times are changing. This is the September 1997 issue of Nintendo power and for me it is without a doubt the most influential and most referenced issue of any magazine. What makes it so special? Well, it’s the 100th issue of Nintendo Power and they made a pretty big deal out of it. Now I’d only been a subscriber since the previous Christmas, but even though I wasn’t yet a longtime reader, I can really sense the excitement and build up leading to this milestone, but there’s one thing above all else that made this issue so important to me. Nintendo powers list of the 100 best games of all time. (Intro Music) Okay, so what’s the big deal? There’s like a billion best of all time lists out there and they just make everyone upset anyway and come on, this list is obviously only going to feature Nintendo systems, but at the time the Internet wasn’t what it is today and I still had very limited opportunities to access it. I haven’t read a lot of other gaming magazines and to me this list seems like a very good idea and it really opened up my mind to the idea that games for older systems are still worth playing. Something that obviously still hasn’t left me to this day. You see, at the time I had recently sold my NES not realizing just how many great games were available that I’d never been exposed to and even with the SNES, N64 and Game Boy, I was generally sticking to favorite series like Mario, Kirby, and Donkey Kong Country. But I was receptive to broadening my horizons and learning about great games that I hadn’t played before and in those days it was pretty easy to get most older games for real cheapest stores like Funkoland. So you can see how this list became my most valued reference for my early adventures in Retro Gaming. Let’s take a look at what people in 1997 were calling the best 100 games of all time. Alien 3 Ultima: Quest of the Avatar Super Tennis, Final Fight, Bust a Move.. To be honest, I’ve never given any of these a lot of serious consideration, but correct me if I’m wrong to ignore them. I know that Final Fight is pretty loved but brawlers aren’t my usual genre. All right. Kickle Cubicle. Now this is a perfect example of the game that I’d have never played without this list. Comparing it to Adventures of Lolo is all the convincing I needed. I love a good character based puzzler and Kickle Cubicle turned out to be pretty decent. I feel safe in deeming some random SNES golf game as skippable at this point. Hey, I forgotten Gargoyle’s Quest was even on this list. I actually never got around to it until very recently and it was fantastic. It mixes overhead exploration with some truly excellent platforming and it’s not expensive and is absolutely a top title in the Game Boy library. I tried Ogre Battle on the in 64 on two occasions and just never could get into it so I’m a bit wary of this series. Now, this is funny, Lufia 2 is the game that people always say you got to play, but I never hear much love for the first game. This one is way less expensive, but our friend tells me that the story is better if you play the second game first. Demon’s crest is actually the third Gargoyle’s Quest game and this list is what put it on my radar. Thankfully I bought it not too long before the price skyrocketed, but unfortunately I don’t remember much about my playthrough. Definitely high up on my replay list. Battletoads, oh yea! This got me looking into what games Rare had developed before Donkey Kong Country. One of my favorite developers at the time. I have beaten Battletoads without using any warps or cheats. The speeder bikes are infamous because they’re so early in the game, but trust me, that part’s easy in comparison to the worst this game has to offer. You know, I kind of went through a baseball phase when I was like eight or so, but I don’t remember Goonies II being here. I watched a friend play through it a while back and it seems interesting, but I don’t really know if it looked all that fun. Blackthorn caught my attention on this list, but sadly I’ve still never played it. The screenshot here gave me the impression that it was like Contra, but it seems more kin to slower paced games like Flashback. Illusion of Gaia. I did own this at one point, thanks to this list. Well, I played several hours but wasn’t really feeling it. I keep questioning if I’d like it if I gave it another shot, but I watched a friend play a bit more and I’m still not all that sure if I’d be much of a fan. Metal Gear. The version that Hideo Kojima doesn’t like. I never could get into the NES game. I played through the Msx version on the Meat Gear Solid HD Collection, which was actually a really worthwhile experience. They thought Hybrid Heaven was going to be alike Metal Gear for the N64? Oh jeez. Dragon Cre… e, Warrior IV. For now, this is a darn fine choice. While I haven’t played through it on NES yet, I did beat the DS version and it’s easily my second favorite game in the series behind Dragon Quest VIII. I like the NES game engine way more than the style used by the DS remakes, so I’m really looking forward to it. I played through at least half of the Breath of Fire port on the Game Boy Advance but to be honest, I thought it was pretty boring. I am interested in giving the playstation entries a shot someday though. FaceBall 2000 on the Game Boy? I’m sorry I can’t be terribly optimistic about this one. I mean the Super Nintendo version is pretty clunky as it is. Oh hey, it’s that game Coury just did a video on. I have to admit that video made me really want to play it and I’ll definitely keep an eye out. Whoa. To Capcom Disney games in a row. And what I game this is! I’ve actually previously covered my memories of getting Rescue Rangers for Christmas. It went on to become the first game I ever beat, so I’ll always remember it for that. I did own Turtles in Time at one point, I know it’s the fan favorite, but it just never captured me quite like the port of the arcade game that’s on the NES and now that’s my turtles game. Meh. Gradius III, or is it Gradius? I’ve got very limited shmup experience, but I did beat Life Force and it’s not my go to genre, but I feel like I should be more into it than I am and I have come close to buying this one several times. Super Ghouls and Ghosts. It’s notoriously difficult and it deserves it, but it is very good. This was actually the last game I beat in my backlog. I beat it on September 22nd 2008, Zero unfinished games though lately I haven’t done nearly as good of a job at keeping that number down. You know that one game that you didn’t own but played all the time at a friend’s house? That was RC Pro-AM for me. Sure enough, it was definitely more fun at my friend’s house. Then when I later bought it for myself, Oh and this is another game by Rare by the way. Shadow Gate was actually among the first set of games that I bought when I got a used NES in response to this list, getting me all interested in the system again. Definitely a must play for point and click adventure fans. Great music too. Killer Instinct, part of me wants to try this just as part of some effort to collect games made by Rare, but I’m really not a fighting game fan at all. If you ask me the original Wario Land remains the best Wario Land to this day, One of the best games on Game Boy and so fun to collect everything in. I actually just recently got Final Fantasy Legend, but I haven’t started it yet. I love good old simple Japanese RPGs, so I’m looking forward to checking out the saga series on Game Boy. I gave Double Dragon a pretty good shot and it gets tough, but I’m just not a bad enough dude to brawl with the dragons. Zombies Ate My Neighbors, hard as crap, but I did beat it and it’s okay. I do appreciate its spirit, but it’s not that great of a game. Huh. I haven’t played Final Fantasy Adventure in particular, but I did play through Sword of Mana, the GBA remake. I know that everyone kind of hates on that version, but I don’t remember it being bad. Earthworm Jim’s artists are no doubt talented, but I feel like their ambitious visuals got under way of the Gameplay, not a personal favorite. Oh boy, Startropics. For the first two or so chapters, I thought it was pretty great, but the controls are ill suited to an action game. I don’t even want to get into how unfun the so called puzzles are, which makes me very sad because I love the atmosphere. I can’t remember for sure if it was this list or other recommendations that got me to buy Blaster Master, but holy crap boy howdy! Is this ever one of the best NES games or what? It’s a bit long and tough for a game with no saves or password, but it is absolutely not to be missed and the soundtrack is easily one of the best on the system, Blast Corps or blast corpses I called it at the time was one of the first games that I bought to branch out from my small and safe stable of favorite series that I’ve generally been sticking to. I don’t know if there’s really anything that Blast Corp can be compared too. Puzzle? Action? What even is it? I don’t know, but I like it. I’m still woefully behind on Lucas Arts adventure games. I’ve always been super curious about Maniac Mansion, but is the NES version even a good choice? I still can’t believe that only played through Earthbound once. I’m just glad that I bought it years ago. Can you believe that there was a time in the late nineties when you could just walk into Funkoland, and casually ask for Earthbound and they simply pull it out of a drawer and you pay 30 bucks. Good Times. There aren’t too many options for action RPGs on the NES, but Crystalis is a great one. Pretty sure it was among my first set of NES purchases when I got back into the system. Is it just me or does Crystalis seem like a game that Falcom would’ve developed? Mega Man X enough said, right? This one and X2 are the only X games that I truly love. I actually liked the platforming in Actraiser a lot more than I feel I should. I know the main draw to the game is the world building sim, but something about the simplistic nature of the combat along with good boss design really made me get into everything about Actraiser. Castlevania IV was one of the harder games for me to find in the years following this list. I’m not sure if it’s my personal favorite. but it’s perhaps the easiest game to recommend to Castlevania newcomers. All right. Funny Story. I decided to ask for Retro Games for Christmas one year and Bionic Commando was one of my most wanted. My parents said that Funkoland didn’t have Bionic Commando, so they recommended Commando instead. I’m sorry. There’s just no contest here. Oh, hey, a fighting game. Oh hey, another fighting game. Nintendo power was allowed to acknowledge the Genesis. You know, that game that you have the vaguest memories of playing at a friend’s house, but forgot what it was except that it was awesome? I was pretty sure Contra was that game. Thankfully I was right. Since then it’s become one of my favorite series. Mmhmm. Now I know that Tetris Sphere is fairly loved, that it’s music is a big part of that, but when I rented it, I hated both the game play and the music. Maybe that’s just me. Ninja Gaiden 2, that’s a solid choice to represent the series with. It’s just as difficult as the first game but also more fair. So what is Shadowrun exactly? It sort of looks like a fallout type of RPG maybe? I don’t remember it being on this list, but the bits and pieces that I’ve seen of it lately have gotten me kind of curious. Isn’t it funny that Mario 2 used to be the weird one, but now we kind of just accept it. With brilliant game designed by Shigeru Miyamoto’s team and music by Koji Kondo. Mario 2 may be more than a bit different, but just because it’s a re skinning of another game doesn’t make it any less excellent! Contra 3 is amazing. Though for me. It’s more in the middle of my favorite Contra games, but that still means it’s pretty fricking amazing. Dr Mario? That games all right. I remember my dad discouraged me from renting Lolo Games. I never understood why he hated me playing them so much. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure it’s because they featured the exact same repetitive tune on every single level. Fantastic little puzzle adventures though. Is this the slow version? Secret of Manna is a game that I started a bunch of times before I ever played through to the end. I always felt both its gameplay and music were kind of overrated, but I replayed it with three players during a backloggery marathon stream a few years ago, and now I like everything about it so much more and I even bought the soundtrack. Wow, you can sure tell this list was made 1997. Even back in its day Shadows of the Empire was a very divisive game. I enjoyed it a lot myself, but I suspect it would be very, very difficult to go back to. Never played this version of SimCity. I’m not huge into simulation style games, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot someday. The Donkey Kong Country series is in my mind, pretty close to platforming perfection, very straightforward without bloated gameplay and the level design is almost mathematical and how perfectly introduces a new concept and then gradually ramps up the challenges surrounding those concepts over the course of a level. To this day, I think Pilotwings 64 is one of the most satisfying flying experiences out there. Fun Challenges, great controls, and just plain relaxing, but perhaps most importantly, Little States is simply a blast to explore and discover new things in. Pilot Wings Resort on the 3DS is a very good end, underrated followup, but unless a future Pilotwings brings back a tiny United States to explore, it’ll never match 64. As far as SNES RPGs go, I’d generally prefer the Dragon Quest games to the original Final Fantasy. Well, I think it holds up in its own right. Unlike the Dragon Quest Series, I’ve personally feel that the remakes of the oldest Final Fantasy’s are a bit better than the 8bit originals. All, right! The weird one of the Zelda series made the list too, and it deserves it. I wasn’t a Zelda fan quite yet at the time of this issue, but playing a bit of Zelda II at my cousins house cemented in my mind the look and feel of Hyrule. Sure it’s different, but as Nintendo Power says right here, it proved to be entertaining and challenging nonetheless. Oh hey, Metroid! And Metroid II! Two Metroids in a row. I was always afraid of going back to these games, having played Super Metroid first, but you know, drawing your own map is actually a fun experience in its own right. Give it a try. It’s funny how we criticize annualized series these days. What we tend to forget that it happened way back too. It’s hard to believe that Donkey Kong Country 2 released only one year after the first game, while being even more perfect in it’s level design and easily. my favorite game in the series. Super Mario Kart is unquestionably the game that sold me on a Super Nintendo. Nah, I wasn’t so sure I needed to bother my parents with asking for a system more powerful than the NES, but Mario Kart just blew me so far away that it finally gave me the courage to ask if maybe I could get one for Christmas, Punch Out… Punch Ou!. Man. I don’t even care about boxing, but Punch Out. There’s just too fun to be missed. I’m so terrible that Tyson himself took me every evening for most of a week to actually beat, but wow. What a satisfying accomplishment. I have pretty much zero concept of how football works, but it does make me happy that so many people still call an NES game the best of its kind. I spent a ton of time in Mario Paint. I wish I’d actually been smart enough to record my creations to tape. Well, one thing’s for sure. It never helped teach me a darn thing about music. Huh? Okay. Okay. To be fair, I do hear the NBA Jam features some pretty fun mechanics, but there’s just so many other games that I could play, you know. Anyway, Super Bomberman 2. I sort of enjoy Bomberman, but I’ve never been a huge fan. The multiplayer is just okay to make. Any recommendations for the Bomberman with the best single player mode? Wow, Turok made the list huh? We were easily impressed back then, weren’t we? The original F-Zero has never done that much for me. I love Mode 7 graphics just as much as anyone, but this is one series that shown most brightly in the later polygonal 3D installments. I can’t agree with putting DKC3 above the first two games, but I still think it’s a great game, just certainly not as great as DKC2. Remember the phrase “play control?” That used to be a big one. I haven’t heard it in years. Castlevania certainly has its own distinct brand of play control. It’s tough to get used to, but dang, I sure do love this game. I used to not like RPGs you know. I had no idea what RPG even meant on this game’s title. All I knew is that it looked amazing when I learned that RPG meant it was like Final Fantasy I was very concerned, but as a Mario Fan, I resolved to give it a shot. It went onto become the first RPG I loved and one of my most frequently replayed games ever. When this issue came out, I hadn’t yet delved into the Mega Man series. Given two’s popularity. I’m surprised it’s not the series representative here. You know, I used to think that the first wasn’t all that good, but recent replays have gone a long way to change my mind. Mario RPG may have been the first rpg I loved, but I still didn’t think that RPGs in general were for me, but after hearing enough glowing recommendations, I’ve decided to take the plunge on Chrono Trigger. It was already worth about $75 in the late nineties, but its impact on me was well worth the cost. May have not been my first RPG, but it was the one that turned me into a fan. Yoshi’s Island was huge for me. It was the first game that I was actively aware of an anticipating before it’s release. At the time I consider Yoshi to be my favorite game character and Yoshi’s Story to be my most wanted upcoming game, but so far Nintendo. just hasn’t come close to recapturing what made Yoshi’s Islands special, but I’m hopeful for Yoshi’s Woolly World. Oh hey, another Yoshi game. This is the localized version of Japan’s Panel de Pon or as my friends call it, Panel de AWESOME. While my personal favorite puzzle or of thistyle is Wario’s Woods, Tetris attack is a very close second. Oh hey, another Yoshi game! Sorta! Don’t get me wrong, I love Super Mario World. It’s a fantastic game, but something about its look as always seemed a bit off to me. I think that’s a big part of how I convinced myself for three years that NES is just good enough for me. I don’t need no Super Nintendo. To this day Wave Race 64 blows my mind. How did they pull off this technology so flawlessly in the first months of the N64’s life? Sometimes racing games on older consoles just don’t hold up and I didn’t even own Wave Race 64 until after the N64’s day but boy let me tell ya, it’s something pretty special. The first video game I ever played. When put it into the context of other games from 1985 and even from a few years later, it’s stunning to realize what this game really was. Even Nintendo’s early NES titles are a far cry from this unbelievable achievement that to this day holds up as pretty much flawless. Starfox 64 is pretty great. I wasn’t yet a fan of the original SNES game, but I put a ton of time into doing everything that the N64 game had to offer. Now remember the brilliant vhs Promo, that Nintendo Power sent out? I watched this so many times. Links awakening is a pretty special Zelda game. Not only is it likely to best game on the original game boy, but it somehow brought out a strong emotional connection to the world and characters that the Zelda series has sense. Rarely come close to matching. It’s almost unfathomable that Nintendo achieved this in black and white with an 8-bit handheld. I like the original Zelda. I played it at my cousin’s house back in the day, but I didn’t really get into it at the time. Of course, I own it now and I like it and all. It’s a series that I identify with so much that I feel a little bad for not having more strong feelings on the original game, but oh yeah, it’s good. Definitely play it. All right, top 10, almost there. Final Fantasy 4. I’ve watched a friend play bits of the SNES Final Fantasy games before and that’s where I got the idea that I didn’t like RPGs, but after I played Chrono Trigger, I went back to experience the Final Fantasy games for myself. Nowadays I actually respect FF 4’s, rigid party structure and preset abilities more than I used too. Sounds like Nintendo Power had a bit of a scuffle debating FF 4 versus FF 6. Final Fantasy 6 is my traditional answer to my favorite Final Fantasy game, but I have to admit I kind of loved them all. Wow. Having hardly been around any time at all. Nintendo Power, just couldn’t resist putting Goldeneye at number seven. It sounds like they weren’t sure of the game staying power, but they weren’t wrong to predict it. Not only was it an enduring N64 staple but it’s multiplayer mode, redefined popular modern gaming as we know it. For better or worse, though personally, I had just as much fun messing with the open ended single player levels. When I first saw this list, I thought, wow, I had no idea this Metroid thing was a big deal. I got lucky and paid six bucks for a complete in box copy from my local rental store is they were clearing out space for the dreamcast. The first time I tried it, I actually kind of didn’t get it and I had no idea what to do. I gave it another shot a few months later and thought it was the best thing ever. Well, as you may know, I think Super Mario Brothers 3 is pretty deserving of a number one spot, but hey, I’ll take this. Well, no doubt. Mario Kart 64 was the frequent resident of my N64 cartridge slot. Nowadays, no one can really agree on what the best one is. Top three, Tetris wouldn’t have been my pick, but I can’t deny it’s influence and popularity, and I was fairly into falling blocks puzzlers at the time, but Tetris was never really a staple of mine despite being my first. A Link to the Past. This appearing that the number two spot was a big head turner for me, like Metroid, I hadn’t yet grasped just what a huge deal Zelda was. I thought it was just something my cousin liked. I wanted to figure out why people loved the series so much and to not feel left out on the hype for the so called Zelda 64. So I borrowed a copy from a friend and well, and well, I go by Try4ce , so needless to say, it had an impact. For a long time I did consider A Link to the Past to be my favorite game of all time. Some days I think it still could be. And finally number one, Super Mario 64, according to the board, it was a unanimous decision among Nintendo powers 12 voters and at the time I’m pretty sure I remember agreeing with this choice and as much as I’ve loved the later 3D Mario Games, I’ve grumbled a bit about the shift towards slower movement with less momentum. Mario 64 just still feel so right to me. I don’t know. A lot of people disagree and feel like it hasn’t held up, but I just can’t remember if any other game is so fully giving me control of versatile acrobatics like this. Mario 64 is the game that isn’t afraid to let you find your own way to do anything you want. Everyone tried to copy what Mario 64 did right, but it’s hard to say if anyone ever did it better. And that’s it, that’s the list. It’s amazing to see a lot of games here that were thought to have endured in 1997, but are now either forgotten at best or made fun of at worst and at the time I certainly had played a whole lot of these games, but it was those that I hadn’t yet played that made the biggest impression. Since then, word of mouth and other lists have been helpful guides for digging deeper and deeper into retro games. So the next time you see a top 10 or top 100 or top whatever list, instead of arguing about it or complaining that lists are so stupid or whatever, try looking at is a potentially valuable resource. You might just discover a lot to love that you never would have even tried otherwise. (Captions by Jordan “Link584”)

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  1. Brings back memories of friends passing this issue from person to person. Agree about waverace, amazing control and the overall physics…SM64s use of momentum and control was lost on Mario games post sunshine. The n64 stick allowed you perfect control of Mario in anyway you see fit and just freelancing and soaring through the sky with the wing cap was an experience in of itself. I was hoping for this level of control in Odyssey but it’s as if Mario has aged like I have and he’s running through mud nowadays…Bring back the 64 magic.

  2. I agree with you about the Earthworm Jim games. They were some of the most stylistically and graphically impressive games of the generation, but the gameplay sucked.

  3. About had a fit when you glanced over NBA Jam but I'm glad you rescinded yourself Try4ce, although it's amazing how much 4 years can impact everything. Link's awakening being the best GB game ever? HD remake on the way. Mario 64 being best openworld Mario game? Odyssey comes and gives you all the momentum you can muster with beautiful music and graphics to boot.

  4. Just some top Nintendo games that come to mind first:
    TMNT 2
    Super Mario 3
    Super C
    Mighty Final Fight
    Super Spy Hunter
    Mike Tysons Punchout
    Little Samson
    Mega Man 4
    Bucky O hare

    Contra 3
    DKC 2
    Mario All Stars
    Mario World
    Space Mega Force
    Super Castlevania iv

    Mario 64
    Mario Kart 64
    Golden Eye
    NBA Hangtime
    NFL Blitz
    Wayne Gretzky 3D Hockey 98
    Wave Race 64
    Cruisin world
    Excite Bike 64
    Diddy Kong Racing
    Mario Tennis
    Ocarina of Time
    Rayman 2
    Conkers BFD
    Starfox 64
    Smash Bros.
    Killer Instinct Gold
    Sin & Punishment
    Turok 2
    Perfect Dark
    Doom 64
    Pokemon Snap

    NES is an absolute classic.

    SNES is the most over rated console ever. Games run so slowly and lack precision control in most games. Some great games but I prefer the Genesis.

    N64 is over the top, and never seems to get enough love in my eyes. Games play fast, great sound chip with excellent bass, excellent control, most titles cant be played anywhere else. Has a goofy but comfortable controller.

    Enjoyable episode btw.

  5. I actually bailed on my subscription sometime in 1995 or 1996. I had been a loyal subscriber since Mega Man 2 issue from 1989 (the debut issue of NP in Canada) but after seeing how most IPs were moving to the Playstation I cancelled. I did however restart during the Gamecube years and early on into the Wii but again stopped.

    NP was the single most exciting thing I looked forward to every month for the majority of my early teen years and I still have every issue Ive ever had from those days.


  7. Hilarious video! You definitely got the "cliche nerd" character down pat! The haircut, the clothes, and the way you articulate words is spot on! Keep up the great content!

  8. lol, I actually remember this issue and I even think I have it in my attic somewhere. Nintendo Power was the ultimate guide to Nintendo back in middle school. And yes, Goldeneye definitely deserves its spot; it was the most played multiplayer game and was a huge part of my childhood, even more than Mario Kart. A friend from back then borrowed and never returned it though, so I don't have it anymore. It hasn't aged well tbh, but is still an iconic game.

  9. How did you do to get this picture quality for all the games in pixel art please ?

    The quality is very good ! 🙂

    I'm curious ! ^_^

    Thanks for all your great videos ! 😉

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