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Top 25 Killer Apps for the NES Powerpak - 25 great non commerical NES games

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The powerpak is a pretty amazing device. Not only can it single handedly backup nearly every NES game you might have, but it also run plenty of games your NES canít without the benefit of expensive reproductions.

To that end, I have compiled a list of the top 25 games every Powerpak owner should have. As I wanted to specifically separate this list from a generic NES top 25, this list does not include any commercially available NES games. Instead it includes new homebrew games, unique hacks/enhancements, fan translations and abandonware.

These picks are in no order as each is just as good as the others in their respective ways.

To best experience this list with tons of screenshots, visit my original blog post here.

Without further ado, here's my picks.

Huge Insect
Category: Homebrew
Genre: Shmup

Huge Insect is clone of Namcoís Galaga. You control what looks like a can of bug spray and shoot down swarms of insects that despite the title, are not really huge at all.

Huge Insect was developed by Sachen, notorious for their incredibly shitty unlicensed games that were mostly bad copies of established games that only the most hardcore of collectors have any interest in. As the story goes, Huge Insect was finished in 1993 but remained unreleased until 2006, when an NES collector by the alias of ďNES-GodĒ contacted what remained of Sachen about the game. After being told in wonderful broken English ďno produceĒ, NES-God managed to send Sachen enough money to cover the costs of an extremely limited production run, estimated at between ten to twenty copies. As such, Huge Insect has the honor of being one of the rarest NES games as well as Sachenís final game.

Why you should play it:

You mean besides the simple fact that you can play it? Well, Huge Insect is a humorous story of the final Sachen NES game and its obscurity alone makes it notable. More than that though, the game is actually fairly good! The A button doesnít seem to do anything and it looks and plays like a second generation Intellivision game rather than a late produced NES game, but itís got the gameplay to overcome itís flaws. Huge Insect call for you to play it.

download: http://qbob.free.fr/releases/huge/Hu...nreleased).rar

Kart Fighter
Category: Pirate
Genre: Fighting

Kart Fighter is a ridiculous pirate that pits the cast of the original Super Mario Kart in a one-on-one fighting game. Choose from Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Bowser, Koopa-troopa, DK Jr, Toad or Princess Toadstool and prepare to beat up the others. Pirates. Gotta love Ďem.

Why you should play it:

Again, other than the novelty factor? Well, Kart Fighter is a fairly decent fighting game, especially for a pirate on the Famicom. While the title is somewhat misleading as there are no actual Go-Karts involved, each character has their own move sets and thereís very little graphical glitches normally associated with this type of pirate. It wonít hold your interest for long, but Kart Fighter is a fun game to play every now and then.

Download: email me for a copy.

Rockman no Constancy
Category: Hack
Genre: Action Platformer

Think you know Megaman 2? Think again! Rockman no Constancy is such an extensive hack of the original Iím not sure even Keiji Inafune himself would recognize it. Nearly everything has been altered. Thereís now completely new graphics, level designs, weapons, boss behaviors and best of all, new music taken from other games including Rockman Zero 4, Namco X Capcom, Megamari and the King of Fighters just to name a few.

Why you should play it:

This is quite possibly one of the most impressive rom hacks ever made and it works within the limitations of the real hardware, allowing it to be played on the Powerpak. Make no mistake: this game is hard as hell, but itís also one of the richest, most rewarding rom hacks out there rather than a test to see how long you can refrain unleashing your inner rage and breaking your controller like many other Megaman hacks.

Download: Remember to patch Rockman 2, not Megaman 2. http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/321/

Castlevania Remix
Category: Hack
Genre: Action Platformer

If youíve played the NES chances are high that youíve played Castlevania; now itís time to play it in style. Journey back to 1691 as Simon Belmont first scales the ancient fortress known as Castlevania on his way to vanquish the evil Count Dracula and his minions and free the people of Europe from their terror.

Why you should play it:

Castlevania Remix slightly changes the level layouts of the original gothic quest, but itís most notable for itís super minimalist approach to color. All color has been removed except for black, white, a cinnabar red and a dark yellow. Using only these colors, the game becomes much more moody and invokes feelings of classic 1960s early color Halloween horror flicks. The effect works so well that youíll wonder why the concept wasnít used sooner. Beware however, as the change in pallet results in enemies, powerups and even some platforms becoming very difficult to spot, and Castlevania wasnít an easy game to begin with. Nevertheless, Castlevania Remix is awesome and warrants your attention.

Download: http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/8/

Final Fantasy III
Category: Translation
Genre: RPG

Final Fantasy III was released in Japan for the Famicom in 1990, the same year the US saw Final Fantasy 1. A year later, Final Fantasy IV was made and when that game was localized, it was decided that it would be renamed Final Fantasy II and the original Final Fantasy II as well as Final Fantasy III would be glossed over and forgotten. Final Fantasy II is arguably a poor game and the black sheep of the Final Fantasy series, but Final Fantasy III however is one of the best RPGs made for an 8-bit console. Thanks to rom hacking, in 2000 we got a wonderful English translation of the original, and itís fully playable on the Powerpak.

Why you should play it:

Yes, Final Fantasy III was remade for the Nintendo DS in 2006. As a modern game, I feel Final Fantasy III falls flat on its face and the remake isnít as enjoyable as the original. The charm of the tile-based graphics and 26 pixel tall sprites, not to mention some killer chiptunes make this one a worthy choice.

Download: http://www.romhacking.net/trans/141/

Also available:

In case you were wondering, the skipped over Final Fantasy II was also fully fan translated years ago and was the first version to be playable in English. Iím not particularly a fan of Final Fantasy II in any language, but different strokes. If you want it you can easily find it on romhacking.net.

Rockman 2 Endless
Category: Hack
Genre: Action Platformer

Rockman 2 Endless is a romp through classic Megaman 2 using the same ďendlessĒ mode established in Megaman 9 and continued in Megaman 10. The game is an endurance mode that challenges the player to see how long they can survive in a Megaman game given only one life and no energy tanks. Guide Megaman through over 40 random areas in a never ending assault on Wilyís robots. Every thirty screens you clear presents you with a random boss ranging from Airman or Flashman to even the good Dr. himself. Youíll start off armed with every weapon in the game, so go out there and trash some metal!

Why you should play it:

Megaman 2 is undeniably one of the greatest videogames ever made and Rockman 2 Endless offers a new way to experience the classic game. It pulls interesting tricks to keep players whoíve memorized the level layouts of each stage on their toes, such as spikes in areas you donít expect. All challenges posed are fair and beatable to the average player. Like the ladies will tell ya, itís all about how long you can last.

Download: Remember to patch Rockman 2 (J) and not Mega Man 2 (U). http://www.geocities.jp/misty_earn/RM2endless.zip

Also available:
Rockman 3 Endless

Pretty much the same as Rockman 2 Endless, but with the Rockman 3 treatment. This one restores some of unused tiles seem only in the beta of the game. Again, it mixes original areas and brand new challenges to keep players on their toes.

Download: Patch Rockman 3 only. http://www.geocities.jp/rock5easily/...ck3endless.zip

Rockman 4 Endless mixes things up by offering different modes where Megaman must first collect the weapons to use them as well as a near-death mode that gives him only one HP at all times! Of course you can play it normally like a sane person as well. The game was a pain to find, but luckily for you Iíve already tracked it down.

Download: http://www40.atwiki.jp/fcrockmanhack...ck4endless.zip

Rockman 5 Endless comes in two flavors: with death lasers (from 2) or without. Either way, to spice things up once again there are plenty of new areas not featured in the original to keep you on your toes once again, including a set of particularly nasty auto scrolling segments which can kill you if you arenít quick enough.

Download: Remember to patch Rockman 5 only. http://www.geocities.jp/rock5easily/...ck5endless.zip

Adventure Island 4
Category: translation
Genre: platformer

Adventure Island 4 was among the final few Famicom games produced by big companies in 1994. Hudson, a supporter of the Famicom since the beginning, poured everything they had into this one and it really shows. Translated at last for the internet era, AI4 is a beautiful example of what a skilled rom hacker can accomplish.

Why you should play it: While the first three Adventure Island games were fairly basic platformers, Adventure Island 4 mixes things up with non-linear stages, cool bosses and most obvious of all, wonderful graphics. This is the peak of perfection on the Famicom and deserves a playthrough every few years.

Download: http://www.romhacking.net/trans/86/

Super Mario Bros VS Airman
Category: Hack
Genre: Action Platformer

After defeating Megaman, the Mario Bros. are all that stand against the evil DWN-010. This is an extensive hack of Super Mario Bros. that pits the red clad plumber against the nefarious Airman. The game even changes the background music to a chiptune of Airman ga Taosenai!

Why you should play it:

This is such an original concept that it demands your attention. Itís difficult, requiring precise jumping and major skill at Super Mario Bros. It also looks good. Fight the good fight and stop that evil Airman!

Download: http://www.dessgeega.com/vsairman.zip

Famicom Wars
Category: Fan Translation
Genre: Turn Based Strategy

Famicom Wars is is the first in the long running Nintendo Wars series of strategy games by Intelligent Systems, best known outside Japan as Advance Wars after the GBA entry. Iíve reviewed it both in text and in video and I consider this a must for Powerpak owners because you can play it in English.

Why you should play it:

This game is awesome. Without a doubt the best strategy game on the Famicom, the core concepts established here are constant throughout the entire series and continue into the modern games as well. If you like the newer ones, the original Famicom Wars is a no-brainer.

Download: http://www.romhacking.net/trans/911/

Donkey Kong Arcade
Category: Improvement
Genre: Arcade style action

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros, Nintendo of Europe included the NES version of Donkey Kong in the 25th Anniversary Wii package sold in Europe. This version finally fills in the missing pie/cement factory stage not seen in any version of Donkey Kong except for the original arcade. This addition finally makes the NES version rightfully the best home version of Donkey Kong.

Why you should play it:

Donkey Kong was an immensely important game to Nintendo not only from a financial standpoint but also a historical one. With this you can finally play the version that should have been the original release 1984 Famicom release!

I donít feel comfortable giving a download link for this one, so send me an email if you want it.

Ganbare Goemon 2
Category: Translation
Genre: Action Beat Ďem up/Adventure

Goemon is a long running Konami series dating back to the Famicom. A few of the titles were released in thw west under the name ďMystical NinjaĒ. Ganbare Goemon (usually traslated as ďGo for it! GoemonĒ) is the story of a Goemon, a poor ninja-theif that steals from the rich of the Tokugawa shogunate and gives to the poor where ever he travels. The first Ganbare Goemon for the Famicom is rather formulaic and ultimately not worth much more than a glace, but the follow-up is one of the best games the Famicom has to offer.

Ganbare Goemon 2 is basically a beat Ďem up, but focuses heavily on exploration as you guide Goemon through each city of old Japan. There are shops everywhere selling useful items, power-ups galore and some pretty amusing humor that the English translation picks up on very well. Try walking into a onsen and then going into the womenís bath. Oh like you wouldnít.

Why you should play it:

Unlike its Famicom peers, Ganbare Goemon 2 is neither boring and slow nor an RPG. Instead its a simple to understand, fun and unique experience that was only recently translated, making it one of the best undiscovered Famicom games. It can also be played in two player co-op, giving audiences even more reason to play it. Itís not overly difficult and itís now completely in English! You gotta try this one.

Download: http://yojimbo.eludevisibility.org/S...aregoemon2.zip

Moon Crystal
Category: Translation
Genre: Platformer

Moon Crystal was a Famicom-only platformer remarkable for its beautiful cutscenes and smooth animated sprites. An English translation brings the story of the game to the world and the Powerpak allows a whole new generation to experience the game. The story revolves around the mysterious Moon Crystal and a group of people who want it. After everyone in his village is mysteriously abducted, a young boy named Ricky journeys to discover the truth behind what happened.

Why you should play it:
Moon Crystal is a beautiful game with a well-crafted storyline. The game isnít especially difficult but some areas are tricky. The fan translation is really rather remarkable and demands much respect. You really canít go wrong with this game, considering how good it truly is.

Download: http://www.romhacking.net/trans/189/

Aladdin (Unl) By Yoko
Category: Hong Kong Original
Genre: Action Platformer

Aladdin is based on Capcomís SNES classic. The original SNES version was a brilliant game proving the Capcom-Disney relationship still a fruitful one. The Famicom pirate so closely mirrors its source material it makes you wonder how the hell this wasnít programmed by Capcom.

Why you should play it:

Aladdin is a fun, original game that shows even those darn pirates can do right every now and then. I wouldnít have thought the Powerpak would be able to emulate the pirate mapper, but apparently it can. It leads me to wonder just what mapper the game uses. If anyone knows please message me. There is also a pirate of the Genesis version where Aladdin has a sword, but that version isnít nearly as impressive or playable for that matter.

Send me an email if you want Aladdin.

Gradius 1 & 2 Arcade
Category: Improvement
Genre: Shooter

I recently covered why Gradius is awesome, especially when you consider the enhanced graphics hack that restores sprites to more closely match the arcade version. The hack is perfect for the Powerpak, though I still do encourage readers buy the original cartridge. Owning Gradius just makes you feel good about yourself.

As with Gradius, Gradius II is an excellent shmup for the Famicom and became even better with a special enhanced graphics hack, which corrects coloring errors and enhances some of the sprites. The game uses Konamiís Japan-only VRC4 mapper, making it impossible to reproduce on the NES outside of the Powerpak.

Why you should play these awesome games:

Because they're awesome.

Megaman Ultra
Category: Hack
Genre: Action Platformer

Like Rockman No Constancy, Megaman Ultra is an extensive hack of Megaman 2, adding in new stages, new weapons, new music, new graphics and new boss behavior. Unlike Rockman No Constancy, it is based on the easier US Megaman 2, making it slightly more approachable than Rockman no Constancy.

Why you should play it:

Megaman Ultra was one of the first major Megaman hacks and still stands as one of the best. Not only does it remix the game we all love but also adds in some elements of other games, such as this familiar locale. Megaman Ultra also features a chiptune cover of the US Megaman cartoon theme ďSuper Fighting Robot MegamanĒ.

Download: http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/132/

Earthbound Zero
Category: Abandonware
Genre: RPG

From Starman.net:

In 1989, strange things begin happening to a boy named Ninten, who realizes he and his family are more involved in what appears to be an alien invasion than he could possibly have realized. What follows is a cross-country adventure through the desert, the big city, ominous Mt. Itoi, and a dream world called Magicant. Ninten learns about friendship, love, andówell, singing, while also uncovering the true story of the mysterious disappearance of his grandparents and the strange vendetta of the alien Giegue.

The unreleased prequel to the cult classic EarthBound, this is a fully playable, fully English game that was finished by Nintendo, but never released. Since Nintendo outside Japan seems to utterly hate Mother fans, I have no problem fully encouraging anyone who reads this to download the game and play through it yourself. It will never show up on the Wii Virtual Console to all of my woes.

Why you should play it:

Earthbound Zero is offers a complex and engrossing story with brilliant dialogue and even better music. Some aspects such as the constant need to level grind make it sometimes a chore to experience, but thanks to the built-in game-genie support on the Powerpak, even these gripes can be easily addressed.

Download: email me for it, or just google it.

Somari
Category: Pirate
Genre: Platformer

Somari is just fucking weird. Itís Sonic the Hedgehog 1 ported from the Genesis to the Famicom and then has the Sonic sprite replaced withÖMario? Yup, Mario. Guide Mario through Green Hill Zone, Star Light Zone and more on your quest to defeat the evil Dr. Robotnik and save the planet. Fucking pirates.

Why you should play it:

Somari is the quintessential Famicom pirate; it takes a well established game designed for much more powerful hardware and then slaps Mario on it and calls it a day. The game is somewhat poorly programmed and full of bugs, but when it works Somari is actually a fairly fun experience and is a game that will turn a few heads.

Download: email me for a copy.

Also Available:

Thereís also a completely different Sonic pirate that does include Sonic and was evidently made by Somari team. This game starts you off in Spring Yard Zone and moves from there. Although this one is slightly more visually appealing than Somari, it seems Somari is overall the better playing game. If youíd like a copy, email me.

Sweet Home
Category: Fan Translation
Genre: Survival Horror RPG

Sweet Home is a Famicom RPG based on a Japanese film of the same name. It was released by Capcom in 1989 and is generally referred to as the first survival horror game ever made. The game follows a five member investigation team who venture into the deserted mansion of the deceased Ichirō Mamiya to photograph and restore his frescoes. Upon entering the house, the door locks behind them and the group discovers that the mansion is haunted by a ghost named Mamiya, among other creatures. The game pits enemies and puzzles against the player as they try to guide the team to safety.

The game was fully translated in 2000 by a two man team who spent over a year on the project. Sweet Home has never been even hinted at that Capcom will ever localize it, so I feel it is justifiable to call it abandonware and the fan translation open domain.

Why you should play it:

Sweet Home is a historically important game and also a fun one. It uses many survival horror standbys and is for all intents and purposes a Resident Evil prototype. It even has the RE loading door! If youíve ever enjoyed a game in Capcomís legandary RE series you owe it to yourself to step into Ichirō Mamiyaís mansion and get your game on. Also one of the characterís names is Auska, and anime fans know that Auska is awesome.

Download: http://www.romhacking.net/trans/222/

Super Mario 256 Worlds
Category: Assembly hack
Genre: Action Platformer

Even though Super Mario Bros. has 32 levels, itís level structure is based on hexadecimal, meaning it has level addresses for 256 stages! These stages can be accessed through emulator disassemblers. Somewhere along the line, pirates got the idea to allow end users to play these random areas, thus, Mario 256W.

Since you are forcibly accessing data, some of the more interesting stages such as T-1 are impossible to play without game genie codes to further screw with it. Since the Powerpak has built in game genie support for up to five codes, itís the perfect springboard for exploring the depths of one of the worldís best games.

Download: thereís several versions out there and all but one donít work on the Powerpak. email me for the correct version.

Real Bout Fatal Fury Special
Category: Pirate
Genre: Fighting

As fighting games came into popularity only in the 1990s, the genre is not well represented on the NES, and most of the efforts were ill suited for the hardware limitations, and letís face it, all of the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II pirates are pretty bad. Thatís where Real Bout Fatal Fury Special comes in. Just as how the SNK fighters tried to be leaps and bounds more impressive than their counterparts, so were all SNK pirates for the Famicom. The King of Fighters pirates offer full screen, fully color animated cutscenes you would associate with high budget later NES games, not low budget pirates.

Real Bout Fatal Fury Special is based on the Neo-Geo AES game of the same name and crammed much of what made the 24-bit game so good onto the 8-bit Nintendo. The gameplay is smooth, graphics are clear and sprites are well detailed. The game manages to even avoid most of the super annoying audio pirates usually have.

Why you should play it:

For SNK fans, seeing one of the better fighters ported to the Famicom and preforming just so well will result in many smiles. If you arenít an SNK fan already, the game will probably make you reconsider just what the company was all about and maybe, just maybe, a Neo-Geo should be in your gaming future.

Download: email me for a copy.

Joy Mecha Fight
Category: Translation
Genre: Fighting

Speaking of fighting games, hereís one that was officially released, but never translated. Joy Mech Fight tells the story of two robotic scientist who work together building several powerful robots, but then one scientist turns out to be evil, steals and reprograms all but one of the robots and tries to take over the world. The remaining robot is reprogrammed into a battle machine and is the one hope for the world. Gee, I wonder where Iíve heard this story beforeÖ?

Joy Mech Fight pits each robot in a battle royale to the finish. When you play, you can pick any boss in any order. Once you defeat a boss, you can play as that boss. Each boss has a strength and weakness making the whole game pretty much a Megaman fighting game in all but name, and the game wasnít even made by Capcom!

Why you should play it:
Joy Mech Fight uses Rayman-like characters, presumably due to technical limitations; the small sprites that make up each character are far less taxing on the hardware than two large detailed and well animated sprites otherwise required. Joy Mech Fight is fast, fun and offers a lot of moves for each of the eight characters. This is a true Famicom gem made all the better for the wonderful English translation.

Download: http://www.romhacking.net/trans/162/

MDbtroid by Infinityís End
Category: Graphics hack
Genre: Action Platformer

This is a very cool graphics hack that improves the original Metroid to make it look more like what a sequel for the NES could have looked like later in its life. None of the levels have been changed, just the main Samus sprite and a few of the key enemies. Even the suitless Samus sprite was changed. Itís a simple yet effective hack that makes the Powerpak play with power.

Why you should play it:

The original Metroid can be a daunting game to dedicate to seeing all the way through. It uses an elaborate password system somewhat dated designs, and even for NES standards, dated graphics. If you fall into the camp that skipped Metroid the first time around, give this enhancement a try. It only makes the game look better, but that alone is probably all you need to get started on this fantastic classic.

Download: http://www.metroid-database.com/fanapps/MDbtroid.zip

Battle Kid Demo

Category: Homebrew
Genre: Action Platformer

Ah, Battle Kid. Itís probably the biggest homebrew game ever made for the NES from scratch and also probably one of the best. Itís inspiration from the infuriatingly difficult I Wanna Be the Guy is obvious, but Battle Kid never throws random obstacles at you the same was IWBTG does.

Why you should play it:

Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril is extremely hard, but minimally frustrating and infinitely rewarding once you surmount the odds against you. The demo is free and gives players a good taste of the first and easiest area of the game. Once itís mastered, the full game can be purchased from RetroZone for $30. Considering the quality and length of the game, the asking price is just about right.

Download: http://www.nintendoage.com/media/_us...%2Ddemo1%2Ezip

D-Pad Hero 1 & 2
Category: Homebrew
Genre: Rhythm

D-Pad Hero 1 and 2 are homebrew games that try to bring all the fun and exciting of the Guitar Hero games to the lowly NES. They are about as fun as playing Dance Dance Revolution with a controller, but I applaud the effort considering everything had to be made from scratch, the game preforms admirably well. Had this game actually been made and released during the hayday of the NES, I could well imagine it would have sold well.

The first game was received well enough to warrant a sequel, which improves nearly everything from the quality of the chiptunes to the core graphics as well as offering multiple difficulties for casual fans of this genre of game. Itís well worth a look for fans of rhythm games and NESaholics alike. You can download it from the D-pad Hero website at http://dpadhero.com/

Blade Buster
Category: Homebrew
Genre: Shmup

Blade Buster is a homebrew shmup game that oozes with such quality you will be dying for more when the timer runs out. Blade Buster is a great reminder of why the shmup genre was so well represented on the flagship Nintendo hardware. Hereís hoping a full, non timed Blade Buster sequel will be produced in the future.

Why you should play it:

It seems strange, but very few homebrewers on the NES work on shmups, but this one changes all that. Blade Buster is as fast as Summer Carnival í92 Recca but thankfully not as unforgiving by sheer difficulty. Blade Buster is fast and smooth, but I still wish it wasnít timed.

Download: http://www.2shared.com/file/blbS7s7U/BladeBuster.html

So there you have it. Twenty five games that I think everyone who owns a Powerpak should have listed in a special directory of killer apps. Let me know what you guys think and feel free to drop any further recommendations in the comments below.

If you want to email me regarding any of the games Iíve listed, email satoshimatrix@hotmail.com. I will remove this option if I get a lot of spam mail, fair warning.

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