Five Good and Cheap NES Games

Want to collect games for the Nintendo Entertainment System? Well, bad news: you’ll need money. The NES was a fixture of many a childhood in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and it was only a matter of time before that cocktail of nerdy nostalgia bubbled over. Games that could be had for two bucks in the early 2000s now clear ten dollars, former five-dollar games go for fifty, and I don’t even want to talk about how much people would pay for that Little Samson cartridge I passed up many years ago because Funcoland wanted an absurd $15.99 for it. When it comes to the best NES titles, bargains are rare.

All is not lost. The NES library is voluminous, and many perfectly decent and fascinatingly odd games are still cheap. They may not be classics to rank with Crystalis or Mega Man 2, but they’re all compelling in some way.

Definitions of “cheap” vary, but I stuck to games that hover around five dollars on eBay, shipping and all. I know that’s not a steal in many books, as I remember when thrift stores had stacks of NES games priced at two bucks apiece. But those days are over, and I doubt they’re coming back.

And what if people see this list and the resulting demand drives up prices for these games? Let me reassure you that will not happen, and for one simple reason: no one comes here.

I excluded most NES sports games from this list, as they’re largely mediocre and very, very common. Any place carrying old video games attracts NES sports titles like flypaper. Leave an empty box and  a sign that reads NES GAMES FOR SALE on your front porch overnight, and by next morning you’ll find it holding at least a few copies of John Elway’s Quarterback.

Super Spike V’Ball is a good buy, though. It’s the work of Technos Japan, a prolific company rumored to have been founded as a front for the Yakuza. I have no idea if that’s true, but I can’t fault them for making Double Dragon, River City Ransom, and other brawlsome games all about rescuing girlfriends from street punks. Super Spike V’ball is a volleyball sim, of course, yet it has the same brutal back-and-forth that you’ll find in bashing Abobo with a baseball bat.

As sports games go, it’s easy to figure out and great with multiple players. Hook up a FourScore or Satellite for three or four players, and plug in a Game Genie to unlock the women players who almost made it into the game! That’s an awful lot of material for the three bucks Super Spike V’ball will run, and the two-in-one cartridge with Nintendo World Cup isn’t much more.