We really loved getting our hands on the NES Mini back in November last year; this diminutively-sized replica of Nintendo's nostalgic first home console really shows off some of the best games in the NES library. However, after a while even the greatest games in the world may feel a little bit stale, so you could always turn to retro cart collecting, the Virtual Console or other means to try out some more great games that unfortunately were not included with the NES Classic Mini. Sadly, there's no legitimate way to add games, which seems like a misstep in a world with the eShop and VC.
Here are ten of our favourite NES games - admittedly drawing heavily on rose-tinted specs in some cases - that are worth a look, just sadly not on the Mini.
Probably one of the games which NES aficionados would most like to have been included on the NES Mini. Capcom was riding high on the success of the Mega Man series and used this experience to make a range of memorable platformers based on Disney properties. Playing as everyone's favourite Scottish tycoon Scrooge McDuck. you'll bounce around locations such as Transylvania, African Mines and even the Moon using your trusty pogo stick cane. It does have a lovely remastered version on the Wii U eShop, but the original has a charm all of its own.
With solid platforming action, a great challenge and a memorable soundtrack DuckTales is a must have game for the NES. Just think, without Capcom's take on DuckTales we might never have received the greatness of Shovel Knight.
While we love playing Gradius on the NES Mini, it would have been great if Life Force could have been included too. Originally known as Salamander in the arcades, this spin-off in the Gradius series introduced many elements that would be incorporated into all future entries of the series, running under the radar as one of the most influential shooters of the late 1980s.
Life Force's two-player mode is the biggest leap forward over the NES version of its predecessor Gradius – blowing up aliens together with a friend is much more engaging than the comparatively drab experience of doing it alone. The game also switches between the traditional Gradius horizontally scrolling levels with vertical scrolling levels to keep the gameplay interesting. It's definitely one to check out on the Virtual Console or elsewhere.
Konami was so prolific during the NES era that it set up a shell subsidiary so it could get around Nintendo's strict rules which only allowed third parties to release five games per year on the system. TMNT was one such game, released by Ultra, and while in hindsight it wasn't the best game of all time, many people have fond memories of it as it was a pack-in game with the NES in later years (especially in the UK). Even though it was a one-player action platformer the player could use all four of the heroes in a half shell at will. Various parts of the game take place from a top-down perspective, but the heart of the game is a traditional side-scrolling action platformer.
It's very punishing in places due to questionable level design, but it's still worth a play though for nostalgic kicks. This game isn't for everybody, but thankfully the inevitable sequel TMNT 2 was a port of Konami's popular arcade beat 'em up, and may be more to your tastes.
Moving on nicely from the Ninja Turtles we have the legendary Battletoads, which was developed by Rare. While the toads themselves (comically named Rash, Pimple and Zits) were essentially a bargain basement Turtles knock-off, it didn't stop this arcade style beat-'em-up from being excellent and a game worthy of inclusion on the NES Mini if only those awkward license rights could have been worked out.
In addition to pounding all manner of non-amphibious fauna, you get to race speeding vehicles, rappel down pits and perform various other stunts uncharacteristic of your every day brawler. The icing on the cake is that the game features a two-player cooperative mode, but that doesn't stop it from being a brutally hard game.
While it was great that the first Castlevania game was included on the NES Mini, and perhaps less so its sequel Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, it was a real shame that Castlevania III was not included; it's probably the best in the series. Dracula's Curse thankfully reverts back to the linear level-based formula seen in the original game. Trevor Belmont's Vampire Killer whip can be upgraded by collecting certain power-ups, and there's the usual selection of special sub-weapons which, when used, deplete your stock of hearts.
As ever, hearts can be replenished by whipping the various torches and light-fittings located throughout the game — one of the hallmarks of the Castlevania series which, even after almost thirty years, is utterly charming in that it makes no sense whatsoever. With it's branching pathways, roster of additional characters and a stern yet rewarding challenge this is definitely worth a look.
While many gamers might be familiar with Tecmo's Solomon's Key, we found ourselves enjoying the follow-up (known as Solomon's Key 2 in Europe) a little bit more. This puzzler starts off with simple challenges but gets quite fiendish as the levels progress. Playing as a novice wizard name Dana, you can create or destroy blocks of ice which help you in clearing the level of enemies so you can progress to the next challenge.
With the ability to select the order in which you tackle the levels. and some fiendish boss battles, this makes for a great game which would have made a welcome addition to the NES Mini library, or indeed the Virtual Console.
At first glance it would be easy to mistake Capcom's Mighty Final Fight as a cheap cash-in of a superior arcade beat 'em up, with its chibi-styled characters and its seemingly limited 8-bit presentation. But while Mighty Final Fight may appear simpler than other entries in the series — game history buffs would be interested to know that this title was released after the SNES port of Final Fight — there is enough charm and surprisingly nuanced gameplay on display to help it stand alongside its big brothers.
This is a challenging beat 'em up that has a surprising amount of combat complexity, and the story and art are refreshing and funny, especially compared to the gritty realism most games go for today. We can only dream that this game could somehow be played on the NES Mini, but at least you can enjoy it on both the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console.
The original Adventure Island — though a fun little platformer in its own right — is most fondly remembered today for being a strikingly comprehensive clone of SEGA's Wonder Boy, as a result of developer Escape licensing the property (minus SEGA's character designs) to Hudson Soft for an NES port. Adventure Island swapped Wonder Boy's protagonist Tom-Tom for a shirtless, hula-skirt-wearing Hudson executive (Takahashi Meijin, though he's known as Master Higgins in the overseas releases); the rest, as they say, is history.
Young Master Higgins can now find and hop on the back of dinosaurs which protect you from one hit of damage. While the side-scrolling platforming action is similar to that of its predecessor it is a more refined experience all round.
Dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, Batman! We were always going to need at least one Sunsoft developed game in this list, and as the excellent Blaster Master has found its way to Virtual Console, we'll go with Batman: The Video Game. While you might expect this movie licensed title to be terrible, that couldn't be further from the truth.
This action platformer may borrow some ideas from games such as Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man, but it stands out in its own right with its deep gameplay and punishing (but fair) difficulty. With wall grappling antics and a vast array of weaponry to use against your foes, this is definitely a classic NES game worth seeking out.
While the NES Mini treats us to the 3 main Mario platformers, we can't help but wish that Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels could have been included to just complete the set. Of course this is the famously difficult, Japan-only sequel to the titular plumber's breakout NES hit, expanding on the original formula with deviously challenging level design and obstacles. Make no mistake, The Lost Levels is frustrating, infuriating, and at times punishing and cruel — but it's also fiendishly clever and lots of fun to boot.
If you think you are up to the challenge you could track down this fiendish import on the Virtual Console or even on Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES (re-released at retail on Wii), where most people in the West experienced the pain and pleasure first.
So that's our list of 10 great NES games which we wish we could play on the NES Mini. Which NES classics do you wish could be played on the NES Mini in an alternative universe?