Five Fine NES Examples of Awesome Games with Awful Titles ‘s Five Fine NES Series Reminder: The following choices are in no particular order, and do not reflect a “best of” list, but merely a summarized list of examples per category on the Nintendo Entertainment System. In this case, Five Fine NES Examples Of Awesome Games With Awful Titles.

Sometimes, in the retro eras, a great game had a great title, one that not only evoked powerful imagery but also aptly described the experience that a first-time player was about to have. Titles such as Mega Man, Super Mario Bros., Chessmaster, Kirby’s Adventure, Tecmo Super Bowl, and other exemplified this phenomenon on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Other times, a cartridge such as Urban Champion would have an awesome name, but be an awful game. The following five examples depict the opposite effect: These are five awesome NES games, despite their awful name.


This is a gangly, awkward title, equivalent to the middle-school boy whose voice is cracking, whose face is sporting a new crop of acne, and whose stature has grown somewhere between freakishly twiggy and wracked with joint-laden growing pains. Whether in discussion board forums or Google search results, NES fans still struggle with whether to call this game Star Tropics, Startropics, StarTropics, or other inventive variations. The official rendering, “StarTropics,” can be found on the inside cover of its instruction manual; but years and years later, who has their original manual? Besides, such confusion can be understood, when the game’s own title screen simply squishes all the letters together in ALL CAPS text. Besides the specific naming issues, it is also an odd conglomeration, evoking the term “tropics” and trying to be mystical with the “star” but ultimately just sounding a bit fruity, arcane, and vague. All this, despite the fact that it truly is a wonderful 8-bit video game.

Little Samson

This video game is already enough of a tragedy; although it is arguably among the very tip-top finest platformers ever released for the NES, its late-entry timing doomed it to low sales and resulting obscurity. However, one has to wonder if its promotional strength would have been even slightly improved if it had a better title. The name “Samson” evokes a Biblical hero which, although admirable in certain circles, may elicit distaste in others, and is somewhat misplaced given the completely unrelated actual gameplay. Then there is that pesky “Little” in the title, subtly serving to emasculate the protagonist and render him less appealing. This is such a shame, because Little Samson is an awesome game.

Captain Skyhawk

In all fairness, Captain Skyhawk is a cart that may not qualify as “awesome” to many. Regardless of its lack of placement on any all-time-greatest-NES lists, it provided the player with a gorgeous isometic flying experience between more traditionally flight simulator battles, with rockin’ groovy tunes, a solid challenge level, innovative gameplay mechanics, and even an invincibility code for those wanting to cruise through. Yet, unfortunately, the title does not allude to any of these strengths. The choice of “Captain Skyhawk” would be forgivable if he were some sort of well-known pilot, or a popular media license; but, alas, he is not. In fact, he is not a big part of the game, not at all, just serving as the nameless, faceless guy presumably in the cockpit. Calling this game “Captain Skyhawk” does not provide would-be players with any imagery regarding the alien menace, the tense missions, the weaponry, the high-octane action, none of that.

Galaxy 5000

Pretend like you have no familiarity whatsoever with this NES video game. Now, quick: Guess what genre a game of this title belongs to? Is it a spacecraft mission/flight simulator, like Elite or Overlord? Could this is a space-themed shoot-‘em-up, like Galaga or Alpha Mission? Oh, wait, this is one of those vaguely named fantasy-type adventures, like Faria or Crystalis, isn’t it? Ironsword-like platformer, ala XEXYZ? Maybe this is just another side-scrolling action platformer? Yet all of these guesses would be wrong: Galaxy 5000 is a racing game. A very fine racing game, but a racing game after all. Who knew?

Ice Hockey

If anyone who was at least somewhat familiar with the NES library was asked what the worst baseball game on the console was, odds are they would answer: Baseball. That is, the original, first-party, black-box game that famously has a one-screen fixed-position field and much less actual player control than other baseball titles. Thanks to that and 10 Yard Fight, the early sports games on the 8-bit machine have earned something of a bad reputation over the years. Then along comes Ice Hockey, and; well, actually, it is pretty darn fun. Simple, sure, but a very enjoyable bit of competitive retro-gaming bliss, especially for two players. Some may balk at its generic-sounding title and early release date, but any not wiling to give it a try are missing out on a wonderful play session.

While much about a game can be derived from its title, perhaps one cannot always rush to judgement, as these 8-bit examples can attest. Then again, regardless of popular opinion, critical sway, or existing stigma, maybe the best strategy will always be to play the game yourself and make the decision personally.

Honorable mentions: M.U.L.E., Super Spike V’Ball, Ice Climber, Solomon’s Key, Arch Rivals.

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