And such as there must be silence for noise to exist, there could not be bad games without good ones. Here is where I pick the cream of the crop, the best that the NES PAL library has to offer such that any explorer may sample its wares and leave satisfied. Here are some strange, some rewarding, some simple, the Top Ten Best PAL-Exclusive NES Games!
#10: NOAH’S ARK
Noah looks as bewildered throughout his game by all the demented auto-scrolling nonsense as the player will be, in his selfless quest to return all of the missing animals to the ark. He can turn into a fish, an angel and a statue to help him rid the world of the sinful adversaries that stand in his way. The Bible never looked like such a lark.
If anyone’s ever told you how hard it is to run a business, fire up Elite and that’ll show said anyone how much harder it is in space, especially if you’re frequently the victim of multiple laser attacks. Groundbreaking in 1991 as much as 1984, Elite’s simulator gameplay offers a massive universe to conquer through commerce and first-person blowing stuff up, or more likely, sob into your control panel as the game’s vast array of options overwhelms you. Suck it up, captain: out here, no one can hear you panic.
Konami Hyper Soccer is soccer as it should be: fast, tight and simple with none of the faffing around that a simulator would make you go through. So many other team sports games let the player down with confusing AI, but these guys have always got your back, just like any team should. Get to the headin’, slidin’ and kickin’ and Hyper Soccer is a damn good time solo or with a buddy.
Konami puts the player behind the wheel of an F1 racer and pits them against the real-life class of ’92. Customise your vehicle, pick your opponents and give ‘em a taste of your petrol through eighteen vicious tracks – but only once you’ve got the edge over computerised Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna can you honestly say you’re the real Formula 1 Sensation.
#6: SUPER TURRICAN
Unofficial Commodore mascot Turrican gets into a super-charged adventure that’s like nothing else on the NES. Insanely hard, sometimes confusing and often headache-inducing, Super Turrican requires heavy firepower, exploration, turning into a wheel to shield against enemy attacks, destroying huge swarms of enemies and wearing down giant robots to succeed. That’s a lot to take care of all by himself, right? What a tough existence.
Third time lucky for bustin’ ghosts, as Activision are pushed aside in favour of HAL Laboratory. You’re given full control of the four Ghostbusters and their unfortunate sidekick Louis Tully, armed with a capture beam, an assistant and a trap. You’d better get all of them working hard to get through all the film’s set pieces, because this is no walk in the park. It’s a walk in the River Slime that’s as fun as it looks.
#4: PARASOL STARS
Parasol Stars is my favourite entry in the Bubble Bobble series, and is also the only good game Ocean made for the NES. Travelling across planets to clear out all of the whimsical worlds with a parasol that throws all the enemies against the wall is simple and effective, but the real strong point of Parasol Stars is the puzzle environments hiding multiple secrets. Bubby didn’t come this far just to eat ice cream, after all.
#3: OVER HORIZON
Over Horizon rises above most other shoot-em-ups with its top-notch production values and high quality of challenge. Each level provides a unique set of hazards and enemies that should keep anyone guessing until the end, and the ability to shoot both forwards and backwards is a godsend. It’s also the only shooter on the NES to feature customisable upgrades – who could refuse such a generous offer?
#2: MR. GIMMICK
Sunsoft could have spared themselves the expense of a Scandinavia-only release while they were in dire straits, but Mr. Gimmick just HAD to be seen and Sunsoft ignored all obstacles and pressed ahead, producing about five copies of this insanely difficult and deceptively deep platformer which has not just some of the best graphics and music on the system, but one of the most unique and rewarding abilities of any video game character. Learn to use Gimmick’s bouncing star as a moving platform and there’s nothing you can’t do.
Sunsoft are the best, therefore Sunsoft created the best adventure game on the NES. Who would have thought that the world would be so hostile to four cute little critters just trying to find their way home? The only choice is to explore, seeking out new abilities, obtaining special items and solving tricky puzzles so they can get to the magic portal and complete a saga that deserved more people’s attention.