What do I got there? Well let me tell you brother…it’s those mini collections that pop up in a collection, you know the sequels that appeared and became series such as Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Double Dragon, Castlevania, Megaman, The Simpsons and two of my personal favourites:
Any game that tells me I’m required to do something OR DIE! is just alright with me. Also who in the 90s wasn’t a fan of the Ninja Turtles? If you weren’t I probably didn’t know you and presumably you were either not cool, didn’t have a tv or just lived under a rock.
With the invention of video games on home consoles came sequels, the arcades at the time mostly had one off quarter suckers and seeing a sequel was rare until a little game by Capcom nobody really remembers decided to toss out a sequel for its original street fighter game.
With home consoles though there was a market for developers to be able to make follow ups to popular games, if a game sold well then it would make sense to see if you could get a second or third out and capitalize on it.
With Nintendo the first 2 games to create sequels were Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda, both games were wildly successful and both spawned sequels that were very different from their predecessors. Sequels and prequels are commonplace today but at the time nobody knew what direction to take these sequels in and so some took some interesting directions but more on that at a later time, today were just looking at the collection of these series within the umbrella of a NES collection.
Some games only spawned one sequel on the system such as Zelda only having Adventures of Link and Contra having Super C, but some games had trilogies and whole series and I’ve found as a collector that I sometimes get obsessed about putting some of these mini sets together.
As a kid I was a big fan of the Ninja Turtles so as soon as TMNT came out I remember going to visit the kids across the street I didn’t really like just to play it because I didn’t have it. Fortunately for Christmas I did get the TMNT arcade game and it was awesome! Not just because it was a great port of the arcade game but it also came with a coupon for a Pizza Hut pizza thanks to the tie in with the movie that was out at the time.
I didn’t know for a long time that another TMNT game existed, I had by that time rounded up the first one as well and happened to be at a friends house and there was a turtles game I had never heard of, the Manhattan project. Now these games are not a trilogy in the sense that they follow a storyline, as each one is a standalone game (along with tournament fighters but I count this is part of the fighting genre and not a beat em up) but all featured our favourite heroes in a half shell.
The other series I really enjoyed that much like turtles had recurring characters, but no continuing storyline was as you may have guessed from my comments earlier is the “or die!” trilogy. These are not the best games ever for the NES with the exception of Skate or Die 2 being pretty innovative with its semi open streets to skate around on while you looked for tapes, cds, tacos and pop cans (how totally rad and 90s).
They were fun especially because they fit the times, as we remember everything in the 90s was EXTREME!!! G.I Joe was extreme, juice boxes were extreme, and obviously skateboarding was extreme! Even skiing…it was SKI or DIE! So these games became a must have trilogy for my collection just on the nostalgia alone.
There are a few of these mini collections within the NES collection that have become very well known and in some cases the sequels fetch higher prices than the originals. Some of the most well known high value sequels are the Capcom Disney games Chip and Dale rescue rangers 2 and Ducktales 2 both of which were follow ups to extremely popular games and both are just as good or better than the original.
Many sequels built up the originals into the franchises we know today such as Mario Bros, the first game was mind blowing when it first came out and Mario 2 was a whole new experience which as we all know now was a reskinning of Doki Doki Panic, but at the time nobody was any the wiser and it introduced a new world to the Mario story. With Mario 3 we were transported to even more new areas and introduced to new enemies like the Koopa kids and interesting costumes that changed how Mario and Luigi were able to do things beyond just having a fire flower, mushroom and star.
Each new Mario Bros game further expanded the universe of the mushroom kingdom to what we know it as today. If not for the simplicity and ability to take chances offered on the NES I’ve often wondered how many franchises would have developed as many started on the NES and some were hits and some flops but having learned through what didn’t work became better on future platforms, for example, Metal Gear/snakes revenge, despite getting off to a rough start was able to eventually become a long running and celebrated series.
Some franchises were able to find instant success just based on their licensing alone such as The Simpsons games, in the 90s to say there was a Simpsons craze would be an understatement….it was BART MANIA! The Simpsons were everywhere, t shirts, trading cards, stickers, candy, and on just about anything they could put Bart’s face on so it made perfect sense that kids would want to be able to play as their favourite underachiever in his own games. The Simpsons had several games starting with a crazy fun arcade beat em up game and debuted on the NES with Bart vs the Space Mutants followed by games like Bart vs the world, Bart meets Radioactive Man and Krustys fun house.
The other licensed games that started creating franchises at the time were sports games, many sports games on the NES have been mostly forgotten aside from things like Blades of Steel, Baseball Stars 1/2, Little League baseball and Tecmo Super bowl but some created popular franchises at the time like the Bases Loaded series and R.B.I baseball by Jaleco and Tengen respectively. These are the precursors to the yearly outpouring of sports games like Madden, NHL2K, Fifa, etc and for good or bad the NES was the platform that showed developers that sports fans wanted to see yearly sports games with updated rosters etc so they could play out those fantasy seasons.
On that note there’s one series I can’t pass over without a mention if we’re talking about sports franchises:
Oh yeah those WWF games!! This was a series that I did enjoy as many a kid in the 80s and 90s I watched WWF on tv and wrestled with my cousins and wanted nothing more than to be able to be the Macho Man Randy Savage laying that flying elbow drop down on a sucker and these games delivered…ok well not really but they did let you play as your wrestling heroes and fortunately over the years and future consoles these games did get better but there was a decent offering of wrestling games on the NES that although not WWF made up for what this series lacked.
Some other games seemingly died off until possibly rebooting on other systems and so only had one follow up, things like Bubble Bobble, G.I Joe, Rad Racer and R.C Pro AM. There’s many games too that gamers have asked for sequels for over the years and have never received as some games just seemed like they needed one but it never came, I felt that way about a favourite of mine: Code Name Viper, it was a one off run and gun and was a Rolling Thunder knockoff but it was fun and I’d have bought the sequel. Another was River City Ransom, why this amazing gem never received a sequel has always confused me.
The last type of series I want to touch on are the ones that just kinda ran themselves into the ground a bit. For every series that kept getting better such as Mega Man(which I didn’t really mention only because its just as or more well loved than Mario and Zelda and has been praised or hated on by anyone who has written about games), Mario and Zelda there were franchises that started off strong but somehow went sideways.
My biggest example for this is:
Ok, ok hold off on the boos for a minute, I didn’t say Double Dragon isn’t a great series, I’m just saying that on the NES it lost it’s way a bit. The original despite not having 2 player capability was a good arcade port, Revenge brought in the 2 player action and improved on the original but when 3 came out, something went wrong. The third installment went backwards in my opinion, the difficulty was ridiculous, the movement and action were choppy and the characters were hard to manage and worst of all was the one life and that’s it policy. Double Dragon made a huge comeback on the SNES but much like Ninja Gaiden it turned off a lot of its followers on the NES by taking Nintendo hard to the limit. It’s not that these games are unplayable by any means but you need to have more patience than either my 10 year old or for that matter my now 36 year old selfs level of patience for trial and error.
The NES is famous for having one of the largest game libraries, so not everything can be gold and with a platform where developers were afforded the ability to learn as they released games and saw what worked and didn’t obviously some things are going to be duds. Like I said previously, without the ability to create sequels for games we wouldn’t have many of the timeless franchises we still love today and having gone back and really started going through some of these classic series again it’s been interesting to see how the developments changed the games as each new installment came out. Many of the sequels on the NES did improve on the series by adding features or finding new ways to push the hardware as developers discovered what the NES was really capable of.
Sequels were not necessarily just a new thing solely on the NES as many Atari and PC games had sequels but aside from PC, nothing else spawned franchises the way the NES did whether it’s Mario, Zelda, Metal Gear, or the yearly sports franchise, many of these would not have become possible without the home console generation that created the popularity of these games and inspired developers to keep creating more of these classic properties to further entertain us as new consoles rolled out.
Now I’m gonna go see Rodney at the old Sk8 shop, get my board and hit the ol half pipe or joust against Lester, put on my bucket hat, slam a new coke and get EXTREME! Remember whatever you do….do it OR DIE!
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