There are some fine games on the NES Classic Edition console. But let's be real here: not every game on the thing is a hit and plenty more titles could have been included. I'm sure Nintendo has their reasons for capping the game list at 30 and for excluding games. Whether those reason are good or not is still up in the air, but in the meantime, here's my list of NES games that I think should have been installed into the NES Classic Edition.
What is Konami's deal with not re-releasing the NES version of Contra? Super C and Castlevania I-III have been re-released numerous times but the game that made the Konami code popular, strangely can't seem to get any love. Perhaps it is yet another way Konami has chosen to give console gamers the shaft. Regardless, the NES version of Contra is a shining example of how a home port should be done. This run and gun title is so famous that it has become more known than the arcade game that it originated from.
A great TV show that had a game that didn't suck? Yes, that actually was a thing back in the day. As Scrooge McDuck, you travel the world searching for treasures and money to increase your already enormous wealth. Taking a page out of Mega Man's book, the stages can be selected in any order of your choosing. The pogocane gameplay mechanic allows you to travel across spiked terrain without being harmed as well as elevate Scrooge's jump. I'm guessing Gyro Gearloose made that cane because it stands up to a lot of abuse. The thing is also great to taking out enemies. DuckTales omission is obviously a licensing issue. Heck, the original NES DuckTales game wasn't even included in DuckTales Remastered due to Capcom owning the game and Disney owning the characters.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I-III
Please do not listen to the critics. The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, while difficult and different from the two titles that would follow, is not the garbage game they say it is. TMNTII is a great port of the TMNT arcade game with two exclusive levels and TMNTIII could definitely use some more recognition. Outside of Double Dragon and River City Ransom, the Turtles couldn't be beat when it came to beat 'em up action on the NES. Licensing issues strike again.
Mega Man 1, 3-6
I wasn't surprised to see Mega Man 2 be included on the NES Classic Edition. What surprised me is that it was the only game out of six to make the cut. Yes, Mega Man 2 is one of the best games of the six, but it is far and away from being the only one worth gamer's time. The first Mega Man game is rough around the edge but still a good start, Mega Man 3 is for a lot of fans, the pinnacle of the series and Mega Man 4-6 are not bad titles in spite of what some critics would have you believe.
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
I didn't peek the full list of NES games in the NES Classic Edition when it was revealed but upon release, I was quite surprised to find that Castlevania III wasn't on the list. Including the Castlevania NES trilogy just seems like a duh thing to me. The trilogy is on the Wii, Wii U and 3DS, so why stop at Castlevania II? Yes, Castlevania III is soul shatteringly difficult but the first game isn't exactly a cake walk and it's included. It just feels odd having two of the three NES Castlevanias on the system.
Gradius on the NES is a decent port of the arcade game, but if I'm honest (and you know I am), Life Force is unquestionably the better of the two NES ports. Life Force offers two player support, better music, has side scrolling and top down levels and is just an overall more satisfying experience. You also get way better mileage out of the Konami Code with this game. Yes, the NES Classic Edition comes with built in cheats, but still.
This action platforming game is like no other: you cannot jump. And therein lies the brilliance of this NES classic. Using your bionic grappling arm to reach greateer heights and clear gaps, you're forced to go about situations you normaly would easy peasy in a whole new way. Now you aren't helpless. That cool grapling arm is great for getting away and you are packing some heat, which you can upgrade to superior fire power. Bionic Commando is more a of a slower paced action platformer and while it can be pretty difficult, the game is still beatable. The big dad of this game, despite going under a different name is clearly Adolf Hitler and when you meat him, he actually drops a D-bomb. Cussing, in an NES game? Who would have thought. Oh, but that isn't even the gritty part! Upon defeat, Hitler's character portrait actually explodes in quite detailed, gory fashion. I suppose those things could be why Bionic Commando didn't make the cut.
While Baseball and Tennis on the NES suck, Ice Hockey is one of Nintendo's best early NES sports titles. It isn't like team licenses were an issue because the game has no official teams to speak of. There are six teams but the three player types are what really make the game. The skinny guys are fast, the medium guys are average, and the fat guys are powerful, great for wrestling the puck away from opposing players. The game even has fights! For simple, fun, arcade style hockey, Ice Hockey is king of the rink.
Dragon Quest I-IV
Outside of Final Fantasy, the NES Classic Edition is starving for more RPGs. (The unit's Japanese counterpart not only got Final Fantasy, but Final Fantasy III as well.) Square Enix has been buddy buddy with Nintendo for some time now. Dragon Quest IV-VI were all re-released on the DS in enhanced remake form and Dragon Quest VII saw a re-released on the 3DS. Outside of the first Dragon Quest game, Dragon Quest II-IV are not easy to come by in their original 8-bit forms.
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
The first Ninja Gaiden is certainly no walk in the park. Ninja Gaiden II is by no means easy but it is an easier title than than the first one. Sticking to walls in the first game was cool and all but Ninja Gaiden II lets you stick to as well as climb up walls, which makes wall jumping so much better. Ryu is also packing more ninja artillery this time around, with the best move being the Phantom Shadow, an orange clone that follows Ryu, copying his every move. Ninja Gaiden II also packs more of those killer cut scenes, stunning environments and a sick soundtrack.
River City Ransom
"BARF!" That is enough to send waves of nostalgia rocketing down any retro gamer's spine. Most beat 'em ups in arcades and home consoles were content with having you walk right and pound on anyone dumb enough to walk into your first. Many of the goons you whale on in River City Ransome often have some final words to impart before they get KO'd. It helps give the thugs a bit more personality. But River City Ransom has more than laugh out loud dialog from the bad guys. Everyone to drop like a brick has money on them and you can take your cash into town to spend on numerous things like good, books and snacks to increase your character's stats. River City Ransom's RPG elements along with it's catchy soundtrack and funny baddies made it a cult favorite. Our friends in Japan actually received River City Ransom on the Japanese version of the NES Classic Edition while everyone was left out in the cold.