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NES Ambassador Games Edition

by J.P. Corbran - October 2, 2011, 6:03 pm
Total comments: 20

The Nintendo World Report staff gives you their take on all 10 NES games available to 3DS Ambassadors.

In this special edition of Nintendo World Report's Virtual Console Recommendations, we cover all the games currently available free of charge to those who purchased a Nintendo 3DS in time to be eligible for Nintendo's Ambassador Program. Which games stand the test of time and which ones aren't worth the trouble? Read on to find out.


Balloon Fight

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players2
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedJul 03, 1986

There are many things to like about Balloon Fight, but the best aspect might be the music. Hip Tanaka’s tunes will hypnotize you into a state of glee.

The gameplay is very similar to the arcade classic Joust except instead of playing as a knight, you are a nameless balloon fighter who must fly around and rid the screen of enemies by popping their balloons. Balloon Fight won’t dazzle you with its 8-bit graphics, but they certainly suffice and look sharp and colorful on the 3DS screen. In the Balloon Trip mode, you must carefully fly across the sea and collect balloons while avoiding electric hazards. Anyone who enjoys some arcade style fun will have a blast with Balloon Fight.

Recommended for Everyone

- Jared Rosenberg



Donkey Kong Jr.

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players2
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedJun 1986

Before the NES got really big, Nintendo still had to win their fans over a quarter at a time, and consequentially Donkey Kong Jr. has a lot of that old-timey arcade feel. Mario, as the game's villain, stands at the top of each level with Donkey Kong caged nearby, dropping enemies to stop the player from reaching the top. Players, as Junior, have to climb vines and jump platforms in the quest to free DK and topple Nintendo's otherwise hero.  

The preserved simplicity of Donkey Kong Jr.'s technology and gameplay is both a boon and a drawback. Donkey Kong Jr. is understandable, accessible, and nostalgic, but it only offers a very narrow experience. Since the routes players take through each level are practically linear, the game's stages can feel more like puzzles than action set-pieces. And since Donkey Kong Jr. has only four levels, players may soon feel they already know all the answers. Of course, it requires discipline to adapt to the more difficult timing and patterns on repeated play-throughs, but by then a lot of the game's mystery will likely have disappeared.  

Donkey Kong Jr. is faithful to its era and, with a hefty dose of retro nostalgia to overlook its limitations, the game is still something Nintendo should be proud of. But if you set aside historical and sentimental evaluations, Donkey Kong Jr. is very much an artifact of a bygone age.

Not Recommended

- Carmine Red



Ice Climber

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players2
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedOct 18, 1985

Ice Climber is a game that has a cool concept, but is let down by some niggling control issues. The main goal in the game is to reach the top of various mountains by using your hammer to chip away at ice and various enemies blocking your path. There are 32 levels in the game that can be accessed at will from the main title screen, which makes it easy to pick up where you left off.

The main issue with the game is in the jumping. It is hard to make the character move to the left or right while jumping in mid air. Combined with the fact that the collision detection doesn't always work well for landing on the above platform, it can become frustrating. The game can still be fun though, and if you can get used to how the movement works, it becomes more enjoyable.  

Recommended for Fans

- Nicholas Bray



Metroid

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players1
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedAug 1987

If there's one thing that's readily apparent when looking at 25-year-old games, it's the lack of any sort of tutorial or guide. With the lack of guidance can come a sense of discovery or endless frustration. For most people, unfortunately, Metroid falls into the latter category.

The game plays cleanly: Samus can fire up or forward, and movement is more or less fluid. Less clean is the progression. Players are given no indication where to go or what to do; it's only through trial and error that one learns the rules of Metroid. For those who have a strong memory and have played the game before, they will likely enjoy this nostalgic trip to Zebes. For those new to the game, however, frustration is an absolute certainty.

Fortunately, even if this is your first experience with the original Metroid, chances are you have a little bit of context going in. Like later Metroid games, the original is built on a large map which becomes more and more open as you gain power-ups such as the Ice Beam, the Missile, and the Hi-Jump Boots. No auto-map is provided so players will either need to make either need to make their own as they go, or simply try to memorize the map, which is not an easy thing to do.

For those who remember the game clearly from its day in the spotlight, you'll enjoy taking another look at the game. Everyone else should be wary.

Recommended for Fans

- Andy Goergen



NES Open Tournament Golf

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players2
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedSep 29, 1991

NES Open Tournament Golf is the prototypical gauge-based golf game where a few timing-based clicks of the button triggers each swing of the club. It has a few different modes and a slight Mario veneer. 

While not highly complex, it does feature all the core elements that comprise even modern titles. Wind, club speed, club type, course texture, and hazards all factor into successfully sinking the shot. The simplicity of the gauge-based shot does make learning how to play fairly straightforward, rendering the game relatively easy. Neither the game’s sound nor visuals are very attractive, despite some animated sequences that play when the ball closes in on the hole. 

NES Open Tournament Golf isn't a great title. It is very simple, and once the swing is mastered it isn't all that rewarding. However, it isn't that far off from the kind of game one would play on a cellphone to kill a few minutes. At that it isn't too bad.

Recommended for Fans

- James Jones



Super Mario Bros.

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players2
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedNov 1985

The original Super Mario Bros. set the gaming world ablaze and not only revived a dead gaming industry in North America, but also set the precedent for future platforming titles with features and characteristics that are still prevalent to the genre to this day. Although this marks the third time this title has been brought to a Nintendo handheld (Game Boy Color - 1999, Game Boy Advance - 2004), this release is very true to the original source in every way. Unlike all of the handheld versions released over the past decade, this is the first version to feature the true (or near true) aspect ratio of the original release. Players can use either the Circle Pad or D-Pad to control the rotund plumber, though the D-Pad seems to be more responsive. Still, the controls are spot on, as usual, and the ability to suspend your game will feel familiar anyone who has utilized the feature with their Wii Virtual Console games.

This new version is without a doubt the best portable version of the title around. While it is true that the Game Boy Color version released in 1999 is the most robust re-release of the original Super Mario Bros., the pick up and play aspect of this title coupled with the Nintendo 3DS is a really good fit.

Recommended for Everyone

- Danny Bivens



The Legend of Zelda

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players1
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedAug 22, 1987

This game marks the very first adventure Link sets out on to save Hyrule, and is also one of the hardest games in the series. Don't let that put you off, this game is a blast to play.

Navigate the overworld searching for the labyrinthine dungeons while collecting equipment to aid your quest, potions, and hearts to replenish health and the ever-important rupees. Search for secret rooms and try to decipher Old Man's cryptic clues, though a walkthrough might be required. Once the whole thing is completed, there's even a secret, more difficult second quest to get through!

This game has been re-released at least five times over the last few years, but another copy is always welcome. The D-pad is a little easier to use than the Circle Pad, but both methods are as responsive as they ever were. Graphics are crisp and clean on this version, and with the headphone jack you can pump the classic music directly into your head.

Recommended for Everyone

- Andrew Brown



Wrecking Crew

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players2
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedOct 18, 1985

Before bashing bricks with his noggin, Mario liked to break objects with a hammer. In the puzzle platformer Wrecking Crew, the goal of each of the game’s 100 levels is to wipe out each and every destructible object. Fireballs, anthropomorphic wrenches, and other enemies aren’t the only obstacles in Mario’s quest. Players must carefully choose the order in which they eliminate objects or else they may find themselves without the ladder they needed to reach a certain platform.  

The puzzle gameplay has aged just fine and is a great title to pick up and play for a few minutes. Overall, Wrecking Crew proves that Mario can still pack a lot of power even without the ability to jump. 

Recommended for Fans

- Jared Rosenberg



Yoshi

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players2
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedJun 01, 1992

Yoshi is a very late-era NES puzzle game starring, as you might imagine, Yoshi. The game is a strange amalgamation of puzzlers. Blocks fall from the top of the screen in four rows, and you shift the rows (not the blocks) to match up them up. Two matching icons will disappear and earn points. Sometimes the bottom half of a Yoshi egg will fall to the ground, and if you can stack several enemy icons atop the eggshell, then use the top half of a Yoshi egg on the stack, everything between the eggshells will clear, a Yoshi will pop onscreen for a second, and you’ll get a lot of points. Unfortunately, the game never really progresses beyond this basic concept (aside from speeding up). It gets old pretty fast and will make you wish for Yoshi’s Cookie, which is basically the same game but improved.

Although fun in short bursts, Yoshi does not hold up to lengthier play sessions.

Not Recommended

- Zachary Miller



Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

SystemVirtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost$0
Players1
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedSep 26, 1987

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is often considered the black sheep of the series, because of its deviation from the formula that was enshrined by the first game. Gone was the top down perspective of the first adventure, Zelda II instead introduced Link to the world of side scrolling action. Along with the change in perspective, Adventure of Link also introduced RPG elements to the series. These include a system of gaining experience that is then used to level up Link’s attack power, life, and magic, and also a number of spells that can be learned by completing certain tasks in towns and dungeons; many of which are needed to progress.

Perhaps what is most unique about Zelda II, as well as what isolates it from the rest of the series, is the combat. Combat will force you to closely watch for the enemies’ patterns so that you can block or dodge their attacks and dispatch them with your sword. It's not just the bosses, it’s incredibly common to lose all of your lives against the game’s regular enemies. Though all of your progress will be saved, you’ll just have to fight your way through the many random encounters, caverns, and bridges to return.

If you’re a fan of the series, you owe it to yourself to play Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It’s a challenging adventure, but if you are willing to stay the fight, it’s a rewarding one.

Recommended for Fans

- James Dawson


Talkback

TJ SpykeOctober 02, 2011

I have to disagree with some, I think Metroid has aged so badly that I think it can only be enjoyed if you enter a password to get all weapons and invincibility. NES Open Tournament Golf is the worst golf game I ever played (not that I like golf games to begin with).

StrawHousePigOctober 02, 2011

Well, I guess I shouldn't download some of these then...

*pssh* As if.

NemoOctober 02, 2011

One other option for a map in Metroid... I'd go to the home menu, then the web browser and google a map. This would bad for anyone's first time through, but since I spent probably hundreds of hours playing this as a kid, nothing is spoiled for me.

TanookisuitOctober 03, 2011

Yeah, I was excited about Golf, but I can't even manage to hit the ball for some reason.  That game makes me feel like an idiot.

UltimatePartyBearOctober 03, 2011

It took me around ten minutes to figure out how to hit the ball.  Then I started trying to understand the mechanics.  I was treating the game more like a Rubik's cube.  I finally got a grasp on most of it, but just couldn't develop a good feel for how wind and spin together affected trajectory.

As a golf game, I don't like how impossible it is to make a controlled short shot.  Chipping the ball onto the green sometimes turns into an endless back and forth of overshooting.  This may be the only golf game I've ever played, come to think of it.

Bman87301October 03, 2011

Umm...  Since they're all FREE and you don't get a choice of any other games to choose from, what exactly is the point of having a recommendation page for this? As long as you're an Ambassador, they're all yours regardless so this seems completely redundant to me.

Also, I find the recommendation of Metroid to fans a little inconsistent since if I remember correctly, it wasn't recommended for anyone when released on the Wii Shop. Why the change of heart?

SilverQuilavaOctober 03, 2011

The best part about this version of Super Mario Bros is that the original glitches are still intact! I was able to go to World -1 many times over.

Bman87301October 03, 2011

Quote from: TJ

NES Open Tournament Golf is the worst golf game I ever played (not that I like golf games to begin with).

You apparently haven't played NES Open's predecessor, Golf. We're actually quite lucky  NES Open is the golfing game Nintendo chose to give us... it could have been A LOT worse.

Quote from: Bman87301

Also, I find the recommendation of Metroid to fans a little inconsistent since if I remember correctly, it wasn't recommended for anyone when released on the Wii Shop. Why the change of heart?

Individuals are different! It's crazy!

ejamerOctober 03, 2011

Quote from: NWR_Neal

Quote from: Bman87301

Also, I find the recommendation of Metroid to fans a little inconsistent since if I remember correctly, it wasn't recommended for anyone when released on the Wii Shop. Why the change of heart?

Individuals are different! It's crazy!

I (and therefore, everyone else) refuse to believe this statement.

Mop it upOctober 03, 2011

I agree with the recommendations of  these games:
Donkey Kong Jr.
Ice Climber
Metroid
NES Open Tournament Golf
Super Mario Bros.
Wrecking Crew
Zelda II

I disagree with these games:
The Legend of Zelda (too obtuse for non-NES fans)
Yoshi (if it's fun in short bursts it's at least worth it for fans of puzzle games)
Balloon Fight (too wonky for non-NES fans)

Quote from: Bman87301

Since they're all FREE and you don't get a choice of any other games to choose from, what exactly is the point of having a recommendation page for this?

Some of them are not worth spending time on.

Quote from: Bman87301

Umm...  Since they're all FREE and you don't get a choice of any other games to choose from, what exactly is the point of having a recommendation page for this?

Eventually, they'll be part of the normal Virtual Console for non-Ambassadors.

ejamerOctober 04, 2011

Quote from: Mop

...

I disagree with these games:
...
Yoshi (if it's fun in short bursts it's at least worth it for fans of puzzle games)
...

I thought about this one too, but had to agree with the "not recommended" rating in the end. As a free diversion, it's not terrible and can be fun in short bursts. But when the game is released to the public later it won't be free. In that case, there are many games available from the DSi store that are very cheap and very enjoyable.


It is strange to try and assess these games though. Many of them are wrapped in nostalgia for me, and playing through again is easy because they are so familiar from my youth. In those cases, I'm simply not able to assess the games fairly because my play experience with them won't mirror that of someone who hasn't already spent hours with the games.

xcwarriorOctober 04, 2011

I love NES Open Tournament Golf. Probably been playing that the most out of the games thus far. Not sure why all the hate on it. Saves a decent amount of data for an NES title.

I agree Yoshi good in short bursts. Type B at least makes things interesting. I'd put DKJr. in that category as well. Not the best game, but I enjoy what there is.

Some of these though I'd feel differently about if they weren't free.

Still waiting for when we get the GBA games. Feel like we'll get them either Black Friday or Xmas Eve at this point.

LittleIrvesOctober 04, 2011

@xcwarrior: You took the words out of my mouth. I was seriously about to defend both NES Open Tournament Golf and Yoshi...  strangely, the two games out of all the Ambassador titles I've played the most of. (Pardon the dangling preposition.) Metroid is worth it for the music alone; that title theme is still haunting, especially if you let it play for awhile until it returns to the ambient three-note opening. I've enjoyed trying Ice Climbers, Balloon Fight and Wrecking Crew as something of a history lesson, and will probably come back to the latter two on occasion. These earlier, more arcade titles are probably better portable games than even the much-lauded Zelda, just due to their levels being short and simple. But, you know, Restore Points...  anyway, I'm close to rambling. Hope people try out the less recognized games, as you might just be charmed by 'em.

When I first started on NES Golf I thought "wow, this is the least competent golf game in the last 30 years.:" However, I forced myself to spend a decent amount of time with it and by then I "got" club control. I still toyed with Not Recommended.


I'd say it is a soft Recommend for Fans - but we don't have that level of granularity. Like I say in the conclusion: you could play it on a cell phone to kill a few minutes and not feel bad. Well you could do the same on a 3DS.


Now if/when this game costs money: never ever buy it ever.

CericOctober 05, 2011

If I could hit the stinking ball in Golf it might be a good game.

Mop it upOctober 05, 2011

NES Open Tournament Golf doesn't really provide an explanation for how swinging works. The thing is that there are three button presses. Press it once to start the meter, then press it again once the meter reaches the desired power level. From here, the meter will slide back to the left, and then press it again when it reaches the white line to hit the ball straight.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusOctober 05, 2011

I have a nasty tendency to "Swing" late meaning I almost always Hook the shot.

Feel free to change the club to something with a little more range when available as the recommended club is based off the assumption you will make a perfect swing. Back spin for a more controlled landing, forward for more distance. Unless you must or have good timing, don't use the fast swing, use a bigger club. Having a slower swing allows for more precise swings.

All the basics of a golf game are there, but the presentation isn't. It means judging the lay of the land is much, much harder especially if you have played any 3D golf game. Most 3D golf games give you a lot more tools to place a shot, like ballistic arc projection, terrain grid overlays, more precise wind, ground roll prediction. NES golf gives you some spartan range data, flat terrain outside of the green and hard abstract gradients.

It was the premier golf game back in the day, but technology left it behind a long time ago. It's still a good game, but there are bigger and better out there. I definitely agree with Crimm on a soft recommend for fans. But I can't give it a Not Recommended since it plays pretty well and is near infinitely better than the god awful Yoshi game.

CericOctober 06, 2011

Thanks to Mop it up Golf School I went from a 23 Swing to a 7 Swing in just one hole.

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