It is no secret to retrogaming fans that Nintendo single handedly revived the North American video game market with their Nintendo Entertainment System and a little game called Super Mario Bros. Nintendo was not new to the North American gaming world, they had several titles out on earlier consoles when they were, what would later become known as, a third party developer. Yeah, at one time in Nintendo’s history in gaming, they were a third party and not the console maker. It is quite unknown if the knowledge, by watching everyone fail, is what drove Nintendo to the business practices that brought them great success, and notoriety, in the late 80’s to early 90’s. That is not the subject of this article though, what is, is the pack-in title that Nintendo chose. Super Mario Bros. Many reading this will scream Mario was just a rip off, or continuation, of what Activision was doing with Pitfall. To others, these two titles are no more similar than Mario is to Sega’s, seemingly former, mascot Sonic. Here we have collected five great platforming titles that are not done by Nintendo and they certainly don’t feature Mario, or any other Mushroom Kingdom characters, in any way.
How this list is compiled is pretty simple. I have chosen one title from each console, of significance, to represent that platform. There are five consoles represented in this list. This is my favorite action title for the system so let loose with yours in the comments, who knows, it may make an article in the future. What these titles have in common is a very similar aura to Nintendo’s classic and they rock.
First up we have Ducktales by Capcom. This quite easily could be a Top 5 Disney games by Capcom but we are not going to do that, maybe later, but not right now. Ducktales was one of those titles that was so hotly anticipated that a storage container worth of the cartridges was stolen right off the shipping boat in a shipyard in California. What was so interesting about Ducktales though was that it was done by Capcom, who had already proven time and time again that they know how to handle Disney games. Gamers knew this was going to be a rocking action platform title. The music for the Moon level was so iconic that it is easily recognizable and widespread use by gaming media has occurred.
Ducktales was also featured in our “Valentine’s Day” special.
Mr. Nutz is probably the oddball title for many that are reading this. For instance, Dave Halverson (founder/publisher of Gamefan Magazine) is not a fan and readers of that publication know how much of a fan of action games he is. Mr. Nutz is a platforming game that features a smart ass squirrel that is taking on denizens of the forest. The bosses are oversized and tough, similar to what you encountered in the Mickey Mouse Mystical Quest series on Super Nintendo.
Ah, another licensed title that made this list. Later I will do something on licensed titles but for now, Hook on the Super Nintendo holds a special spot here. Early reviews in Electronic Gaming Monthly and Gamepro mentioned the orchestral, near CD quality, soundtrack that Hook features. Also noted was the quality controls, challenging level design and did I mention the music rocks? Even for an non licensed title those are great qualities, unfortunately for licensed games, it is not something retrogaming fans get to enjoy all that often. Modern gamers, how is that latest first person shooter treating you?
When NEC launched the Turbo Grafx-16 in North America they lacked a quality first party mascot type character. They tried with Keith Courage, which failed horribly, not because it was all that bad a game but because he lacked any character appeal or that aura of being a good console leader. Fast forward a bit and we finally see the leader of the TG-16 emerge, much like Sonic eventually showed on the Genesis, out of the midst of a bunch of mediocre titles. Bonk’s Adventure was good but the sequel, Bonk’s Revenge was just enough better to warrant being on this list. Action, platforming and touching on that nostalgic love for the Flintstones cartoon were all probably reasons for the Bonk series taking off with gamers, at least the ones that bought a Turbo Grafx-16/Turbo Duo. There was a port to the Super Nintendo and the Game Boy by Hudson (co-creator of the hardware that we got as the Turbo Grafx-16).
Flink was one of those titles that spoke volumes about what Psygnosis stood for in this period of gaming (i.e., before Sony bought them out to work exclusively on the Playstation brand). Flink had super detailed graphics, that were uncommon outside of a Neo Geo game, and fluid gameplay. The character of Flink, and many of his enemies, were cartoony but semi realistic looking (think more GI Joe than Simpsons).
While these may not be the #1 thought of retrogaming titles for many readers, these are a handful of great action platforming titles that are great in their own rights. These titles will surely satisfy that urge for many that are tired of the pudgy plumber from Nintendo. While Mario is the king of retrogaming platforming titles, there are plenty of titles that can more than hold the torch Mario has lit.
What does your list of action platforming titles, which are not made by Nintendo, look like? It is not as easy as it seems so go ahead and let us know!