My top 22 NES Homebrew that I own. Why 22? Because why not!
July 2018 Update! – Some New Amazing Games
- Added – Black Box Challenge, Lizard, Twin Dragons
- Removed – Super Russian Roulette
January 2018 Update! – Tons of Modifications
- Added Boxes for The Mad Wizard, Haunted Halloween ’85, Star Versus
- Added – The Cowlitz Gamers’ 2nd Adventure, Eskimo Bob, Get ’em Gary, Haunted Halloween ’86, Justice Duel, Legends of Owlia, Quest Forge, Spook-o’-tron, Starkeeper, Super Russian Roulette
- Removed – Alter Ego, Germ Squashers, The Incident, Jet-Paco, NES Virus Cleaner, The Rise of Amondus (no box!), Streemerz (Part of Action53: Volume1, no box!), T*Gun
March 2016 Update! – Some have risen and others have fallen…
- Alter Ego – Replaced Custom Edition with the Mojon Twins release
- Added – Germ Squashers, Haunted Halloween ’85, The Incident & Jet-Paco
- Removed – Beerslinger, Commie Killer, Free Fall & Larry
My books that contain a gigantic amount of NES Homebrew games are now available!
Here are the arbitrary rules:
- I have to own the game (and it must be CIB)!
- They have to be able to fit inside my homebrew games case (or right next to it).
- When I get a new game that is worthy, one must be removed in order to add it.
Armed For Battle
Frank, the creator of Armed For Battle, brought a demo of the game to Midwest Gaming Classic a few years in a row and each year I enjoyed it. It came from actually knowing how he made the game and the logic behind it, as those things always interest me. To make things even cooler is that he roomed with me, and a bunch of other people, in 2014’s convention and is a really cool guy. Armed For Battle is as fun as a strategy game could be for me and I would highly recommend it.
The creator of Assimilate is a good friend of mine, John White. I actually had this game, and really enjoyed it, before I met him however after knowing this crazy guy for the past few years, I completely understand all the inside jokes. Assimilate is a really fun arcade style game with boss battles to boot! The battles really remind me of how Bubble Bobble Part 2 goes from stage-based gameplay to fighting a boss. It’s something that really impressed me, that and being able to anal probe people to get information!
Battle Kid (Limited Edition)
It should be no surprise that Battle Kid is on my list as it was the game that initially got me into NES homebrews. While you can only sustain a single hit, there are plenty of checkpoints strategically placed that allow for constant progression. This makes Battle Kid extremely addictive and very beatable, with enough patience and tenacity.
Battle Kid 2 (Limited Edition)
This sequel adds in a few new powers but is essentially more of the same. Having an entire new world to explore makes this the perfect game for fans of the original. What’s cool is I got the Limited Edition and the number matches the original LE that I have. In order to secure the LE for BK2, I had to do a boss rush for the original Battle Kid in the quickest time possible!
Black Box Challenge (Jeffrey Wittenhagen’s)
A game so good that I lent my name to the first release of it! Black Box Challenge is one of the coolest NES games I’ve ever played. It’s an RPG that has gameplay more timing based, utilizing a stamina system that really draws you in. The goal is to collect NES Black Box games. When you collect a title, you take it to your house in the game to actually play micro versions of the game which unlocks abilities! So many references are in the game that are not only from the NES but also from the homebrew community as well. This is a much own for anyone who plays or collects NES games.
The Cowlitz Gamers’ 2nd Adventure
While the original Cowlitz Gamers’ Adventure is a solid game, this 2nd Adventure is truly a complete game with amazing artwork. Collecting everything on each level is a fun challenge and there is even a two-player mode. Really an excellent game.
Newer web series nostalgia is the name of the game with Eskimo Bob, which was funded on Kickstarter in June of 2017. In terms of NES Homebrew releases, I don’t think we’ve gotten a game based on a newer licensed property. Fortunately it doesn’t follow suite of all the poorly-created licensed games from the heyday of the NES and is solidly designed.
Get ’em Gary
Get ’em Gary is the NES version of Fix it Felix from the film Wreck it Ralph that essentially has the same gameplay but removed the licensed characters. Solidly programmed (by Rob Bryant of Sly Dog Studios) and extremely addictive arcade action!
Haunted Halloween ’85
Haunted Halloween ’85 is a beat ’em up, like Double Dragon or River City Ransom, where the goal is to get to the end of a level and typically culminates in a boss fight. What is interesting is that as you take damage, your character begins to turn into a zombie, little by little. There are items on each level that allow you to recover heath or gain extra lives.
Haunted Halloween ’86
Haunted ’86 is a sequel to the original that ups the ante in nearly every aspect. You can now swap between two characters and perform lots of different combo moves to dispatch of enemies. There is also some amazing paralax scrolling throughout levels that pushes the limits of NES homebrew games!
Homebrew World Championships 2012 (Limited Edition)
This is quite possibly the most competitive fun I’ve had with any NES Homebrew game to date. This game takes the Nintendo World Championships but has you playing multiple Homebrew games. Not only did I get introduced to a bunch of new games with this competition cart, but I also got very good at each individual one! There are games from multiple game developers here and they all work together nicely.
Justice Duel is an arcade game that plays a lot like Joust but with the ability to shoot projectiles. You play as historical figures and you can play single player or with up to 4-players for the ultimate madness!
Kevin Power in Too Many Games
Attending the Too Many Games gaming convention in 2015, I was able to pick up a copy of this limited game. It’s extremely addictive and anyone can pick it up and play. You essentially are controlling a car trying to get to Too Many Games and you must run over things to get points, but avoid obstacles like rocks, police and other collectors. As you get further in the level, it continually speeds up, making it frantic fun for the entire family! (Note: Picture is from Kevin Power in Concert Carnage)
Legends of Owlia
This is an excellent Zelda-like game where you have a unique Owl buddy that can attack or do other various things. While this game is split in to worlds and is a little linear, it is an amazing experience!
Lizard is such as odd little platforming/exploration game that really lets you delve into the mind of the developer. The level aesthetics are perfect and the game plays like a combination of Metroid with more of a puzzle feel to things as you switch between lizard skins in order to further traverse through the vast and amazing world.
The Mad Wizard
From the insane programmers at Sly Dog Studios, The Mad Wizard is their first main game in the Candelabra series. This is a slower paced platform game where you use magic powers to hover, shoot and glide across the screen. There is a Metroid or Legend of Zelda style exploration as you slowly increase your power as you traverse around the decently large game world.
Nomolos: Storming the Catsle
Getting this game on day one, it’s a NES platformer, albeit with slippery jumping controls. Its saving grace is the multiple power-ups and quirky atmosphere. Nomolos definitely harkens back to the NES days of old.
Quest Forge is an action-RPG that reminds me a lot of the Ys games, where you run into enemies. This game is super addictive and whenever I play it, I have to beat it; which is no small feat. This is another excellent release for the NES.
Spook-o’-tron is an arcade-style NES game that takes inspiration from the classic Robotron: 2084. The game is a twin stick shooter that features some insane speed and action. There are so many sprites on the screen and you barely see any flicker. Only occasionally did I see slowdown, which was typically near the beginning and I used it to formulate strategies on the fly before the game intensified.
Star Keeper (Limited Edition)
This game was super limited with the creator wanting to initially sell them on eBay but couldn’t figure it out. I remember continually refreshing NintendoAge with a few of my Retro Raider buddies. Luckily I was able to snag a copy as this game is really awesome. You are a guy with a jet pack and collect stars that you put into your house. Once you collect enough stars you go to the next stage. Really awesome arcade style action and the difficulty really ramps up!
This is a really cool Asteroids-style competitive game. Super fun and the cooperative aspect makes this a great party game. Other than that, the graphics are pretty simplistic and plain but the fun aspect that the game provides overshadows its shortcomings.
Twin Dragons is an amazing platforming game where you control amazing cartoon-looking dragons. Throughout levels you have some of the typical levels you would expect from an NES game, however the artwork is done masterfully. Add to this amazing controls and various power-ups and this is a game that every NES collection needs!
Honorable Mentions – (Used to be on the list)
Originally released for the ZX Spectrum by RetroSouls, Alter Ego was ported to the NES in 2011 and released by the Mojon Twins in 2016. The game is a logic game where you control both the character and his alter ego. You switch places in order to collect dots and complete the level, with only a certain amount of switching allowed. A single hit from an enemy results in death.
So much potential as you are serving beer to customers as the bartender. Each guest calls out the beer they want and you sling it towards them. As you progress the game speeds up and adds more customers. My major gripe is that it ends after only a few levels and does not loop, increasing the difficulty. It knocks down what would be the perfect arcade experience to a little micro game.
Commie Killer (Needs Box/Case)
Made by the ever controversial Vectrex, you control the American flag and shoot stars at a floating head spitting out communist rhetoric. Such an odd game, but it controls well which makes it fun.
Germ Squashers (Limited Edition)
Released by 8-Bit Evolution as a CIB with the proceeds going to charity, Germ Squashers has you running around on a single screen platformer where the goal is to take out a certain amount of germ enemies within a time limit. The final level culminates with a boss battle and you are awarded a score at the end, which enables you to replay and attempt to beat it again!
The Incident (Limited Edition)
The Incident is an interesting take on the typical Sokubon style box pusher game. In the game you control a robot who needs to push boxes onto the correct spots in order to solve the level. What is unique is that if you get stumped on a level you can actually have the game solve it for you! This feature is limited, gaining more solves as you successfully complete puzzles.
Jet-Paco is an awesome little floaty homebrew that has you collecting orbs as your character literally jets around the level. The controls are super tight and you can stop pixel by pixel. A really relaxing game. There are two different modes, which are essentially levels. I only wish this game were a little bit longer!
Larry and the Long Look for a Luscious Lover
This is one of the few NES Homebrew games that I haven’t gotten to yet, it’s still sealed! However I have played this game with buddies and it’s a really fun Leisure Suit Larry port for beginners. I say for beginners due to being able to essentially click the cursor everyone on the screen instead of typing in commands. While it’s easy, it’s still fun to play.
NES Virus Cleaner
Your NES is infected and it’s up to Clik to clean it up! This is extremely fast paced due to the timer counting down and I found myself getting better and better at this game due to playing it in the HBWC, mentioned above. Once you learn the basics, this is a super addictive game!
The Rise of Amondus (Needs Box/Case)
A prequel to The Mad Wizard, you take on the role of Amondus as he attempts to conquer the Primwoods and enslave the goblin folk. This game has a cooperative mode that is just as, if not more, fun as the single player. I like to call this game a strategic horizontal shmup, as you must multitask like crazy!
Streemerz (Part of Action53: Volume 1) (Needs Box/Case)
If anybody has played Action 52 you might be familiar with a game on that multicart called Streemerz. This homebrew took that idea, added in Bionic Commando style cut scenes and tightened all the controls to perfection! The version that I have is called Action 53 and also has a ton of other bonus homebrew games on it. A lot of them could be standalone games!
Study Hall (Limited Edition)
Being a beta tester for this game allowed me to get a super cool, customized, limited edition of this game. In Study Hall you are a stick figure on a piece of notebook paper and need to get from the bottom to the top of the page, avoiding obstacles. It sounds simple, however it continually get more difficult to where it becomes a true test of your abilities.
Sudoku 2007 (Needs Box/Case)
Getting this game from a friend at an extremely good price, it will never be leaving my collection. Sudoku plays exactly how you’d expect it and even allows you to play random puzzles. My only fix would be if you could cycle backwards through the numbers too so you can go a little quicker.
Super Russian Roulette
Super Russian Roulette uses the NES Zapper is a unique way as you are basically seeing who is left after putting the Zapper to your temple. What is great is that you play with up to 3 human players plus a computer opponent who has digitized voice samples and continually talks smack to you as you play!
Another sealed NES homebrew, however it’s a top down shmup released in limited numbers at Too Many Games in 2014. This game can get a little hectic at times, and some people think that it might need flicker, however I feel that it plays just fine and I enjoy it a ton!
NES Homebrew Games I Want to Get List:
Awesome Caravan-style shmup. My buddy Paul is the master of this game and I need to practice it to I can compete with him!
Sgt Helmet Training Day
Top down game reminds me of Rambo on the Commodore 64. Sgt Helmet has two different modes, which are essentially levels. A shorter but fun game.
Really cool platformer conversion from a different system. So much potential.
Super Bat Puncher
If this game ever gets completed, it may be the greatest NES homebrew game created.