Although the SNES gets a lot of love today with many touting it as Nintendo’s “greatest” console (and there are tons of reasons why that’s the case), it’s also easy to make the case that the NES was the bigger star for about as many reasons.
Nintendo Power’s fan-focused splash of colors, trivia, and strategy pages didn’t write itself as a bastion of cutting journalism and philosophical discussion that other “more serious” magazines such as Computer Gaming World started out as at the time. It was a no holds barred fanzine celebrating everything NES (and later, SNES and so on until the end of its run in 2012), grabbing the imaginations of its audience, and unapologetically running with the hype. It left the more weighty talks to other “grown up” mags while it made a party of its bi-monthly run. And it was awesome.
The Top 30 feature was one way that the magazine promoted fan interaction as readers voted in their favorite games and 25 years ago, NES owners had a very happy holiday with a ton of amazing titles to pick from as you can see above with some surprising entries.
Despite the flack that Zelda II gets from some fans for its surprisingly different direction, it managed to edge out The Legend of Zelda for a bit here by a little over a hundred points. Konami had a nice field day with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the adventure version) along with TMNT: The Arcade Game port. Metal Gear II even shows up at #21.
It’s hard not to look at awe at the grab bag of exciting titles here as they were 25 years ago. It’s also an interesting glimpse at an era before FPS games, EA’s sport franchises, or Steam changed lists like these forever. An amazing time and an amazing system, the NES has a lot to be happy about even today.