NES Hidden Gems (Part 2)

NES Hidden Gems (Part 2)

5 more 8-bit buried treasures

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Retrospectives on

The NES is home to hundreds of memorable experiences yet many are overlooked so let's check out a handful of hidden gems.

Photo of all 5 NES Hidden Gems (Part 2) cartridges
Get ready to discover a wide variety of great NES games

Mappy-Land

If you're into retro arcade games then you've probably played the original Mappy at least a few times. I absolutely love it and find that it's one of the most well-balanced and rewarding arcade games of the '80s. However, you might not be familiar with Mappy-Land which is a NES sequel that has the titular mouse go on a side-scrolling adventure through distinct areas such as Tropical World, Ghost Town, and Western World. Although the stages have a beginning and end, the core gameplay where you bounce on trampolines while trying to avoid enemies remains. To distract them, you can gather a wealth of items as well as activate gimmicks on your way to gathering collectibles and mastering each stage. It's an extremely enjoyable interpretation of the classic formula and I highly recommend it.

Mappy-Land gameplay video → Also featured in: Top 10 Overlooked NES Games on Virtual Console
Mappy-Land screenshot
Mappy takes his enjoyable gameplay outside for a change

Low G Man

Oh boy; I've wanted to discuss Low G Man for a long time considering it's one of my favourite NES games ever. In it, you control a dude who can jump very high which is why he's called Low G Man as the G stands for Gravity. Anyway, you attack your enemies with a freeze gun which makes them stunned then thrust a spear either above or below them in order to finish them off. This by itself is incredibly unique and super-fun but when you combine the fact that you can jump extremely high and use 4 sub-weapons, you're looking at one satisfying gem of a game. On top of the awesome gameplay, you get to listen to one of the greatest NES soundtracks ever and battle some of the largest and most epic bosses in 8-bit history. How this game isn't super-popular is completely beyond me.

Low G Man gameplay video →
Low G Man screenshot
8-bit bosses don't get much more epic than this!

The Guardian Legend

If you're a savvy NES player then you probably already know what a great game The Guardian Legend is but I figured I had to discuss it eventually for those who may not yet know about its awesomeness. The Guardian Legend begins with a rather generic yet fun vertical shoot 'em up segment. After that, you find yourself in an overhead maze that's reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda. This combination of gameplay styles reminded me a lot of Blaster Master which is a fantastic game as well. The Guardian Legend features a non-linear campaign where you try and deactivate devices to prevent an alien planet from crashing into Earth. Considering it's non-linear, it can be rather intimidating to figure out what to do or where to go next but once you get the hang of it, it's one rewarding journey.

The Guardian Legend gameplay video →
The Guardian Legend screenshot
Does that N stand for NES?

Trog!

Sure, Trog! may be a Pac-Man clone but it's original and enjoyable enough to mention. When I was a kid, I absolutely loved running around the maze-like stages as a cartoon dinosaur while snatching up all the eggs and dealing with enemy cavemen in clever ways such as breathing fire at them and eating them after temporarily transforming into a massive T-Rex. Thankfully, I still love playing it to this day. It's a top-notch multiplayer game as well because you can cooperate with a friend while also competing to see who can achieve the higher score. There are a ton of fun extras as well such as bonus rounds and secret level warps. Trog! also features catchy music and charming character designs that were likely inspired by The Simpsons. It's definitely not for everyone but I sure love Trog!

Trog! gameplay video →
Trog! screenshot
Looks like I'm yet another caveman's lunch...

Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum

After playing Moraff's World for countless hours on PC, I soon discovered Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum on NES. For the unfamiliar, it's a grid-based first-person dungeon crawler RPG with a massive campaign and a frequently unforgiving level of challenge. Playing it nowadays is a bit tricky due to its unintuitive menus but after you get over that hurdle, it holds up impressively well and can be a ton of fun. The amount of freedom that you get when it comes to customizing your party is just awesome and makes failure feel like it's always your fault because you could have set your party up to be better prepared. Although it's not as immediately gratifying as the other games in this article, I still strongly recommend Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum for any old-school RPG fan.

Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum gameplay video →
Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum screenshot
Even nowadays, Secret of the Inner Sanctum's enemies are rather intimidating

Well, that's all for this batch of hidden gems. Be sure to check out my NES Hidden Gems (Part 1) article for 5 more buried treasures and leave a comment below with some underrated NES games that you wish would get more recognition.

Gameplay video playlist for NES Hidden Gems (Part 2) 21:59
NES games Trivia

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