What were the *easiest* NES games?

At this point we’ve all read so much about how ridiculously difficult the NES’s games were, and “Nintendo Hard” is even a trope of its own. (Which I think is a bit unfair, as a few other companies have more than their share of monster games…Namco comes to mind…but that’s another thread.) I think it’s high time the other end get its fair share, mainly because it’s games like these that allowed me to enjoy the NES in the first place.

Going mostly from memory:

Bad Dudes - What made the arcade version eat up the tokens was 1. lots and lots of enemies and 2. some pretty cheap bosses. Mostly due to the NES’s processing limitations, neither is the case here. Hit, run, repeat.

BreakThru - With no time limit and hardly any enemies, this one’s little more than a test drive.

Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest - As long as you know which order to go places, know what to do to get to those places, and stop believing every goddam half-witted blithering simpleton you run into, it’s a breeze. Getting the Rib (the first body part you acquire) alone makes the going a lot easier, and none of the bosses are any challenge, least of all what’s easily the most pathetic incarnation of Dracula in any medium ever.

Double Dragon 2: The Revenge - This one fell in the sweet spot between “a piece of cake except for the damn sliding blocks and final two bosses” and “no cheap tricks but much tougher enemies all around”. Very few of the enemies are any threat at all, and the deathtraps are all avoidable. With the 7-lives trick or continue code, it’s pretty much a sure thing.

Duck Hunt - Compared to the targets in most shooting games, those ducks and clays may as well be blimps. Never had trouble making it well past level 20 on either duck game and rolled over the levels on the clays multiple times.

Excitebike - 80% course memorization and 20% not having some jerk cut you off at the wrong time. Super-easy to get good at and not much technique at all.

Gun.Smoke - This took a BIG hit from the arcade version. As long as you have a rapid-fire controller, it’s scoot, shoot, and loot, with only the occasional surprise attack or crossfire to worry about.

Mega Man 2 - Took out most the things that made the first game painful (especially the dropaway moving platforms) while adding some nifty tools and making the captured weapons very powerful. The only Mega Man game I never needed a Gameshark for, which says a lot.

Metal Gear - No joke. There are ways to avoid trouble in the early going, and once you escape from prison, everything just falls into place like the soldiers who stupidly run into your Beretta shots time and time again.

NARC - Lots of places to rack up lots of arrests (worth big points, and by extension lives), the enemies never get numerous enough to be really deadly, you can take a lot of punishment. The final boss fight is quite memorable mainly because it’s the only tough spot in the entire game.

Rampage - Damn near sleep-inducing. You’re as sturdy as a mountain, you gain a ton of health from each food item, you get a full heal every 7 days (it was 128 in the arcade version, just to put it in perspective), and the opposition is about as deadly as a Boy Scout troop. You almost have to be trying to get killed to get killed.

Rush 'n Attack - Can you push up on the pad, then hit B? Can you push down on the pad, then hit B? Can you push left on the pad, then tap right and hit B, and vice versea? Can you avoid “bullets” that travel at about the speed of a narcoleptic mosquito? Congratulations, you own this game.

Shinobi - Shoot slow-moving enemies. Shoot more slow-moving enemies. Shoot big, extremely slow-moving enemy. Beat bonus stage and get extra life by standing perfectly still and shooting. All in a day’s work.

Super Dodge Ball - Complete cake walk. Spear, Compressor, Lightning, catch, intercept, rinse and repeat. In all the times I played this, I was never in any danger of losing to any of the computer opponents. Compared to the brutal arcade version…well, there’s just no comparison at all.

Super Mario Bros. - As with most legends, some details get lost over time, and for this one, it hasn’t nearly been said enough…it’s really, really easy. Anyone with even a modicum of ability should have no difficulty saving the princess (protip: She’s in the 8th castle! :slight_smile: ). You don’t even need the life-gaining trick (which isn’t that much help anyway since you get thrown back to the start of the level whenever you die) or warps (it just makes it faster).

Super Mario Bros. 2 - Still one of my all-time favorites, and one of the few NES games I’d characterize as just plain fun (it doesn’t even have scoring!). Challenge-wise, it’s largely a matter of learning the lay of the land and figuring out how to beat enemies. You nail it once, you can nail it every time. I actually found Clawgrip to be the hardest foe, and he’s not all that hard.

Trog - See notes on Bad Dudes. I just plain romped.

Xenophobe - 1. Go to a room with a bomb-dropper. Since there can’t be more than 2 enemies in a room at once, this prevents more than one random enemy from ever showing up. 2. Smack down said enemies as they show up and grab their stuff. Snotterpillars will take a tiny bit more effort. 3. When the enemies stop dropping stuff, exit the room and reenter. 4. Repeat until one of them releases the magic you-win orb. 5. Ad victor spolarum, proceed to the next generic trouble spot, repeat until you get the maximum score or get deathly afraid that this experience is not preparing you for Battletoads at all.

Mega Man 2 was hardly the easiest Mega Man game, IMO. Anything between 3 and 5 were easier, IIRC.

I played a lot lot lot of NES in my day and I never beat Rush 'N Attack or Gun.Smoke despite owning them for years. Maybe it’s because they were too boring?

For reference, I was able to defeat Battletoads.

I was able to beat Star Tropics so it must not have been very hard.

ETA: My esteemed colleague **PSXer **just informed me that Star Tropics is actually hard and he never beat it. I decided that since I only had like 10 games at most, I must have had enough free time to devote to beating it.

Does Contra with the 30 lives code count?

I also didn’t think Gunsmoke was terribly easy - the later levels involved a pretty good bit of doding. Though I DID beat it, so I guess it wasn’t THAT hard.

Zelda was easy. Kinda long, relatively speaking, but easy.

Edit: But yeah, a lot of this is how much free time you had. I beat 1942, FFS.

I’m not sure I agree with the OP’s definition of what should be considered ‘easy’. There’s a lot of “all you have to do is remember everything and then do it right and it’s SOOO easy!” (being facetious, that’s not a direct quote) in that post. :smiley:

I’m trying to remember easy games that didn’t rely on specific exploits or extensive pattern recognition to conquer, but my memory is failing me. Maybe I’m just not that great a gamer and the games should’ve been easier than I found them to be. That’s entirely possible, I suppose.

I’ve long thought Super Mario 3 was terrifically easy, the exploits come early, and the platforming is right in that fun-to-learn but easy-to-master sweet spot. Plus you can warp to the end and beat it in hardly any time at all.

Saying “if you had a turbo controller” isn’t really fair. Never beat Gun.Smoke myself.

Zelda is easy if you know what you’re up to and can “level up” with heart containers and the white sword before getting too far into the dungeons.

To be fair, I think you should consider the game without cultural knowledge.

Contra’s pretty easy with the Konami code, but without that, beating the game on just 3 lives is challenging.

Beating Mega Man games mostly requires knowing the order to beat the enemies in. If you don’t know that, they’re a much harder slog.

I’d say Super Mario Brothers 1,2,3 were all relatively easy. There are challenging bits, but there’s no reason someone who was reasonably good at video games couldn’t sit down and beat it in a few playthroughs.

There’s no way you played either of these games and could possibly have included them in an “easiest” thread. They were by no means easy. Not the hardest of all time but they were probably a 7.5-8 on the difficulty scale. RushnAttack had the shorted fucking knife in the history of gaming and all it took was being grazed by a pixel to end your run. That game was HARD. Loved Gunsmoke, especially when I got the upgraded guns.

Magic Johnson Basketball. Just baseball pass for a layup.

How do we define difficulty for an RPG like Final Fantasy? You could always save and re-load, and you could always go back to earlier areas to grind levels… but on the other hand, it took an awful lot of saves and reloads to get past the Wizards of Marsh Cave or the Eye of Ice Cave.

Ultima: Quest of the Avatar was even easier, so long as you knew which of the NPC dialogs accidentally had the answers switched around. There wasn’t even an end boss.

Sure, if you’re playing 1 white mage!

But I’ve played that game so many times through that I am pretty sure my party would never die if I didn’t handicap myself in some way.

Double Dragon 3 was hard. When a character died, they died forever.

I think you mean Game Genie? The 'Shark wasn’t for NES I think.
Also, one of those stages. Quick Man I think? F that place. The absolute worst part of the original Mega Mans was those disappearing blocks. The sound haunts my memories. The Wikipedia page shows an image of a similarly crappy puzzle.
Most of the bosses in the other games got some extra damage from the weapon of their weakness, but in 2 weren’t there a few that were dead in 2 hits? I think Metal Man gun vs. either Air or Bubble Man?

Wasn’t a lot of the difficulty there not the combat but the rest of it? And all the difficulty of constantly feeling asleep! Same thing with Zelda - a lot easier if you have a guide.

Rampage was pretty easy.

Wood Man died in one shot from a fully-charged Heat Man blast, or two if you were on hard difficulty. And Metal Man, oddly enough, died in a single shot of his own weapon, even on hard, the second time you fought him. Metal Man’s weapon was quite useful against Bubble Man, but that was mostly due to the way he moved around his level and the greater aim from the Metal Blade-- I don’t think it actually did any extra damage to him. And Air Man’s primary vulnerability was Wood. Quick Man was the one whose level had those insta-kill laser beams moving across the screen, that you had to get past before they got you. I think that’s probably what you’re cursing at.

markdash, I’m curious how you got through FF1 without ever dying. The Wizards of Marsh Cave were doable… if you either got only two of them and your fighters were lucky, or if you had two people who could cast Lit2 and they both went before the monsters did. Likewise, Astos and the Eye of Ice Cave were both trivial if your White Mage got off a Mute before they went and used their kill spells. But surviving any of those on your first try without having to re-load depended a lot on the random number generator.

Okay, maybe I should have made this clear at the beginning…I’m not that good. Like, mediocre at best. Heck, I’m the guy who found Otomedius Excellent impossible. So if I find something no sweat, I just have to assume that it is. If I’ve undersold myself, I apologize. (Seriously, though, online rankings will humble any man in a hurry. :slight_smile: )

Leaper - Y’know, it’s possible that I just never played Mega Man 4 or 5 that much since I never had them for NES (rented 3 and found it pretty intense). Thing is, the disappearing blocks were pretty much the only thing I found a bit tricky, and for the most part it’s a matte of which weapon to use and when. I found 8 similar, actually, and I was able to clear it without too much pain, although the final battle was always a little nerve-wracking.

markdash - If you beat Battletoads, I can imagine how you’d find Rush 'n Attack and Gun.Smoke boring. Seriously, the level of reflexes, memorization, and steel nerves required isn’t in the same galaxy.

Airk - For most Capcom games, being able to do a fair amount of dodging will barely get you past the first level (1943, I’m looking in your direction).

orangeapples - Look, I’ve squandered a truly frightening amount of time and money on this dumb hobby, and I have played many, MANY games where I got the mechanics down stone cold and still could accomplish jack squat. Street Fighter 2 comes to mind. It took me maybe an hour to pull off each and every move of each and every fighter flawlessly, and to this very day my ability at that game is somewhere between “button masher” and “well-disciplined button masher”. (I’m okay…not great, just okay…at the Fatal Fury and World Heroes games, for whatever that’s worth.) I mean, I hope you wouldn’t have struggled horribly with the likes of Excitebike or Super Mario Bros. 2, because pretty much anything after the 8-bit era would be way out of your league.

Oh, and Super Mario Bros. 3 was a little too rich for my blood. In particular, I don’t like games with too many things to remember or where you need to constantly resist the temptation to use rare items. Maybe I could’ve gotten good at it if I cared enough, but I just didn’t find it worth the effort.

LawMonkey - Well, there are degrees to this…a rapid-fire controller certainly isn’t going to make Commando a piece of cake, what with the enemies only having to freaking grab you to kill you. But regardless, this era had certain games where, geez, you just gotta have rapid fire or you’re going to wreck your fingers. I’d think that just about anyone would get an Advantage or Max at some point. If you never got to use one, you have my condolences. At any rate, I don’t consider this a huge enough deal to disqualify Gun.Smoke (or Rampage, for that matter).

As for Zelda, I didn’t add it because there’s a difference between games that are inherently a breeze vs. games where you can get no-death victory if you’re cautious and patient. But hey, it takes all kinds. If I recall any more examples of the latter, I’ll add them.

iamthewalrus - I specifically avoided mentioning Contra because I know every discussion about it begins and ends with the 30-lives code. Here’s the thing, though: you don’t need that many. The Super C code only gave 10 lives, and I always found that plenty enough to get to the end. The arcade wasn’t a lot harder, honestly; near the end I was consistently getting to the start of the final level on one credit. Not easy by any means, but not in the same league as the games that would come after it.

Cubsfan - Look, whatever else you may think of me, don’t call me a liar, all right? I owned that game for the NES. For a long time The length of the weapon was not a gigantic handicap. Compare it to the arcade version, where the knife is three times as long but it’s way easier to die. And “grazed by a pixel”? Yes, you can only take one hit. Super Mario Bros. was like that, and it’s not on anyone’s Nintendo Hard list. At least I hope not.

Here’s a video. Now, I know anything tool-assisted isn’t going to replicate an actual playing experience, but please, just watch. How sparse the enemies are, how slowly everything moves, how flippin’ close you can get to the mines and not set them off. Honestly, play something like Commando or Life Force or The Guardian Legend and see just how much higher than 7.5-8 they can get.

Chronos - There was one pretty big part where every single step damaged the entire party and you couldn’t use any healing devices. As far as I’m concerned, that alone disqualifies Final Fantasy from any “easiest” list. There are games where if you’re patient enough to build up enough power and equipment you can easily conquer any challenge, but I don’t recall any for the NES.

thelurkinghorror - Game Genie, right. They run together after a while.

And what was “the rest of it”? If you mean the mazes, that was a tiny Guide Dang It that burned you up for a while and then became nothing once you figured out how. Did annoy me when I was really young and lost my “How To Win At Nintendo Games” book for a while, but that’s it.

Oh, forgot one:

Gradius. Granted, this is the weakest incarnation of the Vic Viper ever, which might be a problem if the enemy forces ever amounted to beans. Sparse enemies, only a few bullets on the screen at any given time, heck, entire stretches where there’s hardly anything you need to dodge. End-of-level foes are nothing special, and the big core fighters are absolute jokes. Compare this to, well, EVERYTHING that’s come since…Gradius 2-5, Life Force, the Parodius games, Otomedius Excellent…this is kindergarten stuff.


Chronos - There was one pretty big part where every single step damaged the entire party and you couldn’t use any healing devices. As far as I’m concerned, that alone disqualifies Final Fantasy from any “easiest” list. There are games where if you’re patient enough to build up enough power and equipment you can easily conquer any challenge, but I don’t recall any for the NES.


Actually, in the Ice Cave, I made it a point to walk over the damaging floor tiles as much as possible, because those tiles never spawned fights. Walking on the damaging floors just meant drinking four extra potions every 30 steps, but a fight was all too likely to mean getting your life-force erased or your brain eaten instantly.

Yep, those beams. I always killed Metal Man first. Googling it looks like Bubble Man and Flash Man are primarily weak to Metal Blade. Looks like people have done stats suggesting you start there as well. I think I did that order because I had a Mega Man novel (really) that did it that way.

Sometimes, when all is quiet, I still remember the sound effects of the letters being selected.

I barely remember it except my above sic quote paraphrase and “the truck have started to move,” so no real examples. But all the moving around, backtracking, etc. But today we can go on GameFAQs and figure it out, back then you have to find the manual, or ask someone, or pay $1.99/minute for the help line (that money’s earmarked for them explaining the stump joke!)

Like Metal Gear Solid had a radio frequency you had to call at one point, and in a bit of copy protection it only appeared on the jewel case. Well some people lose those, etc. At least it was the same for every copy
Or in the Legend of Zelda, if you wanted to save your game you had to options: 1) push the button combination that only appears in the manual, or 2) kill yourself. Not essential to beat the game, just one of those things you can miss. Games back then did hold your hand less, but sometimes a middle ground is best.

A couple examples of messed up copy protection. Especially the StarTropics. I rented that damn game, how was I supposed to know? I don’t remember if I ever figured out (Telnetting with pre-WWW internet).

Sports games were often pretty easy vs. the computer - the one I’m thinking of is Tecmo Bowl, where you just played the Raiders and called Bo Jackson’s play.

Had a Max; it sucked. The pseudo-analog d-pad was a bit of a disaster. And I was never an arcade gamer, so the Advantage was just a giant clustermuck–I wasn’t used to a big ol’ honkin’ joystick and buttons; I’d been playing on a gamepad from basically day one. (I briefly had an Atari 7800, so I guess I had a short bit of experience w/ a relatively small joystick and big ol honkin’ buttons, but anyway.) And in general, I did consider myself pretty decent, back in the day–though my abilities were pretty much defined by what was in my library. I can proudly lay claim to having beaten Iron Mike Tyson, yet I never beat SMB1. (Hell, I dunno if I ever beat the first world.) Why? I got the bare system and Punch-Out as my first game, because I didn’t like that little twerp Mario even when I was a kid. (I still don’t, though SMB2 and 3 were both pretty good, and yeah, beat 'em both. Neither was particularly hard, IIRC.)

Yeah, you’re underselling yourself. It may not have been the hardest in the series, but I do believe you’re the first person I’ve ever heard call it “easy”. Sure, you could get kitted out with the Konami code, but you’d better never, EVER die. Cause if you do, you’re there with your pea-shooter and your painfully slow Vic Viper in the middle of some clustermuck of later-stage enemies with no powerups in sight, usually.

Gemfire. But it was still fun. It mostly took patience, not skill, if you wanted to win with the most difficult character (the woman, who wasn’t weak, she just had only two territories to start out with).

I could never get very far in Super Mario Bros., and I would never call it easy.