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NES games that were better than their arcade counterparts

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 11:05 am
by pook99
As a kid the allure of the arcade was pretty overwhelming. The graphics of the games in the arcade were so vibrant and amazing, home consoles didn't even come close. I always remember wishing we were able to get arcade perfect ports as a kid, but it was virtually never a thing during the nes era.

As an adult, who frequently plays classics on both the NES and MAME, my entire perspective has changed. The games that seemed so amazing as a kid have not aged well, most of them are shallow, repetitive, and cheap, compared to their NES counterparts, and despite the graphical differences, I feel the NES counterparts have largely aged better and are far more satisfying.

Here are the games that I feel are superior to their arcade counterparts, note that not all of these are ports, and for the purpose of this list, I am strictly going on games that have the same name, even if the game was entirely different than the arcade version. I think some of these choices are going to be no-brainers that everyone will agree with, others will be more controversial, let me know your thoughts, and feel free to add in games that you feel match this category.

1) Ninja Gaiden--no contest here, the arcade game is a shallow and terrible beat em up, the nes game is an amazing action platformer thaty revolutionized story telling in video games.

2) Double Dragon 1-3: The first game is controversial, although I prefer the home port of the original more than the arcade version and feel that the more robust move set combined with better level variety make it a much better game, I get that many will disagree with me. I think the next 2 games, there is no contest, NES dd 2 and 3 are far superior to their arcade counterparts in every way with deeper fighting mechanics, more fleshed out stories, and some nice level variety.

3) Bionic Commando--the arcade game takes a cool gimmick of having a bionic arm and ruins it with cheap gameplay, and quarter muching gameplay. The nes version takes the same concept and adds in a cool map, a nice variety of upgrades, extremely well crafted levels designed to make use of the bionic arm, and the greatest ending to any game ever, that has you literally shooting Hitler in the face with a bazooka.

4) Battletoads--While the arcade game is fun, it is basically just another beat em up, sure there is some level variety, some really cool visual moves, and a legit multiplayer component, but the nes game is one of the most unique, challenging, and varied games to ever exist. Unlike many of the game I already listed, arcade battletoads is actually a very solid game, but it pales in comparison to the greatness of its nes counterpart.

5) Strider--I know I am probably the only one who will hold this opinion, the arcade game is great, with some of the coolest set pieces and most bad ass weapon to ever grace the arcade scene, but the gameplay itself has not aged amazingly. While still a great game, I really enjoy the more open ended feel of the nes game to the somewhat cheap action of the arcade.

6) Contra: I never actually played the arcade game as a kid, I only recently tried it on mame, and my god is the arcade game shit. The controls are wonky, the graphics are weird, and there is just something off about the gameplay. In comparison NES contra is one of the greatest games ever made and destroys its arcade counterpart in every way shape and form. I have not played the arcade Super C but I wonder if the same holds true there.

7) Punch out: The arcade game has stiff controls, limited opponents, and it is hard for all the wrong reasons. The nes game takes the same concept and adds in a wealth of new characters, tight controls, loads of personality, and a ton of secrets that can be used against the opponents. There is no comparison here, the NES game just blows the arcade version, and its sequel out of the water.

8) Rygar: the arcade version is a generic platformer with loads of enemies and a somewhat cool weapon, the NES game is an adventure game with exporation, upgrades, the same cool weapon, and loads of cool and unique environments. While the NES game certainly could have beneffited from a password system it is still infinitely better than its arcade counterpart.

I'll stop there for now, let me know your thoughts, agree? Disagree? Games you want to add to the list?

Re: NES games that were better than their arcade counterpart

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 11:52 am
by prfsnl_gmr
Great topic.

I agree completely on Bionic Commando, Contra, Double Dragon 2, Double Dragon 3, Ninja Gaiden, and Punch-Out!!. I disagree on Double Dragon (the arcade version rules) and on Strider (close call, but I prefer the arcade version). I don’t have enough experience with the arcade versions of Battletoads or Rygar to make a call on those.

A few others:

Baseball Stars (NES) is a deep sports simulation game. The arcade version is a just-OK quarter-munching arcade sports game.

Kung Fu (NES) is better than Kung Fu Master (Arcade). The controls are so crisp, and the fighting is so satisfying!

Tecmo Bowl (NES) is a classic. The arcade version, not so much.

Twinbee (Famicom) is better than Twinbee/Rainbow Bell Adventure (Arcade). It controls better; it has a brighter color palette; and it’s both slightly more forgiving and a lot more fun.

I’ve also always preferred the NES versions of Gun.Smoke and Super Sprint to their arcade counterparts, but I think that’s just a matter of personal taste.

Re: NES games that were better than their arcade counterpart

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 12:11 pm
by marurun
I think Battletoads arcade came after the NES version, so it is a little different. Also remember that pretty early in the life of the NES/Famicom that Nintendo really encouraged companies to not simply make arcade ports, but to consider the home platform. The best arcade ports did just that. It also helped avoid the issue that the NES couldn’t really compare to the arcades on an even keel. It allowed Nintendo to say “yeah, we have arcade ports, but they’re improved for the home market. Ignore the low color counts and poor graphics. You can’t compare them apples to apples “

Re: NES games that were better than their arcade counterpart

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 1:23 pm
by pook99

I played kung fu a bit in the arcades and a ton on the NES, but there were years in between them, I'll have to check out the arcade version to see the difference.

I like you referencing the sports games, I loved baseball stars as a kid and tecmo bowl is legendary, I never even knew those games were in the arcades.

I'm not sure about Super Sprint, but I believe the consensus opinion is that NES gunsmoke is vastly superior to the arcade version, I don't have enough experience with the arcade version to have an opinion but I have heard that it is not as smooth as the NES version and the difficulty is so insane it just loses all fun factor.

@marurun: correct, I did reference that in the OP, many times games with the same name are not ports, Strider for example was made at the same time as the arcade game by an entirely different team.

In 2019, we know that, but as a kid we just saw the same named game at 2 different places and had to judge them based on that without knowing any of the backstory, thats kind of what I'm going for in this thread.

Like, I remember I was on vacation and my dad let my brother and I buy a game. We bought the ninja gaiden and I spent the whole weekend obseesively reading the manual and could not wait for the vacation to end so I could play it. When I initiallly turned it on I was disappointed that it was not the arcade game I was expected. That dissapointment lasted about a minute before I realized how much better the game I was playing was compared to what I was expecting.

Re: NES games that were better than their arcade counterpart

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 3:18 pm
by MrPopo
You guys are all forgetting about Super Mario Bros; the NES original was better than the arcade port.