Depending on your generation and your alignment in the universe of Sega vs. Nintendo, your familiarity with original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games may not extend further than Mario Kart. If so, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of over 700 titles put out in the late eighties and early nineties by dozens of developers and publishers. In those hundreds, not all of them are winners, or even noteworthy, but some are charming and bizarre snapshots from the early days of video gaming. Here are 10 of the strangest Nintendo games of the nineties.
A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia. If this one captures your interest, you can play its updated version on Wii. You play a boy who needs to overcome obstacles on his homeworld of Blobolonia. To do so, he feeds his companion blob, Blobert, different flavored jelly beans to transform him into assorted tools to defeat puzzles.
Yo! Noid. You play the 90s Dominos mascot, Noid, a red bunny-suited character fixated on the Dominos challenge of delivering pizzas in under 30 minutes. In the game, you use a yo-yo to defend the city of New York from invading creatures and earn a massive pizza as a reward.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This side-scrolling adventure game switches the player between the two characters. As Dr. Jekyll, the player must avoid collisions while becoming increasingly angry. Once his anger meter fills, he transforms into Mr. Hyde traversing a demon world using a psychic-wave to destroy enemies. A lightning bolt strikes down players who spend too little time as Dr. Jekyll and too much time as Mr. Hyde.
Mario is Missing! You have to respect the attempt to give Luigi a solo career, but saddling him with an educational game is why he didn’t reappear as a headliner in a game until 9 years later. Players control Luigi, who’s transported to various cities with artifacts stolen by Bowser. Players must identify the city, like London, and the stolen artifacts, such as Big Ben, and answer questions about the artifacts.
Panic Restaurant. You play Cookie, a chef with a wagging mustache in this side scroller, fighting the villainous Ohdove who took over your restaurant. Your weapon? A frying pan. Your enemies? Food brought to life, like roasted chickens, carrots, and pizzas.
Little Nemo the Dream Master. Based on the Japanese animated film, the player controls Nemo, who’s running around his own surreal dreamscape feeding candy to animals, and trying to defeat the Nightmare King and rescue the king of Slumberland.
Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti. This parody game remains a cult favorite. You play Rick, a parody of the horror movie Jason, who wields an axe to defeat other deformed horror figures, in pursuit of The Pumpkin King who kidnapped his girlfriend. The graphics are cute, with enough blood and guts for the game to still be gritty.
Abadox: The Deadly Inner War. You’re side scrolling through the intestinal tract of a giant alien, Parasitis, who ate the planet Abadox, and its ruler, Princess Maria. As the best fighter pilot in the galaxy, you go inside the alien to rescue Princess Maria from digestion. You win by navigating your way out of the end of the digestive tract.
Color a Dinosaur. The game itself is notorious for being one of Nintendo’s worst games of all time. It’s a video game coloring book, with a limited color palette and inefficient tools for engaging in the coloring activity. It also came with an actual color book, rendering the game cartridge obsolete. However, there’s a wild story behind the game, the creator made it in his garage, got it published and then left video game development and became a state Assemblymember in California. (x)
Anticipation. Tagged as Nintendo’s first video board game it’s a mashup of pictionary and trivial pursuit for up to eight people to play. The game would draw a picture and players used controllers to buzz-in and then spell out their guesses. Pieces moved around a virtual board with correct responses. Mario Kart wouldn’t come out for another four years, so as far as party games go, this is all the people had.