1988 was the sequel to the much loved 1987, and as such, many sequels saw light in 1988. It was the year of the "different sequel", where sequels seemed to change drastically from their predecessors. Zelda became a side-scroller, Castlevania became a psuedo-RPG, and Mega Man was.. well.. better! Here are the top 10 games of 1988.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A. Chances are, if you're a gamer, you've heard this. In fact, if you want to be hard core, you must be able to recite this verbatum. It's sort've like a gamer's hand shake. While Contra wasn't the first game to introduce the Konami code, it is widely considered to be the reason why we know it. Contra was almost impossibly hard, but thanks to the most infamous code in history, it stands as one of the best multiplayer games on NES.

Adventure of Link is considered a black sheep by many Zelda fans. Where the original title and all the 2D ones that followed this game were played from an overhead perspective and emphasized exploration, Zelda II was primarily a sidescroller and seemed to focus a bit more on combat and leveling up. Despite the drastically unfamiliar engine, it's still a wonderful game.

Guardian Legend is a very interesting fusion of Zanac-style vertical shooting and Zelda-style exploration. When I first played the game, I really didn't know what to make of it. Perhaps it was just too much for my simple mind to comprehend. Even today when I look back on this game, I'm still amazed at how well it fuses two totally different genres together.

For all intents and purposes, Mega Man II is what made Mega Man popular. The first game, though popular, enjoyed a somewhat lukewarm success. Mega Man II, however, with its catchy soundtrack and its much improved gameplay mechanics, was an international obsession.

There exists a religious cult following that sends their prayers to this forgotten classic, and for good reason. This action/adventure/shmup was a highly innovative title. Rather than jumping, you used a grappling hook to pull yourself to higher ground or cross chasms. Even better yet was that you get to fight Nazis. That's right, Bloodrayne, Bionic Commando has you beat by about 14 years.

Double Dragon II is a vast improvement over the original game in every way imaginable. Not only is it prettier, not only does it have better music, not only are the beat'em up mechanics better, but the game introduces a special spinning kick move, which is like, the coolest thing ever!

Forgotten Worlds was Capcom's debut title for their CPS1 arcade board, a board that would later be used for other legendary Capcom titles like Strider, Mercs, and the unforgettable Street Fighter II. Forgotten Worlds was an immensely impressive game, sporting some of the most incredible graphics of its time. Imagine if you fused Contra and Gradius, threw in some RPG elements for good measure, and topped it all off with hilarious bad voice acting. Then you'd have an idea of what to make of Forgotten Worlds.

Simon's Quest was very different from the original Castlevania. While at first glance, it seems to be very similar, once you start playing, the differences are very glaring. Instead of trudging through stages, the game all takes place in one big world loaded with secrets and puzzles. Not only that, but instead of finding power ups strewn about the stages, you gain EXP to level up and use hearts to purchase items and upgrades in towns. This RPG element to Castlevania seems to eerily hint at what is to come, with legendary titles like Symphony of the Night taking this idea and expanding on it infinitely.

Ninja Gaiden first hit the scene as an arcade beat'em up. A pretty stale one at that. Later that same year, Ninja Gaiden hit the NES, and much to everyone's surprise, it was a totally, totally different game. Now a side-scrolling action title, Ninja Gaiden, with its challenging gameplay, tons of power-ups and weapons, and extremely stylish cutscenes, quickly delved into our hearts and has never been forgotten.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is the most popular game of all time, selling over 17 million cartridges world wide and making Mario an even bigger star than he was with his first game. Mario Bros. 3 was a truly incredible game, with 8 wonderfully designed worlds to traverse (my favorite being Giant Land), and tons of awesome new power-ups to collect and store in a large inventory. Mario 3 still stands as my favorite game in the franchise, and one of my favorite NES games of all time. There's a good chance you feel the same way.

1988 saw introductions, sequels, and sequels that were nothing like the originals. But it was all for the better. Even today, we're still feeling the effects of this amazing year. Ninja Gaiden has come back to us with a vengeance, the RPG-esque Castlevania still lives on in Nintendo's portables, Forgotten Worlds has been re-released as part of a Capcom Classics Collection, and it appears that we'll never escape the clutches of the Blue Bomber. Good job, 1988, good job.

List by GaIcian (08/18/2006)

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