Platformers essentially dominated the market in the 8-bit console gaming era. Was it even possible to have owned an NES and not have played Super Mario Brothers? I doubt it.So with such a huge field of titles to pull from, here’s my best stab at selecting the very best 8-bit platformers of all – including a rare one or two. So here goes.. the best 8-bit platformers you really ought to go out and play right now.
Metal Storm, NES
Metal Storm is an action game in which the player takes control of the giant mecha M-308 Gunner in order to put a stop to a malfunctioning computer menace.
Journey to Silius, NES
The year is 0373 in the new space age calendar. The earth’s population is growing rapidly and people are now forced to start space colonies. Jay McCray is among those leaving earth and heading to the colony in the Silius solar system. Unfortunately, terrorists have destroyed a research colony there. Jay’s father was killed in this attack and now Jay vows to destroy the terrorists responsible and to continue the research his father was working on.
Shinobi, Sega Master System
You control a ninja, Shinobi, who must battle his way through each level in search of hostages which must be rescued. You have shurikens, kicks and punches to defend yourself with. As well as the powerful ninja magic which can clear the screen of enemies in one go.
Super Mario Bros. 3, NES
Bowser is back, and along with the Bowser kids, he’s out to spoil Mario’s day once again.
This time, along with nabbing the Princess, the Bowser crew have also taken the magic wands from the Kings of each land and turned them into creatures. It’s up to Mario and Luigi to get back the magic wands, defeat Bowser, and save the Princess all before the day is done
Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Sega Master System
Many centuries ago, on the planet Aries, there lived a boy called Alex Kidd. For seven years, he lived on Mt. Eternal studying Shellcore, an ancient art that makes one strong enough to break rocks into pieces. As he was leaving the mountain one day to travel to his spiritual homeland, a dying man told him that the peaceful city of Radactian was in grave danger. Before taking his last breath, the man gave Alex a piece of a map and a medallion made of Sun Stone.
Bionic Commando, NES
At some point during the 1980’s the world has become a stage of battle between the Federation and the Empire. The latter sees itself as the successor state to the malevolent Badds, also known as the Nazz. One day, the Federation discovers that the Imperial leader Generalissimo Killt decides to complete an unfinished project codenamed “Albatros” and started by the Badds. The Federation sends their hero Super Joe to stop the Empire’s plans, but he is captured. Ladd Spencer, a member of the special FF Battalion, is dispatched to rescue Super Joe and uncover the enemy’s secrets.
Duck Tales, NES
Duck Tales for NES is a traditional platform game in which the player takes the role of greedy Scrooge McDuck in search of treasures around the globe. He counts on his three nephews and on other Duck Tales characters to help him in his quest through inospit places such as the Amazononic forest, the African Mines, the Himalayas, Transylvania (where he meets Dracula Duck) and even the Moon.
Mega Man 2, NES
After defeating Dr. Light’s six robots that were reprogrammed by the villainous Dr. Wily in Mega Man, it seemed like the world was safe. But it was not to be. Dr. Wily has escaped from prison and is madder than ever, this time creating eight new Robot Masters of his own to take over the world and crush Mega Man! Is the world doomed?
Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, Sega Master System
Sega’s 8-bit systems received their own version of the Genesis’ Disney platformer. The story and main theme remain the same, but the game has its own unique levels and slightly different gameplay mechanics.
Emulating the 8-bit Era
So there’s little doubt that if you owned an 8-bit console you probably spent some time playing one of these games. So why not bring the fun back? Here are the best ways to get these games on your modern machine.
Hands down the best possible emulator on the Mac (possibly on any platform) OpenEmu blends a wonderful esthetic with crisp and accurate emulation of 8-bit and 16-bit platforms.
The go-to emulation solution for NES players on Windows, FCEUX is still fairly regularly updated.
Kega Fusion (Windows, Mac)
Probably the best emulation solution for Windows users, Kega Fusion will emulate most older Sega platforms smoothly and faithfully.