This post has been updated since originally being published on April 16, 2012.
A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s
Nintendo Entertainment System
I usually hate racing games but I really dug R.C. Pro-Am because it was different. You weren't driving a racing car but one of a selection of remote controlled cars. As you maneuvered around the track, there were power ups you could collect that would let you do things like shoot missiles. There were also little arrow strips you could drive across that would shoot your car zooming down the track to pass the competition. After collecting letters and spelling a word - I don't remember what it was - all of the cars would transform into trucks if I recall correctly. We always wanted to last long enough to transform again but I don't believe any of us ever did accomplish that feat.
I remember playing the arcade version of Rygar every time I was stuck going to the grocery store. When I found out there was a home version, I rushed out and got it. At first, I was a little disappointed that it was not a direct adaptation but I quickly got over it. The NES Rygar was so much more awesome to me because of the differences from the arcade version. You travelled to different areas in the game in both but there was a sense of history to the world that has been tainted by evil. There were unique items to collect and obstacles to overcome that would eventually result in facing the boss monster. The most memorable thing about this game is the difficulty. You could pick up from your previous game but only until you turned off the power. There was no save or continue function that would let you come back later to pick up your quest from that point. There were times when we would leave the NES powered up and just turn off the TV so we could continue the next morning.
Super Mario Brothers was another one of the games in the Christmas package. My buddies and I would play this game for hours, taking turns when someone would get killed. It may be a "simple game" by the fact that you basically just make Mario run, jump, shoot fireballs, and avoid obstacles to get to the end of the stage but it is very fun and the stages are quite diverse. This is a true NES classic and anyone that claims to be a console gaming fan - especially the retro kind - should play this game.