One of the most frequent questions I see asked as a collector of classic games is a fairly simple one: What are some games that are worth playing? Much has been written on the subject over the years, however most seem to focus on similar selections of games. What I intend to provide is a handful of titles that offer a completely unique experience to anyone willing to give them a shot. While they may not be the best games available, they offer an experience that can't be found anywhere else in the NES library.
I have limited myself to games that can be found for under $30 USD online, so that anyone interested can give them a try without having to spend a fortune. Also, I will not be listing games that have been written about extensively elsewhere. So without further ado, here are my picks for the most unique NES games.
For my first pick, I will be mentioning a game that few have played, and even fewer have mastered, The Mutant Virus. The story is weird, yet oddly engaging: an evil genius has created a computer virus to destroy the AI controlling a future Earth's technologies. The only hope is you, a soldier who is shrunk down to a miniature form in order to fight the virus head-on. The game itself plays like a take on Conway's "Game of Life" computer simulation from the '70s, with the added "versus" mechanic to it. You shoot an antivirus to convert the green virus cells over to blue antibody cells with the goal of having the antibodies destroy all the viruses in a room. Once all the rooms in a sector are completed, you are rewarded with a storyboard cut scene and sent to the next sector. Be warned that this is not an easy game. In fact, it is one of the most difficult titles on the NES, and the gameplay is definitely not for everyone. Still, for those looking for unique NES games to add to their collection, they don't come much more unique than The Mutant Virus.
Another unique experience tucked away in the NES library is Wall Street Kid. You begin the game with a wad of cash that you need to convert into various luxury items and a larger wad of cash, all in the hopes of scoring a gigantic wad of cash. Oh, and you also have to make sure you keep your health up by exercising, and keep your girlfriend happy. The way you make more money? Easy - by playing the stock market! Wall Street Kid is a stock market simulation that can be extremely fun for anyone who enjoys slower paced text-based games.
My final pick will be a game that has received rave reviews on home computers of the era, but was passed over on the NES. M.U.L.E. is a competitive co-op economic simulator for one to four players. You begin on a planet with a plot of land and a little bit of money with your three opponents receiving the same thing. The goal is to be the richest member of the colony while simultaneously making sure the colony survives. Players can outfit their plots of land for food, energy, ore or gem production. Some plots are better suited for different resources, although any resource can be hunted on any plot of land. M.U.L.E. is a fun game to play solo, but it really shines as a four-player game, where you have to balance whether to help your friends succeed or milk them for every penny you can. The best part is that no two games ever play out the same. M.U.L.E. is a game that will become a staple of any multiplayer game night for anyone who gives it a chance to grow on them!
So there you have it, three NES games that provide a unique experience that cannot be found anywhere else in the NES library. While they are not likely to make many top 10 lists, all three of them are worth popping in for a while. I can guarantee that you've played nothing like them on the NES!