Table of Contents:
Best Fighting / Beat'em-up

River City Ransom

Though undoubtedly under-appreciated in its time, River City Ransom has achieved a cult-like status among NES aficionados. The reason we love it is two-fold: RCR not only has simple yet complex gameplay, but it's accompanied by a quirky sense of humor. Anyone can jump right into the game and start beating up thugs, and it's easy to figure out how to use the various weapons and objects you find lying around. RCR adds to this the ability to shop around in malls, buy food to heal yourself and raise RPG-like stats for your character. Where do you get the money to buy all this stuff? Well, that's where the game's sense of humor comes in; in an amusing twist of fate, you beat up the bullies and take their money. Combine that with a plot that has your girlfriend being kidnapped and held hostage in a high school by evil twins, and bad guys that say "BARF!" when they die, and you've got barrels of funny in every butt you kick. 

Runners up:

Double Dragon II

The Double Dragon series shied away from the zany sense of humor of our winner, and perhaps that's why it was beaten out in our poll. It replaces that wacky attitude with street punks, butch chain-wielding dominatrixes and acrobatic (perhaps even alcoholic?) ninjas. The fighting engine itself is a bit more sophisticated, allowing for a fairly high number of moves with only two buttons. Jump kicks, flying knees, over-the-shoulder throws...and who could forget those knee-butts? Ouch. Strangely enough, the game has the same basic plot; one or two guys are going after their girlfriend, who was kidnapped by thugs. Honestly. Wouldn't it be easier just to dump her? 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: 
The Arcade Game

Yet again, we find a girl kidnapped by an evil gang -- not a girlfriend, though, since it's unlikely that any human female would put out for a gang of mutant amphibians. TMNT 2 is not actually a sequel to TMNT, but rather, a port of the first TMNT arcade game. It has a fairly unsophisticated fighting engine, but we still loved it. Why? Well, probably because it was part of the marketing juggernaut designed to have children buy as many TMNT toys as possible--there is serious product placement going on in the game, and we're not just talking about the Pizza Hut signs that are strangely littering the halls of an apartment building. 

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Did You Know?
Many NES games' password screens lack the full alphabet. Why? So you don't type in bad words, of course. Metal Gear has a famous F-word code that lets you into the end of the game. It's probably just a coincidence, but you never know!

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