Mega Man II
quickly gained accolades for its graphics from gamers thanks to its clever
opening, great level themes and cool enemies. But once everyone saw the
Dragon in Dr. Wily's stage, it was all over. That single enemy impressed
so many gamers, it was hard to look at bosses in other games from that
point forward. This huge beast was relentless, charging our hero as he
hopped from block to block; this not only underscored the trepidation one
felt at breaching Dr. Wily's fortress but made the game, which was already
impressive, legendary. The bosses beyond him did not disappoint, either.
aside, the rest of the game was equally as spectacular. The unique theme
of the game--that of malicious robots inhabiting their own unique demesne--gave
Capcom's artists plenty of room to flex their talent. The lava-filled brickwork
of Heat Man's stage contrasts with the flashing ice-blocks of Flash Man's
lair. The dark forest of Wood Man's stage strikes a chord against the airy
openness of Air Man's level, residing in the clouds. Crash Man's convolution
of metal piping and increasingly starry skies is a counterpoint to the
waterfalls and serene depths of Bubble Man's domain. Of course, the technological
nightmares of the obstacles in Quick Man's level and the conveyor belts
and cogwheels in Metal Man's area go hand in hand. Then the Dr. Wily stages
bring us into the lair of a madman. Mega Man II brought graphics to a new
level of importance and verve.
Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Ninja Gaiden games' tale of a ninja wandering the world in search of answers
to the disappearance of his father and the fate of mankind gripped us all.
The series really came into its own with the second title due to the collusion
of all the elements being just right, including the top-notch visuals.
The Ninja Gaiden series was one of the first games to tell its story via
cinematic cut-scenes, and its anime-tinged graphics and cool characters
were readily showcased in these impressive interludes. The levels, too,
boasted an emphasis on style and theme as well as design. From rainforests
with brewing storms to fast-moving trains all the way to the demonic lair
of the enemy, Ninja Gaiden's graphics helped elevate the story of an action
game above and beyond.
III: Dracula's Curse
the earlier Castlevania titles had excellent ambience to convey a Transylvania
steeped in decay, the third game in the series was among the graphical
elite on the NES. The crumbling bricks, murky water and decrepit statues
littering the landscape hearkened to the medieval terror we all dimly imagined
to be real in our youth. Konami's almost impressionistic use of textures
and tiles soaked the game in its own unique graphical flavoring.