The Games of the Famicom Classic Edition

As much as I like Nintendo, they have made quite a few mistakes as a game company.  Some are big, like the Virtual Boy and using cartridges on the N64.  And some are not quite so big.  One of those ‘not quite so big’ mistakes I feel is how they released the NES Classic Edition last year.  For those who don’t know, the NES Classic Edition was a smaller console that looked like the 8-bit NES and had 30 games on it.  But Nintendo didn’t make enough and it’s very hard to find.  Even I don’t have one!  I know Nintendo recently said they would make more and release them next summer, but we’ll just have to see about that.  So when I saw where I could order the Famicom Classic Edition online for nearly retail price, I decided to import that instead.  The Famicom was the Japanese version of the NES.  Their Classic Edition has most of the same games as the NES one, but with a few changes here and there.  So in this blog, I’m going go over the Famicom Classic console, the games on it, and at the end I’ll share some good news related to this topic!

But first, here are some pictures.  First is the front of the box.

I took a picture of the side of the box because I thought it was interesting that they had a photo with cartridges in it.  I wonder if this confused some Japanese consumers into thinking you could use cartridges for this.  Famicom game cartridges were smaller than NES ones and came in lots of different colors, too!

The back of the box shows the artwork for all the games included on the console.

And here it is out of the box.  Small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.

So there are three main problems I have with the Famicom Classic Edition.  The original Famicom had slots to put your controllers in, and the cords were attached to the console.  The Classic Edition is like that, too.  So one good thing is that you get two controllers while the NES Classic only had one.  But since the Famicom Classic is smaller, so are the controllers!  They’re a little hard to hold being so tiny!

Another problem is simply cosmetic.  The second player controller on the original Famicom had a microphone on it.  The most famous use of this microphone was in Zelda, where you could defeat the Pols Voice enemies by shouting into the microphone.  Well the Famicom Classic has a little grill on the second controller like it’s a microphone, but there is no microphone on that thing at all.  It’s just there for decoration.

The final problem I had was it didn’t come with an outlet plug.  It has a USB connector, but no plug.  I don’t know if most Japanese houses have USB outlets on their wall sockets, but I don’t have any in my house!  I was worried about using my USB to plug converter on my phone, but luckily I got something that solves that problem and we’ll talk about it at the end of the blog, since it relates to that piece of good news I was talking to you about earlier.

You know what I think Nintendo should do?   They should release a Switch cartridge (or a 3DS one) that has all the NES Classic Edition games on it since the actual console is so hard to get.  I think it would still sell well.  Heck, I’d even get it just to have these games on a portable system.  I know you can say they’d just release these separately on Virtual Console, but since they’re doing those Arcade Archives and Classic Edition consoles, and they haven’t announced a Virtual Console service nearly a year after the Switch’s release, it makes me wonder if they’ll really have a Virtual Console at all.  Who knows?  Anyway, on to the games!

Super Mario Bros.

I actually first played this game in the arcade, not on the NES.  It’s a pretty good game for the time, but it’s actually not the game that made me want a NES.  I just don’t like this game as much as most people think I would.  I read that in Japan, they had planned for this to be the last hurrah for the Famicom before they went onto make games for the Disk System.

Super Mario USA

So we all know the story about how our Mario 2 is not Japan’s Mario 2.  I’m actually kind of glad we never got the TRUE Mario 2, as I consider that more of a harder expansion pack than a sequel.  I’m a little surprised the Famicom Classic doesn’t have the real Mario 2, but I’m glad it has Mario USA instead.  Later on in Japan, they ported our Mario 2 back to Japan under the title Super Mario USA.  And it’s pretty much the same game as what we got.  I figured they lost the license to the characters who were originally in Doki Doki Panic, what would become our Mario 2, as they were from a TV channel festival in Japan.  So that’s probably why that one’s not on this console.

Super Mario Bros. 3

I’m about to say something that’ll make everyone hate me.  I actually like Mario 2 (USA) more than Mario 3.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think Mario 3 is a very creative and influential game.  I just prefer playing 2.  The Japanese version of Mario 3 has a few changes over the US version.  Most significantly, when you have a power-up like a raccoon tail or animal suit, in the US you’d go back to Super Mario if you got hit.  Well in Japan, you would go back to Small Mario, so the game is significantly harder.

Mario Bros.

Probably the only Mario game where he actually does some plumbing, although it’s really more like pest control.  It’s an all right game, but it’s been done to death on the Mario Advance titles.

Donkey Kong

I read somewhere that the Famicom was originally designed to play a near arcade perfect version of Donkey Kong.  And yet they still omitted the cement factory level.  But then, for 1983, when the Famicom was released in Japan, it’s still a pretty darn good arcade port.

Ice Climber

I think the only reason why people remember this game is the characters were in Super Smash Bros.  The game itself isn’t that good, thanks to clunky jumping controls.  Interestingly enough, since this is the Japanese version, the enemies that rebuild the blocks you break are seals, not those snow monster things they changed them to for the US.  I guess they felt the US wouldn’t like hitting seals.  But you don’t really kill them.  When you hit them with your hammer, they just waddle away really fast.


I remember this game being fairly popular when I was a kid.  Although I think I mostly just enjoyed making my own tracks.  I played it at friends’ houses and even saw it in arcades a few times.  But I never owned it.  When my brother Jeff was old enough to enjoy games, he played Excitebike on GameCube Animal Crossing and LOVED it.  It’s one of his favorite retro games!

Balloon Fight

This is pretty much Nintendo’s answer to Joust, except you’re flying on balloons instead of ostriches.  I know people say this was one of Satoru Iwata’s early masterpieces, but honestly I don’t remember playing it much and I didn’t know anyone who had it back then.  Plus I just like Joust better.  Sorry Iwata.

Dr. Mario

This puzzle game has always been pretty popular.  Ever since the NES it’s been ported to nearly every other Nintendo system in some form or fashion.  Up until a few years ago, I didn’t know there was an arcade version of Dr. Mario, but once I found out, I saw it everywhere.  How did I miss that?  Dr. Mario is also one of my mom’s favorite games.

Kirby’s Adventure

This game is a masterpiece and one of the NES’ crowning achievements.  Believe it or not, I didn’t play it when it first came out on the NES.  I was too into SNES games and I wasn’t a Kirby fan yet.  The game that made me a Kirby fan was actually Kirby’s Dream Course on the SNES.  But once I was a Kirby fan, I did go back and play this one when I got the chance.

NES Open Tournament Golf

I never played this one back in the day, but we did have the older NES Golf game and it was one of the few NES games my dad would play.  I asked my dad if he wanted NES Open Tournament Golf for Father’s Day when it came out, but he declined.  He was happy playing the old Golf game anyway and the new one was kind of expensive for a kid to buy.  Mario wears an American flag themed outfit in this one and it’s also one of his alternate outfits in one of the Super Smash Bros. games.  I also read that many of the golf courses in Wii Sports and its sequels were based on these two NES golf games!

The Legend of Zelda (Disk System)

The first Zelda title was the game that made me want a NES, not Super Mario Bros.  I was so enthralled with the fact that you could save your game!  To this day, the original NES Zelda is probably in my top three favorite Zelda games, right after Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening.  In Japan, the game first came out on the Disk System, which was an add-on for the Famicom that let you play disk games where you could enjoy bigger adventures and save your progress.  Nintendo put four of those Disk Games on the Famicom Classic Edition, and this is one of them.  They even made the emulation have the Disk System startup screen and loading times!  The Disk System had one extra channel of sound, so some of these games had different sound effects and instrumentation in the music.  I do like the bells they added to the title screen in this version, but other than some different sound effects, I didn’t really notice anything different about it.  It is kind of neat to play one of my favorite Zelda games in a different way, though.  But since all the menus are in Japanese, I haven’t figured out how to save my games yet.  I’m sure it’s easy to do once I figure out how.

Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (Disk System)

This game has different sound effects and graphics than the version we got in the US, but that’s all I noticed.  Sorry fans, but Zelda 2 is probably one of my least favorite Zelda titles.

Metroid (Disk System)

Instead of passwords like what we got, the Disk System of Metroid has a save file screen like Zelda.  And aside from some different sound effects, everything seems to be the same to me.  I played the game a few times when my friends would rent it and I’d go over to visit.  But I didn’t really get into Metroid games until Super Metroid on the SNES.

Castlevania (Disk System)

The last Disk System game on here is a third-party game: Castlevania.  It has the same save file screen like the others, but aside from loading times, I didn’t notice anything different about this version. In the US, you couldn’t even save your game AT ALL!  I never was into Castlevania, but I knew a lot of people who had this game on the NES.  It was very popular, and still is to this day.  The game has even had two animated series: Captain N and the new adult cartoon on Netflix.  I wonder if I would’ve been more into Metroid and Castlevania on the NES if I could save my game like Zelda?

Rockman 2

Speaking of third-party games, I’m glad they put a good number of them on this Classic Edition because back on the NES, I mostly played third-party games over Nintendo’s own.  And most of those were from Capcom, especially their Mega Man and Disney games.  That’s why I was more excited when Capcom announced The Disney Afternoon Collection than I was when Nintendo announced the NES Classic.  And I was way more into Mega Man than Mario.  While my favorite is Mega Man 3, I can see why most people like 2 the best.  It is pretty darn good.  Aside from the title change, not much difference from this and the US version.  We got a difficulty selection, but they didn’t.  It was always set on ‘difficult’ for them, but aside from some enemies being tougher and bosses taking more hits, it’s not really that much different.

Ghosts N Goblins

Another Capcom NES game.  It’s not a very good port, though, and I was never that much into the series anyway.  One of my friends had it so we did play it quite a bit for a while.


Konami was another king of third-party games in the US.  In fact, they made so many games they had to form a second company called Ultra in order to get around Nintendo’s rules about limiting how many games a company can release in a year.  I guess Gradius is a pretty good port of the arcade game, but I was more into Life Force as a kid.  Too bad we never got Gradius 2 on the NES, that was a pretty impressive 8-bit port!

Super C

I’m not sure why the NES Classic Ediiton has Contra while the Famicom Classic has only its sequel.  I do remember both games being pretty popular, though.  I played both quite a bit at my friend’s house.  They’re tough as nails run and gun games, but still somewhat fun with a friend and the Konami code.  Impressive graphics and music, too.

Yie Ar Kung Fu

This Konami game is exclusive to the Famicom Classic.  It was originally in the arcade and was a fighting game.  I remember playing it a lot on my Apple ][+.  People credit Karate Champ as being one of the first fighting games, but I don’t know why more people don’t mention this one.  Some say it’s not a very good game, but I don’t think it’s THAT bad.  I do really like its sequel, though.  It was called Shao-Lin’s Road in Japan and Kicker in the US.  It played like a cross between Mappy, Bubble Bobble, and Kung-Fu Master.


Namco was one of Nintendo’s big third-party developers on the Famicom at first, but got frustrated with Nintendo’s rules on limiting third-party releases.  So that’s why you saw a lot of their later titles on the TG-16 and the Genesis.  This really isn’t a very good port of the arcade game, but I guess when it was released on the Famicom in 1984, it was pretty decent.  We never got it in the US until 1988 under the Tengen label and later in 1993 under the Namco brand.  So by then it was showing its age.


Aside from some missing colors, I guess this is a pretty decent port of the arcade game.  Interestingly enough, Galaga was published in the US by Bandai, which would be foretelling since Namco and Bandai have now merged.

River City Ransom

This is one of the games that’s on the Famicom Classic, but not the NES one.  Which is surprising because River City Ransom was pretty popular in the US, if I’m not mistaken.  Heck, they even made a reference to it on one of the episodes of the DuckTales reboot.  I didn’t play it much on the NES or the GBA remake because of the clunky menus, but Natsume published a reimaging of it on 3DS last year called River City Rumble that was way better.  Anyway, did you know that River City Ransom is actually a sequel of sorts to the arcade game Renegade?   In Japan, this game is not called River City Ransom, but rather Kunio-kun…Nekketsu, something or another.  I didn’t feel like remembering such a long name.  The makers of this game, Technos, published TONS of games starring Kunio, a high school dude who gets in a lot of fights, but he has a good heart and only fights to protect his friends and school.  There have been TONS of Kunio games in Japan and some have even made it to the US.  Essentially this one’s a beat ‘em up with RPG elements.  I do like how the characters look, too.

Crash and the Boys Prequel

No that’s not the name of the game, I just didn’t feel like having to remember another long Japanese title.  Anyway, this is another Kunio game from Technos.  When Kunio isn’t beating up bad guys, he likes to compete in lots of school sports.  Some of the sports games include dodgeball, soccer, hockey, and track and field events.  Some of those games even made it to the US, like Super Dodge Ball and World Cup Soccer.  One of the track and field games that came to the US was called Crash and the Boys Street Challenge.  I thought the game on this collection was that game we got, but it turns out we got the sequel to what’s on this collection.  You mostly just run races around urban settings, but you can still smack your competitors around like in River City Ransom.  Of all the Kunio sports games they could’ve had, I wish they would’ve put in Super Dodge Ball instead.  Up until Wii Sports came along, Super Dodge Ball was my all-time favorite sports video game.

Double Dragon 2

This is the last game from Technos on here.  In a way, it’s also related to the Kunio games because it was Technos’ attempt to make a Kunio style game to appeal to a western audience.  And I think they succeeded, don’t you?  I wasn’t too big into Double Dragon back then, though.  I was more into Final Fight, myself.

Ninja Gaiden

This game was super popular on the NES.  My friends and I rented it and the sequels a few times.  This was one of the first games to really implement cut scenes frequently.  There was nothing like it at the time so it was really innovative.

Solomon’s Key

Another game from Tecmo, the same folks who did Ninja Gaiden.  Even though this is only on the Famicom Classic and not the NES Classic, it was actually released in the US as well.  It’s a puzzle game where you create blocks to climb and block enemies.  It’s a super fun game, but also really hard!  There was a sequel on the NES much later called Fire N Ice.

Tsuppari Oozumou

The last game from Tecmo, this one is a Sumo wrestling game.  In the US, football is popular so we got Tecmo Bowl on the NES Classic.  But in Japan, Sumo is popular so I guess that’s why they got this.  It’s all in Japanese so I don’t know what to do, so I just mash buttons a lot.  The 8-bit Sumo guys look really funny, like little happy Stay Puft marshmallow men.

Atlantis no Nazo

Another Japan exclusive title, I think it loosely translates to “Mystery of Atlantis.”  It’s a 2-D platformer where you play as an explorer and must navigate obstacles, gather treasure, and defeat enemies with your bombs.  It’s a super hard ‘one hit and you die’ kind of game (even your own bombs can kill you), with lots of obtuse secrets.  Reminds me of super hard games like Spelunker or Super Pitfall.  Actually I’m a little surprised that Spelunker isn’t on here, as it has kind of gained a cult following in Japan.  I also read that this game was going to be released in the US under the name Super Pitfall 2.  It makes me wonder if the first game was popular enough to warrant a sequel, but since that never happened, I guess it wasn’t.  This game was published by SunSoft, by the way.

Final Fantasy 3

And the final game is Final Fantasy 3.  On the NES Classic Edition, we got the first Final Fantasy.  We never got 2 and 3 on the NES, because by the time we got the first game, those others had already been released in Japan and they were working on the fourth one!  Most of the games on this collection you can play without knowing any Japanese.  But this is not one of them!  I know we got a remake of FF3 on the DS, but it would be kind of nice to play it in its original format.  Yeah, I know, fan translation and blah blah blah, but I like to keep things legal and stuff.

And those are all the games.  It’s a neat console, but I certainly wouldn’t pay a scalper’s price for it.  Let me know what you think about all this.  Oh yeah, my good news!  Even though I didn’t get a NES Classic Edition, I DID manage to get the SNES Classic Edition for my birthday!  I’ll be sure to write a blog about that, too, in the coming weeks!  Later!  –Cary

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!