What do you get when you cross a fairly iconic Marvel superhero with a game that is not only NES hard but is one of the most difficult games on the system? You get Silver Surfer for the NES, a game that combines side-scrolling shooter elements with tough-as-nails gameplay that is unforgiving from start to finish.
Now, before you get your pitchforks and start massing around the grave of LJN, this is, oddly, not one of their creations. Coming from the devs at Software Creations, Silver Surfer for the NES was published by Arcadia Systems in November 1990, arriving at the tail end of the NES’ life.
The Silver Surfer, one of the few Marvel properties to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a herald of the world eating Galactus and a man with a skin of metal and a surfboard capable of transporting him through the solar system. First appearing in The Fantastic Four number 48 in 1966, the Silver Surfer is very much a character of his time and an interesting subject for a video game.
Flying on the surfboard from which he draws his name, the gameplay of Silver Surfer hews largely towards shoot ‘em up mechanics with the perspective changing from side scrolling to top down at certain moments. Stages are divided into sections with mini bosses breaking up the action between these segments. Stages end with a boss encounter that pits the Silver Surfer against one of his traditional foes though, of this, perhaps only Mephisto and the Emperor of the Skrulls will be recognizable to modern players.
Infamous today for its difficulty, at its release the Silver Surfer received largely mixed reviews from critics. Though it employed a password system that would make the Silver Surfer invincible, among other things, the game, in its purest