What was the Biggest NES Game Ever Made?

Posted by Steven Collier on Mar. 24th, 2016

The Nintendo Entertainment System was host to tons of epic video games. RPGs like Final Fantasy could take days (if not months) to complete. Platformers like Super Mario Bros. featured a dizzying number of worlds and enemies to overcome. And some titles like Punch-Out!! just featured some the biggest sprites ever put onto an 8-bit cartridge. However, none of these are a way to tell you how big a game actually was. In order to do that, you need to measure video games by the same standard as any other digital media: file size.

It's About the Bytes!

Big Mario stomping a Mario level

If you look at Nintendo games in terms of which one packed the most data onto its 8-bit cartridge, you'll see a clear hierarchy emerge. Towards the bottom of the list are games like Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros., titles that were released early in the NES' lifespan. And as you move up the list you'll notice that the games contained progressively more bytes of data as the Nintendo remained on the market. This is because developers were constantly learning new ways to streamline their code and fit more data into their games. So, it should come as no surprise that the biggest game for the NES was one of the last released for the system. And, what was that game? Well, the answer might surprise you.

Kirby's Adventure Devoured All Competition!

Kirby's Adventure

Weighing in at over 6 megabits, Kirby's Adventure is the biggest licensed Nintendo game ever made. To put that in perspective, the entirety of Super Mario Bros. 3 contained less than half that amount of data. Kirby's fluid sprites, massive worlds, and enormous soundtrack alone would make it a solid contender for file size. However, the game also featured a lot of digital wizardry that was cutting edge in the early 90s.

A Technical Marvel!

Kirby's Adventure gameplay

Kirby's Adventure featured Parallax Scrolling, a special program that allowed multiple backgrounds to move by at different speeds. This gave the illusion that there was actual depth to the game's 2-D backgrounds. Additionally, Kirby also featured a ton of other pseudo 3-D elements, like towers which appeared to rotate 360 degrees. This was about as advanced as NES graphics got, and what makes it all the more impressive is that Kirby did it all on a graphics chip that was considered out-dated even when it was released in 1993.
Obviously, this doesn't make Kirby the best NES game, or even the most technically complex game made for the system. But for sheer file size, there's no denying that Kirby's the biggest out there.

Kirby's Adventure cover art

Buy Kirby's Adventure - For the NES

Are you surprised that Nintendo's "tough cream puff" is the biggest game out there? Did you think the title would go to another game? I'd love for you to weigh in in the comments section.

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