When it came out in 1986, the Nintendo Entertainment System, which we now call the NES, was the best-selling video game console. Over the past thirty years, the system’s simple graphics have gone from being great to being bad to being charmingly retro. But one thing has stayed the same: it has a lot of great games.
The NES is a revolutionary platform because of games like Legend of Zelda and the first Super Mario Bros. These are the best NES games of all time, whether you’re playing them for the first time or playing them again.
Best NES Games of All Time you can Play
1. Super Mario Bros
This is the first game that everyone played. The original version of Super Mario Bros has sold a whopping 40.2 million copies, making it the best-selling Mario game of all time.
In fact, as the most popular game for the NES, Super Mario Bros. was more than just a great platformer that turned into a series. It was also the start of a new era for the video game industry as a whole. At the time, it was thought to be one of the best NES games. After the video game crash of 1983, the NES brought the struggling industry back from the brink, and Super Mario Bros. helped boost sales of the system.
2. The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda was the first game in the series to come out on a console. It had some of the most popular enemies, like Moblins, Lynels, and Darknut. It was also the source of the famous saying, “It’s dangerous to go alone. “Do this.”
If you’ve never played The Legend of Zelda, you owe it to yourself to jump in and stop Ganon from using the Triforce of Power to hurt the kingdom. When you’re exploring Hyrule for the first time, look for secrets. The game is full of them, and they’ve become a mainstay of the series.
Metroid was the first part of what would become Metroid-vanias, which are games that are made up of two parts. It’s a classic formula: you start out weak and have to explore a huge world to find more weapons and skills that will let you get to places you couldn’t before, beat bosses, and finish the game.
Samus starts with only her beam weapon, and then she finds well-known powerups like the Morph Ball and Bombs. The bosses Ridley and Kraid first showed up in the NES version of Metroid.
Castlevania is the second part of the winning Metroid-vania duo. It is a difficult platform game in which Simon Belmont searches Dracula’s Castle for the evil vampire. Even though it doesn’t have all of the same features as later games in the series, it does set the standard for the core gameplay that every game after it would follow.
The original Castlevania and Metroid can be played on the NES Classic, which is something to keep in mind. If you like Metroidvania games, you should play the first two.
5. Final Fantasy
Like many of the other games on this list, Final Fantasy for the NES was the first in a huge series. The game came out in 1987, and it started a series that people still love today.
But there is a special story behind the name. People say that Square was about to go bankrupt and that Final Fantasy was the game that saved the company. If this doesn’t work, the business will have to shut down.
That obviously didn’t happen, and now Final Fantasy is one of the best role-playing games for the NES. It has turn-based battles, different roles for each character, and a lot of things that were around long before they were.
6. Kirby’s Adventure
Kirby’s Adventure is not the first Kirby game. Instead, it is the sequel to Kirby’s Dream Land for the Game Boy. Kirby’s Adventure made many of the best parts of the first game even better and gave Kirby his signature move, which is sucking up enemies and taking their abilities.
This was also the first game to show Kirby in color, which surprised many people. No one knew he was going to be pink, especially since the first Game Boy game was only in black and white. In Kirby’s Adventure, players fight through 41 levels spread across 7 worlds.
Contra was a top-down shooter that was known for its nonstop action and brutal difficulty. It was also known for the Konami Code, which has become a classic part of video games.
For those who don’t know, the Konami Code (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A) gave players 30 extra lives to help them beat the extremely high chance of losing during an Against run. Since Contra was played the day before save states, “game over” means you have to start from the beginning.
8. Duck Hunt
The original duck hunting light gun game wouldn’t be on a list of the best NES games if it wasn’t on there. It’s easy to understand. You use the attached peripheral to aim and shoot the ducks as they fly across the screen. What’s wrong? If you mess up, a dog that is too annoying will laugh at you.
It can also be played with more than one person, which not many people know. The ducks are moved by the second controller. Obviously, light gun technology needs a CRT TV to work, so if you want to play today, you’ll need to find an older TV.
9. Mega Man
The NES was also the start of the Mega Man series, which has been going for a long time. Blue Bomber had to fight Dr. Wily and his Robot Masters in level after level of bullet-heavy platforming action. Each time a Robot Master loses a skill, that skill is the weakness of another boss.
Mega Man is easier to play if you fight enemies in the right order, but you can beat the game in any order you want. It’s a great way to try out some of the original game mechanics that are still in the Mega Man series.
Punch-Out!! has the best and most interesting characters of any sports game. In this NES classic, you play as Little Mac, a small boxer who is down on his luck but has big dreams. You fight your way through the ranks against a strange group of enemies. Boxers Glass Joe, Bald Bull, and Mr. Sandman all made their first appearances in this game. They were the first of many over-the-top and sometimes stereotypical bad guys in this series.
Punch-Out!! is a great example of how the original Nintendo could make colorful characters out of 8-bit sprites that would go on to innovate and leave behind long-lasting legacies despite their simplicity. Mike Tyson has even played this game.