The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a revolutionary video game console that was released in North America in 1985. Over the years, the NES library has become legendary, featuring some of the most iconic and beloved games of all time. Here are 10 of the top rated NES games.
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. is arguably the most iconic and beloved game in the NES library, if not in all of video game history. Released in 1985, it was a groundbreaking title that helped popularize the side-scrolling platformer genre and set the standard for all future Mario games.
The game’s plot is simple: Princess Toadstool (later known as Princess Peach) has been kidnapped by the evil Bowser, and Mario must traverse a series of levels filled with enemies and obstacles to rescue her. Along the way, he collects power-ups such as mushrooms and fire flowers, which grant him additional abilities and make it easier to defeat enemies.
Super Mario Bros. is a masterclass in game design. The levels are expertly crafted to gradually introduce new gameplay mechanics and challenges, while also providing ample opportunities for exploration and discovery. The game’s physics engine is also incredibly well-tuned, allowing for precise movement and satisfying jumps.
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda is another iconic NES game that helped define the adventure game genre. Released in 1986, it was one of the first console games to offer a non-linear, open-world experience, allowing players to explore a vast and mysterious world filled with secrets and treasures.
The game’s plot centers around the hero Link, who must collect the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom in order to rescue Princess Zelda and defeat the evil Ganon. Along the way, Link battles a variety of enemies, solves puzzles, and uncovers hidden secrets.
One of the defining features of The Legend of Zelda is its vast overworld. The game world is divided into a grid of interconnected screens, and players are free to explore this world at their own pace, discovering new items, power-ups, and hidden secrets along the way. This sense of exploration and discovery is a hallmark of the Zelda franchise, and it was first established in this NES classic.
Metroid is a classic side-scrolling action-adventure game released in 1986. Players take control of bounty hunter Samus Aran as she explores the planet Zebes, battling alien enemies and collecting power-ups along the way.
The game’s nonlinear design and secrets, such as the infamous “secret ending,” have made it a favorite of gamers for decades. The game’s influence can be seen in the popular Metroidvania genre of games that followed in its footsteps.
Mega Man 2
Mega Man 2 is often considered the best game in the Mega Man series. Released in 1988, players take control of the titular character as he battles his way through eight robot masters before facing off against the evil Dr. Wily.
The game’s tight controls and memorable soundtrack have made it a fan favorite, and it remains a benchmark for the series.
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is another classic NES game that has stood the test of time. Released in 1990, it was the third entry in the Castlevania series and introduced a number of new gameplay mechanics and features that would become staples of the franchise.
The game takes place in 1476, and follows the protagonist Trevor Belmont as he seeks to defeat Dracula and his minions. Along the way, Trevor can recruit up to three other characters – the sorceress Sypha Belnades, the rogue Grant Danasty, and the vampire Alucard – each with their own unique abilities and play styles.
One of the standout features of Castlevania III is its branching paths. At certain points in the game, players can choose to take different routes through the game world, each with its own challenges and rewards. This adds a level of replayability to the game and encourages players to experiment with different strategies and characters.
Contra is a classic run-and-gun game that was released in 1988. Players take control of soldiers Bill and Lance as they battle their way through enemy-infested levels, using a variety of weapons and power-ups along the way.
The game’s cooperative gameplay and memorable boss fights have made it a fan favorite, and it remains one of the best co-op games of all time.
Punch-Out!! is a classic NES game that has become a cult favorite among gamers. Released in 1987, it was developed by Nintendo’s R&D3 division and designed by the legendary game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto.
The game is a boxing simulator, where players take control of a young boxer named Little Mac and fight their way through a series of increasingly tough opponents. The game features a unique control scheme, with the player using the directional pad to dodge and weave around their opponents, and the buttons to throw punches and perform special moves.
One of the standout features of Punch-Out!! is its cast of colorful characters. Each opponent has their own unique personality and fighting style, and defeating them requires careful observation and quick reflexes. The game also features a number of memorable boss battles, such as the iconic fight against Mike Tyson (or Mr. Dream, in later versions of the game).
Kirby’s Adventure is a platformer that was released in 1993. Players take control of Nintendo’s lovable pink puffball as he travels through Dream Land, sucking up enemies and using their abilities to progress through levels.
The game’s colorful graphics and charming characters have made it a fan favorite, and it remains one of the best platformers of all time.
9. Ninja Gaiden
Ninja Gaiden is a classic side-scrolling action game that was released in 1988. Players take control of ninja Ryu Hayabusa as he battles his way through a series of levels, facing off against a variety of enemies and bosses.
The game’s challenging difficulty and memorable cutscenes have made it a fan favorite, and it remains one of the most iconic games of the era.
DuckTales is a classic platformer that was released in 1989. Players take control of Scrooge McDuck as he travels the world, searching for treasure and battling his way through enemies. The game’s memorable levels and catchy music have made it a fan favorite, and it remains one of the best licensed games of all time.
These 10 games represent just a small fraction of the NES library, but they are some of the most beloved and highly-rated games of all time. They have stood the test of time and continue to be enjoyed by gamers of all ages. If you are a fan of classic video games or just looking for a trip down memory lane, these games are definitely worth checking out.
There are many other great NES games that could have easily made this list. Here are some honorable mentions:
- Final Fantasy
- Dragon Warrior
- Bubble Bobble
- Super Contra
- Kid Icarus
- Bionic Commando
- Double Dragon II: The Revenge
- Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
The NES remains one of the most important and influential video game consoles of all time. Its library of games continues to be enjoyed by gamers of all ages, and many of its iconic franchises are still going strong today. Whether you are a fan of platformers, action games, adventure games, or sports games, there is something for everyone on the NES. If you have never experienced these classic games for yourself, there has never been a better time to start.