Top 50 All-time NES Games That You Must Play


Because of the 1983 video game crash, several retailers and game manufacturers left the industry. Speculators and market analysts were calling video games a fad. However, Nintendo wasn’t bothered by any of this.

They released their brand new Nintendo Entertainment System right in the middle of all this chaos. The NES sold like groceries and by the late 80s, one out of every 3 homes in the United States had an NES. The main reason Nintendo succeeded where everyone else failed is their games.

Titles like Mario, Zelda, and Mega Man made Nintendo a household name. You couldn’t get these on home computers at the time. Nintendo’s NES controller was also revolutionary, popularizing the D-pad which we take for granted these days.

Plus, the NES wasn’t even marketed as a “game console”. It was deliberately called an “entertainment system” to have a better chance of selling in the North American market.

Today, I’m taking a look at the top 50 all-time NES games that you must play if you’re a Nintendo fan. Even if you aren’t a fan of Nintendo, these games are the foundation upon which our current video game industry has been built. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Super Mario Bros. 3

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D4
  • Release Date: February 12, 1990

Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the best-selling video games ever, and nobody can argue with that fact after looking at the data. With 17 million units sold, it’s the 3rd best-selling NES title ever. And for good reason too.

This game is possibly the best Super Mario Bros. title ever made, thanks to the innovative level design that constantly throws new challenges at you. Mario himself has cool new abilities like flight and can use hidden powerups stashed across the entire level.

The Legend of Zelda

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D4
  • Release Date: August 22, 1987

While Mario made platformers popular, The Legend of Zelda created what we know today as “action-adventure” games. It’s also a role-playing game, but Zelda is more about exploration and the sense of adventure than anything else. A lot of things we take for granted in the modern era of gaming were actually invented by Zelda (like dungeon maps).

Zelda revolutionized boss fight design. Tools and equipment for specific tasks are also an area in which Zelda innovated further beyond any other game of its time. But most importantly, Zelda showed us that video games are capable of telling brilliant stories. 

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Mega Man 2

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: December 29, 1987

How the Rockman team managed to create this gem of a sequel in just 4 months of crunch time is always going to be a mystery. What’s crystal clear though, is the fact that Mega Man 2 improved upon its predecessor in every conceivable way. Mega Man 2’s art design and soundtrack still hold up to this day.

Its story is a continuation of the plot from Mega Man. You’ve got the supervillain Dr. Wily once again and this time he’s built 8 super robots to fight against Mega Man. Game mechanics haven’t evolved a lot, but the presentation and level design are much more nuanced.

Metroid

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D1
  • Release Date: August 15, 1987

You see, Metroid is no ordinary platformer. You don’t stroll around leisurely, jumping over turtles and mushrooms. An advanced exoskeleton gives you cool powers, and there is a diverse range of weapons that you can unleash on hordes of enemies.

Even the level design takes a non-linear approach by forcing you to backtrack and look for alternate routes. As you progress through the game, you unlock new moves like rolling up into a ball. And the boss fights in this game will astonish you, they are brutal and require clever strategy.

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DuckTales

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: September 14, 1989

Did you watch the DuckTales animated series on TV as a kid? I still remember the theme song that played at the start of each episode. Anyways, most people tend to be cautious of licensed characters in video games because they are usually cheap cash-ins.

But DuckTales was a well-designed platformer with all the usual bells and whistles you’ve come to expect after playing Mario. You’ve got invincibility powerups, a generous timer for each level, and lots of special moves. Scrooge McDuck is well animated and can use his cane as a pogo stick to jump on enemies.

Contra

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: February 2, 1988

What can I say about Contra that hasn’t already been said of this legendary NES game? Even the kids who didn’t have a Nintendo console have heard of it. Contra is one of the earliest run and gun shooters.

Think of this game as an 80s Schwarzenegger action movie in which you wield giant guns and mercilessly mow down hordes of nameless enemies. The best part about Contra is that you can invite a friend over to your house for some 2-player co-op action. You also get power-ups for your guns like the flamethrower and rapid-fire attachments to spice things up. 

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Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos

  • Developer: Tecmo
  • Release Date: May 15, 1990

It’s the late 80s, and everyone loves to see ninjas running around throwing smoke bombs while slicing their enemies with giant swords. Tecmo capitalized on this trend pretty early with their Ninja Gaiden series of games. The 2nd game featured some very well rendered 8-bit cutscenes and exceptional combat.

You are warned, this game isn’t afraid of scaring you away with its steep learning curve and high difficulty level. There is no hand-holding or lengthy tutorial like in modern hack ‘n slash games.

Level design in Ninja Gaiden II isn’t just about visuals, but gameplay too. For instance, there is a mountain level where frozen winds will blow you in various directions. Then there’s an ice level where you can slide around.

Mega Man 3

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: November 16, 1990

In terms of narrative, Mega Man 3 doesn’t stray too far from its predecessors. You once again have 8 robot masters who must be beaten, and you can tackle each of their stages in whichever order you want. Once you beat a robot master, you can get your hands on their unique weapon.

And the weapon you acquire from one robot master is often strong against another robot master. Mega Man 3 tweaks its gameplay to keeps things interesting. You now have a slide move that lets you dodge enemy projectiles, plus a robot dog sidekick called Rush. 

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Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: September 1, 1990

The NES is home to many legendary series that got their start on this 8-bit console. Castlevania is one of those games, it’s basically an action platformer in which you fight Dracula and his legion of vampires. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse follows the same design philosophies as its predecessors but introduces a few new mechanics.

For starters, it has a very labyrinthian level design that’s not typical of any other 8-bit action platformer. You have lots of secret areas, alternate paths, and multiple playable characters. You can recruit up to 3 different companions during your adventure, they all have unique strengths and weaknesses. 

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D3
  • Release Date: October 18, 1987

This is probably the best-known fighting game for Nintendo’s NES. It features Mike Tyson as the endgame boss, he can one-hit KO you with his signature uppercut. And you play as a rookie from the Bronx who goes by the ring name “Little Mac”.

In terms of controls, things are fairly rudimentary. You get a block, duck, and dodge for defense. Your offense is comprised of a left hook, right hook, and haymaker uppercut that requires good timing to do maximum damage.

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Final Fantasy

  • Developer: Square
  • Release Date: July 12, 1990

Do you know why this game is called Final Fantasy? The developer Square was on the verge of bankruptcy and believed this would be their final game before shutting down. And it was a fantasy game, so they called it “Final Fantasy”.

Having the benefit of retrospective, we know the series was a massive hit and turned Square into THE premier developer of RPGs during the 1990s. Final Fantasy for NES established everything that would become iconic in later installments. Exceptional storytelling, masterfully crafted dungeons, a quirky cast of recruitable partners, etc. 

Bionic Commando

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: December 6, 1988

The plot for this game reads out like something from a weird sci-fi movie set in an alternate history. You are part of a super-elite team trying to track down modern-day Nazis. These Nazis have hatched an elaborate plan to revive Hitler, who apparently is a super-genius possessed with the knowledge required to create a weapon of mass destruction.

From what I know of Hitler, he certainly wasn’t a scientific guy. But anyway, this is a video game in which you shoot up waves of Nazis so who cares. It’s a lot of fun, even though you rely entirely on a grappling hook to jump and dodge incoming attacks. 

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Dragon Warrior/ Dragon Quest

  • Developer: Chunsoft
  • Release Date: August 1989

Apparently, there was some copyright dispute due to which this game had to be called Dragon Warrior in North America. It doesn’t sound as awesome as Dragon Quest, but the core gameplay and narrative are still intact. Alongside Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest defines JRPG game design.

You’ve got the classic hero character on an adventure to rescue his friends. There are dungeons filled with enemies who give you XP, and you’ve got awesome magic skills at your disposal. NPCs in villages give you quests and there are plenty of weapons/ armor upgrades to purchase.

R.C. Pro-Am

  • Developer: Rare
  • Release Date: February 10, 1988

A game in which you control extremely high-tech RC cars around intricately crafted circuits, R.C. Pro-Am is one of the earliest arcade racers for home consoles. It focuses on fun over realism, which is why there are powerups strewn all over each of the 24 race tracks. You also have obstacles to avoid, such as oil slicks.

To get into later stages, you have to beat the initial tracks which are honestly very easy compared to late-game stages. As you progress, the tracks become tougher and have more obstacles on them. Fortunately, you can also upgrade your cars by unlocking better parts that increase speed and grip.

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River City Ransom

  • Developer: Technos Japan
  • Release Date: January 1990

In Japan, this game was called “Kunio-Kun” because its main character is Kunio. I have to admit, this is one of the few cases where the North American localization team improved upon the original naming. It may seem similar to Streets of Rage because this too is a side-scrolling brawler in which you beat up gangs with martial arts.

But River City Ransom is actually a brawler/ RPG hybrid. If you’ve played the Yakuza games, you’ll understand. It has a level-up system in which you grow stronger as you beat up more bad guys.

Initially, your move set is quite limited but defeating gang members rewards you with drops. You can use these drops to purchase new moves, these give you extra damage and the ability to clear enemies faster. 

Kirby’s Adventure

  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: May 1, 1993

This one’s a bit weird. It arrived so late in the NES’s life cycle that gamers had already moved on to 16-bit systems such as the SNES/ Genesis. But you still had NES loyalists who wanted to see this system’s limits get pushed, and they were rewarded with Kirby’s Adventure.

Kirby was a breath of fresh air in the platforming genre, quite literally. He was this round pink balloon-looking character who could blow air to fly. Kirby could even eat his enemies thanks to a magical stomach that fits entire universes. 

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Tetris

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D1
  • Release Date: November 1989

It’s Tetris, any game console worth it’s salt has featured some version of this ubiquitous falling block puzzle game. Tetris is the highest-selling video game of all time (and the 4th most sold game on NES). So, what makes Tetris worth playing on the NES?

First of all, the NES introduced Tetris to the masses. Many people had never played it before because they hadn’t been to an arcade or didn’t own a home computer. Plus, the graphics and soundtrack on NES for Tetris were better than any other Tetris port of the time. 

Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: June 9, 1990

Another game featuring popular licensed characters from Disney that wasn’t ruined for a cheap cash-grab. Rescue Rangers plays really well and is a fun experience despite being an easy game to beat. It was targeted primarily at kids, but you can still load it up over 3 decades later and have some good old-fashioned platforming fun.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: February 1, 1992

With a story inspired by the original 80s cartoon, TMNT III is the best turtles game for NES. It has the 4 brothers who are all beautifully animated with decent sound effects. Most importantly, each ninja turtle has its own special move.

There is plenty of comic book and TV series trivia/ lore planted within this game which any turtle fan will immediately recognize. Plus, the bad guys are done really well. You’ve got classic villains like Bebop and Rocksteady, plus even the basic foot soldiers have good attack patterns.

Kid Icarus

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D1
  • Release Date: July 1, 1987

It’s amazing how much personality this game has despite its dated 80s graphics. It doesn’t have any cinematic cutscenes or lengthy stories. Instead, every bit of narrative is conveyed through gameplay.

Armed with a bow and arrow, your character must take down enemies and jump across platforms while collecting hearts. These hearts are used to buy upgrades. There are both side and vertical scrolling levels within each stage, along with a complementary boss fight at the end of dungeons.

Super Mario Bros. 2

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D4
  • Release Date: October 9, 1988

Originally, this wasn’t even a Mario game. There are no Goombas and the game isn’t set within the Mushroom Kingdom. It is a modified version of Doki Doki Panic and is nothing like the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2.

Why did Nintendo not give Americans the actual sequel to Super Mario Bros. ? They feared it would be too tough, that US gamers weren’t skilled enough to beat it. In this game you don’t defeat enemies by jumping on them, you ride them around.

Pressing B lets you lift the enemy you are riding, who can be tossed like a ball. Little shrubs scattered around each level can be uprooted to reveal throwables such as bombs and vegetables. Level design is more complex than the first Super Mario Bros. thanks to locked doors that require special keys. 

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D4
  • Release Date: December 1, 1988

A sequel to the insanely successful Zelda, this game had a lot of expectations to fulfill. It did so with flying colors, thanks to intuitive controls and groundbreaking combat mechanics. You could fly forward and stab downwards at the same time.

Changing Link’s position feels responsive and the puzzles are much better now. Exploration feels more rewarding compared to the first Zelda, and towns have NPCs that provide you with plenty of tips. Plus the music is awesome. 

Metal Gear

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: June 17, 1988

This game birthed a massive franchise that is now famous for its melodramatic anime storylines and socio-political themes. The original Metal Gear has a very streamlined plot. You infiltrate a secret facility and blow up a supercomputer while rescuing one of your partners.

In the Japanese version of this game, the supercomputer is replaced with a giant robot. Metal Gear is one of the earliest games to rely on stealth, at least on console platforms. You have to stay hidden, avoiding detection by security guards and surveillance cameras. 

Blades of Steel

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: December 1988

How about a hockey game with cheesy digitized voice lines and weird parody names of actual teams? And while we’re at it, let’s include a game mechanic which lets you punch other players in the hockey rink. Pretty cool, right?

Blades of Steel is precisely the 8-bit corny sports game you’d expect from this era. It’s fun though, thanks to the fast pacing and streamlined controls. Plus, you can send your rivals into the penalty box by beating them up (why are losers penalized instead of winners?).

Mega Man

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: December 29, 1987

The story for this game sounds like something out of an animated kids TV series. We are living in a futuristic world where robots are extremely advanced, they are used for all sorts of things from combat to housekeeping. An evil scientist who wants to rule the world has reprogrammed 6 super robots to do his bidding.

The original creator of these robots is disgusted by the actions of his adversary and repurposes his housekeeping robot into a fighting model called Mega Man. Unlike early platformers, Mega Man relies primarily on ranged combat through the use of an arm cannon. And if you beat a boss, you absorb their powers.

Baseball Stars

  • Developer: SNK
  • Release Date: July 1989

Most sports games of the 80s were simply baiting sports fans to spend cash on recognizable names. Most of these games didn’t even bother with licensing and used cheaply made copies of actual teams/ players. Baseball Stars is different though, the developers put a lot of work into making sure it was fun.

First of all, the graphics- they look excellent for an 8-bit game featuring so many characters on the screen at the same time. Then there are the multiple game modes- league, exhibition, and create a player. You can sign up players, fire them, and do whatever you want with your own team.  

Bubble Bobble

  • Developer: Taito
  • Release Date: November 7, 1988

It may not seem very interesting if you look at the story. Because essentially, you’ve got two dinosaurs trying to rescue their friends from the clutches of an evil scientist. And these dinosaurs plan to do so… by blowing bubbles.

Yeah, I know- it doesn’t seem very exciting. But the gameplay is where Bubble Bobble shines. There are over 100 levels, each made from just one screen.

Each level has platforms arranged to form words or other patterns, with enemies located in certain spots. You can blow bubbles to trap the enemies, then you must run into them to pop the bubble and eliminate these baddies. Special powerups will occasionally float across your screen.

Fire ‘n Ice

  • Developer: Tecmo
  • Release Date: March 11, 1993

Known as Solomon’s Key 2 in Japan, this is a block smashing puzzle game. You’ve got various stages, each made up of one puzzle screen. There is a bunch of blocks arranged on each screen and fire (or multiple fires) burning somewhere inside.

You have to extinguish these fires by rearranging the blocks in such a way that they fall on the flame. You can drop ice blocks on the fire or create new blocks with your wand. Blocks can only be created or moved in diagonal patterns. 

Battletoads & Double Dragon

  • Developer: Rare
  • Release Date: June 1993

One of the earliest team-up games, Battletoads & Double Dragon features the main characters from two popular beats ‘em ups. The game uses elements from both Battletoads and Double Dragon, but most features are taken from Battletoads. The health system and controls are from Battletoads while boss fights are taken from Double Dragon.

The original Battletoads made it extremely easy for you to damage your ally with friendly fire in co-op mode. In this crossover, you can toggle that option on or off. Each level has its own gimmicks and is split into multiple sections for extra variety in gameplay. 

Adventure Island II

  • Developer: Now Production
  • Release Date: February 1991

The first Adventure Island was basically a reskinned Wonder Boy. This one is based on similar mechanics but has quite a few additions to differentiate it from the original. For instance, you can now ride dinosaurs which increase your hit points and give you bonus attacks.

A lot of the original mechanics carry over. You run from left to right, collecting fruits to replenish energy. And you can use skateboards to travel faster at the expense of control.

Batman: The Video Game

  • Developer: Sunsoft
  • Release Date: February 13, 1990

Comic book movies were around in the 80s, just not as popular. Like the Tim Burton Batman movie, starring Jack Nicholson as Joker and Michael Keaton as Batman. This game came out shortly after that movie and features a lot of the same plot points.

It’s also notoriously difficult because you have to kill (oops, knock out because Batman never kills) a bunch of enemies. And if you fall by missing a jump, you start over from the beginning. You can climb walls and jump across gaps, with access to batarangs and a gun.

Life Force

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: August 26, 1988

In Japan, a spinoff of the famous Gradius game was released. It was called Salamander and had vertically scrolling stages in tandem with the original horizontally scrolling ones. Plus, there was now a 2-player co-op mode.

Salamander was renamed “Life Force” for a US release. And it had a more streamlined powerup system compared to Gradius with everything from speed boosters to shields and missiles. The animations were excellent and there was a lot of graphical detail put into each ship model. 

Super C

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: April 23, 1990

It is the American title for Super Contra, and no- this is not a SNES version of Contra. It’s like Contra, but faster and better. Think of it as something between Contra and Contra III.

The flamethrower in this game works differently from the original. Instead of spitting out a line of swirling flames, it shoots balls of explosive fire. Also, Super C introduced the birds-eye perspective to Contra games which would later be used in Contra III.

Faxanadu

  • Developer: Hudson Soft
  • Release Date: August 1989

Despite the weird name, this is actually a very enjoyable RPG. One of the earliest side-scrolling role-playing games, Faxanadu puts you in the shoes of a nameless elf. You left your home to go on an adventure.

And upon returning you find that evil alien forces have taken over what used to be a peaceful homeland. The levels in Faxanadu are all interconnected and you get a real sense of adventure as you walk around exploring new areas. There are no traditional level-ups but you buy new weapons and armor as you visit new towns.

Micro Machines

  • Developer: Codemasters
  • Release Date: 1991

A twist on the boring and often unimaginative racing games of the 80s. Instead of driving an F1 car or MotoGP bike, you’re put in the seat of little miniatures that drive around in houses. Racing tracks are made from tea tables, sandboxes, school desks, etc.

And instead of the same boring cars, you have a ton of variety. You can drive hatchbacks, helicopters, boats, jeeps, F1 cars, etc. There are 21 tracks in total, and up to 4 people racing at the same time on one screen.

Gradius

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: December 13, 1986

It’s one of the most popular shoot ‘em up games of all time and spawned many sequels, knock-offs, etc. Back when Gradius was released, the NES didn’t have a whole lot of shooters in its arsenal. And this was no ordinary shooter either, it had spaceships and all sorts of cool alien bosses.

Gradius spiced things up by introducing power-ups which differentiated it from other space shooters of the time. Combined with the good pacing and intuitive controls, Gradius managed to sell extremely well. 

Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll

  • Developer: Rare
  • Release Date: July 1990

Rare is known for producing games based on weird concepts. And this game is one of the weirdest things available on NES. You play as Rattle and Roll; they are snakes without a body (jut heads).

To get their bodies you have to eat these tiny colored balls that are trying to get up a massive mountain. These balls can fly, roll, swim, and run. The levels are filled with waterfalls and plants, there are plenty of colors on screen when you play this game. 

Battletoads

  • Developer: Rare
  • Release Date: June 1, 1991

Imagine Mario fighting off turtles and eating mushrooms to save his princess from a castle. Now replace this familiar Italian plumber with 3 giant toads who look like bodybuilders. They are trying to rescue their girlfriend who has been kidnapped by an evil queen with magic powers.

No, these are not Ninja Turtles even though they look suspiciously similar. They are toads and they mostly rely on unarmed combat, unlike the ninja turtles. You can unleash flying headbutts and toss enemies, plus there’s a super punch that comes after 5 normal punches. 

Jackal

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: September 18, 1988

Think of Jackal as Metal Gear’s less popular brother, minus some of the espionage and stealth mechanics. Replacing said stealth mechanics is action, lots of it. You have a plot that resembles Metal Gear’s story- one elite operative sent into enemy territory so he can rescue his comrade.

But this time you’re driving around in a jeep, and you’re armed with two devasting mounted weapons. One is the machine gun. The other is a missile launcher. 

Dragon Warrior IV

  • Developer: Chunsoft
  • Release Date: October 1992

Once again, this is Dragon Quest IV renamed for an American market. And it has a lot of upgrades compared to the first Dragon Quest game. For starters, this Dragon Quest game placed much more emphasis on storytelling.

Right from the beginning, it puts you in the shoes of totally different characters by switching between them at a breakneck pace. It tells multiple stories at the same time from different perspectives. You also have much more side quests and gear compared to previous installments of this game.

Crystallis

  • Developer: SNK
  • Release Date: July 1990

Crystallis is set in a world where technological advancement went awry, causing everyone to fall back on magic. Your character wakes up from deep cryogenic slumber to find himself in a world that’s totally different from where he left it. Your goal is to find 4 weapons from 4 different magicians and combine all of them into Crystallis.

The blade Crystallis is the ultimate magical weapon, capable of putting a stop to any technological threat. Each of the components for Crystallis has a unique elemental connection. There is fire, water, thunder, and wind. 

Kid Niki: Radical Ninja

  • Developer: Irem
  • Release Date: November 1987

A game with clumsy animations and crude graphics, it’s another run-of-the-mill platformer. But the presentation is what makes it stand out. Your villains aren’t walking mushrooms or monotone robots.

You’ve got bosses who attack you with their flatulence, mountain-shaped creatures who flip you off, and crossdressing maniacs. Quirkiness and shock-value are what this game relies on to impress players. 

Metal Storm

  • Developer: Tamtex
  • Release Date: February 1991

In the distant future, humans have invented faster than light travel. We have colonized huge portions of the galaxy. However, this also means getting into battles with hostile alien races who are capturing our planets.

And humanity’s answer to these evil aliens is a lone warrior piloting an advanced mech. Like most side-scrolling shooters, Metal Storm lets you jump and shoot (there are various weapon upgrades too). But what makes it really unique is your ability to reverse gravity so you can walk on ceilings.

Vice: Project Doom

  • Developer: Aicom
  • Release Date: November 15, 1991

Another game set in a sci-fi futuristic universe, you uncover a plot by aliens to take over the world. They are running a corporation that manufactures super-advanced weapons but in reality, they want to mutate humans. You try to stop them by mowing down endless hordes of bad guys with an assortment of increasingly violent weaponry.

Some cutscenes flesh out the story and provide mission information. You are armed with a laser whip, .44 magnum, and grenades. Most of the game is platforming, but two stages put you behind the wheels of a Ferrari for some racing action.

Blaster Master

  • Developer: Sunsoft
  • Release Date: November 30, 1988

Unlike any other 8-bit platformer of its time, Blaster Master offers an insanely high level of diversity in gameplay. You can walk around shooting up enemies or drive your armored vehicle and use its mounted weapons to obliterate everything. Defeating bosses in each stage gives you power-ups that allow your vehicle to advance into the next stage.

The game even lets you switch from a side-scroller perspective to an overhead view. Even the weapon selection is varied. You have an energy blaster, grenades, missile launchers, etc. 

StarTropics

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D3
  • Release Date: December 1, 1990

It’s like Zelda, but instead of Link the elf you play as an American teenager who’s searching for his meteorologist uncle on an island. Instead of random encounters, you walk around interacting with NPCs who give you clues on where your uncle went. Eventually, you end up in dungeons where you will fight large groups of enemies.

And the protagonist of this game is more mobile compared to Link. This lets you jump across gaps, avoiding enemy encounters. Instead of a sword, your weapon is a yo-yo which can be upgraded to do more damage. 

Klax

  • Developer: Atari Games
  • Release Date: June 4, 1990

It seems like a Tetris clone at first, but once you look deeper the differences begin to show. Instead of boring blocks falling into a bin, Klax features an outer space backdrop with a spaceship in the foreground. The main menu even takes you to a minigame that’s similar to Pong.

In Klax you stack colored rectangles, 3 in a row of the same type to make them disappear. These rectangles come in on a conveyor belt, and they fall into a ramp which lets you get a good look at them. You have a platform that can be controlled to change where each rectangle drops.

Galaga

  • Developer: Namco
  • Release Date: September 1988

The original Galaga was a smash hit on arcades, and this NES port is almost arcade-perfect. Galaga is a vertical scrolling space shooter in which you use a fighter to blast waves of incoming enemies. Most enemies dive bomb you while flying in predictable patterns.

Some enemies deviate from the pre-established patterns, and each progressive level keeps ramping up the difficulty. If your ship gets captured, you have to blow up the prison where’s being held. If you manage to free your previous ship it will combine with your existing one to double the firepower. 

Fester’s Quest

  • Developer: Sunsoft
  • Release Date: October 1989

This game is based on characters from a 1960s sitcom (The Addams Family). You play as Uncle Fester and walk around inside 2D mazes collecting powerups to defeat alien invaders. These powerups are random objects like light bulbs, keys, dynamite, etc.

With a top-down view, you have a clear idea of what’s going on in your immediate surroundings. You start out with a basic gun which can be upgraded to shoot boomerangs and spray patterns. 

Duck Hunt

  • Developer: Nintendo R&D1
  • Release Date: October 18, 1985

It’s a game about shooting down ducks while your trusty dog picks them up as you drop them from the sky. To play this game you need the Light Gun, a special accessory for the NES that lets you point and shoot at objects on a TV screen. It plugs into a regular controller slot.

In Duck Hunt, you can vary the difficulty by choosing how many ducks fly out from the bushes at the same time. There’s also clay shooting in which you fire at clay frisbees. As you go higher up in levels, the ducks will start to become faster and move in more randomized patterns.

Conclusion

If I told you that the NES single-handedly saved America’s video game market and revolutionized console gaming forever, you’d probably consider it a hyperbolic statement. But allow me to explain by taking you back into the early 1980s. This was a time when video game cartridges were a relatively new concept, which meant you weren’t limited to preinstalled games.

You could buy a game system or home computer and get cartridges for it separately, each containing one or more games. As a result, dozens of video game developers and publishers started to spring out of the woodwork. The video game market became saturated with cheaply designed games and consoles since everyone was looking to make a quick buck by hopping on the cartridge trend.

As a result of declining quality standards and a lack of creativity, buyers eventually lost interest in game consoles. Plus, home computers were starting to gain popularity so many went and bought one of those instead of a console. In just a couple of years, the video game industry lost 97% of its value resulting in the now-infamous video game crash of 1983.

Nintendo’s NES saved the American video game market by introducing a product that everyone wanted. It made people want to play games again during a time when people had lost all hope in gaming. For that reason alone, the NES is the most important video game console of all time.

If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Gaming board.

Jacob

As long as I can remember myself I always enjoyed video games. I had amazing moments playing them and that's why I became a game developer, to create amazing experiences for the players. Read More About Me

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