The 21 Best NES Games of All Time

Back in the early part of the 80s atari released and rushed a batch of games that left a taste sour than a nintendo switch cartridge in the mouth of consumers it was a tough time for video games but then in the year 1985 in the us and 1986 in europe nintendo went all in on a brand new home console called the nintendo entertainment system

Or ness or nes for short and it was a huge success selling over 60 million units worldwide with over 700 different games available to play some of our favorite series got their start on the nes and without it gaming wouldn’t be the same today i’m zean from nintendo life and today we’re here to celebrate the nes and all of its efforts by sharing with you the 21 best games this vcr looking system

Has to offer but the twist is that this list won’t be in any particular order and was actually curated by our readers over at so if you’ve got any complaints about the list just head on over to our site find your favorite games or any games you’ve played on the nes give them a rating and it will genuinely affect the list now of course this nes list video will be

Forever but you could change the course of future videos like our best games list for the game boy color but enough about that for now let’s see what this 8-bit home console has to offer [Music] sometimes the nes can be a bit hard to jump back to thanks to the limitations of the hardware or just for the simple fact that

This was the early days but then you have a game like mega man 2 a sequel that learned from the mistakes of its first attempt and became a timeless classic gameplay is tight and responsive levels can go by quickly and learning enemy patterns is extremely rewarding the soundtrack is still one of the best in gaming and for many this was the game that made us mega man fans for life

It’s hard to nail down which exactly is the best but you can never go wrong with mega man 2. bubble bobble was a smash hit in the arcade scene back in 1986 so much so that recently it made a cameo appearance in the san junipero episode of black mirror then a few years later after its arcade release in 1988 a port of the arcade version made its way to the nes with the same platforming

Same lovable dragons and the same bubble spewing co-op action bubble bobble on nes is easy to pick up and play but just like anything of the era it’s tough to master navigating the rows of platforms and timing your jumps carefully can get tricky when you have enemies jumping around all over the screen and in the arcades it was the perfect quarter muncher but since you couldn’t plunk more quarters into your nes for extra

Tries the game uses a password system to let you jump to later levels in the game not every arcade game managed to make a smooth jump to home consoles but bub and bob managed to float on over just fine masahiro sakurai may be best known for his role within the super smash bros series but back in the early 90s he gave us the perfectly pink puffball

Kirby and his first full color adventure landed softly on nes the overall formula for kirby hasn’t really changed much over the years you dash your way through levels while eating enemies and trying out the new powers you gain from them there’s cute boss battles and fun little mini games to break up the action too and the overall game is just a treat to look at the combat isn’t too tough but just like the original legend

Of zelda kirby’s adventure uses a battery backup to keep track of your progress so you won’t have to worry about writing down passwords to pick back up where you left off or just simply starting from scratch kirby has never really been about memorization or general skill it’s an easy to pick up and play platformer with plenty of fun to be had

And kirby’s adventure still checks both of those boxes all of these years later while the nes may have had its fair share of beat-em-ups not all of them were good teenage mutant ninja turtles 3 the manhattan project on the other hand is an excellent one a smooth and solid competitor to the arcades and the only place you can play turtle 3 is on the nes

This game may not have the pizza hut product placements like turtles 2 the arcade game on nes did but i’m not really sure if those really did pizza hut any favors in the end i love pizza but we’re ordering from somewhere else the manhattan project follows the same framework of turtles 2 arcade and while not as many have played it as it came out fairly late in the nes life it’s become well known in the community

As one of the best titles on the system each of the turtles are represented in full color and while they only have a few attacks each you can change up which one to play as whenever you lose a life and if you can manage to rope in a friend to play with you there’s no questioning the fact that you’ll have a radical time the nes features plenty of multiplayer titles but

Few offer a full-on co-op campaign like chip and dale rescue rangers does unfortunately i wasn’t able to capture any multiplayer footage for this video but you and a buddy can team up as chip and dale themselves on a mission to find a lost cat what a captivating story right thankfully though the platforming box tossing gameplay picks up some of the narrative slack this one is another tough game to master

Especially by yourself but it’ll be a lot better if you can find another local chipmunk detective to team up with [Music] even if you’re not a big fan of sports titles you can still be a huge fan of punch out there’s a lot to love with the series especially because it doesn’t really take itself too seriously sure it incorporates all the things boxing is known for

Dodging blocking punching and mike tyson but it’s more about learning the rhythm and finding the weak points of each of the dozen or so contenders on offer trial and error is the name of the game and will often have you wanting to toss in the towel but when you do finally discover the way to stop bald bowl in his tracks or knock the shorts off king hippo there’s no greater feeling punch out is one of those games that you can go back

To time and time again to discover new things or just work on your timing and regardless of which version you’re playing the duo that is little mac and doc lewis will always make sure you’re having a good time any game that gives their main protagonist a whip will instantly get them compared to the likes of castlevania

And for good reason too even to today’s standards jumping and slinging your whip at floating medusa heads at brick walls to check for chicken or at dracula himself still feels fluid back in the 80s konami took the tried and true legend of a bloodthirsty vampire implemented some new monsters and a family to hunt them all down the belmonts enemies do have a tendency

To spawn at an alarmingly evil rate but thanks to a generous checkpoint system and continues you’ll have enemy patterns and secret item locations memorized in no time are there better castlevania games sure but even if you come back to the original to see how things all started we’d be damned if you didn’t enjoy yourself on the quest to slay dracula the dragon quest series may not have

Been as well known in the us back in the day but over the years the series has gained quite the reputation and it all started on the nes the fourth entry which released in the states as dragon warrior 4 is a sprawling tale allowing you to follow the adventure of multiple characters throughout the story smash players may recognize one of hiro’s alt-skins as

Actually the main protagonist of dragon quest 4. you’ll likely have a better time playing through the remake on ds but until this game gets re-released in some capacity we wish you the best of luck trying to find either versions at a fair price the nes is ripe with movie tie-in video games you’ve got friday to the 13th karate kid cool world jaws the list goes on and on

And most of these kinds of games you won’t actually want to play as they’re pretty awful and then you have batman the video game one look at the cover and you’d think it was based more on the film of the era starring michael keaton and jack nicholson but beyond a few quotes and pixel art renditions of the film if batman wasn’t in this game it could have been anything having been

Developed by sunsoft the team behind blaster master this is a tight and responsive action platformer with unexpected boss fights unique levels and incredible music the arkham series wasn’t the first time a batman video game surprised us all and hopefully it won’t be the last the arcade versions of donkey kong and mario bros may be where everyone’s favorite mushroom munching plumber got his start

But super mario brothers is what sent his career soaring the simplistic gameplay of running and jumping on enemies and collecting coins just felt good to play and the combination of music by koji kondo and incredible world design by shigeru miyamoto and takashi tezuka really helped to elevate the overall experience there’s really not a lot we can say that hasn’t already

Been said but one thing we do know is that super mario 35 helped prove to us how timeless the overall formula is the original nes outing may be a bit dated nowadays by the likes of super mario world and other platformers but the entire history of gaming wouldn’t be the same without the first super mario brothers sometimes a game rolls around that is so painstakingly difficult that you want to toss out your console

And never think about it again and for me one of those games was life force apparently a ton of you love this game because you managed to get it in on this list though and that means i had to try playing it again life force is a spiritual successor to the gradius series it’s got tough bosses stackable power ups and a slick soundtrack sometimes it’s a horizontal

Shooter and sometimes it’s a vertical shooter life force does whatever the hell it wants one of the most unique aspects of the game though is the way in which the terrain is almost more dangerous than any enemy as it’ll morph around to stop you dead in your tracks the game also offers a really addicting risk reward system the way the game can get your heart racing while you’re blasting enemies

Navigating the ever-changing terrain and hoarding your power-ups is unlike anything else on the system the game is old-school tough but if you’re a fan of shmups and have some time to spend learning all the patterns give lifeforce a shot if you somehow haven’t already as we mentioned before for a long time pop culture video game tie-ins just downright sucked especially in the gamecube and

N64 era but on the nes if you saw that capcom logo on a cartoon game you were probably in for a good time and the original ducktales is one of those home run hits from the stellar soundtrack to the tight controls and just outright fun gameplay ducktales is a joy from start to finish and who do you think taught cranky kong to bounce on his cane like that obviously it was scrooge mcduck

Playing through the original legend of zelda nowadays isn’t really the same experience it was back in the 80s and 90s without the internet kids and adults would have to resort to swapping tips keeping handwritten notes drawing maps and or calling up the nintendo power line for help on how to get through the lost woods or how to find the most powerful sword it’s this mystery that lied within hyrule

That led this to become such a social experience what gave it so much magic in the first place the original tale of link zelda and ganon can feel a bit dated in places especially in comparison to its siblings but if you can find a buddy to play it through with you and take a classic approach to it you know share tips and stay off the internet there’s still a lot of fun that you can have with this original game

And a lot of us have this series to thank for getting us into gaming in the first place who knows what kind of gamers we’d all be now without it growing up i was more of a gun star heroes and a metal slug kid but i can’t deny the fact that contra was the king of the genre on nes there are so many reasons to make callbacks to it it was the first true side-scrolling

Running gun it gave rise to the konami code and it’s the game where the terminator and rambo teamed up to take down xenomorphs maybe that last bit is not true but one look at the cover and you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking so as far as co-op games go you can’t get a whole lot better than contra on nes the game is old school tough even with a good old konami code but if you’ve got a

Friend and each of you managed to get a hold of the trusty spreadshot those aliens won’t stand a chance [Music] mega man 2 has always been known as the general favorite of the blue bombers original adventures but mega man 3 took a lot of what made that entry so great and expanded upon it yet again we could argue all day about which one

Is better but does mega man 2 have proto man or rush the all-around best robotic pup tell me now which one is better [Music] regardless of if you’re five years old or you’re 50 ninjas are flat out cool and in the 90s tecmo nailed the feeling of slicing and dicing baddies as a wicked fast assassin in ninja gaiden on the nes and the

Sequel ninja gaiden 2 the dark sword of chaos did it best the combat is quick and snappy power-ups help keep things fresh and the metal soundtrack full of guitar sweeps is still enjoyable today the cutscenes were ahead of their time and even though more recent games like cyber shadow and the messenger have improved on the overall formula in many ways we still have ninja gaiden to thank for

Starting it all now it may not have a 99 person multiplayer mode fancy flashing lights and colors that are in tune with the beat of the music or slick nintendo backgrounds and themes but tetris on the nes is still a great way to play the classic block dropping puzzler the overall package is simple you can adjust the gameplay speed pick a difficulty level and choose one

Of three music tracks all composed by hirokazu tanaka who helped compose the soundtracks for the original metroid kid icarus super mario land and earthbound tetris had people that wouldn’t have touched a video game with a 10-foot pole in the past now playing for hours on end it was proof that anyone could pick up a controller and have fun playing video games

We may have never seen the likes of other puzzle games here in the west like dr mario puyo poyo and panel dupont without tetris ah yes the most popular franchise it’s easy to learn but hard to master now if only it was included on the nes classic my grandpa would have something else to play along with dr mario because that is all he plays even though the super nintendo released

In 1991 in the us and 92 in europe the nes was still getting a lot of great games another one of the shining gems on the system is gargoyle’s quest 2 a sequel to the original game boy outing and the precursor to demon’s crest on super nintendo you play as firebrand the red demon enemy from ghosts and goblins and combat is somewhat similar enemies will pop up right in front of your face you’ll die a

Lot but the game seems to be a bit more forgiving there’s a final fantasy style overworld that connects each level together full of npcs to chat with and items to collect the wide use of color has to be applauded as well this has to be one of the best looking games on the system if you’re out in the wild hunting for games and see this cheap on the shelf somewhere

Do yourself a favor and pick it up or nab it on the wii u eshop while you still can [Music] final fight was a major success in the arcades and on the super nintendo as well but the nes had a pretty impressive roster of beat-em-ups and capcom had to make sure their prized brawler didn’t miss the system so they released mighty final fight a

Chibi d make of sorts of the original final fight for the time it featured some impressive character sprites a solid soundtrack and most importantly smooth combat you can blitz around the screen as either cody guy or hager and as you beat up some bad dudes you’ll level up to unlock new attacks and toughen up a bit having been released fairly late in the life of the nes not many copies of

Mighty final fight were produced and people aren’t letting go of their copies either making this one of the most expensive games on the list prices are over 300 dollars just for a loose cartridge at the time of recording so it might be worth rummaging through some of your old carts to see if you’ve got some gold lying around after castlevania 2 most would have thought this vampire hunting series was cursed from then on but thankfully the

Development team went back to their roots and slapped that hex right back on dracula with castlevania 3 dracula’s curse everything about the game steps above its predecessors the visuals are more flashy than before occasionally implementing some sprite work that can give off a 3d look the music is top notch and the combat is rock solid this new adventure offers branching

Paths new characters and different endings too depending on which route you take it’s everything we could have hoped for after that original outing just when the world thought mario couldn’t get any more strange nintendo threw a new world full of frog suits flying raccoons and toad houses at us in super mario bros 3 and we absolutely love it still to this day

This was a momentous release for the company copies were flying off the shelf and since the internet wasn’t really a thing nintendo used the movie the wizard to help promote the game this is my childhood copy of the wizard on vhs i remember picking this up at our local walmart we were walking down the electronics department and i saw this movie on the shelf not knowing

Anything about it and saw mario up in the corner and i begged my grandpa for us to take it home and of course we did and i loved it at the time and you know what we eventually bought in turn as well was super mario bros 3. not only did super mario brothers 3 introduce us to the koopalings it gave us an overworld map and so much more even in the current day it’s still one

Of the best platformers out there if we had to choose one mario game to live with for the rest of our lives we’d have a tough time not picking super mario brothers 3. [Music] and there you have it the 21 best games available on the nes as voted on by you be sure to let us know in the comments down below what your favorite nes games are and if any of them made the list or if they

Didn’t and remember head on over to to vote for your favorite nes games and your favorite game boy color n64 if you have time go ahead and vote for all of your favorite games and it will affect our future lists and as always if you enjoyed this video and you want to see more content like this then why don’t you go ahead and tell that subscribe button that it is the

Very best your absolute favorite nes game by giving it a good old click and then ring that notification bell to be notified whenever we put up a new video thank you all so much for watching i’m zion from nintendo life stay safe out there and we will see you next time