Often called the machine that resurrected a dead industry, the NES was the uncontested winner of its generation. Even though its main competitor, Sega's Master System, had better specs, the NES had a much wider game library, thanks to colossal third party support. Of course, if you lived in Europe, feel free to remember things a bit differently: it didn't get as much traction there, trailing not only the Master System, but a variety of home computers.
In July of 2016, Nintendo announced the NES Classic Mini and released it on November that same year. However, the damn thing sold out very quickly, and scalpers sold them at higher prices, which pissed off a lot of people. And to make matters worse, it was discontinued many months later. Whether you think it was retarded or a deception motivated by a "supply-and-demand" scheme is up to you, but needless to say, it was announced that Nintendo would be restocking the NES Classic sometime around 2018. Either way, its a collector's item at best, and purists have argued that the NES Classic's short cable lengths, small library, and emulation leaves much to be desired, though if you're looking to getting into the NES library, the NES Classic Mini is a good starting point. (Video
The US and PAL versions has a design flaw within its front-loader, where the connector pins wear out through repeated usages (read here for more details). It also has that 10NES lockout chip that prevent unlicensed and foreign games to be played. It was made because Atari "gave too much freedom to third-party developers and their [sic] market was swamped with rubbish games", even though people have found ways to circumvent it, making it all for naught. It also caused the blinking red power light effect, in which the system appears to turn itself on and off repeatedly. This is caused by the connectors being dirty and bent due to age. Both of these issues makes maintaining the NES a pain-in-the-ass.
In 1993, Nintendo released the NES-101, known simply as "the top-loader". It was fashioned to look more like its successor, the Super Nintendo, and not only that, but it also eliminated many of the issues of the original design. Without the 10NES, Americans can play PAL region games, although some games will either glitch or not play at all. However, it has its own faults, namely the fact that it doesn't have an A/V output, but instead a R/F output, so no RGB output. It also displays faint vertical "jailbar" lines across the screen, which is annoying.
You can find repairs online, and even replace the NES's PPU module with mods for RGB/HDMI output (see here). But if you really don't want to go through all that just to play some NES games, keep reading.
If you're looking for NES clones that can be played in HD, consider looking at FPGA-based hardware such as the AVS by retroUSB and the Analogue Nt mini. While the Nt mini is more premium than the AVS, it makes up for it by have more output options (HDMI, RGB, Component, S-Video, and Composite), light gun support, and the ability to jailbreak the system to play more than just NES games via SD card.
For portability, check out the Nintendo 3DS' Virtual Console. It's the NES library is kind of limited, but if you have it modded, you can inject other NES games or romhacked versions to make up for it. It's also the only official way to playing NES games on the go for the time being (since you can only play NES games on the Switch with an online connection). But if you don't want to do that, or if you don't have a 3DS and just want to play from retail cartridges, then check out the NES Portable System or the RetroDuo Portable, though be aware that the build quality for both are kinda shoddy and have crappy sound quality.
For flashcarts, the EverDrives are the only things worth mentioning, with the choices between the NES and Famicom versions. Well, there's also retroUSB's NES PowerPak, but it hasn't been updated in years, meaning compatibility is not as impressive, and it uses Compact Flash cards instead. Not to mention it costs 20 dollars more, thus making the Everdrive NES/Famicom the better option.
Romhacks and translations can be found at romhacking.net under the relevant sections. Although you might luck out and find a pre-patched translated Rom image along with the original versions if you don't know how to correctly patch a rom.
For better organization, Japan-only titles are kept in a separate list.
The NES List
|1943: The Battle of Midway||Shooter||An excellent Capcom shmup that's fairly easy on beginners to the genre, but still proves to be a worthy challenge after a few stages. Unlike the arcade game, you upgrade your weapons and energy permanently over time. WWII themed, of course, except for the lasers.|
|David Crane's A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia||Platformer / puzzle||One of the oft-forgot classics of the NES, A Boy and His Blob is a cute, imaginative tale about a boy who meets an alien blob. The boy is a very normal boy, but the Blob has the ability to change into many different objects with the simple act of feeding him a jelly bean. Each flavor of jelly bean turns the Blob into a different object, which solves many obstacles and puzzles in very fun and interesting ways. The game can be a bit hard, but it leaves a really good feeling when you finish. Definitely recommended. The sequel on Gameboy arguably improves gameplay, and the reimagining on Wii is one of its generation's best platformers.|
|Abadox: The Deadly Inner War||Shooter||Fuck yeah, Abadox! Natsume was really good at making NES action games, and Abadox is a great example.You're Second Lieutenant Nazal, a badass in a mech that has to defeat the entire planet of Abadox, a world that was infected by an alien species called Parasitis and became a living entity of evil. WAIT WAIT WAIT, before you say anything, yes the concept is ripped straight from Life Force, but you know what? Abadox did it better! Seriously! Good old shmuppin' action with awesome 8-bit graphics and sound, plus both horizontal scrolling levels as well as vertical levels that scroll DOWN, plus tighter controls and a more consistent theme.|
|Astérix (Exclusive to Europe)||Platformer||A rather unknown PAL exclusive based on the cult favorite European comic book series. One of those typical but good, short, rather easy and fun platformers like you would find many on the system. Not an extraordinary game but good for some short and simple fun. Don't forget to set your emulator to PAL!|
|Hudson's Adventure Island||Platformer||Control Master Higgins and kill some beasties. This is a classic platformer series, and pretty much every entry is good and follows/improves this sort of formula: Find weapons, eat to live, and even shred through stages on a skateboard. This one in particular is a quite tough though, since control takes some getting used to and later stages are absolutely BRUTAL. Be sure to find Hachisuke (the Hudson mascot bee) to let you continue after a game over! Totally not a reskinned version of Wonder Boy.|
|Adventure Island II||Platformer||Even more Adventure Island goodness. Introduces dinosaur buddies to utilize, each of which have different skills. Stages are less lengthy, but greater in number, which makes it easier to continue after dying. Hachisuke is no longer needed to be found, either. As a big step up from the first, there's no excuse not to have it.|
|Adventure Island 3||Platformer||This one lacks the arcade-ish quality of the first two, but it becomes better for it. The best one of the three NES platformers. Levels are more fleshed out and bosses a bit tougher.|
|Adventures of Lolo||Puzzle||A classic puzzle game. Push blocks around and get to the exit. Of course, it's not nearly as simple as that, which is why the series became well-loved. Prepare to be stumped and trapped in later levels.|
|Adventures of Lolo 2||Puzzle||Pretty much the same thing as its predecessor, but with new levels.|
|Adventures of Lolo 3||Puzzle||Pretty much the same thing as its predecessors, but with newer levels.|
|Barker Bill's Trick Shooting||Light Gun||Got a Zapper? Want something a little more substantial than Duck Hunt or Hogan's Alley? This rather unknown Nintendo-developed light gun game has 3 distinct shooting games and 3 mini-games. Good graphics, bunnygirl, plus a cameo appearance of the Duck Hunt dog whom you can shoot!**(You lose a life, but the dog had it coming.)|
|Cyber Stadium Series: Base Wars||Sports||I feel like games are supposed to be about exploring things you couldn't do in real life, so I don't really enjoy sports games. Base Wars is something else entirely though. It's baseball, but with robots! ROBOTS! There are different types of robots and you can even upgrade them with different parts, like shoulders to hit balls into motherfucking space, catching mitts that attract the ball, stronger arm cannons for pitching that can control the ball, ect. and even an assortment of weapons like a katana or laser gun.
Wait, weapons? Yeah weapons, Whenever a player is "tagged" you have to beat the living shit out of each other to see who gets the call. You can even cause a forfeit if you can manage to kill three of their players.
This game is crazy hard against a computer opponent though, but it's a lot of fun with a friend.
|Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril||Platformer||An NES game that was released in 2009!? Go figure. It's homebrewed, but it has a legit cartridge. This game is a take on the game, "I Wanna Be The Guy!" It even has the same sprite. The only difference is that it is more Metroidvania like and you get power-ups. Not quite as hard as IWBTG, but still rather difficult.|
|Battle Kid 2: Mountain of Torment||Platformer||The sequel to the homebrew released 3 years later. It happens to be bigger, better, and even more teeth grinding hard than the original.|
|Battletoads-Double Dragon||Beat 'em up||Two awesome forces combine to go past mere awesomeness. The three 'Toads are finally reunited and get help from the brothers
|Batman: The Video Game||Platformer||A very challenging Sunsoft platformer based around the 1989 Batman movie. Excellent graphics and art direction especially for 1989. Includes a walljump that you WILL need to master. Feels Ninja Gaiden-ish, but make no mistake, it is one of the better games in that 'genre'.|
|Batman: Return of the Joker||Platformer||Batman sheds his ninja skills from the first game in favor of FIREPOWER. The game is notably more frustrating due to many beginners' traps and seemingly-unavoidable hits. Minor gripes aside, this is one of the most visually and audibly impressive titles on the NES, and never stops being dark or full of action. This game was ported to the Sega Mega Drive and SNES (although canceled before release), but those versions are inferior due to being unrefined and playing worse than the NES somehow.|
|Batman Returns||Beat 'em up||Rather than a platformer, this is a beat-em-up closer in style and gameplay to the TMNT games. And that's no coincidence, because both are by Konami. Once again, the visuals and audio are really impressive for the system, and it's just as dark and stylish as a good Batman game should be. There's a version for SNES by the same devs which is also pretty good, though it's a different game. Stay away from any of the others.|
|Bionic Commando||Platformer||Fantastic platformer in which you are unable to jump and must instead rely on your TOTALLY AWESOME BIONIC ARM to navigate levels. It's like an entire game of using a really primitive Worms grappling hook. Basic level up system, multiple weapons, kill Nazis, etc. Has an infamous cutscene where Adolf Hitler's head fucking explodes. Bionic Commando Rearmed is an epic remake for most modern consoles and PC, and channels the original in fantastic new HD graphics, great 3D models, and balls-to-the-wall attitude. However, playing the original is always suggested before taking on the remake, just to see the evolution.|
|Blaster Master||Platformer||Another Sunsoft game, Blaster Master has you drive a tank in search of your pet frog, fuck yeah. Very open-ended and difficult, combines driving stages with exploring on foot AND platforming and overhead action. Its biggest flaw is the lack of a password or save system; you get 3 lives, and once those are gone you then have 5 continues. Once those continues are gone, you have to restart the entire game. Had a remix on GBC, a spiritual successor on WiiWare, and a remake for the Switch and 3DS, all of which kick ass. The other BM entries? Uh... not so much.|
|Blades of Steel||Sports||A Konami Ice-hockey game that isn't so much about the hockey as it is about FIGHTING and PUNCHING PEOPLE TO THE FACE. Endless fun.|
|Bubble Bobble||Platformer / puzzle||You're a dragon, you shoot bubbles out of your mouth which trap enemies. Stomp on bubbled enemies to turn them into food or items. This makes no fucking sense. Also, good multiplayer puzzlan. Preferred over Halo by 6/10 gamers. Spawned a variety of sequels and spinoffs|
|Bucky O'Hare||Platformer||Based on the comic and cartoon series. A Mega Man-esque game by Konami, this game is surprisingly solid. You can switch between characters and utilize their abilities. The arcade game is a beat 'em up, but also made by Konami. Give both a shot, whether you know of the source material or not (The comic is better though).|
|Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, The||Platformer||Bugs has a sweet birthday shindig to get to, but carrot-shaped bricks, walking hammers, and his asshole friends are in his way. Deep shit, man. This rather lame sounding Kemco title is surprisingly solid, with a solid 22 levels with bosses and some pretty decent platforming, and mallet-swinging action. Not to be confused with the Crazy Castle games.|
|Cabal||Shooter||A great co-op game to play with your buddy straight from the arcade! Game has lost some of it's visual marvels during this trip from the arcade machine, but hey, gameplay is all the same. It's a combination of rail shooter and character model. You shoot you enemies and dodge bullets from the 3rd person perspective. After you've killed all enemies you proceed on the next screen until the end. Very innovative gameplay for it's time. Inspired many similar games, such as Nam-1975 and Wild Guns.|
|Castlevania||Platformer||The first in a line of many, many games has you, Simon Belmont, take on Dracula to fulfill your legacy. Whippan gaems. It is extremely difficult. The Japanese version was created for the Famicom Disk System and features three save files, with a Famicom cartridge release five years later. The Famicom cart has a selectable easy difficulty not included in any other release. This game is cash; it is required playing if you own an NES/emulator.|
|Castlevania II: Simon's Quest||Action-adventure||Often considered the "black sheep" of the series, Castlevania's sequel relates more to Zelda II's style of gameplay. Unexplained requirements to proceed through key areas and (intentionally) lying townsfolk often deter a player from progress. The game still carries the addictive action, music, and scenery of the Castlevania name and is worth a playthrough - even if it means opening a player's guide occasionally. A redacted version that fixes most of the dialog problems can be found here.|
|Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse||Platformer||An overall improvement on the first game. Multiple paths and characters, as well as some seriously experimental music. It is also extremely difficult. The Japanese version had a special sound chip that enabled higher-quality audio, and was overall easier than the American version. If the thought of dealing with moon runes on a few screens scares you, there's even a fan translation of it that brings the best aspects of the Japanese game into English.|
|Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers||Platformer||Fuck yeah, Chip 'n Dale, good little platformer. Great for co-op. Based on the series (obviously), and features its antagonists as bosses and enemies.
|Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2||Platformer||More of the above but with greater artwork, greater boss battles, darker atmosphere and whatnot. Not as great for co-op as the first.|
|Clash at Demonhead||Platformer||Vic Tokai, makers of this game, weren't really known for putting out "great" games (because most were hard to the point of ridiculousness). In fact, their gaming division was eventually shutdown. However, a few of these games remain real classics with great gameplay, and Clash at Demonhead is one of them. As a solid action platformer with great gameplay, plenty of powers to get, and some anime influence, it's one of the system's overlooked classics.|
|Cobra Triangle||Racing / shooter||Another great game by Rare. You control a speed boat which can fly, shoot, fire missiles and wreck havoc all around. Your goal in this game vary from level to level. There are racing missions, collect bonus stages, protect people levels, etc. So you won't find yourself bored by this game.|
|Platformer||The ultimate in run 'n gun gaming, Contra is hard. Good hard. Use your twitch reflexes and spread gun to prevent that asshole Red Falcon from taking over the world. Great for co-op. Released as Probotector in PAL territories, where characters are hilariously replaced as robots. This became a canon(!) in-joke for years to come. The Japanese version actually had better graphics (animated backgrounds, cutscenes, etc) than the Western releases.|
|Cowboy Kid||Platformer||Plays like the early Ganbare Goemon games, but in the Ol' West, pardner. A second player can help simultaneously as your Native American brother-in-arms. Choose stages in any order after being deputized, but you find your gun/boomerang in stage 2 (infinite ammo) and 3rd weapon in stage 5. There's gambling and mini-games in towns to pile on cash, along with hotels and general stores to get life-refill and power-ups (buy vests and meat ASAP!), a few platforming and horse-riding segments and some bird's eye mini-"dungeons". Bosses can be a little challenging, but still fun to fight.
3 lives off the bat, but you have instant respawn and infinite continues. 5 stars collected nets an extra total heart. Negatives include hitboxes being a bit weird (but easy to figure out), being a bit repetitive early on, and lacking Goemon's zany humor but past that, it's a surprisingly good homage/rip-off of Goemon's early years.
|Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge||Sports||Track and Field: Hardass Edition. Involves marathon running and swimming, fight contests, building hopping, and hammer toss golf. Hope you've got fast fingers. Play with another person, because the CPU is a cheating asshole. Has a DS spiritual sequel: River City Super Sports Challenge.|
|Crystalis||Action-RPG||This is basically SNK's attempt at a Zelda clone, and somehow, they did fucking better (SNK not making a fighter or run 'n gun?). A really fun game that plays like Zelda, but faster and your hero levels up like in an RPG. The game should last you a while; it's definitely one of the better games on the console. There's a GBC port, but it sucks dick. A retranslation for the Japanese version, which has a slightly different explanation for the backstory (Japanese has God lashing out against scientists who were playing God, the English version has it be a great war instead) Get it here.|
|Darkwing Duck||Platformer||Another classic Disney title made by Capcom. While not as famous as Duck Tales or Chip'n'Dales, it's still a fucking great game. It's also more challenging than those. It kinda plays like Mega Man except with slightly more platforming involved and it's a bit more linear in boss fights.|
|Defender of the Crown||Strategy||Most of the game is based on a classic strategy game gameplay but you also have some knight tournament and other such events which are rather unique.|
|Déjà Vu||Adventure||A point and click adventure game. Revolves around clearing your alibi after being set up for a murder you didn't do. Kick ass film noir style, although not without humor as you can be eaten by crocs living in sewers (!) among other humorous game-overs. Has a sequel available on other systems, and that one's packed with this one on GBC.|
|Destiny of an Emperor||RPG||Based on a graphic novel of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Mixes Dragon Quest and Dynasty Warriors. Journey across the vast land of China, go through towns, caves, and tunnels, and fight enemy warlords in open areas, forts, and castles. You can also recruit over 100 generals to your side, through show of force and/or bribery. There's quite a bit to see, do, and even miss out on, so use this handy website. Has a japan-only sequel below, however it does have a full translation patch. Both are badass and worth playing.|
|Die Hard||Action-adventure||Despite what a certain nerd might think, this was a pretty innovative game for its time. It's like an early version of Hotline Miami with a top-down perspective, lots of floors, lots of enemies, and lots of bullets. Enemies die with only a few shots, but it still demands fast reaction time for you not to get your ass kicked. It also follows the movie pretty closely, and as far as movie-based games on NES go, you can do a lot worse. The biggest issue is that the graphics suck, but there's a hack that makes the visuals much better, and also makes the difficulty a bit more fair. Get it here.|
|Double Dragon||Beat 'em up||Classic beat 'em up game, street punks have taken your girlfriend and it's up to you, Billy Lee, to teach them a lesson. If you like spin-kicking chicks with chains, sparring with giant bald men, and arrows telling you when and where to "Go!", this game is for you. A hack that changes the graphics to be a bit more like the arcade can be found here.|
|Double Dragon II: The Revenge||Beat 'em up||Superior to the first game because of the epic Co-Op play. Snatch up a buddy and rid the streets of crime, martial arts style. Has an odd button choice where you can hit in-front of or behind you, but you'll get used to it soon enough. If you can't get the hack that fixes it here.
Double Dragon III is nearly unplayable by itself, but there exists a hack that makes the game easier and adds Jimmy as a playable character. Be warned, though: it makes the difficulty a joke.
|Dr. Mario||Puzzle||Mario Cures Cancer. Create combinations of colored pills to make viruses explode, similar to Puyo Puyo, but more Chill (and Fever). The 2-player game develops into an exciting race for the last virus. (DISCLAIMER: Mario is not a real doctor. Do not let him touch you in a way or in a place that makes you feel uncomfortable.)|
|Dragon Warrior IV||RPG||You control different characters in different chapters, and they all band together in the last (which is longer than all the others combined). Has a great DS remake, but some people also like this version, some even find it superior. You may feel differently, but give it a try. For an NES game, it is pretty damn impressive (to say the least) and there's a handful of differences to warrant playing both versions. For extra nostalgia, consider using the official guide, found as a .pdf HERE.
The other NES DWs aren't listed here, as the remix variants on GBC and SFC provide a fairer and generally improved experience.
|Duck Hunt||Gun game||If you had the Zapper, you likely had this too. Also on a 2-in-1 cart with Super Mario Bros. Player 2 controls the ducks.|
|DuckTales||Platformer||A cartoon game that felt Capcom's love. They had a knack for producing good licensed titles, and this is one of them. You are Scrooge McDuck on a 2D platforming quest for more money. If it looks and feels like Mega Man to you, that's no coincidence, they were done by the same team.
Recently had a remake for modern systems. Visuals were re-drawn, voices were added (by the original cast!), there are a couple of new levels, and some new story aspects also pop up.
|DuckTales 2||Platformer||Everybody knows Duck Tales, but few have played the sequel. Developed by a different team, and while sharing the same engine and basic gameplay, it is considered by most people to be worse than its predecessor. That said, the songs aren't as catchy, but are moody, fit the themes of the stages, and set a great atmosphere. Graphics are more detailed than in the first one. The level design is more intricate and holds many more secrets, the placement of enemy is better thought, and the hit detection, which was a bit clunky in the original, was fixed. Whichever title of the two you think is best, chances are that if you like one of them, you'll also enjoy the other.|
|Excitebike||Racing||A true classic. Simple but awesome motorbike racing, really needs no introduction. You can even make your own tracks. Unfortunately there's no battery to save them.
The FDS version (and the American Wii version) has this save function intact. It was left in the NES version when NoA had plans to bring the disk system over, but ultimately ditched the project.
|Fester's Quest||Adventure / Shooter||Probably the only Addam's Family game worth a damn. The gameplay is reminiscent of the shooting sections from Blaster Master, but with a large variety of weapons and items. Being a Sunsoft game, it also has a kickass soundtrack. Shoot through aliens, find your way around the city and hunt down upgrades. The PAL version is HIGHLY recommended for allowing you to shoot through walls and having better-balanced difficulty.|
|Final Fantasy||RPG||The classic JRPG by Square. Make a party of 4 characters from 6 different jobs. Mix and match these six choices, even choosing more than one of the same job. If that wasn't enough, at a certain story point, ALL of your 4 allies promote to better classes. This has a rather epic storyline that to this day, still requires a long window of time to beat. FF1 got remade and ported to a number of systems, said remakes added, fixed, and altered several things to be more in line with later FF games. The GBA and PSP versions are the easiest. The GBA version may not look or sound as pretty as the PSP version, but the action flows faster and also comes with Final Fantasy II's remake. This was the game that made Square into a household name long before Final Fantasy VII.|
|Fire 'n Ice||Puzzle / platform||A great puzzle platformer based around... fire and ice. It plays a lot like Solomon's Key, which makes sense, given that this game is the prequel, and you play as the same hero, only younger. Difficulty is very progressive, so you have time to learn step by step. In other regions, this game was released as Solomon's Key 2.|
|Formula 1 Sensation||Racing||Probably definitive F1 racing game for the NES. You can play single race or go for Grand Prix. Comparing to other NES games you have a lot tuning options that decide about your performance. There are official Formula 1 tracks that can always be practiced. During the race weather can change and parts of your car can break. Your opponents are real F1 drivers who licensed their names. The game was only released in Europe and Japan.|
|G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero||Platformer||An action game based on the G.I Joe universe. You have several characters to choose from, each with different abilities. You can switch between three in each stage, power them up, find hidden vehicles to mow enemies down (just like in Low G Man or Metal Slug), and counter terrorists with terrorism by planting bombs in their bases. There are two additional quests where checkpoints are moved around and then outright hidden.|
|G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor||Platformer||Another action/platformer based on the G.I. Joe universe. This one is usually considered to be worse than the first one (there are no vehicles), but still a pretty good game nonetheless (there are more characters and you can choose your path).|
|Gargoyle's Quest II||Platformer / RPG||A sequel to a Gameboy game on the NES. Gargoyle's Quest II is a fantastic Platformer/RPG hybrid by Capcom starring Red Arremer/Firebrand, everyone's favorite red asshole from Ghosts 'N Goblins. The platforming gameplay is extremely solid, the RPG elements are well placed, the action is great, and this is easily one of the NES' best looking games. The biggest fault is that's it way too damn short! The first game is highly recommended, but it doesn't matter if you play them in order because the stories aren't connected. The third game in this trilogy is also unrelated story-wise, and is one of the SNES' best platformers (that game being Demon's Crest).|
|Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode||Action-adventure||DUKE TOGO, MOTHERFUCKERS! One of the more mature games for the NES. Sex, drug use, and graphic violence, it's all there (although uncensored it was rather toned down from the Japan version). You fight Nazis (or rather you would if you played Japan's version). Kind of bland at times, and kind of weird at others (killing people earns health?!) and
|Mafat Conspiracy, The (Golgo 13)||Action-adventure||This game is the sequel to "Golgo 13 - Top Secret Episode" It has great graphics, cool cutscenes, good story and a lot of variety. It's much, much better than the first game. It has a really long-ass intro though.|
|Gradius||Shooter||Gradius, one of the most classic and recognizable SHMUPs ever made. Shoot the core! Arguably tougher than other versions.|
|Gumshoe||Light Gun/Platformer||One of the weirder, (if not the weirdest) Zapper exclusives, Gumshoe follows a detective collecting balloons and clues in order to thwart criminals. Your job as the player is to shoot him to make him jump over obstacles like cars, bombs, and flying bottles.
Incredibly hard and oddly addictive.
|Gyromite||Puzzle Platformer/Plate Spinning Action||This recommendation comes with a BIG caveat: don't bother unless you have a working ROB, with Gyromite accessories, and a CRT. Now that 99.9% of you have left the room, this game is actually... kinda great? You maneuver Professor Hector around small-ish platforming stages to defuse bombs and avoid monsters, against which you're defenseless. Why is this fun? Because your buddy ROB manipulates gates and platforms in the stage environment in response to commands you give him. It's all just an overwrought Rube-Goldberg machine, but crucially, the game doesn't pause when you enter command mode. As a result, you have to both play the stage and play ROB at the same time, balancing commanding ROB to manipulate the environment to solve puzzles against avoiding monsters and navigating the stage. The end result is a rock solid early-NES puzzle platformer and a truly unique video game experience.|
|Gyruss||Shooter||The Solar System was invaded by an alien empire. Go from planet to planet and kill everything on the way! A cool tube shooter, with a number of improvements over the arcade original (improved graphics, more stages, more music tracks). Note: the Japanese FDS version has a better ending cutscene than the US cartridge.|
|Heavy Barrel||Shooter||An arcade port of a top-down shooter similar to Commando, but a bit slower and more calculated, concentrated, and refined. Reminiscent of Contra and Metal Slug in weapons, though particularly the latter's usage of grenades for heavy damage in a small area and limited ammo of special weapons. Power-ups and weapons are kept in locked boxes and keys can be gained from foes. The titular Heavy Barrel is a colossal laser blaster that can be fired at will for 30 seconds. While different, it remains a good game for fans of the genre, and great for co-op. Due to limited chances, there's emphasis on dodging along with careful and ammo-saving shooting to stock up for the bosses.|
|Jackal||Shooter||A top-down shooter with a military settings. You control jeeps, you can shoot and throw grenades. Great for co-op.|
|Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu||Platformer||YOU PLAY AS MOTHERFUCKING JACKIE CHAN. Great music, great controls, great everything. Did I mention you play as Jackie Chan? Can YOU name ten great things that aren't Jackie Chan? I didn't think so. Go play this shit right now. Also ported to Turbografx-16.|
|Journey to Silius||Platformer||This game pretty much plays like a mix between Mega Man and Contra. Excellent sound (being the first Sunsoft game to have their legendary bass synth) and visuals, this was originally a Terminator game, but the license was canceled. The game presents a decent amount of challenge, and is certainly one of of the better games of it's ilk.|
|Kabuki: Quantum Fighter||Platformer||A fun action-platformer in which you fight with your hair. You also enter a computer. Some good platforming also involved. This game sounds pretty weird, but it's kick-ass. Like Ninja Gaiden in robot-world where you have a mop of hair instead of a sword.|
|Kid Icarus||Platformer||This plays similar to Metroid. In fact, it was made by the same guy, Gunpei Yokoi. You play as Pit, an angel-in-training, who must defeat Medusa to save the Angel Land mentioned in the title. It's like a blending of elements found in Metroid, Super Mario Bros, and Zelda. You can upgrade Pit's gear, find secret shops and passages, and there's fortresses and bosses to conquer. It's been noted for its difficulty, but after the first stage and an upgrade or two, it isn't as bad as some make it out to be. This is definitely worth a try, along with its Game Boy sequel, which improves a number of elements from this game, and has more challenges to face.
Has a Famicom version with some differences, and the 3D Classic version on 3DS is based on it.
|KickMaster||Platformer / action||Cool game by KID and Taito. This game plays similar to Castlevania. You are a martial artist who has to rescue a princess and avenge the death of his brother. You don't have any weapons to fight the armies of monsters, you just kick 'em; you also learn new kicks along the way. The game also uses basic RPG elements, such as earning EXP from monsters, as well as the use of magic.|
|Kickle Cubicle||Puzzle / action||This game is Irem's answer to Lolo. The puzzler stars an Eskimo named Kickle who is out to save the citizens of four childhood-themed lands from the Wizard King's winter chill. Kickle fights frost with frost, using his breath to crystallize foes and to solidify the watery gaps that surround the uncomfortably-bagged hostages. Controls are fluent and the difficulty ramps steadily - it is friendly to newcomers and develops into a ball-busting challenger towards even the most seasoned puzzle gamers.|
|Kirby's Adventure||Platformer||A game that gets the most out of the NES hardware, the pink blob's first console adventure is insanely charming. This is where Kirby's "copy" ability comes into play. Eating certain enemies gives him new abilities. You can only have one ability at a time, but you can get abilities from enemies scattered all over the place. Info on these and the Kirby series in general can be found here!
Also had a GBA remake in the form of Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land.
|Kiwi Kraze: A Bird-Brained Adventure!||Platformer||Also known as "The New Zealand Story." Some asshole walrus stole your Kiwi friends. Navigate through several scrolling-maze like levels while avoiding enemy fire and spikes. Take control of the cute Kiwi and use arrows, bombs, fireballs, and LASERS. Definitely give this a try, it's really overlooked.|
|Life Force (NTSC)
||Shooter||You're thinking, "wait, didn't you already tell us Abadox was a better Life Force than... Life Force?" Well, yes, and no. They're both worth playing, and while Abadox has much better stage design and gameplay, Life Force also has some of it's own quirks, including multiplayer, so there's no reason just to skip out on one over the other. Grab a buddy and blast your way through space with this awesomely fun game. Konami NES quality stuff.|
|Little Nemo: The Dream Master||Platformer||See Duck Tales for the magic Capcom could do with licenses. While the cartoon movie is all but forgotten, this little gem of a game has a childlike atmosphere but the difficulty of a lunar landing. Feed candy to animals and WEAR THEIR SKIN to get new powers.|
|Little Samson||Platformer||An excellent platformer, completely forgotten because it went out really late for the NES in 1992. But still a beautiful one with different characters to control with different abilities, each of whom team up in the last chapter. Be warned: if you must have a hard copy, Little Samson is expensive, regularly reaching prices over $1000, and while being a good game, is not worth that much.|
|Lode Runner||Platformer / puzzle||The object of this game is to find all the treasure and escape while avoiding the goons out to get you. For an early title, this one's really classic, and became a short-lived phenomenon in Japan. This game even has a map/level editor so you can try and challenge your friends to your own maps. Great, great stuff. There's a version on the TG-16 that has multiplayer as well.|
|Maniac Mansion||Adventure||A LucasArts classic. Hilarious and somewhat spooky adventure game with a stellar reputation for all the right reasons. After playing through the game, you'll definitely feel rewarded, it's that good. Also available on the PC with far less censorship. Though this one is still worth playing, ya tunahead. Has a semi-sequel in Day of the Tentacle.|
|Mega Man||Platformer||Yeah, you fucking heard me, MEGA MAN! Not quite as good as 2 or 3, less polished, but still great. It's so hard it will make you cry. For those not in the know, Mega Man starts off with a simple arm cannon with unlimited ammo, but after beating a "robot master", one of the bosses you select, he obtains that boss's weapon, which he always has from then on. Bosses are also weak against certain weapons from other bosses. Unfortunately, these gained weapons DO run on ammo, but you can find weapon refill items in different places and enemies also drop them. This first Mega Man does NOT have a password function, so you must beat it in one go.
The PSP remake, "Megaman Powered Up" can make things harder or easier, depending on your difficulty settings, but it does have saving, in addition to lots of other bonus goodies.
|Mega Man 2||Platformer||The refinement of the first game, Mega Man 2 has it all. Great soundtrack, spot-on controls and, above all, just great fun. This entry is like the previous one in formula, except that it has passwords as well. In addition, this game introduced "E-tanks" which let you refill your energy from the weapon select menu, and Item-[#] "weapons", which are platforms that you can ride on top of with additional effects that depend on the number (such as jetting forward, floating up, and scaling walls).
With the exception of a few rocky sections, this is one of the easier and more beloved games in the series. It is recommended that players new to the series start here. Hint: the Metal Blade is amazing.
|Mega Man 3||Platformer||The darker sequel to part 2 - and just what the series needed. Introduces Proto Man, a rival character with plot relevance and Rush, a transforming robot dog who replaces the Item-[#]s of MM2, while having similar functions to them. MM3 allows more E-tanks, but it is also one of the longest Mega Man classic games, as it has more stages and bosses. This also added the slide action, which lets Mega Man quickly move forward a brief distance at a lower height, which not only helps with traveling faster, but is handy for dodging attacks as well.|
|Mega Man 4||Platformer||4-6 are all fantastic games that you should play if you like the series. Capcom arguably perfected the formula with 4, and only made minor adjustments from then on. These games are consistent in terms of difficulty, level design, and quality. 4 gave Mega Man the ability to charge his Mega Buster and the balloon and wire tools (which you must find first). The new weapons are fantastic and well-balanced. New antagonist, the Russian roboticist, Dr. Cossack has his own castle, just like Wily, and there's also a 2nd (I WONDER WHOSE), a feature which would become the series standard until the end of the NES games.
This also introduced that useless fuck-can Eddie (a.k.a. Flip-Top) who you will learn to hate very easily.
|Mega Man 5||Platformer||In Mega Man 5, the charged Mega Buster is quite powerful and your main asset through the game. Unfortunately, the weapons aren't as awesome as in Mega Man 4. This time, Proto Man appears to be the main antagonist, kidnapping Dr. Light in the game's opening. This game also has letters placed in tricky locations in the game's stages to unlock a robotic bird named Beat, who is quite helpful and powerful.|
|Mega Man 6||Platformer||Ignore the haters, this game is great. By this time, Capcom had gotten quite good at making Mega Man games, and the swan song of NES Mega Man games is fantastic. Sweet grafix, and one of the best soundtracks in the series. In this one, you fight robots from all over the world, and some of them are oddly archaic stereotypes. This game has a unique mechanic where you can use a Rush adaptor to get a jetpack or rocket fist. The best thing is, they have unlimited ammo, so you can use them as much as you want. The stages fork often as well, and are full of secrets. Some of the stages have two different boss chambers, and only by going the more difficult path each time can you collect the letters you need to assemble Beat.|
|Metal Storm||Platformer||Control a mech and fight through levels. You can change the direction of the gravitational pull to walk on ceilings and shit and the levels and bosses make good use of this feature. Pretty fun game overall and the controls are very tight. Be warned though, this game can have frustratingly punishing levels of difficulty! (And then there's 2nd Quest Mode, which would make Ryu Hayabusa piss his pajamas.)|
Space pirates and life-sucking metroids are out to ruin your shit while you explore the planet Zebes in your trusty powersuit. Said power suit can be upgraded with multiple enhancements scattered throughout the game.
|Micro Machines||Racing||One of the best racing games for the NES. You control toy vehicles and race tracks that are set around various household areas. For exmaple motorboat tracks take place in a bathtub and choppers in a garden. In tank races you can shoot your opponents or smash them with you heavy armored cars in basement tracks. Like other Codemasters NES games it can be unfairly hard but overall it's fun. Also you will probably play as Spider because everyone always choose Spider, that's the rule.|
|Might and Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum||RPG||A vastly improved port of the original Might and Magic, featuring colorful graphics, actual music and an automap function, which makes it superior (and preferable) over the original computer versions.|
|Mighty Final Fight||Beat 'em up||A cartoon-looking Final Fight game exclusive to the system. It is rather easy and short but it is a lot of fun. You are given the choice between three characters who all have their own style and moves. The art direction is very beautiful, the music style and soundchip used are reminiscent of Mega Man 5 and 6 (except better). Shamefully, it does not have a co-op mode.|
|Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!||Sports||You are Little Mac, pint-sized Rocky wannabe boxing your way to the top. Fight champs from around the world, ending with Mike Tyson himself to claim the World Title. Easily the best sports game
Also had a killer Wii remix, which stays faithful in spirit but has a number of interesting changes and challenges. Also, voices!
|Milon's Secret Castle||Platformer||This is that game you gave up on after the first two rooms went nowhere and you didn't think to push that one weirdly colored block on the first stage.
What you missed was the fun, challenging adventure of Milon, the tone-deaf bubble blower tasked to figure out just what in the hell to do next. Luckily the kidnapped Queen of Hudson (Hudsonsoft fucking loved itself back in 1987) left the vaguest clues she possibly could in order for you to rescue her. Nearly impossible without the Hudsonsoft signature Left+Start continue feature, prepare to get roasted by seven identical dragon bosses, shoot everything in front of you do find that one hidden door or secret health boost, and grind for the sweet sweet cash you need for the powerups necessary to save the Secret Castle. Really fun barring one piece of shit dragon skeleton, and for the physical collector out there, one of the cheapest carts on the market.
|Mission: Impossible||Action-adventure||This game plays a lot like Metal Gear, except more action based. Contrary to the NES port of Metal Gear, Mission Impossible is actually great. Be warned though, this game is extremely difficult, maybe even... impossible?!|
|Monster Party||Platformer||Your name is Mark. You're on your way home from a little-league baseball game when you are convinced to save a planet of monster people by a creepy gargoyle alien named Bert. It's kind of a typical platformer (on acid). you can attack with your bat (which is awkward and has a very short range but can deflect things), or fuse(?) with Bert by taking pills (!?), which then enables you to fly and shoot lasers for a limited period of time. This game is weird as fuck. This is a decent platformer with some glitches here and there (a few are game wreckers). Easy to come by and cheap, it'll cost you maybe 3 bux plus shipping. Surprisingly, it was never released in Japan.|
|Mr. Gimmick (PAL)
||Platformer||Mr. Gimmick is one of the most rare, expensive, overlooked and underrated game on the NES. Outside of Japan, it was only released in Scandinavia. You play as some kind of green Kirby-ish looking character (Gimmick came out first) using stars as weapons. Gameplay, music, level design and atmosphere are all excellent. The game is also rather challenging especially if you want the real ending. The AI of the enemies will blow your mind (for a NES game, it also features one of the best bass sound on the NES (partly due to it's unique chip), along side Journey To Silius and Gremlins 2 (all three games are some of Sunsoft's finest - go figure!). It is highly recommended to play the FAMICOM version over the PAL NES one for additional sounds which add a LOT to the music. The only other difference is that you have more lives (30) in the PAL version.|
|Ninja Gaiden [NTSC]||Platformer||Different from the original "arcade hit" beat 'em up, this is actually a platformer! A very difficult and fun classic where you play as a ninja slicing fools up. Features amazing cutscenes for the NES. It was later ported to the Turbografx, some argue that the port is superior. Most disagree due to the inferior music and slight differences. Not to be confused with the Master System and Game Gear games, which are both different, but also quite solid in their own right. The early series is also known as Shadow Warriors in PAL territories and Ninja Ryuukenden in Japan, but nowadays, everyone knows the Ninja Gaiden name! (And it's guyden, not gayden!)|
|Ninja Gaiden II [NTSC]||Platformer||Similar to the first, but better, partly due to the fact you can climb up any wall. However, there's some new challenges thanks to weather elements in stages.|
|Ninja Gaiden III [NTSC-U]||Platformer||Similar to its predecessors. The NTSC-U and PAL versions were made MUCH harder, which is why you might want to play the FAMICOM version. Hell, here's a quote from Wikipedia.org: "Most significantly, the amount of damage Ryu received from being hit by enemies was doubled in the North American version. Also, the Japanese version boasted a password save feature, unlimited continues, and would restart players within areas after losing lives, rather than returning them to the beginning of areas as in the North American version." There are two patches that restore the difficulty, enemy placement and password system of the original Japanese release to the US version.|
|Nightshade: The Claws of HEUGH||Adventure / fighting||A rather unique adventure game with a lot of humour. Also involves some fighting. A rather difficult game, mostly due to the fact there's no saves (you had to outsmart Sukteh's deathtraps to continue... but he gets fed up after five and just ices you), so use save states. Did you know this game was intended to have sequels, but never did? Instead of making a direct sequel, the basis of this game was used to develop Shadowrun. Now you know!|
|North & South||Strategy||Off-shoot of a Belgian comic centered around the American Civil War. Simplified turn-based strategy that works surprisingly very well with the controller. Major under-looked gem. Now considered to be one of the most underrated games on the system, and is likely highly influential.|
|Over Horizon||Shooter||Only released in Europe and in Japan, Over Horizon is a good sidecrolling shooter reminiscent of Life Force. Don't forget to set your emulator to PAL!|
|Paperboy||You are a lowly paperboy, tasked with delivering newspapers to your customers in a timely and safe manner. Turns out the job isn't as easy as it seems, since kids in big wheels, dogs, bees, the grim reaper, and other hazards want to make your life a living hell. Like it or not, you have a job to do and you have to do it well if you want to make it to the end of the week. Are you a bad enough dude to deliver papers?|
|Parodius (Eur)||Cute 'em Up||A very cutesy and colorful port of Parodius Da! Like just about all the console ports each had their own special stage. Due to being on the famicom it's a bit more family friendly too. There's also some slight differences between the NES and FC versions such as the ending.|
|Power Blade||Platformer||Power Blade is one of the best action platformers on the NES right up there in the leagues of Ninja Gaiden, Shatterhand, and Mega Man. Originally a somewhat crap Japanese game known as Power Blazer, the translation 'team' (Captain F'N Nintendo) went and made it better by making the cutesy anime protagonist into an action hero badass, as well as expanding the levels in size as well as with branching paths, overall better graphics, and seriously tightening up the controls. In Power Blade you can choose which level you wish to play in whatever order (like Mega Man), and then you beat your way through the level with a robotic-boomerang thing. A must have NES title.|
|Power Blade 2||Platformer||A sequel to the first game. This game is mostly linear, and easier at times with all the specialized suit areas, but still fair in difficulty throughout.|
|R.C. Pro-Am||Racing||Balls-to-the-wall awesome R.C. racing game. Collect upgrades on the tracks to improve your little racer and attack the other cars with rockets and oil spills. Also, it was made by a little company called Rare. Beware of THAT FUCKING YELLOW CAR! Voted hardest game of all time by the G4 channel in its early days. If you want more multi-player, the sequel supported FOUR drivers.|
|Rad Racer||Racing||One of the killer apps for the NES and the game that made Square a household name before Final Fantasy I and especially Final Fantasy VII. A very straightforward yet mind-blowing for it's time racing game. One of the grandfathers of racing games like Mario Kart. Music by Nobuo Uematsu so you know it's gonna be good. You can play it on 3D if you have those old red-blue 3D glasses. Very primitive now but great for it's time. Unfortunately not on Virtual Console anywhere despite being one of the most iconic NES titles because Square thinks it's too outdated and decided there are not enough re-releases of FF1.
There is also a sequel which doesn't live up to the standards of the first game.
|Rampage||Platformer||Go around punching buildings, tanks, helicopters, and whatnot as either a giant lizard or gorilla. The Werewolf is gone and you only get to attack America.|
|River City Ransom [NTSC]||Beat 'em up||Double Dragon meets an RPG.
|Rockin' Kats [NTSC]||Platformer||Play as Willy the cat as he tries to rescue his GF many many times from the clutches of the criminal dog gang. Use your punch gun to punch enemies, grapple onto ledges and push yourself off the ground. Pretty rare and hard to find.
Known in JP as N.Y. Nyankies
|Rygar||Action-adventure||This game is interesting because it's like a mix of Zelda and Metroid. It's very fun and challenging to collect all the items you need to defeat certain enemies and solve certain puzzles in a platforming environment in a fantasy world. The only problem is there's no fucking saves or passwords which is just god-damn ridiculous, so kids back in the day would leave their NES on for days or even weeks to play this game, simply pausing and shutting their TVs off when they needed to go to school or sleep. Recommended in ROM format for savestates. The PS2 remake inspired God of War.|
|S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team||Shooter||A very good side-scroller shoot'em up which plays like Abadox and was made by the same developers. Great for co-op. Just be careful how you research it.|
|Section-Z||Shooter||An oft-forgotten Capcom shmup. Section Z has you playing as a guy in a space/mech suit, going into a planet and destroying fucking everything. Again, the Life Force/Abadox premise, but in this one the planet isn't alive (besides, this was a year before Life Force came out). The gameplay itself is smooth shmuppin, and everything is of Capcom NES quality. Be on the look out, this game is cheap and easy to find, and EXTREMELY worth it. Also available as part of the Capcom Classics Collection (PS2).|
|Shadow of the Ninja (NTSC)||Platformer||Natsume was really good at making NES action games, and Shadow of the Ninja is certainly no exception. As it stands, this one's a bit of a cult classic. Shadow of the Ninja does feel like a bit of a Ninja Gaiden clone, but it does play a bit differently as well as including multiplayer, so there's nothing wrong here. Amusingly, Tecmo bought the rights to this and made a spinoff on the Gameboy as Ninja Gaiden Shadow! It lacked the multiplayer, however, which is for many the defining feature. Pick this up if you ever get the chance, it's a worthy addition next to your Ninja Gaiden games. Also known as Blue Shadow in PAL territories and Kage in Japan.|
|Shadowgate||Adventure||A classic point 'n' click game originally on Mac with tons of fucking tough puzzles, plenty of exploring, some great humor, great tunes, and fantastic atmosphere. You will DIE A LOT. Spawned two sequels (on TG16 and N64, respectively). There's also a Gameboy Color port, which changes a bit of text, but has everything more or less intact. The Japanese version text is first-person(?!) and RIDICULOUS AS FUCK.|
|Shatterhand||Platformer / beat 'em up||Natsume was really good at making NES action games, and Shatterhand is the prime example. 2D action game that involves lots of punching. Punching enemies, punching gates down, punching bullets, and so on. You can also pick up Alpha and Beta icons that give you a robot helper with a weapon depending on a 3-icon combination. Great music and graphics. (Hint: Collect the same combination twice with your robot still functional to wreck shit like God Hand, NES edition.)
The Famicom version of this game, called Tokkyū Shirei Soruburein, was based on a TV show, and is different in a few ways. It is a lot easier. The character and robot sprites are different. A stage and boss is exclusive to each version. The intro is different. But because it is easier, it is also a lot less fun Therefore, it's recommended to play the Japanese equivalent after having completed Shatterhand.
|Sky Kid||Shooter||Simple, but good shmup from Namco, but with a TWEEST! YOU FLY LEFT. Play as a badass bird in a biplane while you shoot down other planes and pick up bombs. Has some great music (just listen to the stage theme, shit's so cash) and features a co-op mode, which was very rare for the time. Oh yeah, if you get shot down, just mash that A button to stay alive and flying. The B button lets you avoid enemy fire by doing a loop in the air. Available on the Wii Virtual Console if you can't find a cart or don't want to emulate.|
|Snake Rattle n Roll||Platformer||A classic, fun and original platformer. Control snake heads in an isometric world where each level is a slice of the world map (you can see to the other levels near the edges of the play area). Eat your enemies to grow a longer tail for your snakes to allow the weight scale open the level exit. Pick power ups and find secret areas and level shortcuts. Provides a steady challenge for a long time. Get a co-op partner and start slithering.|
|Snake's Revenge||Stealth / action||The non-canonical version of Metal Gear, but still fun regardless. Unlike the other Metal Gear, this one is not a piece of crap. Has the same fun stealth action as the MSX version with some new side-scrolling action (might be rage-inducing). Just because the plot of this isn't tied in with the actual Metal Gear timeline doesn't mean it deserved the hate it got. After all, this game inspired Kojima to make the true sequel to the series.|
|Snow Brothers||Puzzle / platformer||Join Nick and Tom on their 50 floor quest for their girlfriends and red potions. shoot Ice at your enemies and turn them into cool bowling balls. Despite being an arcade port, the game is relatively easy specially with the unlimited continues, the real challenge lies in getting a "Strike" in every level. It's quite similar to Bubble Bobble, and arguably better.|
|Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship||Shooter / adventure||Basically Metroid meets Asteroids with gravity. You control a ship (which has a surprisingly satisfying sense of momentum for a game on the NES) whose objective is to explore 12 different planets (and one hidden one), collecting ship parts, fuel, and various upgrades along the way. It's kind of like Master Blaster in that you control both a ship and its pilot, but unlike Blaster Master, they both control almost identically and your ship has to blow up before you control the pilot. It's a bit slow-paced starting out, but it's surprisingly addictive and difficult.|
|Solomon's Key||Puzzle / platformer||VERY HARD puzzle platformer with plenty of arcade qualities. Always cited for being extremely fun but brutally tough, especially if you manage to get past stage three. Most people can't. If you really like the gameplay in this, try Fire'n Ice (it's also easier).|
|Solstice: The Quest for the Staff of Demnos||Puzzle / platformer||A classic, but difficult, isometric puzzle platformer with a great atmosphere. Had an SNES sequel called Equinox, where you play as the hero's son, and a spinoff called Altered Space where you play as an astronaut. All 3 are made by the same company, and have involvement from the legendary Follin brothers!|
|Spelunker||Platformer||An interesting platformer that only consists of one REALLY big level. Gather all the treasure you can and head to the exit! Starts off pretty easy, but gets increasingly more and more hard, eventually becoming tough for a NES game, which is saying a lot, since 8-bit generation is the definition of hard games. You'll either love or fucking hate this game, no exceptions. Fun Fact: This had huge success in Japan and basically started their speed-run craze as Metroid did for us (some of them can beat this game in half a minute, but it's gonna take YOU hours). Inspired Spelunky. It also has a spiritual successor on the PS3, which is FUCKING AWESOME.|
|Sqoon||Shooter||One of the better 'undiscovered' games on the NES, Sqoon is a solid horizontal shmup with interesting ideas that other games of it's ilk don't offer, including hostage rescue and fuel refilling. It's also notable for being about a pink submarine in submerged earth, instantly making it more interesting than every other shmup which was a plane or a space-plane. If you have the option, go for the Famicom version because the cartridge has an LED on it that lights up when you play, which is really cool. Made by Irem (the R-Type guys)|
|StarTropics||Action-adventure||This game is an under-appreciated gem on all accounts. Made by the same Nintendo team who did Punch-Out, the game StarTropics was a love letter from Nintendo to the West. Not released in Japan, StarTropics is a funny, engaging, Zelda-style adventure played out through interesting puzzles and tropical locales. Combat is tile-based, but smooth and gameplay is like Zelda but with jumping. Possibly the best game on the system. It's sequel is called Zoda's Revenge: Startropics II.
By the way, the password is 747.
|Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics II||Action-adventure||It has the same problem that Zelda 2 did: its different so it "sucks". Startropics II was developed by an American team (under Nintendo's banner) who brought some interesting ideas to the table (including psychic powers and time travel). The control has been improvement formore of an action-style and fighting has been improved; but, it's overall weaker due to less inspired story, no yo-yo and puzzles. Some find many aspects to be an improvement, though others agree that the first was generally better for the puzzles and story.
Play it and deciding for yourself!
|Super C (USA)
||Platformer||The sequel to Contra. The indoor stages are now top-down stages, but otherwise a similar game. Expect to die a lot. Great for co-op, just like the first!|
|Super Dodge Ball||Sports||After kicking ass in River City Ransom, the characters changed their names and took up dodgeball. Has planning, strategizing and over-the-top "super throws" to mix things up. And yeah, they're supposed to be flickering. At least, sequels fixed this, along with generally being better. Still, a solid start for a fun series. Try playing Beanball with a pal when not taking on the normal game.|
|Super Mario Bros.||Platformer||Does it really need an introduction? Also available in a rather common "2-in-1" cart with Duck Hunt, or the "3-in-1" with Duck Hunt and World Class Track Meet for the fatties who need to get in shape.|
|Super Mario Bros. 2||Platformer||Here is an unusual case of East and West getting completely different games with the same title. The usual story is that they took an unrelated game and edited some Mario sprites in, but the truth is a bit more complicated.
The Japanese Mario 2 (aka "The Lost Levels") was little more than a stupid hard level pack for the first game. Nintendo USA saw that and said: "No way! If we release that shit here, it will kill the franchise." So Nintendo JP made a prototype for a fully new and quite different Mario game, but then they were hired by Fuji TV to promote the mascots of some publicity event. So they used that prototype as the starting point to develop Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, and afterwards changed it back into the Mario game that it was meant to be in the first place.
While it felt a little too different from the original, no one cared much because it was a very fun game. Many of its new elements, such as character traits and abilities, enemies, keys, and throwing of enemies later made their way into the rest of the series.
|Super Mario Bros. 3||Platformer||The biggest and best platformer on the NES, and often regarded as the best game ever, full-stop.|
|Tecmo Super Bowl||Sports||Don't dismiss this game just because it's a sports title, it's fun as hell and if you have a friend to play with, it's even better. Real NFL teams with real NFL players (in 1991), each rated "realistically." Play as San Francisco to rape with passing or Oakland/Detroit to run all over the place. This game is a classic.|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game||Beat 'em up||Konami finally got the Turtles right in this NES port of the arcade beat 'em up. This also features some stage alterations and additions as well, all of which make it worth playing even if you've played the original. Great for co-op, just don't be a pizza-stealing jerk!|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project||Beat 'em up||Using the same engine as TMNT2, this one however is an exclusive to the console. Each Turtle has a unique special attack and you can now throw your enemies around. If you like TMNT2, you should like this one as well and vice-versa. Great for co-op, unless you're still a pizza-stealing jerk.|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters||Fighting||One of the best fighting games for the NES. Heavily inspired by Street Fighter II. You can choose one of seven characters. The graphics are nice, the movement is fluid. Story mode could be better (only Turtles can be chosen in this mode) but overall it's solid game. There were also versions for SNES and Sega Genesis but each of them is a different game based on the same idea and franchise.|
|Tetris||Puzzle||It's fucking Tetris, need any further explanation? Now, there are
|Adventures of Rad Gravity, The||Platformer||Play as mighty-chinned
The game provides a steady challenge, even with passwords to continue and your computer giving hints. It controls decently, though being hit causes "castlevania" knockback, leading to some segments being a bit tougher than they should be. The only negatives are some repetitive music, level design being so-so early on, and how, in some cases, "completing" a planet seems to prevent you from returning to it, potentially leading to lost goodies.
|Goonies II, The||Platformer / adventure||Classic side-scrolling action based on the hit 80s movie The Goonies. Switch between side-scrolling and point-and-click mechanics to explore the Fratelli hideout to find your friends and items. Think Metroidvania but with yo-yos and spring shoes. Much to everyone's surprise, you also save a mermaid.|
|Guardian Legend, The||Shooter / Action-RPG||You play as Alyssa, a cyborg-warrior-jet-person who explores a massive space station. Along the way, you find power-ups and weapons to get stronger as you encounter various traps and mutated monsters.
BUT NOT SO FAST! This is more than an adventure game! You also must travel into deep space through extensive shoot 'em up sections and take on huge and powerful monstrosities in jet mode! The power ups and weapons you find in both modes carry over between the two as well! Thus, in addition to other great elements, this lovely melting of the two modes is why this game is so highly regarded by fans of both genres. Definitely give it a try!
|Legend of Zelda, The||Action-adventure||It's dangerous to go alone, take this. Collect all eight pieces of the shattered triforce, defeat GANNON, and save princess Zelda in a huge, open-ended world filled to the brim with dangerous dungeons. Lots of gadgets, weapons, and upgrades to find. Has an entire (and much harder) Second Quest to explore. Classic, must-play, etc.
The Famicom version has some aesthetic differences, but not much else too major. Rereleased in glorious Nippon on SNES via the BSX. A hack exists that allows you to play the BS version of Zelda in its entirety on SNES, and is widely considered the "Third Quest" thanks to dungeon design changes.
|Magic of Scheherazade, The||Adventure / RPG||Good adventure/RPG game from Culture Brain. Along with real-time overworld battles and adventuring, there are also traditional turn-based battles like in an RPG. Loved for its interesting themes such as time-travel, weather manipulation, and so on, but also its great soundtrack.
The Famicom version is rather different (and some would argue inferior) even having an entirely different soundtrack. Check the differences here.
|Punisher, The||Rail shooter||An LJN game that's actually good? One of the few rail shooters on nes and actually it appears to be good. This game is so dark and moody that you would shit your pants. Nice visuals and none linear level progression (Mega Man-style) only add to it's value. Somehow made by the same guys that made Nightshade and Shadowrun.|
|Smurfs, The||Platformer||A rather unknown PAL exclusive. One of those typical but good, short, rather easy and fun platformers like you would find many on the system. Not an extraordinary game but good for some short and simple fun. Don't forget to set your emulator to PAL if you don't have a top loading NES!|
|Ultimate Stuntman, The||Action / Platformer / Shoot'em Up / Puzzle||A cool multi-genre game where each portion of the stages features a different gameplay. You start on driving sequences where you must shot down the opposition, then move to platforming segments, wall-climbing, boss battles and a bomb disposal puzzle mini-game.|
|Tiny Toon Adventures||Platformer||Tiny Toon Adventures is a short but fun, well executed platformer like you would find many on the NES, and it is also one of the better ones. It does take some inspiration from Mario in the way running and jumping works, but goes farther by adding a slide-boost jump system which is not mandatory, but extremely fun once you've mastered it. Great for 30–60 minutes of classic NES platforming action once in a while.|
|Tombs & Treasure||Adventure / RPG||A very neat Adventure RPG, set in the Mayan times. Plays like any Adventure game, but action is all RPG. Solve puzzles and interact with objects to discover the secret mysteries of the Mayans. Be warned! It can be pretty damn brutal at times.|
|Ufouria: The Saga (Eur)||Platformer||Another overlooked game that was only released in Japan and in Europe. The art and sound direction is reminiscent of Mr. Gimmick (same developer). Rather non-linear platformer, and refered to by some as a "Metroid-lite". though that's hardly a bad thing. There are four different characters you can get after you beat them as bosses, each with their own abilities. Available on Virtual Console in US and Europe, so be a pal and support Sunsoft! Known as Hebereke in Japan, and the characters all underwent some design changes in Ufouria!|
|Ultima: Exodus (Ultima III)||RPG||Ultima is an RPG, like Wizardry, that gives you a lot of customization. Unlike Wizardry, it is a bit more open-ended letting you explore all over and fight anyone in tactical-styled battles (even old grannies!). Kind of tough, and not as easy to get into compared to some RPGs on NES, but when you do, you'll find the only thing that's aged are the graphics and the use of "ye olde English".|
|Ultima: Quest of the Avatar (Ultima IV)||RPG||Gets some slack for removing some aspects of IV compared to other versions, but also improved and added some things as well. One such addition is in letting you equip both melee and long-range weapons simultaneously (though you can only choose one to strike with per turn). Spells are also easier to use, though still require recipes and reagents. The map is remixed a bit, making the placement of some areas and items often different. The negatives are the 4-person limit (vs 8), music being somewhat lacking, and random battles opposed to the norm. Past that, the game is more or less the same and arguably as good as other versions in the long run. Use this handy site for an easier run.|
|Uninvited||Adventure||Another point and click adventure, in the same vein as Déjà Vu and Shadowgate (same developer). Also has spells and curious horror-themed items, some of which are useful, and others... Well, we'll let you find that out. Here's a hint though: Talk with the parasol holding woman in the hallway. DO IT. DO IT. DO IT.|
|Vice: Project Doom||Shooter / platformer||Often cited as a Ninja Gaiden "clone", Vice: Project Doom in every way improves upon the formula and also throws in vertical shooter, racing, and first person shooter segments (that amazingly don't suck). It even packs in some nice cutscenes. If you're a fan of the Shatterhand and Ninja Gaiden formula, it's impossible to not instantly love this.|
|Wario's Woods||Puzzle||Wario has done something bad in what are presumably his woods, and it's up to Toad to sort him out by matching 3 of the same enemy (blocks) in a row and survive his opponent until he stops Wario. Gameplay is the typical match-3-while-trying-to-live-longer-than-your-opponent kind, but there are are tons of different enemies which makes sorting them out challenging, and the game is pretty fun. Found in Animal Crossing as an NES game, so check it out if you've got a copy of it. This is last official NES game in North America. Also on the SNES, but the differences between both make them both worth playing.|
|Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
Wizardry: Knight of Diamonds: The Second Scenario
Wizardry II: Llylgamyn no Isan (Japan)
|RPG||Welcome to the motherfucking world of Wizardry, a game that popularized a genre of hardcore first person RPGs. Absolutely brutal with traps, unfair deaths (teleporting into walls?!), and swarms of enemies. However, it is well done in character building and customization and if you beat it, you are one rad badass. Only true hardcores need apply, and even then, prepare to die. A LOT. Most versions you find are translated, but patches aren't hard to find if you don't get one that's pre-patched. There's always the PC originals...
Fun Fact: In Japan, it has its own loyal fanbase and some exclusive games over there. Check some other pages here for examples, specifically DS and PSP (Class of Heroes is actually a Wizardry-owned spinoff!).
|Wizards & Warriors||Platformer||A trilogy of games involving a knight in various adventures. In the first you save damsels by fighting bosses. You collect weapons, items, gems, and keys to help you on that quest. There was also a side-game on gameboy.|
|IronSword: Wizards & Warriors II||Platformer||More or less the same as the first, except for shopping and gambling. You have to stop some wizard that controls all four elements.|
|Wizards & Warriors III: Kuros...Visons of Power||Platformer||Kuros: Visions of Power allows different classes plus the game has no contines making this game MUCH HARDER.|
|Zanac||Shooter||A shmup from the makers of the famed Aleste series, Compile. Utilizes an AI that gives you enemy varieties and patterns based on what weapon you have, rather than relying on the same wave pattern each time you play. The visuals can be annoyingly repetitive but is still worth playing.|
|Zelda II: The Adventure of Link||Action-RPG||The "black sheep" of the Zelda series, and the only one with sidescrolling gameplay, albeit really solid sidescrolling gameplay. Adventure of Link also marked the first Zelda game with safe towns populated by friendly NPCs, which ended up becoming a mainstay for the entire series. Be warned, though, this game is HARD AS BALLS, and not always in a satisfying way. You will cry, and you will die. If the design differences didn't inspire fanboy hatred, the difficulty made up for that.
PROTIP: Pause the game during an action section and press Up+A on the second controller to bring up the save menu. Even though it's not quite the best of its kind, it inspired numerous companies to make their own takes, with various degrees of success among them.
|Consoles||Action Max - Atari 7800 - Amstrad GX4000 - RDI Halcyon - View-Master Interactive Vision - Sega Master System - Nintendo Entertainment System - Casio PV-1000 - VTech Socrates - Epoch Super Cassete Vision|
|Computers||Mattel Aquarius - Acorn Archimedes - Commodore 64 - Amstrad CPC - Fujitsu FM-7 - Apple Lisa - Apple Macintosh - Microsoft MS-DOS - ASCII MSX - ASCII MSX2 - IBM OS-2 - NEC PC-88 - NEC PC-98 - Amstrad PCW - Sinclair QL - Commodore VIC-20 - Sharp X1 - Sinclair ZX Spectrum|