25 Best NES Games of All Time

Left: Nintendo Famicom / Right: NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)

Top 25 NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) / Famicom (Family Computer Disk System) Games
Nintendo’s 1983 release of the Famicom Disk System (top left) in Japan was so successful, that it eventually saved the gaming industry from the biggest crisis of its history. When the system was released in the US in 1985, its name was changed to NES (the Nintendo Entertainment System), and it had quite a makeover (top right). The console’s success was such a relief after the video game crash of 1983, the crisis that is known as the Atari Shock in Japan.

The console  known as the NES in the US and famicom in Japan had 100s of great games. But in this video, we limit the number to 25 and bring you the list of viiduu.com’s Top 25 NES games.

Here are some of the best games of the wonderful 8-bit generation that still continue to inspire games like Shovel Knight!


25- Metal Gear (1987)

Did you know that the game we first met Solid Snake of the Metal Gear Solid series was actually an NES game? Metal Gear on the NES is not Snake’s most solid appearance, but it deserves to be on this list, solely because it started one of gaming’s most influential franchises.


24- Ice Climber (1985)

Ice Climber is the maddest multiplayer experience on the NES. It will test your nerves when your friend leaves you behind while you try climbing to an upper level. Controls need time to get used to and it doesn’t help when your character steps on to the slippery floor.


23- Adventures of Lolo 3 (1990)

Any entry in the “Adventures of Lolo” series can be considered as one of the best puzzle games of the console. The third game makes this list for increased difficulty and deeper puzzles.


22- Excite Bike (1984)

If you’ve experienced the 8-bit generation in the eighties, it’s impossible not to remember this addictive racing game. Excite Bike, which allows you to create your own race tracks, is one of the best games on the console.


21- Crystalis (1990)

Crystalis impresses with its faster and smoother gameplay as well as its graphics compared to other RPG games on the NES. It definitely helps that it came out towards the end of the console’s life cycle.


20 – Kirby’s Adventure (1993)

One of the last games for the console, “Kirby’s Adventure” reminds us of “The Last of Us” that came out for the PS3. Kirby, like The Last of Us, had graphics and animations, that felt like it belonged to the next generation.


19- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987)

Zelda II was one of the games that got its fair share of the “Mario Effect” which we saw in many games those days. Abandoning the top down view of the first Zelda game in favor of the side-scrolling  style of Super Mario Bros wasn’t the best of decisions in our opinion, but Zelda II was still a very good and unique game in its own right.


18- Ninja Gaiden (1988)

Notorious for being one of the most difficult games on the console, Ninja Gaiden was also one of the best games of the time. Like Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden has a different control style than the traditional side scrolling games.


17- Kid Icarus (1986)

Kid Icarus holds a special place among NES platformers with its multi-directional scrolling style that at times, reminds us of Metroid. In Kid Icarus, you control a character named Pit and use your bow and arrow to defeat your enemies. The game takes place in Angel Land, a place inspired by Greek mythology.


16- Castlevania (1986)

The first Castlevania game is a pretty good one, and it is important for starting the series. Controls are very different and they take some getting used to, but their unique style is an important element of Castlevania gameplay. You will also find some of the best music tracks of the 8 bit era.


15- Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (1990)

This game is one of the most entertaining multiplayer games on the NES, with its colorful and bright level design, quality character animations, and relatively easy gameplay.


14- Bomberman (1983)

In Bomberman, which you play from a top down perspective, your goal is to progress to the next level by finding the door hidden behind one of the walls. You must avoid getting caught by the bad guys, while blasting the walls in the environment by placing bombs near them.


13- Lode Runner (1983 / Famicom 1984 / NES 1986)

Lode Runner is one of the console’s most original games, which can be described as an “action-puzzle” game. Your goal in the game is to find the way to an upper level by collecting all the gold piles in the environment. Your enemies are out to get you and you can only escape by burying them in the holes you dig with your laser gun. You can extend your play time by creating an unlimited number of levels with the level editor.


12- Mega Man 2 (1988)

There can never be a “best NES games list” without including a Mega Man game. All Mega Man games could have made this list for one reason or another. Mega Man games on the NES are known for their difficulty, and we chose Mega Man 2 as it is a little bit easier and less nerve-racking to play, than the other titles in the series.


11- Little Samson (1992)

Little Samson is -without a doubt- one of the best side-scrolling games on the console. The game has 4 characters and you can switch between them anytime, in order to use their various strengths to overcome different situations. As it came out towards the end of the 8-bit generation, the game pushes the system’s limits to the end. With its high quality graphics, character animations, tight controls and smooth gameplay, Little Samson could make the Super Mario series jealous. Very underrated at the time, it is the definition of a true hidden gem.


10- Dragon Warrior (1986)

Dragon Warrior, the earliest RPG hit on the Famicom, is a game that inspired the Final Fantasy series. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Dragon Warrior was one of the games that laid the foundations of the RPG genre. Leave a comment if you know an earlier example, but Dragon Warrior is the oldest game we could find, to feature a primitive version of a bloody screen effect to indicate that your character is hurt. Bloody Screen effect is frequently seen in modern games such as Uncharted and the concept is probably invented by Dragon Warrior. (again, if you find an older game, feel free to share it in the comments section)


9- Final Fantasy (1987)

Do we need to say much! We were, of course, going to include the first Final Fantasy game in this list. Like many other legendary franchises, the NES was the birthplace of the Final Fantasy series. It is true that the graphics couldn’t be compared to today’s titles. But thanks to our imagination, the adventures were just as big as the modern games.


8- Blaster Master (1988)

Blaster Master is one of the console’s most enjoyable and most advanced games with its graphics and gameplay. It becomes a side-scroller when you character is in the tank, and switches to a top down perspective when you character is on foot. The game has one of the most memorable soundtracks on the console.


7- DuckTales (1989)

Unlike most other licensed games on any other device, Disney’s Duck Tales on the NES is a phenomenal game. The way Scrooge McDuck uses his walking stick to step on his enemies in this game, did not only inspire, but is directly copied in the sensational 2014 game Shovel Knight.


6- Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (1989)

Castlevania games on the NES are all good. Including the second game that we couldn’t include on this list. Castlevania III, took everything that was good in the first game and offered us more of it, making it a bigger and harder game.


5- Contra (1987)

Both the original Contra, and Super Contra which is also called Super C are by far the best multiplayer shooters on the NES. Contra featured some very successful pseudo 3d levels for the time. It reminds us Rambo Movies so much that it could easily have been a licensed Rambo game.


4- Metroid (1986)

What can we say about this game? Metroid, which combined side-scrolling platform games with Zelda like vast maps, represents the next stage in the evolution of platform games. Laying the foundations for future masterpieces like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, should be enough to explain Metroid’s contribution to the gaming world.


3- The Legend of Zelda (1986)

8-bit generation was dominated by side-scrolling games like Mario, and one of the most important games of that generation was the original Legend of Zelda which was nothing like Mario. Zelda was a genre of its own. Played from a bird’s-eye perspective, it had some RPG elements. It was also a very complex open world game that was very hard to finish.


2- Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)

Super Mario Bros 3 is a game that pushed the console’s limits to the end. It took everything that made the first game good and made it bigger and better. With tight controls and great game mechanics, SMB3 aged so well, even modern gamers will have fun playing it. It also marks quite a comeback for Mario, after the confusion that was Super Mario Bros 2.


1- Super Mario Bros. (1985)

For us, there are countless reasons to place this game above the much improved Super Mario Bros 3. We don’t know where to start. But the fact that this game single handedly saved the entire gaming industry when it came out is the most obvious reason. The iconic opening scene of Super Mario Bros. was one of the most exciting sights for gamers back in the day. It was the beginning of an era. Looking at the huge number of games trying to imitate its success, there has probably never been a more influential game in the history of gaming than Super Mario Bros. It is simply one of the best games of all time.

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