Top 10 NES games

So it has come to this… The top 10 games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The NES is arguably the best video game system ever made. It is certainly is the most influential system to us since this is our first experience playing video games and we have been playing NES since over 25 years ago.
So, let´s see what 10 games made the list and see if you agree. If you don’t then join the discussion and let us know what are your favorite NES game.

10. Duck Tales (1989)


Duck Tales is such a legendary game. Capcom knock it out of the park with this video game adaptation of the insanely popular cartoon Duck Tales (Whoohoohoo!). Memorable stages with fantastic visuals, one of the more iconic soundtrack of the NES library and the fantastically innovative pogo stick weapon/jump that helped Shovel Knight gain its popularity.
Duck Tales for the NES just oozes charm on all fronts, but even though it is a bit short and unfair at times, the gameplay here is top notch and the aesthetics really put Duck Tales over the top.
If you like this game try: Duck Tales 2, Panic Restaurant, Felix the Cat

Full review:

9.  River City Ransom[USA]/Street Gangs[EU] (1989)


River City Ransom is a high school punk beat em’ up RPG. The premise of this game and everything you do in it is so fantastic. You beat up some no good girlfriend stealing punks who cry out “mamaaa!!” or “I’m history dude!” and then just grab a bite of sushi afterwards to boost your stats, or you can buy martial arts books in order to gain new moves. Going through this one with a pal is so much fun and you will want to play it all over again even though you just finished it.
If you like this game try: Cadash, Final Fight CD

8. Contra (1988)

contra co-op list

Run and gun co-op goodness. This very difficult game of course makes the list and does so for a good reason. Tight controls, fun guns, great environment, nice tunes and great co-op action. Beating it without the Konami code is quite the feat and will take many tries making the game last while keeping it fun the whole time. If you are in a more casual mood you can enter the Konami code for 30 lives but the game’s fun lies it it’s difficulty and pattern memorization.
If you like this game try: Super C, Sunset Riders, Jackal

7.  Bionic Commando (1988)


In number 8 is Bionic Commando. Bionic Commando is a single player platformer that takes place in a world war sometime in the 80’s. In Japan the game is actually called ”Hitler’s revival” so the bad guys’ goal is pretty obvious. The game’s main gimmick is the grappling hook and the absence of a “jump” command. You just Swing around, shoot bad guys, fight cool bosses. Bionic Commando has very tight controls, great OST and overall great game feel. Just wish the game had a password feature.
If you like this game try: Power Blade, Shatterhand

Full review:

6. Batman (1989)


A buttload of Batman games have been released over the years, but this Batman game from Sunsoft on the NES is the real deal, rising from the pile of crap that are the rest of the Batman games and showing you how quality franchise games should be made.

Sunsoft did an excellent job here. The smooth, tight controlling gameplay is impeccable, the levels are great (but a few more levels would have been nice), the presentation is epic as the OST is insane and the visuals are very solid. The games’ difficulty will keep you engaged, and finally beating the game will feel extra good and rewarding. Just overall an awesome game
If you like this game try: Holy Diver, Castlevania, Power Blade

Full review:

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (1990)


After Super Mario Bros. Turtles 2: The Arcade Game is probably the game i have played the most in my life. This is an extremely well made beat em’ up co-op action game that anyone will enjoy. The game is not too hard but not too easy either.
I realize that we are a bit biased towards this game because of it’s nostalgic appeal but we cannot let any other game get the number 1 spot with a good conscious, we have just played it too much to do so.
Imagine if they would have used the four score and made it 4-player? Yeah.. a man can dream… but the NES would not have handled it. But even as a 2-player game it excels for having good levels, fun enemies, tight controls, sweet tunes and just extremely fun 2-player gameplay.
If you like this game try: Turtles in Time, Turtles III, Knights of the Round

Full review:

4. The Legend of Zelda (1986)


Yes, The Legend of Zelda has to be here, the start of one of the largest video game franchise ever. . Revolutionary, adventurous, huge and great fun is what describes the first Zelda game. Granted it may not have aged very well but it is still a fantastic adventure that will keep you engaged for a long long time.
The world of Hyrule is huge and so are the various areas and dungeons you have to explore. The open world is vast and mystical and really gives you a sense of curiosity and wonder. There is a reason why games like Skyrim, Breath of the Wild and Witcher III are returning to this open world formula.
If you like this game try: Golvellius, Ys: Book 1 & 2

3. Megaman 2 (1988)


Holy hell, it’s Megaman 2! Just such an insanely well crafted game from top to bottom. Insane gameplay, environment, bosses, music and game feel. This is a game that has it all. Of course there are 6 Megaman games on the NES but I think this one has to be the best of the bunch.
I have a particular fondness for the first Megaman, and Megaman 3 is also extremely good so they could have easily made this list but I can’t have just Mega Man here clogging up all the spots on the list.
Megaman 2 is one of the more forgiving/easy Megaman games but it still has 2 difficulty settings, the more difficult setting being the better way of playing the game by far. Megaman 2 has reached legendary status in the gaming community and is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time and I have to say that I am one of those guys, even though at times I feel like the first Mega Man is the better game. But I cannot deny it, Megaman 2 is the bomb!
If you like this game try: Mega Man X, Shatterhand

2. Super Mario Bros 3 (1988)


Super Mario Bros 3 has to be in at least the top 5 of every list like this. I really wanted to make an original, unique list but after thinking about it for a long time there is no denying it. Super Mario Bros 3 has such rich gameplay, 8 huge worlds, awesome items, fun secrets and is just a great addition to what originally made the first Mario so great. Probably my 3rd most played game of all time. Everyone knows why this game is widely considered one of the best games of all time, at least top 10. Such is the legendary status of this game.
If you like this game try: Duck Tales, Shovel Knight

1. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (1989)

C3 cover

I think Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is the best NES game ever made. The 1986 Konami original Castlevania was only the beginning of what would become one of my all time favorite franchises and I think Castlevania III is the most polished NES Castlevania game.
Dracula’s Curse rises above its predecessors with multiple paths,  three companions that enhance the gameplay (Grant, Sypha and Alucard),  fantastic but devilish level design, music that has to be in the conversation for best NES soundtracks, and in this game they added a much needed password system so you won’t have to start from the beginning if you should give up.
That password system for me justifies the hellish level of difficulty the game has. That being said this game is not for someone who considers himself a bad gamer. I would then refer him or her to the first Castlevania, since you should of course play first anyway since this is the 3rd one. But for us hardcore, never give up sadistic bastards this is the ultimate game, and you will love it and play it more than once or twice or thrice for that matter since you have so many levels to experience in branching paths with different characters. The difficulty of the game and the satisfaction I got from beating it makes it so important to me, it was truly a unique experience.

The Japanese version “Akumajou Densetsu” is an easier version of the game. It is also uncensored and has enhanced music through its vrc6 chip. I recommend to trying that version not only for the more forgiving difficulty but also for the epicness of listening to one of the best NES soundtracks ever with extra sound channels.
Great experience.
If you like this game try: Castlevania, Rondo of Blood, Master of Darkness, Holy Diver

Full review:


That’s it! What do you think? Is the list what you expected? Not?

Tell us what you think and take part in the readers poll below!

In the future I am sure that I will do a “the next 10” article or a “Top NES 11-20” article so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading 🙂

***We have not played ALL the NES games but most of them and certainly all games ever considered one of the best***

***I also reserve the right to just change my mind and change the list so it is not completely 100% written in stone***

2 thoughts on “Top 10 NES games”

  1. It’s a pretty solid list, I played the hell out of all those games. I played a lot of Rygar but I don’t think I would vote that to the list. I do however feel Metroid could make solid argument. Good Job!
    Honorable Mentions: Shmups


    1. Rygar is a classic i give you that but i think it lacks a bit in a few areas to make the list.
      You might be right about Metroid but i made a review on Metroid the other day which explains pretty well why it didnt make my top 10


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