The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was, to most, the one that brought video gaming to the masses. While the Atari was the first, the Nintendo made playing video games a mainstream activity. Hundreds of games were released, but a few easily rise to the top. Here are my picks for the top 10 NES games.
10) Tecmo Super Bowl
What I consider the first “good” football game ever released, Tecmo Super Bowl actually allowed you to pick a team that at least resembled your favorite team. Players had their own stats, and the controls were greatly improved over the original Tecmo Bowl. Also expanded on were the amount of plays you could choose on offense and defense. I have many fond memories of this game, playing against my friends and hooting and hollering over every score.
9) River City Ransom
This title went largely unknown, which is unfortunate because it was a very deep, content-rich fighting game. Play felt similar to Double Dragon, with movement being allowed up and down, as well as left to right. You could also purchase power-ups from various places, such as drug stores and fast food joints, giving the game a bit of a role-playing feel as you developed your character’s stats. The storyline was humorous and engaging, and picking up weapons such as baseball bats and barrels added a great sense of fun to an amazingly solid game.
This amazingly successful franchise got its start thanks to this thrilling game on the Nintendo. Sidescrolling and platform-jumping action were defined by this game, and the chilling sounds and music kept you on the edge of your seat as you fought off waves of zombies, vampires and bats. The difficulty of Castlevania ramped up quickly towards the end, providing a significant challenge for even the best of gamers.
7) Ninja Gaiden
Another side-scrolling fighting game, Ninja Gaiden introduced newer ways to move your character, such as jumping back and forth against walls to reach new elevations. The endless tide of ninjas and other bad guys assaulting you made for one difficult game, with the end boss being one of the most difficult I’ve ever encountered in any game to date. Ninja Gaiden is one of the games that gave Nintendo it’s “hard-mode” reputation. Newer games typically fail to present the same challenge as they attempt to cater to the masses; Nintendo simply made games hard because they knew no better. And I loved it.
6) Dragon Warrior IV
This amazing take on their previous role-playing games introduced chapters which tell an amazing story. Each of the first 4 chapters of Dragon Warrior IV tell the tale of different heroes, which you directly control as they help out their corner of the world. Chapter 5 finally introduces you, the hero, and begin his journey of saving the world. Throughout chapter 5, you meet up with the characters from the previous four acts, eventually forming a party of 9 which you can swap in and out of your “front four” at your leisure. One of the best stories of any Nintendo RPG, this is one that you definitely want to play if given the chance.
5)The Legend of Zelda
No words I can write will do this game justice, but fortunately, just about everyone who would read this article has already played this game, so you know how incredible it is. The franchise built on this original still continues to fuel Nintendo’s first-party title dominance, and even the Wii’s Zelda is being critically acclaimed as the best Zelda ever released. Nintendo struck gold with this little elf-boy.
Crystalis was a very well-hidden title which unfortunately didn’t receive the proper advertising and promotion needed to catapult it into super-stardom. This Zelda-like game was simply amazing, offering up a very difficult, rewarding adventure in true action-adventure flavor. Powering up your sword with different elements, and unleashing their special attacks, was amazing to behold back in the day, and the challenges and puzzles presented were exceptionally entertaining.
3) Final Fantasy
Another mega-franchise origin, Final Fantasy was one of the first “true” role-playing games introduced to the NES. While Dragon Warrior came out first, the ability to create and control a party of 4 through a massive, difficult world made Final Fantasy the huge success that it has become today, spanning many platforms, two motion pictures, musical concerts and a massive multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG) which draws well over a million subscribers to pay monthly just to log in. I wonder if Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) knew what this game would mean to them?
2) Super Mario Brothers 3
Even ignoring the motion-picture/commercial produced around this game (The Wizard), this game is simply incredible. Kicking the Super Mario series into high gear by giving it a map to explore, secrets to uncover, and various suits for Mario to change into is what made Nintendo’s trademark franchise what it is today. What’s not to love about turning into a raccoon, hammer brother, frog, or beaver? You couldn’t help but love all that this game had to offer.
This puzzle game managed to grab the nation in its hands and hold them hostage for hours at a time with its addictive gameplay. Tetris was largely responsible for bringing adult gaming-newbies to the NES, and this game is still heralded by some as the best game of all time on any system. Many other puzzle games have tried to duplicate its style, with little success. Tetris will always be around, on any system that buys the rights to it, and it will always have a strong following of puzzle addicts who are just looking to take a break and have a good time with it.