Top 10 favorite NES games of all time

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Remembering the NES-

The Nintendo Entertainment System was the first console I ever owned as a kid and therefore remains the #1 most nostalgic gaming rig to me personally. While the system employed many kid friendly titles, the NES also was not without its fair share of mondo triumphant 'tude-filled releases! One things for sure... these games were hard as HELL and would mold even the laziest gamer into a keen eyed predator if you gave them enough of a chance before giving up in frustration. Welcome to the generation of POWER !

Whether it be a cryptically puzzling affair that was hard to figure out (like Castlevania II: Simon's Quest for example) or a brutally tough action game with relentless enemy a.i. and twitchy platforming (Ghosts 'n Goblins fits nicely here), NES titles brought it in the difficulty department and provided my childhood with many sleepless nights of "just one more try" when I should have probably been catching some zzz's. I swear, there's just something about the challenge from Nintendo's little grey box that makes beating these games very accomplishing and rewarding despite the usually disappointing single-screen ending that would typically loiter itself at the finish of many of these adventures. Regardless though, the journey is what matters the most anyways (especially in video games) and the NES acted like a wise and disciplined sensai training all those who were worthy to become better, faster and more coordinated in the gaming world whenever you were able to overcome any of its more difficult challenges.

It wasn't all about difficulty though. Accessibility to new players as well as an extensive library of games for all ages provided the NES with even more incentive to give it a spin especially for families. Peripherals such as the Zapper were so easy to understand that they got my 90 year old great-grandparents to give Duck Hunt a try despite barely understanding the concept of what a video game even was! Who doesn't comprehend shooting things with a gun? I know they did and it was a blast for the whole family to watch Nana and Papa squint their eyes at the t.v. to try and get a clear shot at one of those pesky flying mallards. Additionally, the NES controller was relatively simple for most people to grasp and paired nicely with the multitudes of different games that adorned the grand library of Nintendo's 8-bit behemoth.

Speaking of games (...that is why we're here after all), the NES was chocked full of exciting and challenging titles that were sure to keep you busy for many trips around the Sun. Action games, puzzlers, shooters, arcade ports... they're all here and given the chance will supply tons of entertainment to players of all varieties. Picking a favorite's list will not be easy considering the size of the library combined with the other previously mentioned attributes but it's a challenge that I'm willing to take considering my love of the NES and its vast array of awesome games. Now you're playing with power dudes !

The following is a list of The 'Tude Dude's 10 favorite NES games of all time.


Honorable Mentions

-Mega Man series, Duck Tales, Jackal, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, Double Dragon 1 & III, Gun Nac, RBI Baseball series, Super C, Golgo 13 & Mafat Conspiracy, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Baseball Stars, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, Rollergames, 1942 & 1943, Tecmo Bowl, Blaster Master, Pirates!, Castlevania, Duck Hunt, Ikari Warriors, Track & Field 1 & II, Rad Racer, Silkworm, Double Dribble, Rygar, Gun.Smoke, R.C. Pro-Am II, Bionic Commando, The Three Stooges, Ring King, Kirby's Adventure, Shadowgate, Pro Wrestling, Ninja Gaiden II & III, Micro Machines, Super Dodge Ball, Crystalis, Kid Icarus, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, Bases Loaded series, Bomberman II, Arkanoid, Dr. Mario, Battletoads, Elevator Action, Willow, Chip 'N Dale's Rescue Rangers, Bubble Bobble, Batman: The Video Game, Life Force, Ice Hockey, Skate or Die 1 & 2, Commando, Bo Jackson Baseball, Metroid, Donkey Kong Classics, Kings of the Beach, Paperboy, Journey to Silius, Kung Fu, Gradius II, Deja Vu, Final Fantasy, Guerilla War, Super Mario Bros. 1 & 2 and the turbo-gnarly T&C Surf Designs.

Thanks for reading! Question or comment? Feel free to leave below.

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List items

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -With impressive cinematic cut-scenes and all the wall climbing a masked assassin could ask for, Ninja Gaiden still ranks as one of my personal favorite action entries on the console and yet another excuse to escape into the world of shurikens and katana swords.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -The godfather of puzzle games, Tetris supplies players with an extremely addictive gameplay style mixed with a relaxing and engaging soundtrack that always has me coming back for more.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -One of the easiest pick-up-and-play sports games on the NES,

    Blades of Steel provided the best arcade style ice hockey experience on the console (complete with a glove-dropping and jaw shattering fight simulator).

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -Combining action/rpg elements to an addictive beat em' up engine, River City Ransom excels for me as a non-traditional brawler game full of charm and character.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -Pleasurable racing mechanics combined with ahead-of-its time track customizing options make Excitebike one of my most beloved NES experiences.

  • #10

    -The second entry in the Double Dragon series on the NES, Double Dragon II: The Revenge improved on its predecessor by adding multiplayer which made it much closer to its arcade counterpart. A staple among the most well loved 2-player games on the system, Double Dragon II is a blast to play single-player as well and provides one of the deepest and most enjoyable beat 'em up experiences on the NES. Truly though, does it even make sense to call a game Double Dragon if it doesn't have multiplayer in it? I mean, the first game should just be called "single dragon" quite frankly cause there sure as hell ain't no double in it, am I right? ... *crickets*

  • #9

    -Sometimes the simplest of methods can be the most fun. While the sequel provided a new and kick-ass multiplayer mode, there's just something about the original R.C. Pro-Am that will always keep me coming back. With fun and intuitive vehicular combat racing mechanics and easy to pick up controls, R.C. Pro-Am is always a blast to play and my favorite racing entry on the NES. Man, I wish my real-life R.C. car had a missile launcher attachment!

  • #8

    -One of the most fun and replayable action games in the entire NES library, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse improves on the formula of the original by adding new playable characters, having branching paths with multiple endings and pushing the NES hardware to previously unachieved levels of sight and sound quality. A great balance of satisfying challenge with aesthetically pleasing polish, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is an extremely enjoyable game with a boatload of content to offer for anyone daring enough to take on the old bloodsucker's castle again. Now toss me my gear... it's time to whip some candles!

  • #7

    -What's not to like about probably the most recognizable multiplayer game on the system? Contra is such an easy game to slam in for an instantly super fun time no matter if your playing single-player or co-op and the infamous "Konami code" is as ingrained in the fabric of video games as anything else in the world of bleeps and bloops. Simple controls, cool music and fun gameplay make Contra simply one of the best and most memorable run and gunners on the NES. Not to mention, spread RULES everything... and now we know what to arm ourselves in an impending alien invasion (GRAB ME MY SCATTTERSHOT)!

  • #6

    -While many people were put off by the drastic change in design from the original Legend of Zelda, I find Zelda II: The Adventure of Link to be an extremely rewarding game with a fun control scheme, outstanding soundtrack and satisfying difficulty level. Introducing a new 2-d side-scroller style, Zelda II sticks out like a sore thumb in the series compared to its counterparts but if given the chance, will impress with tons of fun sword fighting and dungeon exploring. Just wake me up past the parts where you have to turn into a fairy... YUCK!!!

  • #5

    -Offering a previously unheard of amount of options in a sports game, Tecmo Super Bowl provided the deepest and most realistic NFL experience that you could ever dream of on the NES. While the original Tecmo Bowl featured real players, Tecmo Super Bowl was the first NES game to acquire both the NFL players and teams license which added an exciting amount of authenticity to an already perfectly balanced football engine. An extra added plus for me is I get to play with many of my favorite Dallas Cowboys players of all time such as Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman. In addition to its robust offerings in single-player, it should also be noted that this is as enriched a multiplayer experience that can be had in gaming which is why to this day (and possibly forever) fans continue to faithfully update the rosters and compete in tournaments against each other using the same old engine. Now that's dedication! Tecmo Super Bowl FOREVER!!!

  • #4

    -How could any top 10 NES games list not include Super Mario Bros. 3? Its versatility is top-notch compared to other games of the 'tude era and is still a blast to pop in whether playing alone or with friends. No matter if your spelunking through beetle and piranha plant-infested caves, bouncing on cannonballs while navigating airships high above Mushroom Kingdom or playing a simple picture matching mini-game, your absolutely guaranteed to find fun here even if your a hardcore enthusiast or uptight prude. A true masterpiece, Super Mario Bros. 3 remains not only the best platforming game of its generation but perhaps the best platforming game of all time! Now where's my Tanooki suit?

  • #3

    -A fantastic mix of excellent music, tight controls, great gameplay and cool characters, Mega Man 2 remains not only my favorite entry in the series on the NES but my no. 1 all time favorite Mega Man game to date, period. Kudos to Capcom for creating one of the most satisfying action-platforming titles ever while also pushing the music department into a stratosphere on the NES that no other game on the system has ever achieved. If your one of the few who still haven't played this yet (hi... welcome to planet Earth!), then I implore you to get your weapons ready and blast through Dr. Wily's degenerate robot army today!

  • #2

    -Blending arcade accessibility with a rhythm/memory gameplay mechanic, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! remains one of the most fun and easy to pick up NES games of all time. While simple in concept and design, the execution is what really does it for me here with responsive controls, memorable music and fun characters just begging for a super uppercut to the face from Little Mac. Don't let the first few guys fool you though, Punch-Out scales the difficulty nicely as you realize that the opponents get exponentially tougher as you gain victories. The key to success is learning the patterns of the boxers so that you can effectively counter and maintain your stamina however this gets trickier as the opponents utilize ever-evolving attack patterns making it more difficult to telegraph their movements. Battle your way through all the different enemies and you can take on one of the NES era's most infamous, difficult and satisfying bosses, "Kid Dynamite" Mike Tyson, in a final match to determine the ultimate boxing champion. Just don't ask him to join the Nintendo Fun Club with you.

  • #1

    -I absolutely love everything about The Legend of Zelda. The game is flawless in design and still remains my favorite entry in the series to this day. While later sequels would bring awesome new graphics and innovative mechanics, the original provided the perfect blend of explore at your own will gameplay crossed with a difficulty curve that increases tempo at just the right cadence. It even comes with a battery back-up for saving your game (now that's convenient) without an annoyingly long password which was a real luxury during this era. Also, I'm a huge fan of its limited narrative approach since video game stories don't hardly ever do too much for me. Who needs a long-winded epic tale anyways? Just meet some old dude, grab a sword and start whacking stuff... done. All hail The Legend of Zelda!