So you are considering purchasing a Nintendo Entertainment System, well congrats on getting the console that highlighted the best the post-video game crash era had to offer. The Nintendo is definitely a fine choice for a gaming machine due to its long shelf life relative ease of maintenance and the large community of homebrewers who still make and release new games for the platform. With your purchase I am sure you are wondering what games are worth both my time and money as a consumer and have the highest chance of getting the most possible enjoyment out of your brand new console. Presuming that you are a new purchaser and not a veteran who owned the console long ago during its heyday this list will include a wide range of titles some you may have heard of and some lesser known titles that are definitely worth buying.
#1 Super Mario Brothers
Quintessentially the most played and best selling game for the platform. You can find it in a variety of flavors as either a standalone or as part of one of many multi-cart variants. Super Mario Brothers is a platforming game broken up into eight unique worlds each with four parts that end in a battle with Bowser (AKA King Koopa, AKA Rhyme Masta’ Turts). As far as platforming games go the game is fairly easy to adapt to and has a very nice difficulty curve up until the last two worlds when the game switches into insane mode. The game controls very tightly and lacks the cheap deaths that have become so common in modern games. You can pick up a copy of this game on the cheap from Lukie Games or from most second hand shops with relative ease.
If you like Super Mario Brothers you may also like: Super Mario Brothers 2. or Super Mario Brothers 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Mario 2 is quite different from the original game and three because its just a palette swap another game and called DokiDoki Panic and plays exactly the same as it. Super Mario Brothers 3 however plays just like the original just with the addition of suits that give you special abilities and that you can now hold koopa shells in your hands and toss them. If you are more intimately familiar with the arcade game Mario Bros. that is also available for the NES.
#2 The Legend of Zelda
When it comes to adventure games the Legend of Zelda is definitely one of the tops it has non-linear gameplay a variety of secrets and puzzles loads of weapons. You have over eight dungeons to explore that you can go to in any order you want, and once you get the whistle or raft the entire world of Hyrule is your oyster. The Legend of Zelda is challenging as the enemies in the game play for keeps and when you die there are stiff penalties like losing your shield or rupees. The only real flaw the game has is its limited soundtrack as it only have a few songs that loop infinitely and can become grating after a long enough period of time has elapsed.
If you like The Legend of Zelda you may also like: Zelda II The Adventure of Link, Crystalis, or Faxanadu. All three of these games features similar High Fantasy settings a new fangled action oriented battle system where you gain experience by defeating enemies and level up while at the same time providing a similar experience to that of the original Zelda game. If you want a game that is nearly identical to it you can try Willow which plays almost identically while following the story of the movie Willow.
#3 Donkey Kong
Technically Mario's first appearance when he was still but a lowly carpenter from New York trying to save his girlfriend from a giant rampaging Ape this game stars him as he jumps over barrels and climbs ladders. It’s a decent port (especially when compared to the other ports) of the arcade game Donkey Kong and comes in a variety of flavors just like the original Super Mario Bros. game. You can get it as a multi cart with both it and Donkey Kong Jr. on it or as a stand alone. If you want an authentic arcade experience this is one of the games that will give you that feeling as it feels like playing the arcade version of Donkey Kong albeit with NES graphics.
If you like Donkey Kong you may also like: Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong 3, and Wrecking Crew are all arcade style games, DK Jr. and DK 3 are sequels to the the Arcade hit Donkey Kong and are just as fun as the first while introducing new mechanics and gameplay elements. DK Jr. has you climbing vines and dropping fruit on enemies in order to defeat them, while DK 3 has you using a can of bug spray to defeat bugs that want only to murder the hell out of you Galaga style. Wrecking Crew features Mario during his days as a construction worker where he spent his time breaking down walls and doors. Wrecking Crew is kind of like a combination of Burgertime and Bomberman where you have to destroy specific objects in order to advance while enemies chase you around the stage and up and down ladders.
#4 Dragon Warrior
Ridiculous outfits! Random Encounters! Level Grinding! Three staples of the JRPG and this is the game that started it all. With an amazing soundtrack, many colorful enemies and lots of Olde English this game is a must have for anyone who likes a good traditional JRPG buts wants to experience the game that allowed us ‘muricans to be able to play our Persona’s and Final Fantasies. For the person who hasn’t played a JRPG before I must warn you that the game is only like four or five hours long, but you will spend hours level grinding. You will fight slimes, lots of slimes! Slimes of all different shapes and colors and sizes, some will be royalty and others will have funny hats! If you aren’t a fan of Olde English or odd writing styles the game has plenty of it and in my opinion it adds to the charm of the game.
If you like Dragon Warrior you may also like: Final Fantasy, Little Ninja Brothers, and Star tropics all are excellent examples of the best the system has to offer in the the JRPG genre. All three star a protagonist with a silly hat who has a destiny that says he has to save the world, similarities end there as each has a different setting and slightly different battle systems.
#5 Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
If you are more a fan of Dungeon and Dragons then the Wizardry series is definitely the game for you, you roll characters and go on an epic dungeon crawling adventure full of crazy enemies and unforgiving bosses. The thing that makes Wizardry unique is that once your entire team is wiped out you are forced to make a new team your entire team is now considered dead. In some versions of the game you can find, loot, and/or revive your old team and can then switch freely between your parties. Wizardry is a slow starting game though as rolling a good character can be quite hard as the points you get to distribute to build your character are randomly generated so making and deleting characters is half the fun of the game.
If you like western RPG’s like Wizardry you may also like: Wizardry II, Serpents and Swords, or Advanced Dungeon and Dragons All of which play almost identically and use the DND standards for making characters and building their respective worlds. If you like rolling imaginary dice all three of these games are full of these rolls from making characters to determining whether or not a sewer rat crits and slays your entire party. For those looking for a more lighthearted alternative A Bard Tale is full of humor and plays like a combination of Ultima and Wizardry while maintaining a steady influx of dick jokes.
#6 Wizards & Warriors
Jumping. Wizards and Warriors is like 90% jumping. You want to kill an enemy? You jump. You want to advance to a new area? You’ll have to jump to that shit. Wizards and Warriors is an old favorite of mine where you play Kuros a Knight who sets out to defeat the evil wizard Malkil by jumping through trees and collecting keys that open chests that contain either weapons that augment your attacks or treasure. Unlike Ghosts and Goblins where any time you pickup a weapon it becomes your main attack in this the weapons you pick up are flung about whenever you attack with your sword. i.e. If you have the knife it will be thrown forward and will then return to the player and repeats whenever you swing your sword.
If you like Wizards and Warriors you may also like: Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II, and Wizards & Warriors III: Kuros: Visions of Power, both play very similarly to the original game while adding new conventions like item shops and a money system.
#7 Ninja Gaiden
One of the most contested things of the 90’s was the pronunciation of this game, was it Ninja “GAY-den” or “GUY-den”? School yards and arcades were rife with kids debating the hot button issue. Inevitably everyone found out that it was pronounced “Guy-den” and everyone immediately stopped caring. You play as Ryu Hayabusa on his quest to discover the mystery of a mysterious letter from his mysteriously missing father who is quite a mystery. You jump and you slice with your sword while being subject to some of the most bitchin’ cutscenes on the NES. The most notable thing about Ninja Gaiden is that it is so insanely difficult especially on the sixth level which is what I presume hell to be like.
If you like Ninja gayden then you may also like: Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos, Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom, and Strider three games are action platformers where you jump and slash. In the Ninja Gaiden you also have items to help you and and magic jutsu-spell things you can activate to help yourself. Strider is all about jumping and slashing as well but you can hang on walls and shit which is awesome. Warning all the Ninja Gaiden games are hard as all get out.
#8 Kickle Cubicle
A puzzle game by Irem originally for the Arcades and later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System. You play as Kickle who must collect dream bags in order to save the people of fantasy land from the Wicked Wizard King who has turned everything to ice. The objective of each stage is to get the dream bag(s) by freezing your enemies and using their corpses to create bridges or to destroy other enemies. Kickle Cubicle is a pretty long game with over 30+ levels each requiring you to approach your goal in a certain way in order to succeed.
If you like Kickle Cubicle you may also like: You will most likely enjoy some of the consoles other big puzzle games like Tetris, Warriors Woods, Lolo and Bubble Bobble. Tickle your brain and show off your mad puzzle skills to friends as all of these games feature either a scoring system or multiplayer so you can show off!
#9 North & South
What are the things everyone likes? Strategy Games and the Civil War, especially when the civil war is based on a Belgian comic series about the American Civil War similar in style to Beetle Baily. The objective of the game is to unite the eastern coast of North America. You can play as either the Confederates or the Union and there are multiple elements that can be disabled and enabled to make the game more challenging like having storms that prevent units from moving or Native Americans who destroy units on certain states. All battles take place in real time and whenever you go to capture a fortress the game suddenly becomes a side scrolling platformer as you try to get to the enemy flag before time runs out. North & South is an interesting experience, one that I have yet to experience while playing any other strategy game.
If you like North & South you may also like: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Genghis Kahn, Wallstreet Kid, and Overlord. Although a lot less whimsical then North & South all of these strategy games offer deep immersive gameplay that will make you lose track of time faster then you can say Anglo-Zanzibar War.
#10 Kirby's Adventure
He’s cute, he’s cuddly, and he's pink! Kirby’s Adventure is the second game in the Kirby series and is a port of Kirby’s Dreamland for the Gameboy with improved graphics and and the for the first time ever copy abilities. Kirby’s Adventure is a cutesy platforming game with about a pink walking blob that seeks to consume all living things, what's not to love? The game is fairly easy and is a great introduction to the rest of the Kirby series as many of the current conventions of the newer games originated here.
If you like Kirby’s Adventure you may also like: Happiness, because only a person who is truly in touch with the universe can truly appreciate how perfect the Kirby games are.
#11 Darkwing Duck
Darkwing Duck is based on the Television series of the same name is the result of a joint venture between Capcom and Disney where Capcom would get rights to their games and was the sole creator of Disney games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It is likely that you are also aware of Ducktales for the Nintendo as its apparently much more popular, but I submit to you that Darkwing Duck is the superior game. Darkwing Duck takes the conventions of Megaman but makes everything less soul crushingly difficult and more fun. Just like with Megaman you start off with a stage select screen but instead of unlocking weapons by defeating bosses you obtain them over the course of a stage and some you even start with, you also are given the ability to duck, block, and hang three things absent from any other traditional Megaman style game. Basically this game is Megaman only better all you do is jump and shoot.
If you like Darkwing Duck then you may also like: Megaman, Megaman 5, and Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers all three are action platformers the Megaman games play identically to Darkwing Duck but Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers stands out as it features a not only a multiplayer feature but lacks the jump and shoot gameplay of the Megamans. In Chip and Dale you throw crates and other items that you pick up throughout the stage in order to wage battle.
#12 R.C. Pro-Am
If you happen to occasionally feel the need for speed, then R.C. Pro-Am will likely cure that urge! You start off in the minor leagues driving some sort of jeep and you upgrade your machine by picking up the random car parts strewn about the track. This is likely the best racing game on the Nintendo, the only major flaw is a lack of multiplayer Despite lacking multiplayer it still offers a great experience as it’s one of the first racing games to allow you to destroy other cars while racing by picking up and using weapons laying all around the course.
If you like R.C. Pro-Am you may also like: Spy Hunter, Excite Bike, Knight Rider, Stunt Kids, or R.C. Pro-AM II. These games will curb your need to be fast! In Spy Hunter you are racing along a long stretch of road attempting to avoid being taking down by the Police before you reach your destination. Excite Bike and Stunt Kids are all about the tricks as you ramp all the things! Knight Rider and Pro-Am II are both racing games that are all about using weapons to get yourself in first place.