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Top 10 NES Games [top ten]
 
I was a late-comer to the NES party, as I didn't have one growing up. It wasn't until a few years ago that I got my NES, but I was able to enjoy games for the system years before that thanks to the Virtual Console. Owning the system allowed me to fill in gaps in my library that the VC can't, so I've been able to play plenty more titles than I would have otherwise.

While the NES isn't one of my favorite systems, I still do enjoy it quite a bit. It has some great games, and it is always interesting to see how classic genres and series originated. While not every title has stood the test of time, plenty of NES games are still worth playing today. Here are my top 10!

This list is based on my personal opinion of each game. Keep in mind that I haven't played some "essential" titles like Castlevania, Blaster Master, or Ninja Gaiden. I'm going to let my personal preferences be reflected in this list, so if you're the type to get upset that say, Castlevania or Mario 3 isn't included, then you should keep in mind that this is all just my opinion. I'm not trying to say what is "objectively the best", just which games I like the most.
Posted: 03/05/16, 07:56:19  - Edited by 
 on: 03/24/16, 17:16:30
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The Mysterious Murasame Castle
The Mysterious Murasame Castle is a tough, but rewarding game that keeps you on the edge of your seat. In many ways this is Zelda's action-packed and more straightforward sequel. They control and look similarly, but where Zelda is explorative and inspired by medieval Europe, The Mysterious Murasame Castle delivers intense action-based gameplay with an appealing medieval Japanese setting.


Getting to finally play this has been a real treat. Considering how hesitant Nintendo can be to localize some games, it feels like we're lucky to have the chance to play The Mysterious Murasame Castle.
 
Little Nemo: The Dream Master
Little Nemo is a fun adventure through a trippy dreamlike whorld of mushrooms, gumdrops, toy trains, and wearing the carcasses of overfed animals. This game is a little insane, which helps it to stand out in my mind- there were some interesting level themes here. Fittingly so, it often feels like you're traveling through the dreams of a child.


I never did finish this game, though. You can't save, so you have to beat the whole thing in one shot. I got so close to the end, but there was this level that was giving me trouble, and by that point it was 3 in the morning of a weeknight. I had no choice but to give up and go to bed. Oh well, I still had fun. I think it says a lot that I was willing to stay up that late to try and finish Little Nemo.

I really should play this game again.
 
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
Man, this game is legendary. One of the most popular NES games (and with good reason) Punch Out is a pure joy to play. Silky smooth animation allows you to read enemies' movements and respond accordingly. It feels so good to swiftly dodge a foe's attack and respond with some punches of your own. Characters are charming and full of life and the gameplay is simple, yet rewarding.


This game perfectly exemplifies what makes the NES great; creative ideas, inspired design, and impressive use of limited technology. There's a reason Punch Out is considered a classic.
 
Mega Man 2
Don't take this game's low position relative to the rest of the series give the wrong impression; Mega Man 2 is awesome. Competition on this list is stiff and other Mega Man games set a high standard to live up to. However, none of that stops Mega Man 2 from being an enjoyable game. So much of what makes Mega Man, well, Mega Man started here, and if I played the games in order maybe this would be my favorite because of that.


As it stands, Mega Man 2 is one of the best games on the NES. This game makes a great starting point for the Mega Man series, introducing players to the series's core elements without overwhelming them with too many mechanics or too much difficulty.
 
Mega Man 3
In addition to adding Rush and the slide, Mega Man 3 reaches a nice high point for level design in the classic series. In a franchise known for having rocking soundtracks, Mega Man 3 features one of the best. The opening theme in particular always gets me psyched up to play the game.


I had a hard time deciding between this and Mega Man 2, as I've played both games to the point of being a little tired of them. While nothing in Mega Man 2 frustrates me like those Doc Robot stages do, Mega Man 3 gets the edge thanks to better level and boss design. However the Doc Robot stages and some sub-par Wily levels keep this title from beating out the next Mega Man game on this list.
 
Mega Man
There's a certain appeal to the relative simplicity of the original Mega Man. It's brief, uncomplicated, and enjoyable. It's not as refined as later titles, but it's still a lot of fun.


It is hard for some to revisit this game after the improvements of later Mega Man games, but I enjoy what Mega Man has to offer. It's pretty tough, but perseverance through the hardship is rewarded with a great feeling of accomplishment. Also, the Yellow Devil might be my favorite Mega Man boss.
 
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Yeah, it's kind of flawed and rough around the edges, but I love Zelda 2. The difficulty is punishing, but satisfying and I like the feeling of progress I get from leveling up. Although the way this game deviates from the Zelda formula may alienate some, I find it to be a wonderful change of pace from the rest of the series.


This is a different take on the Zelda formula, but it's one that I've come to appreciate.
 
Kirby's Adventure
This latecomer to the NES library pushes the machines to its limits, with impressive graphics and a variety of ways to play. From the character design, to the graphics, to the music, this is one charming experience.


Relaxing and taking in the adorable visuals and upbeat music is a wonderful experience that shouldn't be missed. There are multiple re-releases to choose from, so you have plenty of options to try Kirby's Adventure if you missed out on it the first time around. It's well worth it.
 
Mega Man 4
This entry distinguishes itself from the rest of the NES run of Mega Man titles by placing special emphasis on instant death traps. This has the potential to ruin the game (Like how Mega Man 9 took things way too far), but fortunately, Mega Man 4 hits just the right level of tense action without being infuriating. This title also introduced the controversial charge shot. While I can understand why some don't like it, I'm perfectly fine with the new mechanic's inclusion.


The stages and robot masters are of the highest quality, exhibiting some of the best that Mega Man has to offer. Mega Man 4 is yet another wonderful 2D platformer that helped to make the NES such an enjoyable system.
 
Mega Man 5
The core Mega Man experience is already phenomenal, but Mega Man 5 is where the original series hit its peak in quality, polishing the series to a gleam. The Protoman levels can be a drag, but that's more than made up for by the quality of the robot masters' levels.


If you passed off Mega Man 5 as "just another Mega Man" I suggest you give it another chance. It may not be particularly innovative, but it is able to take one of the best series on the system and push the level of quality to its highest point. I enjoy Mega Man quite a bit, so it makes sense that the most refined version of that template would be my favorite NES game.
 
Looking back, there was quite a bit of Mega Man on this list, huh? The reason for that is pretty simple: I really like Mega Man. Mega Man 6 would have made the list too if I felt that it was on par with the rest of the NES titles, but for whatever reason I enjoyed that game the least. I also left out Kid Icarus because I've only played the enhanced 3DS port. While I'm at it, here are some other honorable mentions:

Mendal Palace
Batman
North and South
Mother
Ufouria: The Saga


Because so many of these games are platformers, I didn't have as much to say as I initially though I would. It's kind of hard to creatively describe what makes a 2D platformer enjoyable since the genre is so simple, especially when half of the game's I'm writing about are so similar. Hopefully I did a good job. If this list is well received I might do a list of my top 10 SNES games when I have the time. That list is more diverse and I think I'll have more to say about each of the games on it.

I generally try to avoid resorting to basic descriptions of how the games work when I'm discussing them, since the reason I take the time to read top 10's is to see somebody else's opinion. If I wanted to know about a game's mechanics or details about how it plays, I would check wikipedia or a review. That's not to say lists that take that approach are bad; just that they're not the kind of list that I'm personally interested in reading or writing.

Anyway, thank you very much for taking the time to read this and I hope you have a good day.

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Posted: 03/05/16, 07:56:19  - Edited by 
 on: 03/24/16, 17:16:30
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Needs more Mega Man games come on where is 6?!
Posted: 03/05/16, 08:01:43
Oh thank gosh Zelda II is on here.
Posted: 03/05/16, 08:05:38
No Castlevania = list fail.
Posted: 03/05/16, 18:37:02
I agree with your Mega Man 3 > Mega Man 2 placement, and always appreciate someone giving the underrated Mega Man 1 its due.

That said, Zelda 1, Mario 1 and Mario 3 are NES highlights for me!
Posted: 03/05/16, 19:46:18
Wait there is no Super Mario Bros. 3 in this list? How is that even possible?!!ED?ASfasd/kfaslkvs

Still, the vast amount of Mega Man saves you.
Posted: 03/05/16, 23:01:19
The pic for Mega Man 4 is broken, btw. At least for me.
Posted: 03/05/16, 23:26:40
@GameDadGrant

Are you on mobile? I thought it was broken when I was looking at the list on my phone, but then I checked on my Laptop and it was fine.

TriforceBun said:

That said, Zelda 1, Mario 1 and Mario 3 are NES highlights for me!

I'm not a huge fan of any of those 3. Zelda 1 is pretty fun with a guide, Mario 1 is alright for what it is, and I just can't get used to Mario 3's physics, so the whole games becomes frustrating for me. I can see why people love all of those games, though.

GameDadGrant said:
No Castlevania = list fail.

If I played Castlevania 1, it might have made it on this list. Right now the only NES Castlevania I've played is 3, and I don't enjoy that game as thoroughly as I enjoy the rest of these games.
Posted: 03/06/16, 18:26:35  - Edited by 
 on: 03/06/16, 18:27:52
@Hero_Of_Hyrule

Yeah, I'm on my phone. I'll check later to see if the image comes up on my computer.

Also, what?!? Dracula's Curse is my favorite NES game, full stop. You don't dig it that much WHHHYYYY.....!
Posted: 03/06/16, 18:40:35
The music and visuals are great. I like using multiple characters too. The only thing preventing from enjoying that game as much as I could is how difficult some of the levels are. I still like it, though.
Posted: 03/06/16, 20:48:20
Posted: 03/07/16, 01:55:11  - Edited by 
 on: 03/07/16, 01:55:32
Whoops, I thought I posted here. Not that I have much to say...

I'm not on mobile and the MM4 image also isn't showing for me either.

It does seem a bit heavy to have half the list be Mega Man, but, if that's what you like then it's what you gotta put on the list. I do think Mega Man 4 may be a little underappreciated, as it still has excellent music, and may have the best set of weapons in the series. It has a lot of "fixed" versions of weapons from Mega Man 2, making them a lot more useful and also fun. That said, I don't view Mega Man 5 so highly, as its set of weapons is pretty disappointing coming off of 4. A lot of its weapons are pretty awkward to use, limiting their potential, and some once again using up too much energy to be worthwhile. In the end, it's often most effective to just use charged Buster shots. I still like the game, just not as much as most other MM games. Though, I still like the music a lot, with Wave Man's theme being one of my fave tunes on NES, it's pretty unique for what it is.

I always find it interesting to see the thoughts of people going back and playing these old games, so I think it would be worthwhile for you to continue with an SNES list. Maybe even an N64 list, too!
Posted: 03/22/16, 22:11:45
Yep, there sure is a lot of Mega Man up there. An interesting list, though. I like some of the dark horses. Like Zelda II!
Posted: 03/23/16, 03:52:25
Lots of Mega Man is totally cool. I have to admit I've not really played any of your other choices in your list (unless you count beating the GBA remake of Kirby's Adventure when I was in middle school) I should rectify that.



EDIT: And yeah, the Mega Man 4 image doesn't display for me, and I'm on a desktop computer.
Posted: 03/23/16, 04:08:57  - Edited by 
 on: 03/23/16, 04:09:38
Okay, I think I fixed the Mega Man 4 image. Let me know if it's still not appearing for you!

Mop it up said:
Whoops, I thought I posted here. Not that I have much to say...

It does seem a bit heavy to have half the list be Mega Man, but, if that's what you like then it's what you gotta put on the list.

I always find it interesting to see the thoughts of people going back and playing these old games, so I think it would be worthwhile for you to continue with an SNES list. Maybe even an N64 list, too!

Yeah, I realized it might not be terribly exciting to read a list that's half Mega Man, but I'm basing this solely on how much I like the games. I'm sure there are people who grew up with the NES that would scoff at this list, but that's okay. The classics don't have to appeal to everyone, and I'm happy to bring attention to games that struck a chord with me that people may have overlooked. My top 10's for other consoles tend to be a mix of classics and lesser known titles, which I think makes it more interesting. I'm not trying to be a hipster or anything like that, but sometimes my opinions on popular games don't line up with the general consensus. I think that shows the most in my NES list.

I already have top 10's picked out for almost every other Nintendo console, so it's just a matter of fleshing them out when I feel like writing in my free time. I planned to go through at least all of the home consoles, but I put in the "I'll do a SNES list if this is well received" line because I wouldn't want to keep going if people hated my writing or the list.

I think my NES list is probably the least interesting because of how much Mega Man there is and how many games are in the same genre. The other lists are definitely more varied and I think I'll have more to say about them since the games are more diverse. Thanks for the feedback!

@Anand

Thanks! Zelda II rocks!

@X-pert74

These games are worth the time if you're interested. I hope you find a fun new game you haven't tried before!
Posted: 03/24/16, 17:29:03  - Edited by 
 on: 03/24/16, 17:29:59
@Hero_Of_Hyrule Yeah, I know how you feel, my taste in games also often differs from the general consensus. I'm not bothered with it, although the only issue is that if stuff I like isn't popular enough, it won't get made anymore. One of my fave franchises is Mario so my lists for each system would have at least one of those games on them, but I also like some lesser-known / lower-selling games that would stray from the typical, so my lists would also be a mix. For NES as an example, I'd probably put Castlequest in my list, a game which most people probably haven't played or heard about, and even if they did they probably wouldn't like it. My N64 and Wii lists would probably disgust people as well!

I also like Zelda II, it would probably be in my own top ten as well. In general, it's a popular game, but amongst Zelda titles it's typically considered to be near the bottom.
Posted: 04/02/16, 20:21:00
@Hero_Of_Hyrule

I can see the Mega Man IV image! It's Skull Man's stage!

SUCCESS!
Posted: 04/02/16, 20:39:51
The Mysterious Murasame Castle is the only one I have never played. I went to the Wii U eShop just now and… not there. Dammit Nintendo. i'm so sick of this having to re-release things every generation. For the NX they better be preparing for a huge Virtual Console availability. The whole 'release by trickling' never gets me to want to go buy something new. It's more like, 'Finally it's available but I would have bought it months ago."
Posted: 04/02/16, 22:10:52
@DrFinkelstein

It's on the 3DS eShop, not Wii U.
Posted: 04/02/16, 22:40:24
@TriforceBun

Oh… Well, my complaint still stands in 'general' but I'm gonna have to go turn that handheld thing on… lol.

Thanks!
Posted: 04/02/16, 23:02:16
@GameDadGrant

You were right!

I just played the original Castlevania for the first time recently, and it's easily in contention for my favorite NES game. If I were to redo this list I would probably put it in the top 3. If I enjoyed the last two stages as much as I did the rest of the game, it might be number 1. It's so good! And it's got me itching to revisit Castlevania 3, but I'm still a little intimidated.
Posted: 12/30/16, 00:37:11  - Edited by 
 on: 12/30/16, 00:38:10
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