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Nintendo (NES) Games

Misc | By The Top 13 on April 13, 2010

Video gaming is now a nearly $20 billion industry in the United States each year, but that would have been unimaginable when the Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES) was released in 1985. Following the collapse of the American gaming industry in 1983, this Japanese import became a vital cultural phenomenon for a generation of youth and made the name of its maker synonymous with the very idea of video games in America. Without the NES, the video game industry - once again dominated by Nintendo - wouldn't be nearly as large as it is today. Between Nintendo's in-house game development and third-party licensing, over 700 games were released for the system; here are the Top 13 NES Games.

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Super Mario Bros. 3

1

Super Mario Bros. 3

Nintendo (1990)

With Super Mario Bros. 3, Nintendo created the formula that virtually all of their 2D platforming games have followed since, including last year's hit, New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii console. Its graphics were advanced for the time and its gameplay was much more refined than prior Super Mario Bros. releases, making for a more enjoyable and less frustrating gaming experience. This game has withstood the test of time and is an easy choice for the top spot on this list.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

2

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Nintendo (1987)

Few games have formed such powerful associations and memories as the challenging Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!. The game was originally released in Japan as Punch-Out, and was rereleased in the United States in 1990 under the original title after Nintendo's license to use Tyson's likeness expired (his character was replaced with Mr. Dream). Many adults today can still remember the music of this game by heart, burned into their minds as children trying to beat the game's progressively more challenging opponents.

The Legend of Zelda

3

The Legend of Zelda

Nintendo (1987)

The first game in Nintendo's durable Zelda franchise, this action-adventure/role-playing hybrid was innovative in its gameplay mechanics and inclusion of a "second quest" that began just as the player thought the game was drawing to a close. It was also immensely popular; this game sold 52 million copies and has spawned 15 follow-ups (and counting) across all of Nintendo's subsequent platforms, save the disastrous Virtual Boy.

Tecmo Bowl

4

Tecmo Bowl

Tecmo (1989)

Ported from the arcade game of the same name, Tecmo Bowl was the best football game of its era and the first to achieve widespread cultural traction. Nowadays, with the advent of EA Sports' Madden franchise, football games are the biggest sellers in the industry; they all have Tecmo Bowl to thank. A rerelease of the game, Tecmo Bowl Throwback, is planned for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles later this year.

Contra

5

Contra

Konami (1988)

Contra is perhaps best known for popularizing what is now simply known to gamers as "The Code," a sequence of button presses that enable the player (or players) to start with 30 lives instead of the nearly impossible standard amount. Yet unlike the other Konami releases that featured "The Code," Contra endures for its fun, fast paced gameplay, and for being one of the first games to offer an engaging two-player cooperative campaign on the NES.

Metroid

6

Metroid

Nintendo (1987)

Like The Legend of Zelda, Metroid was one of the first games that required players to replay and explore its virtual world as the game progressed, unlocking new abilities and new pathways; this is now the standard format for quality action-adventure games. It also spawned a franchise that continues to this day, with its 11th game arriving later this year for the Wii console.

Final Fantasy

7

Final Fantasy

Nintendo & Square (1990)

The original Final Fantasy was far from a major commercial blockbuster (it sold 400,000 copies worldwide), but it paved the way for an explosion in the role-playing game industry. Along with Enix's Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy was one of the first major role-playing releases for the NES in the United States. The role-playing video game industry has since exploded, and the Final Fantasy franchise has become one of the biggest in entertainment world, selling over 96 million games and spawning two feature films.

Double Dragon

8

Double Dragon

Tradewest (1988)

In 1987, Double Dragon ruled the arcade with its innovative cooperative beat-em-up gameplay. The NES version of the game was one of the first big ports of a popular arcade title to a home console. While the NES version of the game was limited by technology - simultaneous cooperative gameplay was not yet possible - it was wildly popular, and the franchise generated many sequels and, somewhat inexplicably, a feature film in 1994.

Double Dribble

9

Double Dribble

Konami (1986)

While it may look primitive by modern standards, Double Dribble helped usher in several technological innovations in game design, including the use of cut scenes (slam dunks triggered animations of silvery-looking players jamming the ball home) and speech (with the comically bad announcement of the game's title). Double Dribble remained one of the better basketball games available on a home console until the arrival of NBA Jam in 1994 on the Genesis and Super Nintendo consoles.

Mega Man 2

10

Mega Man 2

Capcom (1989)

Mega Man is now a successful and long-running video game franchise, but that wouldn't have been possible without Mega Man 2. While the first game in the series was a commercial bomb, Mega Man 2 was a huge commercial and critical hit, selling over a million copies. Its graphics and sound, along with a more humane difficulty level, set it apart from its predecessor and laid the ground work for over a dozen follow-ups and multiple TV series.

DuckTales

11

DuckTales

Capcom (1989)

Considered a classic by many NES enthusiasts, the video game adaptation of the cartoon series DuckTales remains one of the best video games spun off from a TV show. It became a hit due to its solid gameplay, above-average graphics, and, oddly enough, its music, now regarded as some of the best produced in the 8-bit era. The game was also among the first to feature an alternate ending for players who had achieved certain benchmarks during the game, a now-common practice in adventure titles.

Excitebike

12

Excitebike

Nintendo (1985)

In addition to being one of the more fun, simpler NES games, Excitebike is notable in several respects. First, it enabled players to design their own custom tracks, an advanced feature that is still uncommon in games today. Second, it was ported into an arcade game following its release for NES, a rare inversion of the then-standard march of technology.

Bionic Commando

13

Bionic Commando

Capcom (1988)

Ported from an arcade game of the same name, Capcom's Bionic Commando featured some of the most innovative gameplay on the NES. Instead of being able to jump, the player's character instead had a grappling hook that allowed him to swing and climb from platform to platform. It was also one of the first games to feature a stage selection map, an innovation that many action games incorporated (and which Nintendo borrowed for Super Mario Bros. 3 and nearly all of its subsequent 2D action-adventure titles).

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Comments Leave a comment

ajay ★★

Awesome list! Even though you have Super Mario Bros. 3 at the top spot, I still think Super Mario Bros. deserved a spot. And the Legend of Zelda totally deserves #2. Regardless, well done.

7:41 AM   Apr 13, 2010

jason ★★

Zelda maybe should have been #2, but Punch Out does have a certain mystique in that it just can't be recreated or improved upon, even with modern technology.

8:15 AM   Apr 13, 2010

jason ★★

If you guys are hankering to play some of these:
(http://www.nescafeweb.com/index.php?) (http://flashgamesite.com/play1085game.html)

8:37 AM   Apr 13, 2010

PulpAffliction ★★

Great list, though Zelda should be #2.

9:09 AM   Apr 13, 2010

blix 

1. Metroid
2. Zelda
3. Contra
4. Punch Out
5. Super Mario Brothers
6. Tecmo Bowl
7. Excitebike
8. Double Dribble
9. Double Dragon
10. Castlevania
11. Gauntlet
12. Kung Fu
13. Top Gun

Ask me again in an hour and the list probably changes. That said, I think my top 4 or 5 would remain unchanged. Still a great list.

10:05 AM   Apr 13, 2010

Cupidsmoke 

Zelda should be #2, Mega Man 2 should be much higher and you gotta at least put the original Super Mario Bros. on the list because without it Nintendo and video games wouldn't be what they are today

10:11 AM   Apr 13, 2010

jasun 

Thats like saying "No list of greatest cars of all time is complete without the Model-T!"

12:17 PM   Apr 13, 2010

ajay ★★

Yeah, but Super Mario Bros. is at least a Honda Civic.

2:11 PM   Apr 13, 2010

tloveisready ★★

Great great list! I still play my NES semi-regularly, and my list shares a lot of the same games.
1. Bases Loaded 2
2. Super Mario 3
3. Tecmo Bowl
4. Super Contra
5. Punch Out
6. Tetris
7. Blades of Steel
8. Hogan's Alley
9. Double Dribble
10. Golf
11. Bionic Commando/Batman
12. RC ProAm
13. Excitebike

10:25 AM   Apr 13, 2010

jason ★★

RC ProAm was awesome, good call.

6:24 PM   Apr 13, 2010

stillathreat ★★

Blades of Steel needs to be on this list, though it's pretty similar to Double Dribble as far as sports games go. I'd put Metroid or Tecmo first, I think.

10:38 AM   Apr 13, 2010

fiveiron83321 

fantastic list...i would have bumped up Zelda...and prolly included the original Super Mario Bros.

12:18 PM   Apr 13, 2010

blix 

The original Ice Hockey was pretty awesome as well. Making your players obscenely fat/skinny was a bonus, and the game play was good.

12:21 PM   Apr 13, 2010

Travelin_Jack 

Awesome. This was pretty much on the money. I'd trade tecmo bowl for tecmo super bowl. Was never a fan of double dribble but I owned and loved every other game on this list.

Would have been nice to see a castlevania on here, but there's not much room to maneuver.

The list reminded me of some old favorites: River City Ransom, Karnov, Wizards and Warriors, Milon's Secret Castle, Marble Madness, Metal Gear, Rampage, Rygar, Shadowgate, Dragon Warrior, Strider, Toobin'....good times.

4:21 PM   Apr 13, 2010

jason ★★

Good call on River City Ransom - it's a better beat-em-up than Double Dragon.

6:23 PM   Apr 13, 2010

tloveisready ★★

Marble Madness FTW

9:45 AM   Apr 14, 2010

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