Best Nintendo Games of All-Time
By Tyler Smyth
There used to be a day when you had to blow in a cartridge to get your video games to work, back when the controller only had an A and a B button. We couldn’t play a kid from India online and your game freezing up on you half way through a level was just a part of the (not) fun. That said, these games were the blueprint to the games we play today and for us old enough to remember playing them, they will always have a special place in our hearts. First and Monday decided to poll our readers as well as the members of the site and come up with the 15 best NES games of all time.
15. Blades of Steel- This hockey game’s best feature was the fighting. The loser of the fight had to go the penalty box, and the winner got to keep playing creating a 5-4. Wouldn’t this be a great idea for the NHL to adopt? Instead of sending both guys to the box you only go if you got your ass kicked? Games that ended in a tie went to a shootout, something that the NHL has finally adopted. Obviously a game ahead of it’s time. If you didn’t say to yourself in a robotic voice, “Blades of Steel”, when you first saw the name of the game, than you probably spent your rainy days playing with your sister’s Barbies and eating your scabs as a kid.
14. Excitebike- This motocross game was one of the games that came out the year NES was released and was a staple in most kid’s collections. As games improved this game usually ended up collecting dust, but it was definitely solid. In addition to riding the pre-designed courses you could actually create your own. It was a long and tedious task and the only kids who had enough time to create their own courses were generally the ones who didn’t play sports or have friends.
13. Duck Hunt- This game actually came with the NES game system when I got my Nintendo for Christmas, so it holds some sentimental value. It came with the NES laser light gun that you point at the screen to shoot the targets. You could shoot at ducks or clay pigeons and depending on the game mode you selected, you would have three shots to shoot one or two targets. In the duck mode, a dog would jump the ducks and if you successfully killed the ducks the dog would smile and hold up your kills. If you missed, that bastard would stand up and laugh at you. If you have never tried to shoot that laughing dog with your gun after missing your targets, you have no soul.
12. Double Dragon- This one really stepped up the fighting game genre on NES. The more points that you garnered playing the game, the more advanced your fighting moves became and it was the first game of its kind that did this. You also were able to take the weapon off of your opponent and use it against them, something we hadn’t seen in previous fighting games. The only thing preventing this game from being higher on the list is that they weren’t able to allow for two player cooperative mode that was available in the arcade version.
11. Double Dribble- The close up slam dunks that happened when you shot near the basket was something we never saw from a graphics standpoint from the other early games of NES. It probably had the best sound effects of any of the sports games that came out for NES and there was nothing better then the sound of a 3-pointer flying through the air and going through the net in Double Dribble. The fact that there were certain parts on the court where you could shoot and almost always make it actually added to the fun. If you don’t know where those spots are by now, you sucked.
10. Metroid- In Metroid, your character is named Samus Aran and your mission is to traverse the planet Zebes to find and defeat the Mother Brain. Metroid was the first game where the power ups not only gave you more abilities and weapons but they were also needed in order to beat the game. The developers also created five different endings depending on how quickly you were able to defeat the Mother Brain and set the bomb to collapse the lair. If you defeated the game fast enough, the last three endings revealed Samus without the power suit, at which point the game becomes completely unrealistic. It turns out Samus, the greatest bounty hunter in the universe, is a girl. Unless they are fighting on Planet Kitchen, I’m not buying it.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-This game came out at the height of the popularity of the Turtles. It wasn’t the best made game, but it was still wildly popular. You could choose to play as any one of the four Ninja Turtles and you had the ability to change from any of the turtles at any time when their power level became low. The goal was to save reporter April O’Neal, disarm bombs planted in the Hudson River and finally defeat the evil Shredder. The turtle with the most power left when you defeated Shredder got a lifetime supply of pizzas and got to sleep with April, cowabunga dude!
8. Zelda-The lesson Zelda taught all of us was that if an over sized dungeon monster like Gannon shows up and makes off with the royal princess, locking her deep inside an elaborate labyrinth, that if we head out to save her we should stop first and pick up a wooden sword.. Because, you know, it’s dangerous and shit out there. Zelda was like the anti-ADD game for kids that ate candy cereal and bounced off the walls. There just wasn’t enough instant gratification with this game. It is an absolute classic though that, along with Super Mario Brothers, were the original franchises of the gaming world.
7. RBI Baseball- RBI Baseball was the first NES game that was given permission to use the names of real Major League Baseball players and their stats. You could choose from eight teams who were the first place teams in each division in 1986 and 1987 or an All-Star team from each division. There is a lot of debate as to who the best teams in the game was, but in my book the top three were Boston, St Louis, and Detroit. Boston had a ton of power in their lineup and of course they had Roger Clemens on the mound. St. Louis had a ton of speed and Vince Coleman was literally impossible to stop from stealing second base. Then you had my pick, Detroit, who had a mix of everything with both power and pitching. If you never shattered a controller after Frank Viola bounced one in front of the plate for a swinging strike three then you were a pussy anyhow and probably would rather be playing with your Lite-Brite.
6. Tecmo Super Bowl- It was the first football game that had permission from both the NFL and the Players Association to use player likenesses, logos, uniforms and even the real-life NFL team schedules. The best part of the game was the fact that it kept your individual stats on offense and defense, unlike the original version of the game that we will talk about soon enough. The game also allowed for you to change your own playbook with four passing plays and four running plays to choose from. I’m pretty sure every kid that grew up in the early 90’s had a sleepover where you played an entire season in one night, obviously with a stack of old Playboys to page through will you waited for you turn to be up. Would anyone still remember who Christian Okoye was if he didn’t bounce defenders 15 yards off of him in this game like he was running through a Pee-Wee league?
5. Super Mario Brothers- Everyone who owned a Nintendo owned this game. It was the flagship game for the entire system, but that’s not the only reason it’s on the list. It’s still is one of the better made games for the NES and is one of the more repayable. Fighting through the Mushroom Kingdom, our hero Mario would get to the end of each level to find out that Princess Peach was in another castle. I don’t know how you feel about it, but was she really worth it? I think my favorite part about the Mario Brothers franchise is that co-eds found a way to make dressing up as Mario and Luigi sexy on Halloween, so there’s that.
4. Tecmo Bowl- Why is Tecmo Bowl ranked ahead of Super Tecmo Bowl when the latter has better game play, real teams, and kept your season stats? Have you ever played 10 Yard Fight? That was the best football game that NES offered before Tecmo Bowl hit stores. 10 Yard Fight was basically the video game equivalent of Electronic Football. If you don’t remember, that was the game where you lined football players up on a board and turned it on and watched them spin and move as the board just vibrated. The Teams consisted of Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Washington. There were seven additional teams, but if you were using any of them then you suckedanyway. Who was the best team? Well, that will always be up for debate. San Francisco had Montana and Lott, Chicago with Payton and Singletary, New York with Lawrence Taylor, or Oakland with Bo Jackson? I think most would pick Oakland, but Bo only had one running play and if you picked that play every time you could stop Marcus Allen on your own.
3. Super Mario Brothers 3- The Mario Brothers series for NES is like the anti-Godfather trilogy as the 3rd edition of the game is without a doubt the best. It’s the Debbie Does Dallas of NES, literally a game changer. It’s graphics and game play were better then the Super Nintendo and Sega games that followed it. If I were stuck on a desert island for 30 years and could only take one NES game with me, this would be my choice.. But if I could only play one game one more time before I died, the next two games on our list would be my 1A and 1B choices. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but honestly I don’t give a shit.
2. Contra- There isn’t a more well known cheat code for video games then the one that took you from five lives to thirty lives at the start of Contra. Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, start or select start if you were playing a two player game will be ingrained in our brains forever. If I ever become old and senile, there is a good chance I will forget my kid’s names but not that cheat code. It was the best two player cooperative game for the system and the fact that it wasn’t particularly hard to beat with the cheat code made it fun for everyone. There are two things that every red-blooded American that grew up playing NES at the time should know: The Contra cheat code and all the words to “Ice Ice Baby”.
1. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out- It’s only fitting that the most polarizing athlete of the generation be the face of one of the greatest video games of that period as well. The goal for the player’s character, Little Mac, was to fight his way up the ranks to ultimately face the greatest fighter in the world in Iron Mike. I’m not sure that I’ve ever met someone who hasn’t beaten Mike Tyson in the game when talking about it now. It’s officially become the 100 point Wilt game for the gaming world. I think what the game taught me more about than anything else was ethnic stereotypes at a young age. Glass Joe the weak, cowardice boxer from France. Great Tiger, the teleporting boxer from India, Piston Honda from Japan, Soda Popinski the drunk Russian. Punch Out let me know that it’s okay to label people because of where they are from and that’s something I’ve carried with me to this day.