The 10 Best NES Games

The Nintendo Entertainment System defined home entertainment for a generation of American gamers who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s. Launched in 1985, the NES rose from the ashes of the ’83-’84 video game crash and grew to capture over 90 percent of the American home video game market during the late 1980s. It was a legitimate commercial and cultural phenomenon.

With a huge, diverse library of games on the NES, you’ll find no shortage of wonderful material to play if you take the time to look. But who has that kind of time these days? I know how it is: So many bills to pay, lawns to mow, and children to herd. That’s why I’m here to help you on your journey for easy self-validation by picking 10 games that you may or may not agree are the best games on the NES.

Using all the latest math and science equations, I’ve painstakingly assembled a list of what I consider to be the absolute best of the best games on the NES. This is not a “greatest hits” list that weighs cultural impact and legacy (that would just be Zelda repeated 10 times). No, you’ll instead find really amazing games to play in any era. All of these hold up.

Also, a note: For the sake of my sanity, I’m sticking to American NES releases only. Considering the massive Japanese Famicom library is a completely different beast. Have fun and happy gaming!

River City Ransom (1990)

River City Ransom (1990)

River City Ransom takes all the best elements of NES Double Dragon II—cathartic beat ’em up martial arts action, pulse-pounding music, light fantasy elements—and sticks them into a chibi style RPG adventure. As you defeat enemies, they drop coins, which you can use to buy new techniques in the shops along the way. You can also use the money to buy food for health and stat upgrades. Best of all, you can do it all with a friend, making this one of the best co-op games on the NES.

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