This site is a compilation of “Best 100 NES (Nintendo) Games” lists. While in no means definitive, or in fact making any judgments about the rankings of the games themselves, this site is meant to give an insight into the critical ranking of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s game library.
ed. note – I wrote that a few years ago before I decided to add more content and actually write some anecdotes about these games. In doing so I actually make many judgements about the rankings of the games in the final list. While I would replace a few games and a few more would rank a lot higher, that wasn’t really the reason I started this list. To make sure this site is as thorough as possible, I’ve created the HIDDEN GEMS section to cover some of the games that didn’t make the final 100.
The 6 lists, that when combined make up the Master List, come from these six sites:
There are other lists available, but so far I feel like these 6 give the widest spectrum of perspective on the Nintendo.
From those lists, I compiled the ranking for every game mentioned. I eliminated games released only for the Famicom (the Japanese equivalent system of the NES) as well as any unreleased or bootleg games. Furthermore, any games not included on more than one list were considered Outliers and removed. Some of these games are definitely worth checking out so go to the Outliers section for more info.
ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL LISTS
If you’re interested in collecting or playing the old school NES games, the Master List will be the most comprehensive source but the individual lists also offer personal insights, images, videos etc. that won’t be found here. If you’re looking to get deep into the NES, they’re definitely a great resource for finding cool and unusual games. They’re presented below in the order in which they were published. This is significant in that for the most part each list improves on the last, adding more hidden gem type games and eliminating some of the more common but flawed games. In that same way, the nostalgia factor diminishes with each list so that by the last list (Satoshi Matrix‘s) the average 80’s kid looking to reminisce is going to feel pretty confused. I had a ton of friends with Nintendos growing up but no kid anywhere had a game like Mendel Palace or Little Samson because they just weren’t as common as Contra or Metroid.
Another interesting thing about the games on these lists is that the vast majority are single player, which makes sense since most games are created for only one person to play at a time. However, reading the commentaries and viewing the weight that certain 2-player games are given, I get the impression that a lot of the people creating these lists weren’t exactly social butterflies growing up. As a result, it seems like a lot of the great cooperative games are either lower ranked or not represented in these lists. Personally, many of my favorite NES games growing up were games I played with my friends, like Bubble Bobble or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project. For that reason, I’ve included a section on the Top NES 2 Player Games.
Here’s a bit about each:
This is the first list I encountered. Of all the lists it is the least expansive but also the closest to a list of the NES games most people would remember. Unfortunately, some of those games are fucking awful. So while a ho-hum game like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? makes their list, a mind-blowingly awesome game like Metal Storm is nowhere to be found. In terms of the content, it’s pretty much a bunch of snide dorks making lame jokes and complaining about how Batman the Game doesn’t sufficiently resemble Batman the Movie.
This is a pretty great list. All the classics games are accounted for plus a few hidden gems like Power Blade and Kickle Cubicle. There’s some snoozers on here as well and a few questionable omissions but on the whole it’s pretty good. On the content side, these guys know their stuff. Aside from a few groan worthy comments, it’s all pretty fun to read. The format for viewing each entry is a bit cumbersome though.
In terms of giving you the best games for the NES in the closest to objective way possible, this is it. Gamefaqs is a great site with walkthroughs, codes, and secrets for pretty much every game possible. So basically the peeps who know their stuff voted on their top 100’s for 8 years and the totals were compiled into a master list (quite similar to this one). The list is the epitome of populist. Most every great game is represented, but as far as the rankings, the more common ones definitely carry more weight than the obscure ones.
My favorite list but not my favorite NES games. This list includes English language games from Europe and Japan, so there’s a lot of games most people (myself included) have never heard of. What’s cool is that this guy obviously spent a lot of time playing EVERY game and considered how obscure games like Snow Brothers might compare to popular, albeit pretty crappy, games like Metal Gear. If you’ve already played all the big games on the NES, this list definitely rounds up all the hidden gems worth playing. The commentary is short and sweet with nice screen-shots to accompany each game.
After reading the aforementioned entries, this list is nothing special and perhaps it was a bit extraneous to include. It’s basically a combination of the IGN and Gamefaqs lists, all the major games + a few hidden gems + some dog shit. The write-ups are pretty interesting though.
Jesus Christ. This guy really upped the ante with this one. His list considers every game for the NES/Famicom including Japanese language games, unreleased prototypes, weird bootlegs, and homebrews (NES games made recently!) It’s definitely a bit much for the uninitiated, but if you’ve checked out the other lists you’d probably find it pretty interesting. His extensively researched and in depth write-ups are a great read and there’s tons of images and videos to compliment each game. Unfortunately, because of that the site is kind of a nightmare to navigate because of load times.