Top 10 NES Games of All Time… according to me

It was Christmas of 1989. I was three days away from my 7th birthday and, quite possibly, the most gangsta six year-old you could ever meet. But I wasn’t thinking about my birthday on this day, nor was I thinking of my nearly seven year legacy of absolute gangsta. Nah, today was Christmas morning, and I was geeked. I hopped out of bed and made my way to the living room to open gifts. I can’t tell you exactly what all my gifts were that morning. I may have gotten a train set that year or a remote controlled car. The only gift that I remember getting was my Nintendo (NES). Given that 1989 was roughly 700 years ago, my memory is a little hazy, but I think I remember a bright light emanating from the box as I unwrapped it. Birds sang. Dogs howled. Earth smiled. Peace was indeed shared throughout all mankind in that moment when I wished Jesus a happy birthday and thanked Him for the gift. Life had changed.

Many an hour was spent on that NES. My first games were Mario/Duck Hunt (of course) and California Games. Over the years, I collected many more. And it’s from that list of games that I owned that I’ll tell you what the top 10 games of ALL TIME *echo… echo… echo…*  are. You may say, “Wow, Erik, so you’re going to bias the best games of all time and relegate that list to only games that you owned as if only your opinion matters?” To which I’d say, “Yes.” Here goes (Note: some of the videos below are long. No need to watch the whole thing. Just get a taste of awesome, then move on.):

10. BattletoadsThis game was a beast. I played this one often with one of my buddies who lived up the street. (In hindsight, that buddy probably saved my life with his whiteness whenever we went outside to play with toy guns. Thanks, homie.) Battletoads was dope. It had fighting, weapons and fighting. It was dope.

9. Little Nemo: The Dream Master. Little Nemo was a bit of a mind freak. The whole game takes place inside of some little white kid’s dream. And in the dream, he possesses an unlimited supply of candy and some kind of magic wand thing. Along his journey he encounters all kinds of different friendly animals, among the ones that are constantly trying to kill him. If he feeds the friendly animals candy, they will fall asleep, allowing him to climb inside the animal’s body and use whatever abilities they naturally have. So if it’s a frog, Nemo will be able to jump really high and swim. If it’s a mole, Nemo will be able to dig tunnels. If it’s a bee, Nemo will be able to fly and sting things that try to kill him… And somehow, as a little kid, none of this seemed the least bit strange to me. This game was dope, but whoever conceptualized it was smoking the loudest of loud.

8. Contra/Super ContraI lumped both of these together, because they’re the same thing. Run around and shoot stuff with a bunch of different types of guns. This one was a favorite with my cousins and me. Pause the screen, input “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start”, get a gang of lives, then run and shoot stuff. Ahh, the memories.

7. Double Dribble. Double dribble was, quite possibly, the best basketball game ever made before any good basketball games had ever been made. It started off with the game telling you exactly what it was. It was rare in NES games for words to actually be spoken aloud. This had that. And it also had a bunch of nameless, faceless dudes on generic teams playing some of the most fundamental basketball imaginable. And it was great.

6. Blades of Steel. Speaking of games saying words and nameless, faceless dudes on generic teams playing sports, Blades of Steel was that deal. I didn’t even like hockey, but I loved this game. It was too much fun skating around causing fights and earning penalty shots.

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. I played this one for the first time at an actual arcade. I decided then that I must have it. Unlike the first TNMT game on NES, this one was two-player and collaborative. My cousins and I spent many hours beating the brakes off foot soldiers, Bebop and Rock Steady, and maybe once or twice, Shredder.

4. Double Dragon. Really, I could have put any of the Double Dragon games on this list. I had the first one. My cousins had the second one. Both were incredible. Given that games in these days had to be beat in one sitting with no saving, I’m not sure we ever beat this game. We had tons of fun, though.

3. Tecmo Super Bowl. Man, listen… It’s tough for me not to put this as number one. But it should say enough that I put it as high as I did even though I didn’t actually own it. Yeah, this game was that deal. You could win if you employed one of two strategies. 1) Pick a pass play, run back in the wrong direction, throw the ball (in the right direction) as far as you can. 2) Choose the Raiders or the Chiefs, give the ball to Bo Jackson or Christian Okoye, run the ball. Neither of those dudes could be tackled. You could, literally, stand still and defenders would bounce off you. As in real life, Bo Jackson was the cheat code.

2. Super Mario 3. The best Super Mario game ever. Unquestioned. Super Mario 3 was revolutionary. It had everything. Fireball Mario. Frog Mario. Racoon Mario (who could fly). Tanooki Mario (who, for some unknown reason could fly and turn into a statue). Hammerthrowing Mario. It was the best. I can’t tell you how many times I beat this game but continued to play it. There was nothing like it.

1. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. There was no better NES game. Period. Despite the game being low-key racist (little white American, beating up people from all over the world, including a brown-skinned hippo man) this game was incredible. Once you learned the strategies for each individual character, you were golden. But the process of learning those strategies could be painful.

So that’s it. That’s the list.

Be good.

-Erik (@WalkSays)


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Erik Walker

Erik is black.

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