Posted in Retro Gaming

Ranking the games from the NES Classic Console, worst to best


Apologies for a second post on the upcoming NES Classic Console, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it — and with that list of 30 games, I started mentally ranking them. When that happens, a baby blog post is born. Will this one grow up to be like his daddy?

The more I look at this list, the more I’m really pleased with the selections. It’s a really great cross-section of NES titles from different genres and years, and a majority of them are considered “classic.” So today I’m going to deliver my personal ranking, from worst to best, of the 30 titles that will come with this retro vintage console!

30. Balloon Fight: Most really old (1984-85) NES games were basically gussied-up Atari 2600 games, and I can’t see anyone clamoring for this one.

29. Mario Bros.: Mario or not, this is just the PvP arcade game that gets old after about 45 seconds. Only fun when you want to face-stomp a friend, I guess.

28. Pac-Man: Pac-Man IS a classic, but it’s not an NES classic. It just doesn’t belong here, like if we saw Pitfall or Space Invaders. Did you ever know anyone who played the NES Pac-Man?

27. Ice Climber: Another old title that nobody really played or talks about. Pass.

26. Donkey Kong: I guess Pac-Man needs a friend in the geriatric department? I guess its inclusion makes sense for Mario and Kong’s appearances, but it’s not something you’re going to sink hours into.

25. Donkey Kong Jr.: Putting this marginally higher on the list because it’s a little newer (1986) and has more gameplay to it.

24. Techmo Bowl: People loooooved this game — if they were football fans. I was and am not one.

23. Bubble Bobble: I suppose Bubble Bobble has a little bit of a legacy, but I never played it and am completely neutral on the subject.

22. Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Hard-as-nails (Nintendo Hard) platformer. I sort of, kind of like it, but it’s definitely not as good or fun as Castlevania.

21. Galaga: An older arcade shooter. My wife loves it and I guess it would be worth a boot up if I wanted to button mash.

20. Castlevania II: I really wish Castlevania III was included instead. C2 was kind of a weird experiment lacked in the RPG department and the side-scrolling platforming department. Still, great music and more Castlevania.

19. Punch-Out!!: Surprisingly fun, especially with a group of friends or family. I’m not huge into boxing but yeah, this is a classic (although I remember playing the Mike Tyson version back in the day).

18. Excitebike: The coolest thing about this title was being able to make and play your own courses. If the console lets you save them, then it’s a good decision.

17. Gradius: Need a side-scrolling SHMUP? Here you go. A little old but a solid pick.

16. Zelda II: Definitely a lot different than its predecessor, yet the RPG elements kind of work more here. I’ve never beat it, so put this on my to-play list.

15. Super C: Why Super C instead of classic Contra? That bugs me. At least we have a Contra here and I’m sure it’ll be just as fun… but it’s not the one from my youth.

14. StarTropics: I was totally surprised — in a good way — to see this be included. It’s a good decision, kind of a dark horse entry in the Zelda category.

13. Double Dragon II: Great co-op beat-em-up. Maybe not the best on the platform, but way up there.

12. Dr. Mario: This was a sleeper hit of a puzzle game with kick-butt music. Good pick.

11. Super Mario Bros. 2: I have fonder memories of this game than most people today, it seems. I’m glad all of the SMB games were included, although I will admit that this does get last place among the three.

10. Final Fantasy: On one hand, it’s the start of the Final Fantasy franchise and the only straight-up RPG on this list. On the other hand, it’s definitely the most basic (and story-lite) of all FF games.

9. Kirby’s Adventure: Really great platformer and one of the newer (1993) titles with a vibrant color scheme and nifty mechanics.

8. Kid Icarus: One of the launch-era classics that was more innovative than most platformers.

7. Ninja Gaiden: Tight controls, wall-flipping, frantic ninja fighting, cutscene storytelling. Also insanely hard.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Have I made anyone mad? Number 6 spot? Eh, it’s great, don’t get me wrong, but I just happen to personally enjoy the other five games more.

5. Mega Man 2: Definitely the best choice if you had to pick one of the six original Mega Man games. Lots of weapons, lots of ways to play through it.

4. Super Mario Bros.: My kids and I still have fun playing this to this day. Interesting to see if it has traction with younger gamers out there.

3. Castlevania: Gotta love me some classic Castlevania! Had to be on this list, hands-down.

2. Metroid: And here’s the other pair of the Metroidvania games that blew my mind as a kid with its exploration, gear, atmosphere, and ending.

1. Super Mario Bros. 3: Simply an enduring classic that shines in every way. So many levels with lots of power-ups, a vibrant art style, and different paths to progression. And I still hear that music in my head every day.

5 thoughts on “Ranking the games from the NES Classic Console, worst to best

  1. That’s not an unreasonable ranking of the games- though I would put Tecmo bowl (no h) a lot higher just because the boys next door and I played weeks worth of it.

    I would organize the games into tiers. There are 14 games I really liked, 10 that I either never played or are meh, and 6 that seem to be arcade filler.

  2. I was never impressed with the original Castlevania. It was just a side scroller, and the control, or lack thereof, was frustrating. Castlevania 2 at least tried to do something different (being the first one I played helped as well).

    I played SMB to death back in the day, but it’s hard to play now. Mario seems to have way too much inertia or something, slippy sliding everywhere.

    Surprised at Dr Mario instead of Tetris.

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