Top 11 NES Games, Part IV (12-20)

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This is part four in this series. Be sure to check out Part I, Part II and Part III.

This is NOT the final post in this blog series.

Before I reveal what my #1 NES game of all time is, I want to mention a few other games that were in the running but just missed the Top 11. We’ll call them honorable mentions.* I don’t want to make it seem like I’m just blindly jilting a number of well-deserving NES games.

This will also serve as a preventative measure for those of you who will hate my stinkin’ guts for not listing my favorites the way you think I should.

* – On a personal note, this phrase makes me shudder due to all the white ribbons I would “win” at the science fair and other elementary school competitions when they didn’t declare losers, just non-winners, or “honorable mentions”.

The reason I originally broke the list up after #11 was because it was a clean break between the games I played all the time as a kid, and the ones I didn’t play quite as much.

They’re all fantastic, and any of these could be in my Top 10 if I’d had a different childhood. I wish I could go back and revisit all of these games as a kid and project a fair assessment of them all, but the nostalgia isn’t there on these as they are on the rest of my list. Especially with #12.

So let’s list the honorable mentions. Here are the games that would round out the Top 20 of my list. I guess I’ll go ahead and list them in the order they’d be in too…


20. Duck Hunt

What was more fun than pulling out the Zapper and pointing it at the tube? And what was more frustrating than that moronic giggling dog?


19. Mega Man II

This game takes place in an unknown year: 200X. Which, unfortunately, has passed us by without the arrival of world saving battle robots.


18. Kid Icarus

Greek mythology rules, but this game is really really hard. Yet I played it for hours and never made it past the 4th or 5th level. Life’s weird, man.


17. Blades of Steel

One time I came to school in 8th grade bragging about how good I was at this game. Then I went over to my friends house and we played Wayne Gretzky 3D Hockey for Nintendo 64 for about 93 hours straight and I never played BOS again.


16. Paperboy

Awkward perspective and disorienting angles, but still a super fun game. Paperboy proves that you can turn literally any simple concept into an NES game.


15. Metroid

One of the classic endings to a game ever: Samus is a girl?! WHAT?! I feel like this must have had the same impact as Vader revealing himself to be Luke’s father. Bafflingly awesome.


14. Track & Field

Break out the Power Pad. This game was (and still is) a blast to play with friends. Bring some towels though because you’re bound to get super sweaty.


13. Kirby’s Adventure

Okay this game is a blast. It also has possibly the best graphics of any NES game. In fact, it plays like more of a SEGA game than an NES game. This game doesn’t hold a special place in my heart like the others do, but it is undeniably one of the best overall.


12. The Legend of Zelda

What?! It’s not in the Top 11?!

I know, I know. Feel free to start casting stones. Ultimately this missed the cut for two reasons: First, I don’t have the time to spend hours trekking the 8-bit Hyrule world. I need games that I can play for 15-20 minutes and be done. I’ve never had the patience to conquer a game like The Legend of Zelda. And secondly, I didn’t play this game nearly enough as a kid. It doesn’t hold the nostalgia that these other games do.

That gold cartridge though. Gorgeous.

I feel bad about this one, you guys. Really I do. I just couldn’t justify it for myself. But like Kirby, it just doesn’t have that place in my heart. If you’re really bent up about it, you should write your own post and I’ll link to it here.

So here’s the updated overall listing…

20. Duck Hunt
19. Mega Man II
18. Kid Icarus
17. Blades of Steel
16. Paperboy
15. Metroid
14. Track & Field
13. Kirby’s Adventure
12. The Legend of Zelda
11. Marble Madness

10. Tecmo Bowl
9. Contra
8. RC Pro-Am
7. Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels
6. Excitebike
5. TMNT 2: The Arcade Game
4. Super Mario Bros. 3
3. RBI Baseball
2. RBI Baseball 3
1. ???

Have a great Valentine’s Day weekend everyone, and stay tuned for #1. Any more guesses?


Continue on to Part V in this series.

4 thoughts on “Top 11 NES Games, Part IV (12-20)”

  1. This list is VERY near my top 20, as well. Just sayin’. I have a set of games I leave in easy access for other people, and about 4x as much hiding behind. Add in Punch Out and Ninja Gaiden, and you may have hit every one of my top games. Fantastic taste here, sir.

  2. Understandable. It is YOUR top 11 list after all, which is very dependent on our own experience in childhood. Zelda is my #1. I played that game for hours and hours.

    A couple things:

    -I never even knew there was a kirby game on NES. i thought he came around later or something. man was i out of the loop. since he was my (cheap) player of choice in 64 smash bros, i should have probably known more.

    -I also have to agree that Punch Out could be an honorable mention as well–but I don’t know how much you played it. It is in my top 5.

    -My out of nowhere top 5 game: Blaster Master (or was it Master Blaster? my dyslexia always kicks in full blast trying to remember (it’s Blaster Master, I googled it)). Loved exploring all the levels and the combo of fighting in the tank/ship/plane awesome thing and then going in on foot. Way underrated game. Super difficult too. Also had really great music–which I think is an underrated feature in NES games. You had to be able to bob your head and hum during all those hours of gameplay.

    -Loved the dunk hunt summary. Perfect.

    -On Paperboy, I never had this game but my friend did, so every time I went to his house I wanted to play it and he never wanted to. I just love thinking about whatever meeting this game was pitched as an idea and what people’s reactions must have been (someone had to really love the idea: “let’s make a game about what kids do for a job, but instead of them getting paid for it they will buy it to play at home.”).

    -One other honorable mention for me: Tetris (but on gameboy, not NES–so maybe doesn’t count). I played that game all over KC.

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