Nov 9th, 2016


Nintendo’s upcoming NES Classic is a handheld retro reminder of games from our past that continue to influence games that are in development today. The retro console includes 30 of Nintendo’s classic games, but before you jump into those familiar Super Mario Bros. 3 levels, have a look at these games.

We’re highlighting these because they each brought something to the table that had never been seen before in gaming and you should know why Nintendo thought them important enough to select for a retro remake of the home console that really kicked off Nintendo’s fortunes in the video game industry.

Ghosts n’ Goblins


Ghosts n’ Goblins is one of the games that lent precedent to the phrase “Nintendo hard.” Before there was Dark Souls or Bloodborne, this was the game you smashed your controller over. Unlike the arcade version of this game that accepted an unlimited number of quarters in exchange for lives, you have a set number of lives to defeat the entire game twice. If not, game over for you. Prepare to die indeed.

Who will like this game? Fans of Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Bloodborne, and just about any self-proclaimed hardcore game in the last few years should take a peek at this game to see where it all started.



Fans of bullet hell shooters and shoot ’em ups have Galaga to thank for their genre. It’s one of the earliest examples of a game where reflexes really do matter and strategy can only get you so far. Between shooting up alien bugs and defending your ships from attack, modern bullet hell games all branch off from this base game.

Who will like this game? If you’re fond of bullet hell shooters like Jamestown, Undertale, Nuclear Throne, and Enter the Gungeon, then Galaga is a must. This is a classic arcade game brought to life and really one of the games responsible for the bullet hell genre.



Castlevania and Metroid are often credited together in giving us the “open” 2D world to explore that is described by the moniker Metroidvania. Castlevania on NES is the start of that and despite being more than 30 years old at this point, it still features one of the best laid out stories and cohesive level designs you’ll find in any game.

Who will like this game? Do you like exploring expansive environments in games like Ori and the Blind Forest and Owlboy? Did Salt and Sanctuary and La-Mulana scratch all the right places for you? Then Castlevania is where you should start to see how those games built upon its foundations.



Metroid’s initial success on the NES can be attributed to multiple factors that came together to create a truly amazing experience for the times. The game handles well and features a huge map to explore, a feat that it shares with Castlevania in this list above it. Accompanying this massive world is a mood-setting score you won’t forget.

Despite all that, Metroid is another game that lends itself to the Nintendo Hard moniker, so be prepared for a challenge if you want to tackle this one.

Who will like this game? Fans of action RPGs that are somewhat unforgiving will be right at home with the original Metroid.

Kid Icarus


Kid Icarus is another of Nintendo’s action RPG games from its early days, this time hearkening back to ancient Greek mythology. The world of Kid Icarus isn’t quite as vast as Metroid, but great controls await to show you how platformers and RPGs have evolved over the years. Don’t let the cutesy graphics fool you however, this game is pretty challenging.

Who will like this game? Anyone who likes challenging action RPGs or platforms should consider giving this game a quick go.

Balloon Fight


Balloon Fight’s concept first appeared in the game Joust, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. It’s also a great game to introduce kids to the concept of playing against someone else in a video game since the graphics are easy to follow and the rules are easy to understand. This one is best played with multiple people, since the AI for the game can be rather basic.

Who will like this game? Anyone who appreciates the couch co-op days of yore will love Balloon Fight. If you don’t like the Joust mechanics, Excitebike is for you.



Excitebike is best experienced with friends, especially when you get together to build crazy race tracks in Design mode and then try to beat each others’ scores. It’s a simplistic game but one that’s a lot of fun when you get together with another person.

Who will like this game?Are you highly competitive when you play games? Then Excitebike is for you. There are some interesting strategies to getting the best time on obstacles that you’ll encounter when you and your friends are designing courses in the game.

Ice Climber


Ice Climber is another great multiplayer game, so long as you’re willing to lose friendships over it. Just kidding. Mostly. Ice Climber’s popularity can be attributed to the devious levels that come later in the game, as well as leaving behind those who just can’t make the cut. You’ll have plenty of frustrating moments playing by yourself but adding another player will ensure you two are at each other’s throats shortly.

Who will like this game? Have a best friend you want to be your worst friend? Do they suck at making jumps in platformer games? Invite them to play Ice Climber with you to promptly ruin that friendship. All joking aside, those who really like hardcore games will get a kick out of Ice Climber.

Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream


Yeah the game is the same as Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!, complete with palette-swapped Mike Tyson at the end. This is another good party game that comes with the NES Classic because beating each character requires some pretty good button-mashing knowledge.

Who will like this game?Punch Out!! is one of the first examples of a sports game back then, so if you enjoy playing any sports games these days you have Punch Out!! to thank for that success.

The Legend of Zelda


With a new Zelda game due out on Wii U and Nintendo Switch soon, we figure this is a great time to go back and play the original to see how far the series has developed. Just about every action RPG on the face of the earth has The Legend of Zelda to thank for its mechanics, so if you’re an RPG fan this one is a must.

Who will like this game? RPG fans who have long enjoyed games might want to get a peek at how it all started with The Legend of Zelda. Probably the singularly most inspiring game to be released on the NES system outside of the original Mario games.