If you are a subscriber to Nintendo Switch Online, then you have access to a library of classic Nintendo games folded into your subscription. Now, there isn’t exactly an overwhelming amount of games there, and Nintendo has primarily chosen some of the more standout titles from the NES collection. If you’re looking at the library and wondering where to start, here are seven solid places to jump into the games of yesteryear.
Gradius was one of the titles that gave the bullet hell genre momentum, and for many people, it remains a classic. It has produced a healthy dose of sequels, but its core gameplay hasn’t needed much improvement. In the game, you fly a spaceship that is very upgradeable through various environments, all while encountering a wide array of enemy types. It’s great and, more importantly, timeless.
Everything about this game seems perfect for the platform. Kirby’s simple design and color scheme translates perfectly to the NES. His simple, but innovative, ability to steal powers from his enemies means that the NES controller doesn’t limit the variety of gameplay. His ability to float gives a verticality to the levels. It is, in my opinion, the best platformer on the NES.
Super Mario Bros. 3
I did just make the claim that Kirby’s Adventure was the best platformer on the NES, but it was a very close contest. The two-player Super Mario Bros. 3 was nearly flawless. It was full of secrets, novel items, new characters, and other features that did a lot to further flesh out the Mushroom Kingdom.
The Legend of Zelda
Obviously The Legend of Zelda has to make the list. There are people out there who buy Nintendo consoles simply to play Zelda games; it’s a system seller. The game’s overworld theme underscores the sense of adventure Shigeru Miyamato sought to create when he came up with the idea for Zelda, and at no point does the action drag. There’s always something new to explore, and it consistently feels like there’s something perilous around the next bend.
Ice Hockey for the Nintendo Entertainment System was one of the first times I felt a sport properly translate to a video game. Baseball was great and all, but Ice Hockey felt fast-paced and there was a feeling of strategy involved. I loved picking various sized players to either optimize speed or sturdiness, and I loved playing the game with family and friends. Mostly, I loved the music and the zamboni.
Samus, the protagonist of the Metroid series, is a badass bounty hunter with a fun arsenal of weapons. These weapons are also used to unlock parts of the world, so the player has to constantly retrace their steps in the interest of exploration and progression. Like Kirby’s abilities, the arsenal maps well to the controller and, like Zelda , there’s a very real sense of adventure. The Alien inspiration is also very apparent, so the game released with a big draw built right in.
Ghosts ‘N Goblins
Looking back, it’s silly to think I was ever afraid of Ghosts ‘N Goblins . Its simple name and the fact that the protagonist runs around in his underwear if he is damaged leads me to believe that Capcom never meant for this to be a horror game, but I was young and still had an overactive imagination. Nowadays when I play the game, I see it for what it is: a quirky and well-executed platformer where you fight ghosts and, spoilers, goblins.