For many people, the NES and SNES are home to some of the greatest video games ever made. From Mario to Zelda, these systems had all the classics you could ask for and more! But what are the best retro games out there? Where does Super Mario Kart rank in this list? Discover all that and more with our list of the top 10 retro games on Nintendo’s first two consoles!
This list is based on reviews by our team of experts and includes games for both the NES and SNES.
10. Duck Hunt
Duck Hunt is a shooting retro game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The object of the game is to shoot animals that pop up from the grass on a farm using your trusty Zapper Light Gun.
9. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
Donkey Kong Country 2 is an adventure platformer released for Super Nintendo. This retro game of all time has you playing as both Diddy Kong or his girlfriend, Dixie Kong, through various stages in an effort to save the imprisoned Donkey Kong. This game also has many mini-games and was made by Rare who would go on to make great games like GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64.
8. Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 was a launch title for Nintendo’s first foray into 3D gaming. This retro game was the best-selling title on the Nintendo 64 and is probably one of, if not the best games to be released on the system! The game has you playing as Mario as he explores Princess Peach’s castle and beyond to collect stars in an effort to save the Princess from the evil Bowser.
7. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is an action-adventure game released for Super Nintendo. It has you play as Link as he attempts to save Hyrule from the evil wizard Agahnim and rescue Princess Zelda. This was one of the first games to feature a child/damsel in distress that the hero must save which started a trend in future games.
6. Contra III: The Alien Wars
The Alien Wars was a side-scrolling run and gun released for Super Nintendo. You play as either Bill or Lance as you battle through various stages in an effort to stop the alien Red Falcon from invading the Earth. This retro game is also considered one of the best games on SNES to date! It has aged well and the difficulty certainly helps players appreciate it even more.
5. Super Smash Bros Melee
Melee was a launch title for Nintendo’s next console, the Gamecube. It has you playing as various Nintendo characters such as Mario, Link, and Pikachu as they battle in different stages to prove who is the best mascot for Nintendo! The game spawned many sequels on later consoles but never quite matched the success or popularity that this one achieved.
4. Goldeneye 007
Goldeneye 007 was a First Person Shooter released for the Nintendo 64. Think of this as a cross between James Bond and Doom. You play through missions that have you killing many different enemies to accomplish your goal.
The game also has you playing other types of levels including driving ones where you would have to avoid enemy fire while trying to escape in a jeep! This game is still considered one of the best multiplayer games of all time on Nintendo 64 and is still fun to play today with friends.
3. Super Mario Kart
Super Mario Kart was a racing game released for the Super Nintendo. This game popularized the kart racer genre and is still considered one of the best multiplayer games on SNES! You play a variety of different characters from the Mario universe including Yoshi, Peach, and even Bowser as you race in different tracks with weapons scattered throughout to help give you an edge on your opponents.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a 3D adventure game released for the Nintendo 64. This was one of the first games to feature a free-roaming world where you could do many different things including ride a horse and explore new areas.
The story also features time travel as protagonist Link must go back and forth through time to accomplish his goal of saving Hyrule from the evil Ganon. This game is still hailed by many as the best Zelda game to date and the best game on Nintendo 64!
1. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was a side-scrolling adventure platformer released for the Super Nintendo. It has you playing as both Yoshi and baby Mario as they attempt to stop Baby Bowser from kidnapping all of the infant children in the Mushroom Kingdom!
The game gives you typical 2D gameplay as you explore various stages but also has 3D elements such as a 3D level in a volcano and a mini-game where you control the karts as the characters race to the finish line.
This is one of the best games ever released on SNES and it’s worthy to note that this was developed by Shigeru Miyamoto who also created Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Star Fox!
Although most people will agree that the top 5 games on this list are all fantastic, there is bound to be some controversy with the rest of the items on the list. A case could easily be made for Duck Hunt, Contra III, Goldeneye 007, and Yoshi’s Island to all be in the top 5 of their respective platforms.
Why We Love Retro Games
There is something really magical about the classic games. These traditional and old school games might not be as technologically advanced or graphically impressive as today’s modern games, but they have a certain charm that just can’t be recreated in HD quality. Imagine playing an old-school game on your big screen TV with a surround sound system! It would simply be the best thing ever!
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that was released 30 years ago is still amazing. We are not talking about some little 8-bit pixels here, but actual games with beautiful pixel graphics. This console brought us unforgettable classics such as “Super Mario”, “The Legend of Zelda” and “Metroid”.
There are a lot of modern indie games that try to recreate this magic, but they can’t. You can play “Hotline Miami” or “Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP” for example and you will be completely immersed in the environment. The music, graphics, and sound effects are simply awesome! But something is missing. It is not bad by any means, but it is just a tribute to the old games.
Why Retro Games are so Popular
Retro games have been around for many years and they have never gone away. In fact, they have only gotten more popular as time has gone on. There are countless remakes of classic games being developed by the fans.
There are online communities where people share their modifications and hacks of the games or discuss strategies. You can even buy old PC games from your childhood that you used to play and they will still work on your Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 computers.
What makes retro games so special?
“Back in the days” computers and consoles were much simpler. The hardware was not as powerful and it had to be utilized in various ways depending on the requirements of a specific game.
This resulted in developers finding clever techniques that produce beautiful results which would have been impossible otherwise. We are talking about pixel art, parallax scrolling, sprite scaling and rotation, smooth movement of characters, and so on.
Pixel art is probably the most impressive one. These 16×16 pixels tiles were arranged to create a larger image. For example, you had a single pixel for Mario’s nose and another single pixel for his belly button (when he was still wearing white pants). Other pixels were used for his hat, face, arms, and legs. With a bunch of these tiles, you could make Mario’s character appear to be moving around the screen.
You know what we are talking about, don’t you? “Super Mario” anyone?
Parallax scrolling is a technique where the background layers move slower than the foreground ones. For example, when Mario walks in “Super Mario World”, in the back you can see several hills in the distance with a castle on top of one of them. Meanwhile, Mario is walking towards us and the hills in the background are moving slowly.
These tiles were seamlessly connected resulting in a very cool-looking final scene. If you remove these foreground layers for a moment and just have a look at those hills in the background, they look stunning!
Another technique used to make games more interesting was sprite rotation and scaling. These sprites are 2D images that can be scaled without losing their quality. So you can make Mario spin or grow and he will still look as good as the original sprite.
It is a matter of rotating and scaling each tile separately to achieve the final effect. It is a very simple technique, but it was a really big improvement back in the day.
Modern retro games use all of these cool techniques to give us an experience that brings us back in time. However, there is something special about the “old school” games – they were not as complex and it felt like you actually had more control over what’s going on in the game.
The newer games are a bit harder to control, especially those that were ported from consoles to PCs because they were not originally designed for keyboards and mice.
In my opinion, these games of all time will never die as long as there are gamers who want the experience of playing the classics. Newer indie titles can come close to the retro games, but they will never reach the same level of simplicity and charm.
Retro games are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. These old-school video games have many benefits over newer gaming titles, including the lack of complicated controls and graphics that don’t get dated quickly. If you’re looking for an experience that will take you back to your childhood, look no further than our list of retro games!