NES Classic Edition Games: All 30 Mini NES Titles, Ranked

The NES Classic Edition console includes 30 classic games from that era.
The NES Classic Edition console includes 30 classic games from that era. Nintendo

The NES Classic Edition brings with it 30 classic games from the NES era. Some titles are game-changers like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda , while others are fun arcade button-mashers that were ported to the NES later on.

At the time of their releases, all 30 games were important to the evolution of gaming by introducing new genres and ways to play.

With that said, I ranked all 30 titles found on the Mini NES system from worst to best, with a little blurb describing my thoughts on each title.

NOTE: These are just my opinion and feel free to disagree with any of my choices in the comments section below.

Balloon Fight

This game just didn’t grab my attention. It’s better with a second player, but controlling your balloon fighter is clumsy and just isn’t that difficult. This game got old really fast.


The one racing game on the NES Classic Edition and it’s Excitebike , which, to be honest is way too simple to play. You can race the computer or go through time trials to beat the high scores. But there’s no strategy involved, just a simple push of the acceleration will get you going. This title didn’t do much for me.


Quite possibly the easiest game on the console. Bubble Bobble is essentially Pac-Man but with bubbles. You’ll destroy your enemies t and progress through each level so quickly that’s it’s not that fun.


If you enjoy how Zelda plays, you’ll probably like StarTropics . It’s similar in how you interact with NPCs and adventure through dungeons. It’s just a bitch to control especially your jumping. The game as a whole feels a bit shallow.


One of the few sports games on the NES Classic Edition and it shows how far sports games (and football games in particular) have come. Tecmo Bowl is a fun little title but if you’re looking to play defense, good luck.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

The sequel to the popular first Legend of Zelda game, The Adventure of Link is unlike that title in every possible way. Gone are the monsters in the overworld where you hack and slash your way through the country. Instead, you’ll travel the country and animals/monsters will appear out of nowhere and try to attack you. You can easily avoid them and once you enter dungeons, it becomes a side-scroller. That’s not how Zelda should be played.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

Another title on the NES Classic Edition that doesn’t live up to the original. Like Zelda II this does feel vaguely like its predecessor, but with NPCs you can talk to.

Donkey Kong

The first game featuring our favorite red plumber, Donkey Kong , like many of the arcade games of the time, is still a lot of fun. A lot of these arcade games could share a spot, but Donkey Kong lands here because it feels repetitive.

Ice Climber

If Mario perfected the side-scroller, then the Ice Climbers were the masters of the upwards level design. It’s a simple premise, just make it to the top of the mountain of each level without dying. And yet, it does enough to make you want to continue playing, especially with another player.

Mario Bros.

The original Mario game, you’ll be tasked with defeating all of the enemies that pop out of the pipes. It’s way more difficult that it sounds, especially with the running literally having you slide as you stop. Try it out with a friend so you can get some co-op going, you’ll have a fun time.

Donkey Kong Jr.

The sequel to the classic arcade game, Donkey Kong Jr. flips the roles as you are tasked with saving your father, Donkey Kong, from Mario. This version is more fast-paced and there’s a lot more strategy that you’ll to need to implement to get through every level. It’s also much tougher, which is great for those looking for a challenge.


The original RPG, Final Fantasy hasn’t aged very well in the 30+ plus years since it debuted, however, if you enjoy RPGs and the franchise in general you’ll want to see where it all began. It’s a little rough with the turn-based battle system but with any RPG, practice makes perfect.

Super Mario Bros. 2

Man, what a misstep this game was. How do you take away the ability to stomp enemies and instead force you to time your jumps so you can land on them and throw them? Not as fun as the first game or the other Super Mario Bros. titles to follow but the added difficulty should be commended as you side-scroll your way around the Mushroom Kingdom.


Another fun shooter, Gradius puts the player in the cockpit of a space fighter to shoot through every level. There’s not much else to say about Gradius, except that if you’re looking for a mindless shooter, this will sate your appetite.


Galaga is very reminiscent of Space Invaders , with some minor twists. It’s a great arcade shooter and time-killer if you’re tired of the side-scrolling action. It’s fun and simple and just the kind of game anyone in the house can get into.

Kid Icarus

Instead of a side-scroller, Kid Icarus takes the Ice Climbers approach and has you go up through levels with a lot of consequences if you fall. There’s a lot of different enemies for you to shoot and it’s not as easy as it looks, which seems to be the theme with a lot of these retro games.


The ultimate arcade game brought to console. Pac-Man is a fun time-killer that can get really intense as you move through the levels. I wish the movements were smoother and more intuitive, but you really can’t ask for too much from the NES.


Another side-scrolling action game, the first Ninja Gaiden is more-fast paced compared to Double Dragon , but with an even higher difficulty that the series has become known for. You can wall jump and use a variety of ninja weapons to get through levels, and if you’re looking for an actual narrative, this is one of the few games on the Mini NES that has one.


You know how fun it is to just run in, guns blazing taking down people and robots? Very fun. Super C is a fantastic little game where you’ll be jumping along with your character as you both dodge a barrage of enemies and bullets. Grab a friend and let the bullets fly.

Dr. Mario

Dr. Mario was the game I continually went back to in between action and platformers. A Tetris-style puzzle game with a twist, Dr. Mario is a perfect time-killer and a nice way to unwind as you get rid of those nasty viruses.


The ultimate horror, side-scrolling game. Ghosts ‘N Goblins is known for being a very difficult game and it still holds true. You’ll be bombarded with enemies while you try and get into the castle to save your beloved. Be prepared to spend a lot of time trying to finish this game.


This side-scrolling fighting game is best played with two players because, hoo boy, you’ll have a tough time going at it alone. Double Dragon II was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time from the SNES, and plays and feels just like it. Grab a friend and have a good ol’ time.


Another side-scroller that isn’t really. Castlevania allows the player to go up and down dungeons as you make your way through the castle. The controls are simple enough but the enemies are rather tough especially the bosses so be sure to master all of your moves.


If you enjoyed the boxing game from Wii Sports, Punch-Out makes you feel like you’re stepping into the ring all over again. Use combination attacks to defeat a variety of opponents as you make your way up the ranks. Each opponent has a way of defeating them that you have to pay attention to to figure out, which makes this game more than just mindless punching; there’s a lot of strategy involved.

Also, this was the one game on the Mini NES that I had no problem sitting back and watch someone else play for long periods of time.

Kirby’s Adventure

I’m a sucker for Kirby games and Kirby’s Adventure introduces everyone to the pink puffball from space. You’ll make your way through different levels in this side-scrolling adventure as you suck up and absorb enemy powers to defend your homeland. It’s good, clean fun but like many Kirby games, the difficulty leaves a lot to be desired.

Super Mario Bros.

Can’t beat the classics. Super Mario Bros. is a perfect side-scrolling game for any difficulty level. However, it does feel a lot easier than when I first played it all those years ago. It must be those dungeon level cheats I’ve picked up as I got older.

The Legend of Zelda

The one that started it all. The original Legend of Zelda is much more difficult than I remember and doesn’t hold your hand at all through your adventure. If you’re looking for a game to sink hours into, here it is.

Super Mario Bros. 3

After the lackluster Super Mario Bros. 2 , the third installment lays the foundation for what the Mario games will be from the SNES and beyond, introducing new items and enemies while walking the line between too easy and difficult very well.


Remember the Mega Man Anniversary Edition for the Nintendo Gamecube? Remember how frustrated you felt trying to complete the earlier games? Yea, you’ll feel that way with the Mini NES’ Mega Man 2, as you shoot your way through robots and Dr. Wily’s army of robot masters. The game holds up surprisingly well, and if you’re a fan of Mega Man, you’ll love this title.


This classic keeps the same side-scrolling mechanics of every Metroid game aside from the Prime series (and Other M ) and it holds up really well. The controls are smooth and the difficulty is perfect for the Metroid series. You’ll sink hours exploring Zebes and feel accomplished when you finally complete the game.

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