Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Released in 1986, the NES saved the entire video game industry by playing its marketing to be more like a toy rather than a video game system. This marketing struck gold and allowed Nintendo to (essentially) monopolize the video game market using their lockout chip. If you wanted to hit it off in the video game industry, you had to side with Nintendo. This led to many attempts to break the chip or work around it. Like the Deck Enhancer, TenGen, and more. While it saved the industry, many of the games have not aged well. The limitations also held many games back.

Platforming games

NES Mario Bros Trilogy

To be honest, how could it not be these three games? While the platforming genre in general, 3D included, died hard in the 6th generation of consoles, these games ushered the genre into the mainstream (at the time). Very solid games that many should play at least once. Ducktales, Kid Icarus, and Kirby are all honorable mentions.

Shooter/Shoot'em up games

Classic Megaman Series

Again, a classic series of games. I didn't really know if I should've put this under platformer or shooter but fuck it. These games are great but tend to be on the hard side. Everyone should at least try out MM1 or 2. Blaster Master, Galaga, and Contra are honorable mentions.

Fighting games


This counts as a fighting game, right? Well regardless, a good game on the system. (even though I'd rather play the wii game)

Beat 'em up games

River City Ransom

This series is just pure beat'em up fun. While this game can be a bit hard, its got charm up the ass and is just a good playthrough.

Survival games


The genre wasn't really categorized at that time. If you know one, let me know!

Rhythm/music games


The genre wasn't really categorized at that time. If you know one, let me know!

Horror games


This game isn't the kind of horror to make you feel scared, it's the kind to make you feel capable yet helpless against the enemy at the same time. The slow movement and slow whip make you worthless against fast enemies and enemies that swarm around you. I can't think of much else as of horror on the system but Castlevania counts.

Metroidvania games


The genre wasn't really categorized at that time, I would say Castlevania II, but it's not a very good game. If you know one, let me know!

Visual novels


I would put Metal Slader Glory here but I'm saving that for the directors cut. AKIRA is the only competent one that I can think of on the system. It's a Famicom exclusive so you'll need a fantran cart.

Action WRPG

The Legend of Zelda

Again, the obvious one. While cryptic and annoying at some parts, Zelda I was a great start to what would be one of the greatest video game series of all time.

Action JRPG


I could think of an action WRPG, but not a JRPG. Most likely because they only got good during the SNES era.

Turn-based WRPG

MOTHER (Earthbound Beginnings)

Many would categorize this as a JRPG but I'm throwing it under the WRPG umbrella because of its setting and lack of anime influence. Good start to the series, just play 2 or 3 instead.

Turn-based JRPG

Dragon Quest/Warrior III

Be real, since Mother is a WRPG, it had to be either this or Final Fantasy. Either could have worked but Dragon Quest is a much more important game. So I put it over FF but again it could be either-or.

Puzzle games


A classic puzzle game. There are better versions out there, but you cant beat the classic.

Life simulation games


The genre wasn't really categorized at that time. If you know one, let me know!

Sports games

Tecmo Bowl

I mean there have never been too many standout sports games so I'll put one of the more iconic ones on here. A perfectly competent game. But compared to the rest of the sports games on NES this stands out for sure.

Racing games


Anyone can still get a kick outta this game nowadays. It's a solid game but it's really only here for a lack of alternatives. MicroMachines is the only other one that springs to mind.

Party games

The genre wasn't really categorized at that time. If you know one, let me know!