Mario's first outing as a healthcare professional, this block-falling puzzler might not have the following or cache of the mighty Tetris, but its colour-matching gameplay caught on with puzzle fans. Despite not being able to compete on the level of Alexey Pajitnov's puzzling titan, there's a reason Dr. Mario has stuck around in some form for the past thirty years: it's simple and addictive.
A boxing game that's not really a boxing game, Punch-Out!! is all about reading your opponent's tells and timing your dodges and responses. So maybe it's the perfect boxing game, then? Regardless, it's a great game that's brimming with colourful characters and challenging Mr. Dream (or Mike Tyson) to a duel should be on every NES fan’s bucket list. Fight!
This follow-up famously reskinned another game with Mario for release in the West (where Nintendo feared gamers wouldn't be able to cope with The Lost Levels). Despite being something of a black sheep in its homeland, Super Mario Bros. 2 had an enormous influence on the iconography of the series. The game is definitely worth revisiting via Nintendo Switch Online, if only to remind yourself just how different it is from what came before and after. With four playable (and very different) characters to choose from, we highly recommend a playthrough.
Kirby's Adventure is a vibrant masterclass of NES platforming, and a high point in the pink puffballs illustrious career. It still looks great all these years later and even if you don't consider yourself a Kirby fan, you can't fail to be won over by this charming adventure. You might say... it sucks you in.
What is there left to say about The Legend of Zelda? The game that started it all holds up very well, although be prepared to explore and really work for the answers to puzzles here. A modern game would never ask you to try setting random bushes alight to reveal a hidden passageway without signalling it with a huge neon 'SECRET HERE!' sign. The Legend of Zelda trusts the player and has faith in its own strengths enough to let you miss things. It's a fine game that still feels fresh, and is definitely worth revisiting.
It's the original, and many would say the best. You've played this many, many times before, and you'll play it many, many times again, because it's genius. Are you playing it right now?
Super Mario Bros. 3 was a colossal leap ahead of the original Super Mario Bros. which refined the basics, switched up the visuals and added more mechanical variety and one-and-done elements than any game to that point; so many that even fervent fans of the game may never have seen certain suits, stages or secrets.
So many ‘old’ games need historical context or come with caveats when playing them years after release, but SMB3 needs none. It's just as boundingly inventive and fresh as the day it was released, and easily one of the very finest games ever made, let alone on its host system. Play it, now.
Surprised by Numero Uno, or was it a foregone conclusion? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section, and remember — if you haven't rated your favourite games from the list, you can still do so and influence the overall ranking yourself.
Further reading: Every Nintendo Switch Online SNES Game Ranked