20. Batman: The Video Game (NES)

A classic 2D platformer from a time when that was the go-to genre for any licensed game (much like 3D open world action games are these days). The reassuring subtitle 'The Video Game' promises an experience recounting the beats of Tim Burton's 1989 film, a 'movie event' that arguably birthed the modern, cross-media comic book blockbuster. Sunsoft might not have turned in the most faithful of tie-ins, but it's a tight little game with excellent music which sees an acrobatic Caped Crusader wall-jumping and punching his way through an 8-bit Gotham City in search of the Joker, and it's still a fun retro treat today.

So, have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

19. Super C (NES)

If at times Super C (or Probotector II: Return of the Evil Forces in PAL places) feels a bit "standard" from a modern perspective, it's only because it was instrumental in shaping all future side-scrolling run 'n' gunners; it created a template that would later stamp out classics like Gunstar Heroes and Metal Slug. It may lack the charm and personality of those later variations on the theme, but it's still well worth playing both as a classic of the genre and as a rewarding two-player game in its own right — any retro action fan will still have a great time with this run-and-gun rite of passage.

18. Castlevania (NES)

The original and the best? Perhaps not, but Castlevania put down an enduring template that mixed Universal monster movie shlock with brilliant tunes and tight, satisfying whip-based combat. Very much like Super Mario Bros., the original Castlevania is a game that laid down the foundations of an entire series. Sure, subsequent titles have refined and evolved the core concept, but Castlevania – just like Mario's first 'Super' adventure – remains playable and enjoyable, even today. It's certainly not perfect – the difficulty is maddening at times and the controls feel incredibly stiff by modern standards – but the challenging gameplay, foreboding atmosphere and amazing soundtrack all pull together to create a true classic which has aged surprisingly well.

17. Little Nemo: The Dream Master (NES)

A great, licensed Capcom platformer on a system with an abundance of great, licensed Capcom platformers, Little Nemo puts you in control of the titular boy as he heads to Slumberland on a journey through his dreams. Along the way, Nemo runs into a variety of animals who he befriends and recruits to help him rescue the ruler of said destination from the clutches of the Nightmare King. It's all sleep-themed, see?

It's based on the film adaptation of the Little Nemo comic strip from the early 1900s, but despite the cute premise and the dreamy animals, Little Nemo is notoriously punishing, especially when compared to the developers' Disney games. Kids who rented this back in the day weren't going to breeze through it in 30 minutes, that's for sure. Despite the difficulty, affection for this one has only grown over the years. As with virtually all of Capcom's 8-bit output, this is worth investigating.

16. Dragon Warrior III (NES)

Dragon Warrior III (or Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation) put the cap on a trilogy (at the time) of influential RPGs which would shape the genre. Set prior to the original game, it added plethora of refinements to the turn-based gameplay and open-world adventuring, including a day/night cycle. It got a Super Famicom remake which never came to the West, although an excellent Game Boy Color version did arrive in 2001 (and you can also play it on Switch).

15. The Guardian Legend (NES)

Do you like top-down adventure games? How about shoot em' ups? Good, because you'll get both sides of the coin with The Guardian Legend. While it doesn't master either genre, it's a solid mash-up that takes the right elements from The Legend of Zelda and Metroid to provide a fun time over the course of two hours or so. That cover art is a tad disconcerting, mind.

14. DuckTales (NES)

If you need to scratch your NES nostalgia itch or you also loved DuckTales as a kid, this game is for you. The gameplay is unique and extremely fun, the presentation is excellent, and the characters you know and love are intact; non-linear exploration and an alternate ending will have you coming back for more. Uncle Scrooge is just as cranky and loveable now as he was decades ago. One of the best licensed games ever made.

13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES)

Konami finishes up its NES trilogy in fine form with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project. Some might consider the following 16-bit instalment on SNES to be 'better', but we've still got a special place in our hearts for TMNT3TMP, as nobody calls it. NES-owning Turtles fans certainly weren't lacking for choice in the early '90s.

12. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES)

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos is a fine-looking NES game with some fancy cutscenes and decent music. Wall-jumping and the difficulty curve have been improved from the original game and there's a fun challenge to be found in this sequel (which carried the Shadow Warriors branding in Europe). Being sent flying straight into a pit and respawning enemies is annoying at the best of times, but the game is mostly fair and its plus points combine to overcome its faults and make Ryu's second NES adventure a mighty satisfying one.

11. Dragon Warrior IV (NES)

The final NES/Famicom entry in Chunsoft's seminal RPG series, 1992's Dragon Warrior IV (or Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen as it's more commonly known these days) would be the last title in the series to arrive in the West for some time. It featured five chapters, each of which concentrates on one of the aforementioned 'chosen' characters. It was also the first of the mainline DQ series to get its own spin-off titles: Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon featured this game's merchant, Taloon, and was the very first game in Chunsoft's Mystery Dungeon series, no less.

The Nintendo DS is the best way to enjoy the game these days, if you can find it for a reasonable price.