34. Shadow of the Ninja (NES)

Shadow of the Ninja (NES)Shadow of the Ninja (NES)
Publisher: Natsume / Developer: Natsume
Release Date: Jan 1991 (USA) / 25th Jul 1991 (UK/EU)

Shadow of the Ninja is an underrated little title from Natsume which arguably deserves to be remembered alongside the likes of Ninja Gaiden. It's not without faults and it's certainly unforgiving, but with two playable ninjas (and 2-player co-op) that control beautifully and five good-looking worlds to fight through, this is something of a gem in the NES collection.

33. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (NES)

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (NES)Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (NES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 1st Oct 2007 (USA) / 14th Sep 2007 (UK/EU)

The 'proper' Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan, this was once ‘the grail’ for gamers in the West who knew the first game back-to-front and wanted more of a challenge. The Lost Levels certainly provides that, and for that reason it’s best enjoyed by Super Mario Bros. veterans — players new to the world of Mario (yes, they do exist) will likely find it bewilderingly, hilariously tough.

32. Wario's Woods (NES)

Wario's Woods (NES)Wario's Woods (NES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 10th Dec 1994 (USA) / 1995 (UK/EU)

Starring Mario's dastardly alter ego / doppelgänger / evil twin / [insert theory here], Wario's Woods is a B-tier NES puzzler probably best known for being the final official release for console in 1994. That said, its unique gameplay hook combined with unusual boss battles makes it worth investigating if you're a puzzle fan who has exhausted the usual suspects.

31. Ice Hockey (NES)

Ice Hockey (NES)Ice Hockey (NES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: Mar 1988 (USA) / 15th Apr 1988 (UK/EU)

Ice Hockey is far from the worst 8-bit sports offering on the NES, and it provides a solid, serviceable approximation of the game, although you'll need patience to put up with its quirks, especially when defending. Worth a look if you're a fan of the sport; non-fans aren't missing much (although that sentiment is arguably true for many sports games on the NES).

30. TwinBee (NES)

TwinBee (NES)TwinBee (NES)
Publisher: Konami / Developer: Konami
Release Date: 1st Nov 2018 (USA) / 1st Nov 2018 (UK/EU)

A vertical-scrolling shoot 'em up that didn’t originally release in the West, Konami's Twinbee is worth checking out if only for that reason. It's a cute little Famicom shmup that spawned a successful series and fans will probably enjoy going back to the beginning more than newcomers. Still, it's worth a look.

29. Ghosts 'n Goblins (NES)

Ghosts 'n Goblins (NES)Ghosts 'n Goblins (NES)
Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Micronics
Release Date: 1st Nov 1986 (USA) / 1989 (UK/EU)

Simply put, Ghosts 'n Goblins ain't no Ghouls 'n Ghosts. And Ghouls 'n Ghosts ain't no Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts. What we're trying to say is that if you're jonesing for a challenging 2D platformer from Capcom, this NES entry in the series probably shouldn't be your first port of call. It's not bad by any means, just distinctly primitive and a tad more frustrating than it needed to be. If you're down for a tough time, though, this is one of 8-bit gaming's most famously difficult single-player experiences.

28. Balloon Fight (NES)

Balloon Fight (NES)Balloon Fight (NES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: Jun 1986 (USA) / 12th Mar 1987 (UK/EU)

Balloon Fight is essentially Nintendo's version of Joust, and while it was very much a case of the company copying someone else's homework back in the day, the resulting game is a strong one. Personally, we like to blast through the Balloon Trip mode every so often, if only to listen to the cheery tune that plays. The game is starting to show its age, but that's no crime in itself — how many 8-bit games don't feel a little creaky by modern standards? Balloon Fight's definitely worth a smidgen of your time.

27. Donkey Kong Jr. (NES)

Donkey Kong Jr. (NES)Donkey Kong Jr. (NES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: Jun 1986 (USA) / 15th Jun 1987 (UK/EU)

Unique in the Mario canon for being the only game to make the plumber the antagonist, Donkey Kong Jr. can't measure up to the original game, but it's worth a play just to see Mario guarding a caged Donkey Kong. You'll need a hefty dose of nostalgia to get much more out of it, though.

26. Adventures of Lolo (NES)

Adventures of Lolo (NES)Adventures of Lolo (NES)
Publisher: HAL Laboratory / Developer: HAL Laboratory
Release Date: 20th Apr 1989 (USA) / 21st Feb 1991 (UK/EU)

Coming from a pre-Kirby HAL Laboratory, Adventures of Lolo is a rather unique action-puzzling artifact that's unlikely to knock your socks off, but still has an unconventional, homely sort of charm. It's certainly not a top-tier NES title, but like so many games in the NES library, it will reward your patience if you can just resist the temptation to switch to one of the console's stone-cold classics.

25. Rygar (NES)

Rygar (NES)Rygar (NES)
Developer: Tecmo
Release Date: Jul 1987 (USA) / 30th Mar 1990 (UK/EU)

Rygar for the NES bears little resemblance to the side-scrolling arcade original, but is an impressive action adventure game in its own right. With tight controls and a character that grows stronger as you play, it's a fine example of a quality third-party NES release and worth investigating if you're into non-linear, fantasy-style 8-bit games.

24. Mario Bros. (NES)

Mario Bros. (NES)Mario Bros. (NES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: 20th Jun 1986 (USA) / 1st Sep 1986 (UK/EU)

Known to a whole generation as the extra mode that came tacked on to the Game Boy Advance Super Mario Bros. series ports, Mario Bros. is a slight, flavourless offering that doesn't hold up too well these days. It's passingly diverting with two players, but you'll soon be wishing you were playing the one with 'Super' at the start.

23. Tecmo Bowl (NES)

Tecmo Bowl (NES)Tecmo Bowl (NES)
Publisher: Tecmo / Developer: Tecmo
Release Date: Feb 1989 (USA) / 17th Sep 2015 (UK/EU)

Tecmo Bowl strikes a lovely balance between pick-up-and-playability and depth of gameplay that characterises the best sports games (scratch that — video games in general). There's a chance that even non-football fans might enjoy this one, and it has aged far better than many sports titles in the NES catalogue. Hut!