37. Vice: Project Doom (NES)

Vice: Project Doom (NES)
Vice: Project Doom (NES)
Publisher: Sammy Corporation / Developer: Aicom
Release Date: 15th Nov 1991 (USA) / 1st Aug 2019 (UK/EU)

Vice: Project Doom is a good-looking action platformer from Aicom with overhead driving sections which feel more like a vertical shooter. If you haven't heard of it, we'd recommend checking it out; decent controls and a mix of projectile weapons with a melee 'laser whip' for close quarters combat make it an interesting, though not essential, 8-bit experience.

36. 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.

35. 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 direct sequel was once ‘the grail’ for gamers in the West who had utterly exhausted the first Super Mario Bros. and wanted more of a challenge. The Lost Levels certainly provides that. In fact, Nintendo of America deemed it too difficult to release, and to an extent, you can see where they were coming from. It's a sequel in the truest sense of the word; difficulty-wise, it picks up where World 8-4 left off in the original game and is definitely best enjoyed by seasoned SMB veterans. Players new to the world of Mario (yes, they do exist) will likely find it bewilderingly, hilariously tough.

It wasn't until Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES that the wider world got to experience this game (which is where it picked up its 'Lost Levels' moniker). It's not bad by any means, but it's the sort of thing that would be a New Game+ mode in a modern game. It's incredibly unforgiving and lacks the careful, considered balance of risk and reward associated with Mario platformers. It's available on Switch for anyone with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, so test your mettle with it there if you dare.

34. 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.

33. 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).

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. 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.

30. 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.

29. 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.

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. 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.

26. 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.

25. Dig Dug II (NES)

Dig Dug II (NES)
Dig Dug II (NES)
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Bandai Namco
Release Date: Dec 1989 (USA) / 8th Oct 2015 (UK/EU)

Dig Dug II is quite a different game from its predecessor, but the gameplay is still comparable, allowing you to clear levels the quick and easy way with few points, or the long and hard way with many points. It's a novel concept, but it never really goes anywhere and eventually starts to get a little repetitive. If you love highscore games, it's still a decent time, though.