Nintendo has made a large impact on the gaming industry; in fact, many of the franchises and games we play today would not even be possible without Nintendo’s impact on the gaming industry. From Metroid to Mario, Nintendo has created a variety of franchises across numerous genres and platforms; We all have differing opinions on what defines a classic, but Nintendo has given us plenty of games to choose from over the years in terms of ranking their most definitive classics. Here is a list of five classic Nintendo games from the original Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo, and the Nintendo 64.
Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo Entertainment System – 1985)
This is the game that skyrocketed everyone’s favorite plumber into super stardom, however, many people don’t know that this is NOT the first game that Mario was a part of. Back in 1981 when the original Donkey Kong was released, the player’s character was Jumpman, a carpenter who was trying to save “The Lady” (now known as Pauline) from Donkey Kong himself. In the 1982 Arcade game Donkey Kong Junior, Jumpman’s name was changed to “Mario” thus creating the character we know today. This became even more apparent when the game “Mario Bros” released in 1983 Mario and Luigi were portrayed as Italian plumbers, leading to years of fantastic content and a franchise full of amazing Mario games.
What does this have to do with Super Mario Bros.? Well, the original Super Mario Bros is the game that fully cemented the popularity of Mario and made him a cultural phenomenon; introducing Bowser, Princess Toadstool (now known as Peach) and giving Luigi a chance to shine alongside Mario. Many publications cite that Super Mario Bros also aided in resurrecting the declining video game industry of the 1980’s, which means that this game (and all of its fire flowers, Koopa shells, Goombas, and mushrooms) should be respected for more than just being fun (and inspiring an entire series of amazing games) as the destruction of the industry could have prevented many other great games from being created.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – (Super Nintendo – 1991)
There are quite a few worthy Zelda titles that could be included on this list; however two, in particular, shine above the rest. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of them; as it is the first in the series to introduce “The Dark World” as well as being the first to introduce the Master Sword as we know it today. This Zelda title is often described as one of the best Zelda games and introduced many parts of the Zelda mythology such as the sacred sages, the parallel worlds, and even the concept of Pieces of Heart that became popular in the series as a whole. A Link to the Past is considered to be one of the greatest games of all time and has spawned a sequel that released in 2013 called The Legend of Zelda: A Link between Worlds. There’s no doubt in my mind that it is one of the best classic Nintendo games.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – (Nintendo 64 – 1998)
Ocarina of Time is the second Zelda game on this our best classic Nintendo games list and holds the Guinness world record for the Highest-Rated video game of All Time. It also holds the highest rating on Metacritic (99/100) and is largely considered to be the best video games of all time (or one of them at least.) What garnered so much attention for Ocarina of Time was the fact that it was the first Zelda title to be released entirely in 3D, with sprawling dungeons filled with puzzles, Side Quests, collectables, and a deeply engrossing storyline that is still considered one of the Franchise’s best. Ocarina of Time also happens to be the first game in the series to introduce music as a mini-game aspect in the game. Link is able to actually play songs on the Ocarina of Time; a mechanic that has been carried on in The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and in Skyward Sword with the Goddess’ Harp.
Ocarina of Time also introduced time travel (through the temple of time, with puzzles pertaining to Link’s adult and young selves) as well as horseback riding as the player can obtain Epona, a horse that has become a series staple.
I normally wouldn’t put two entries in the same franchise on a list like this, but as this is Ocarina of Time, I couldn’t leave it off.
Castlevania – (Nintendo Entertainment System – 1987)
Castlevania is the game that helped define an entire genre; It and the Metroid franchise have helped to build the games we now know as “Metroidvanias” in which players progress in order to collect abilities and weapons to aid in their progression through the various environments they traverse. Castlevania is the beginning of the tales of the Belmont clan, and put players (most likely for the first time) up against the Grim Reaper, Frankenstein’s Monster, Medusa, and even Count Dracula himself; beginning a legendary battle between the Count and Simon Belmont’s descendants for years to come.
Many might say that Castlevania has not aged well due to its punishing difficulty, but Castlevania has earned its place as one of the best Nintendo classics. It captured the imaginations of fans for years, and still manages to do so with every re-release or franchise sequel that is created.
Chrono Trigger (Super Nintendo – 1995)
After the success of the Final Fantasy series’ beginnings, Chrono Trigger was created as a way to offer a new perspective on the standard fantasy RPG, introducing magic, sword, and sorcery elements and combining them with more science fiction style elements such as time travel. It is also one of the first Role-playing games to have the death of the main character be a focal plot point, and provide multiple endings depending on which side-quests are completed throughout the game. It might not seem like much in the era where multiple endings are common, but when this game was released it was a powerful, moving experience that still captivates fans and old-school gamers.
Chrono Trigger is also the first game to introduce the New game Plus option that has become a common staple in many Final Fantasy games as well as other RPG titles.
There you have it everyone; there are many great games out there, franchises like Metroid, Fire Emblem, Pokémon, and Harvest Moon, all of which would never have seen the light of day without the help of Nintendo. This is just a snapshot in Nintendo’s history as well, since there are many great Nintendo games that came after the Nintendo 64 as well.
Dying to play these classic Nintendo games but don’t have an old console? Worry not! Check below on where you can buy the remakes or other games of the same franchise on newer consoles.