Top 10 Unknown NES Gems That You HAVE To Play!

The Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES) is one of the most classic retro systems on the planet and it had hundreds of great games. Unfortunately, many gems were lost in the shuffle, including these 10 favorites.

The Ultimate Stuntman

This unlicensed classic is a lot of fun. You play in multiple gameplay styles, including side scrolling and racing modes, that control well and feature a lot of exciting action. Don’t pass up this rather weird-looking cartridge.

Street Fighter 2010

Here’s a game where the title ruined its chances of success. Unrelated to the beat ’em up series, this platformer is unique for its “boss-centric” approach. Each level is a boss battle as you move through several bizarre and horrific sci-fi environments. With a fun fighting style, great music, and a unique approach, this one is worth a try.


Solstice NES screenshot

Here’s a game that seems to have it all: great graphics, a huge world, and incredible music by the talented Folin brothers. Yet it remains relatively unknown. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, the three-quarter perspective is tricky to navigate and the control can be awkward and stiff. However, those who fight through these difficulties are rewarded with a deep and challenging game.

Guardian Legend

This game answers a question you never knew you had asked: what would happen if you combined Zelda with Gradius? Why, you’d get this incredible game, one that features high-powered shooting levels with difficult adventuring stages that seamlessly combines both styles. Think Blaster Master taken to the next level.

3D Worldrunner

For fans of straight-forward action games, this little gem is a perfect fit. You play from a behind-the-back perspective as you run, jump, and attack enemies in your quest to get to the end of the level. Yes, it’s basically Space Harrier for the NES, but it’s a GOOD version of the game.

Zombie Nation

The plot of this game is absolutely bonkers: just a few aspects of it include zombies bringing the Statue of Liberty to life and a giant samurai head fighting off an alien invasion. You play the head, shooting down enemies and trying to save the world. Okay, this one is a bit rough to play sometimes, but is worth it just for the bizarre premise.


This creative castle-building and ship-combat arcade classic made a nice transition to the NES. It combines Tetris-style block building, with ship-based combat and castle defense. Though it seems too random to work, it really does, and offers hours of fun.


There’s just two words to describe this game: criminally overlooked. A deep action RPG that builds on the mold of Zelda and improves it by adding whole new levels of game design. It’s shocking just how much is going on in this game, so pick it up if you’re a NES RPG fan.

Conquest Of The Crystal Palace

Another constantly ignored game, this side-scrolling platform game seems simple on the surface. However, its use of unique power crystals and a cute (but violent!) pet dog increase its depth and create a very Japanese gaming experience unlike any other on the system.

Little Samson

Ah Little Samson! This beauty doesn’t deserve such an unknown state. Although simple in plot, Little Sampson lets you choose four different characters with varying strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. This adds an element of strategy to the game as you run through its lengthy and challenging stages.

Although some of these games are hard to find (Little Samson regularly fetches thousands of dollars in auctions!), they are worth the price if you can find them. Thankfully, some of them (such as Solstice and Conquest Of The Crystal Palace) are relatively easy to find and inexpensive.


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