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The 25 best NES and SNES games on Nintendo Switch Online

Let’s-a-go!

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Nintendo

It’s easy to get caught in the endless flood of new game releases, but you’ll miss out on some of the best games of all time if you never take a look back.

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Nintendo Switch Online makes it easy to delve into some of the greatest hits from the NES and SNES for the most fun history lesson you’ll ever have.

Here are

25 classic games you need to play on Nintendo Switch Online

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The Video Games Issue 2021 is an Inverse celebration of retro favorites, forgotten gems, and the latest and greatest in interactive entertainment.

25. Ninja Gaiden

You may have heard the phrase “Nintendo hard” in reference to extremely difficult games. Give Ninja Gaiden a shot and you’ll learn exactly what it means. (NES)

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24. River City Ransom

Just about every beat ‘em up since 1989 owes something to River City Ransom. It adds light RPG elements to its button-mashing action to keep things fresh as you punch your way across the city. (NES)

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23. Pro Wrestling

Pro Wrestling is notable for its colorful characters and varied moves in chaotic matches that could burst out of the ring. Despite all that, it’s probably best remembered for the awkwardly translated post-match celebration: “A winner is you.” (NES)

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Nintendo

22. The Legend of Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link

The Adventure of Link probably won’t be your favorite Legend of Zelda game, but it’s still worth playing.

It threw out everything that worked in the first game, bringing a spirit of reinvention that still makes the series exciting today. (NES)

21. Panel de Pon

Panel de Pon was originally called Tetris Attack in the U.S., despite having nothing to do with Tetris. This incredibly addictive match-3 puzzle game is a perfect fit for Nintendo’s handheld. (SNES)

20. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Yoshi’s Island is a sequel to Super Mario World, but it sure doesn’t feel like one. It puts players in the shoes of Yoshi, who’s tasked with babysitting Baby Mario on a decidedly not kid-friendly island full of piranha plants. (SNES)

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19. Excitebike

Side-scrolling racing games aren’t too common, but the format somehow works for Excitebike. Dodging obstacles while keeping your bike from overheating is still a fun challenge that doesn’t feel like any other racing game. (NES)

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18. Wild Guns

The rootin-tootinest shooter on the SNES, Wild Guns is a Wild West-themed shooting gallery that inexplicably pits you against giant robots as well as cattle rustlers. (SNES)

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Nintendo

17. Pilotwings

There’s nothing else quite like Pilotwings on the SNES. Flight sims have always been somewhat of a PC niche, but Pilotwings makes things simple and fun enough to make flying around in planes and on jet packs a thrill. (SNES)

16. Punch-Out!!

Despite or maybe because of its simplicity, Punch-Out!! is still one of the best boxing games ever. By putting you in the shoes of the underdog, it makes patience and timing more important than raw power. (NES)

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Nintendo

15. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

Released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2, The Lost Levels was deemed too hard for Western audiences. It’s worth a look for a more sadistic take on Mario. (NES)

14. The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda today can feel clunky and obtuse, but there’s still something magical about exploring its sprawling landscape, especially if you’re a fan of the series. (NES)

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13. Super Mario Bros. 2

Super Mario Bros. 2 isn’t the best Mario game, but it may be the strangest. If it feels like a totally different game, that’s because it’s a reskin of a Japanese game called Doki Doki Panic. (NES)

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12. Kirby’s Adventure

Kirby may be best known as a Smash Bros. fighter these days, but his platformers are where he really shines. The inventive ability to steal enemy attacks and one of the catchiest soundtracks on the NES makes Kirby’s Adventure worth revisiting. (NES)

11. Breath of Fire 2

Breath of Fire 2 asks a lot of players with its steep difficulty, but its top-tier pixel art and dynamic battles make it well worth the effort. (SNES)

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10. Crystalis

An underappreciated gem, Crystalis is a top-down action RPG much like the more popular Mana series. It doesn’t have nearly the same name recognition, but it’s a must-play for fans of the genre. (NES)

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9. F-Zero

F-Zero is about one thing: speed. The futuristic racer used a graphics technique called Mode 7 to simulate 3D environments for its unique look. (SNES)

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8. Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 is such a step up from the original, it’s hard to believe they launched just a few years apart. Great music, incredible levels, and some of the best powerups in Mario history make it an all-time classic. (NES)

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7. Donkey Kong Country

The entire Donkey Kong Country trilogy is worth checking out on Switch Online. Its funky soundtrack, tough platforming, and (for the time) mind-blowing graphics make it one of the best SNES series. (SNES)

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6. Star Fox

Before the barrel roll memes and action spinoffs, Star Fox was just a relatable story about a group of woodland animals fighting a giant floating head in space. It feels simplistic now, but its space combat was revolutionary when it was released. (SNES)

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5. Kirby Super Star

Kirby Super Star is a compilation of mini-games, plus a version of the Game Boy platformer Kirby’s Dream Land. Even if the other games don’t hold your attention, the Dream Land remake is a blast. (SNES)

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4. Super Mario Kart

Mario Kart is hands-down one of the best multiplayer franchises ever. Super Mario Kart feels pretty tame compared to its modern iterations, but it’s still an absolute blast (especially since those damn blue shells hadn’t been added yet). (SNES)

3. Super Mario World

Consoles rarely launch alongside their best games, but Super Mario World is an exception. It’s packed with secrets and alternate paths on top of its already spectacular platforming and level design. (SNES)

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2. Super Metroid

Long-suffering Metroid fans are often stuck waiting years between new adventures for Samus. Fortunately, one of the series’ high points is on Switch Online to ease the pain before the next installment. (SNES)

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1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Until Breath of the Wild came along, A Link to the Past was a strong contender for the best Legend of Zelda game ever. It feels like a new starting point for the series, with better graphics and gameplay made possible by the SNES. (SNES)

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