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.
The Video Games Issue 2021 is an Inverse celebration of retro favorites, forgotten gems, and the latest and greatest in interactive entertainment.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
13. Super Mario Bros. 2
12. Kirby’s Adventure
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)
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)
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)
4. Super Mario Kart
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)
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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