Originally released back in 1983, the Nintendo Entertainment System didn't reach Ireland properly until 1986 during the height of Ireland's recession.

Nintendo didn't really latch on in the public consciousness until the early '90s when Ireland's fortunes improved and so to did the national income. A total of 711 games were officially licensed for the Nintendo Entertainment System in its lifespan, however there were hundreds more that were released without an official license by fly-by-night studios and, in one case, a Christian-themed studio that made religious-themed games.

The 8-bit era was truly won by the NES as the Sega Master System, for whatever reason, didn't have success in the same way. It wasn't until the Mega Drive / Genesis launched that Sega began to gain ground in the early console wars.

So, what were the best and what were the worst? There are countless games that were completely unplayable on the NES, but here's our pick of the ten best.



It often came bundled with the NES itself and, if you had the Zapper, you were all set. You could play with a controller, sure, but it just didn't have the same effect. Viciously difficult, Duck Hunt was the source of countless arguments. Yes, the ducks get faster. No, you can't shoot the dog. Yes, you have to aim it right at the screen.




When you think of early RPGs, you think of Final Fantasy and Zelda, maybe even Phantasy Star. Wizards & Warriors never gets a mention and that's a damn shame. Experimenting with the idea of an open-world environment, where players were free to make their own choices and not spoon-feeding everything, Wizards & Warriors' third outing was hugely layered and literally took hours to complete. You had to do it all in one sitting, which was basically impossible, which in turn meant leaving it paused and hoping that it didn't freeze on you when you got back.



Like Wizards & Warriors III, California Games experimented with some of the features that we now essentially take for granted. California Games wasn't just one game, it was many games. You had roller-skating, surfing and skate-boarding all crammed into one cartridge and an infectious chiptune soundtrack to go along with it. The roller-skating game was incredibly tough, especially trying to clear the final sand patch without slipping.



An incredibly difficult game, Marble Madness wasn't for the faint of heart. If you did manage to make your way out of the first level - most failed, in fairness - you were treated to deranged chiptune music and some of the most beautiful isometric drawings of the 8-bit era. The game was, essentially, just a 3D version of Pac-Man but with a marble instead of the yellow guy. However, there was something fiendishly difficult about it and, more often than not, proved too difficult for inexperienced players.



It was the '90s. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were everywhere. Everyone had their favourite turtle. Everyone either owned this game or rented it on school holidays. If you had a second controller, you were really set. Forget Double Dragon, THIS was the ultimate side-scrolling beat-'em-up for the NES.



Maybe a tad bit overpraised, The Legend of Zelda did help to popularise RPGs with consoles and gave us some of the most iconic music in gaming history. It also had the distinctive - and now treasured - golden cartridge as well as confusing everyone over who was Link and who was Zelda. Trivia time! The sadly departed Robin Williams was such a fan of the game that he named his daughter after Princess Zelda.




Metroid was a brilliant, but confusing game. Our tiny little minds weren't able to cope with a non-linear experience - never mind the idea that Samus Aran was a woman. Of course, now it all makes perfect sense and Samus Aran is considered one of the most iconic characters in gaming history. Wild, violent, imaginative, Metroid was the closest thing the NES got to replicating Aliens. That or...



Where Metroid was confusing in how it handled the story, Contra was bracingly simple. Walk to the end of the stage, shoot everything in your path. That was it. The colourfully-rendered environments popped and exploded as you rained down fire on everything on-screen whilst the pulsating soundtrack ripped through your tiny ears. Still infinitely enjoyable to this day.



If Zelda was our first steps into the world of RPGs, Castlevania was our first leap into the world of survival horror games. Resident Evil, Silent Hill - they all started with Castlevania. The game wanted it to be less about killing everything on screen and more about the experience. The further you got into the castle, the weirder it got. You started off fighting giant bats, but pretty soon, you were fighting Medusa, mummies and, eventually, Dracula. Very few games came close to capturing that kind of atmosphere as Castlevania did.



Sure, the first Super Mario Bros. was a classic and yes, Super Mario Bros. 2 was something of an oddity. There's a whole story behind why the second one was completely different, however the third Super Mario Bros. was a return to form and, in our opinion, the best out of them all. You had a huge, expansive world to explore, a variety of suits and power-ups and a gorgeously rendered environment to do it all in. The exploration, the trial-by-error, all of it. It says a lot that all the other Super Mario Bros. games that came after - with the exception of Super Mario 64 - followed Super Mario Bros. 3's formula.