This holiday season, Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition stands as a must-buy for any fan of retro gaming. And even if you didn’t grow up in the 8-bit era, most of the NES Classic Edition games remain timeless. That said, with a little over 700 games total in the NES library, the Classic Edition can’t help but omit some pretty worthwhile experiences. If Nintendo makes an NES Classic 2—and the sheer popularity of their current model implies they should—we’d love to see these 10 games included as part of the package.
Mega Man 3
For the NES Classic Edition, Nintendo selected Mega Man 2 out of the six total 8-bit games in the series. And while 2 stands as a fine choice, you also can’t discount the quality of 3. Fans of the series can never come to a consensus over which game deserves more praise, but most would agree both 2 and 3 contain Mega Man’s finest moments. With an expanded adventure and the robo-dog, Rush, Mega Man 3 exists as the next best candidate from the series to make the cut.
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
When it comes to Castlevania on the NES, you can’t possibly do any better than Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Where Castlevania II went for more of an RPG-lite approach, III doubles down on what made the debut a classic. Set in a huge world with branching pathways, Dracula’s Curse features a total of four playable characters and some extremely memorable set pieces. And since this list is nothing but wishful thinking, maybe Nintendo can give us the Japanese version of this classic? Thanks to an extra chip on the cart—which didn’t make the cut in America—the original version of Castlevania III unleashes its awesome soundtrack with higher-quality instrumentation.
Sure, the NES Classic gave us the chance to play Super C again, but not including the original Contra amounts to an outright sin. Super C still holds up, but Contra remains the all-time classic, if only for burning the immortal Konami code into the brains of ’80s kids. With its classic run-and-gun gameplay, combined with those strange behind-the-back corridor levels that stand out for their savvy use of low-tech visual trickery, Contra ranks up there as an all-time NES classic. Plus, it’s one of the best two-player experiences you’ll ever have on the system.
Dragon Warrior III
Final Fantasy made it onto the NES Classic Edition, and despite its age, it remains a fine little RPG. But omitting Dragon Warrior entirely from this mini-console seems wrong. While you can buy remakes of just about every Dragon Warrior game on mobile platforms—under its proper name, Dragon Quest—this RPG series made a name for itself on the NES. And part III stands as the perfect choice for a hypothetical NES Classic 2. Despite its age, Dragon Warrior III makes for a lengthy, epic RPG experience, with a huge world and one massive surprise waiting at the end. Due to its lack of popularity in America, few people had the chance to try out Dragon Warrior III when it originally released in 1992. Now that the series has picked up a lot more steam in the States, including a Dragon Warrior game on the NES Classic 2 just feels right.
Capcom made plenty of great Disney games for the NES, and for some reason, DuckTales stands out as the fan favorite. With the somewhat-recent HD remake bringing newfound attention to this old game, DuckTales makes for the perfect choice. Even if the 2012 version managed to spruce up the graphics and give the game a true final level, nothing beats the original. And, seeing as the DuckTales cartoon reboot isn’t far away, this brand could soon be just as relevant as it was in 1989.
River City Ransom
In the 8-bit era, River City Ransom amounted to a cult classic. Not everyone played it, but those who did fell in love. And with good reason: This open-world brawler with light RPG elements could very well be the greatest co-op game on the NES. That may sound like a tall order, but River City Ransom definitely fills it. With lots of weapons, items, and a variety of ways to upgrade your character, this impressively complex brawler is an absolute a must-play.
Strangely enough, the currently existing NES Classic ignores every sport but football. And though Tecmo Bowl makes for an outstanding choice, baseball also needs a little love. If you’re looking for great NES baseball games, you won’t find a much better choice than SNK’s Baseball Stars. While other games like R.B.I. Baseball and Bases Loaded might carry more popularity, Baseball Stars soars above them. This baseball sim stands out for its RPG elements, which allow you to create a team, and follow them through the course of a season as you win games and money. That’s par for the course for most modern-day sports games, but Baseball Stars pioneered this great little feature back in 1989.
If you love The Legend of Zelda and crave a more complex take on its formula, look no further than Crystalis. This inventive little fantasy RPG mixes great graphics, music, and gameplay for a memorable fantasy adventure. The hero, woken from his cryogenic sleep, can equip his sword with four different elements, which each have different effects on enemies, as well as the environment. Crystalis had enough staying power to receive a Game Boy Color remake years later, so it wouldn’t be outlandish to see it on an NES Classic sequel.
Maniac Mansion may largely be known as a PC game, but the NES version arguably turned more people on to this great LucasArts adventure. In any case, Maniac Mansion stands as one of the more unique experiences you’ll find on the system. Most developers didn’t bother porting PC adventure games to the NES, and this one somehow turned out superior to the original. With enhanced graphics and animation, as well as a completely kickass soundtrack, the NES version of this important adventure game remains the best way to play it. Sure, steering a cursor around with a d-pad feels a little clumsy, but the spooky atmosphere makes this experience worthwhile.
How did Bionic Commando manage to avoid making it onto the NES Classic? The world may never know. But Nintendo has the chance to right this wrong with an NES Classic 2. Bionic Commando smartly avoided following the design of the arcade original, instead opting for a slightly non-linear adventure full of secrets. Back in 1988, Bionic Commando turned the platforming genre on its head by omitting jumping completely in exchange for a grabby Bionic Arm. For this reason, it remains an NES Classic, and even received an amazing remake in 2008. Even with this improved version in existence, the original still holds a lot of value.