NES and SNES Games Everyone Should Play on Switch

The Nintendo Switch continues to impress with its portable design and capable hardware. Games built for the switch look and feel impressive. The open world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and depth of Animal Crossing: New Horizons are good enough reasons to invest in a Switch.

But let’s not forget the games that helped to spawn the games that we love to play today!

For newer gamers or those who have fond memories of getting their first NES or SNES, there are plenty of reasons to pick up a Switch. With the Nintendo eShop, you can download and play hundreds of classic games that helped to create future generations of gamers.

But which ones to buy? Here are our top picks for NES and SNES games everyone should play on the Switch.

Top NES Games

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a remodeled version of Nintendo’s Family Computer system, better known as the Famicom. The system first came to the United States in 1985 to test its market potential. A full launch followed in 1986. The system is best known for its 8-bit graphics and frustrating cartridge system that was prone to failure.

Super Mario Bros. 3

The original Super Mario is not one to miss, but Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced so many new characters and gameplay mechanics that put it above the original. It even includes multiplayer, with each player taking control of either Mario or Luigi.

The game also introduces a world map, allowing players to choose their path. Each world is unique, with an end boss who is one of the seven children of Bowser. 

Plus, there are new power-ups, including the Super Leaf, the Tanooki Suit, the Magic Wing, the Frog Suit, the Hammer Suit, and Goomba’s Shoe.

Excite Bike

Excite Bike is a motocross racing game that you can play with two people or against AI opponents. Tracks feature ramps and obstacles, including jumps and power boosts. Players also need to manage the heat of their bike or slow down, giving up their position to other players.

The main goal of the game is to both cross the finish line and score the most points.

One of the most fun aspects of the game is the track design feature that lets players design their tracks and challenges.

River City Ransom

River City Ransom is a classic beat them up with co-op. Two players can control Alex or Ryan as they go through River City and fight gang members to rescue Ryan’s girlfriend, Riki. In classic brawler fashion, you can punch, kick, or jump. There are weapons throughout the game that you can find or take from enemies.

There are a total of nine gangs, each featuring a unique look and style of attack. If playing with someone else, coordinating your attacks will give you an advantage. 

Top SNES Games

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) featured 16-bit graphics for more colors and a higher resolution. Other technologies allowed game developers to build more complex animations, scenery, and games that were larger in scope. It was released in North America in 1991.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the third game in the Zelda series that continues the saga of Link, the main character you play, and the princess, Zelda. A Link to the Past reintroduces the overhead view and a new concept of the dark world and the light world. 

Players can switch between these two worlds to overcome obstacles and puzzles. This is also important for gaining unique items, rubies that players use to buy items, and completing dungeons.

Even by today’s standard of RPGs, A Link to the Past holds up, mainly due to its influences on other games that would follow on the SNES, and mechanics that would continue to be seen in future titles of the Zelda series.

Super Metroid

The thing you may remember most about the game was the Hyper Beam, a weapon you got when defeating the floating brain creature known as Super Metroid at the end. The weapon fires a rainbow-colored beam that destroys absolutely everything it touches and is incredibly satisfying as you race upwards to escape the destruction of the planet.

Super Metroid is an action-adventure game that sees you battling a variety of enemies and bosses while gaining new abilities and weapons. Throughout the game, you will encounter areas that you can’t enter until you complete other game areas and learn new skills. Super Metroid helped to define a new style of gameplay became known as Metroidvania, which is a combination of the game titles Metroid, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, both of which were similar in design.

If you go back and play this one, you will likely feel right at home, as many modern games still use Super Metroid as an influence.


F-Zero is a racing game that takes place in the future and went on to influence games like Mario Kart. The game was revolutionary for using a technique called “Mode 7 Scrolling” for displaying its visuals. In the game, the player’s camera sits above and behind the vehicle, but due to technical limitations, Mode 7 is used to make it look like the vehicle is moving forward along a track, simulating a 3D environment. 

Despite its technical complexity, F-Zero is a traditional racer, with the player picking their vehicle and aiming for a podium finish across three modes: Grand Prix, Practice, and Records. There are also 15 tracks across the Knight League, Queen League, and King League.

Why NES and SNES Games Rock

The relative simplicity of these games makes them both attractive to new gamers and also a good way for gamers who are exhausted by open worlds or the complexity of modern control schemes to take a breather. They are also a good way to see how games have evolved from their early days.
There are many great NES and SNES games not covered here, but you are guaranteed to love our selection. When you finish them, head back to the Nintendo eShop, and find more classic titles you can sink more hours into playing. Likewise, if you want a classic feel of older games with new technology, don’t miss some of these indie titles you didn’t play in 2019. Thanks to modern distribution platforms, smaller game studios create games that look like they are from the 80s and 90s, but with all of the advantages of modern controllers and technology.