Super Mario Bros. 3
Originally shown to the public in the movie The Wizard (1989), Super Mario 3 catapulted on the scene with a raccoon tale and multiple warping adventures. This was the last Mario game on the NES and marvelously included mini-games, multiple routes to get to the same destination, and level secrets that changed gaming forever.
Super Mario Bros.
The most iconic video game of all time with the most iconic character, Super Mario Bros. made the Nintendo gaming system, and the company, what it is today. It's a treasure and worth playing repeatedly.
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out
King Hippo, Soda Popinski, Little Mac, and all the characters from the iconic boxing game have been so deeply entrenched in our nostalgia that it's amazing that a whole movies series hasn't been made from them. This was the first game that rewarded you in memorizing the moves of the characters until you got to the ultra-difficult Mike Tyson, who could floor you with just one punch. There hasn't been a boxing game that has come close to this one yet.
The toughest female hero in the NES universe, Samus Aran was a puzzle-solving, sharp-shooting hero who brought science fiction adventure to NES gaming. Metroid had multiple endings, password saves and non-linear movement.
The Legend of Zelda
The gold cartridge of The Legend of Zelda encapsulated heroism and adventure and gamers everywhere fell in love with the battle between Link and Gannon. This first quest is not only the beginning of one of Nintendo's best series but it provided an exciting escape in which skill and bravery would be rewarded.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Perhaps Link's greatest achievement over the years is his ability to reinvent himself. This game is nothing like the previous Legend of Zelda, adding an RPG style to the adventure with maps, which levels up your characters and experience points. Like the character in the game, the series showed growth and established a precedent that Nintendo will be fearless in its creation of its games.
Find any group of people in America and ask them the Konami Contra code and someone will know it. That is how iconic this game was to the NES audience.
Mega Man 2
The hardest game you played growing up was definitely Mega Man 2. This was the game everyone owned but only the best could beat as this completely unforgiving blaster game demands skill, precision, and a whole lot of patience to get past Dr. Wiley's maddening and amazing adventure.
While Olive Oyl blew kisses that floated down, Popeye had to avoid Bluto in a surprisingly difficult but fun cartoon representation of the beloved comic. Though not as well-remembered as some other NES games, Popeye was one of the best.
There were a lot of additions to the NES system, including the power pad, the power glove, and that little robot that played with you... but nothing was as good as the gun. The light zapper proved that gaming systems could break free of the joystick and the best game for this was the iconic duck hunt, a game in which the player had to shoot innocent ducks while a trusty dog would either help you or make fun of you. I still have nightmares about that dog's laugh.