The Best Selling NES Games - A Blast from the Past!
We have always wanted to know the answer to the question what was the best-selling game on the NES?
Many of the first console games are now regarded classics and are adored by gamers of all ages.
The NES has been more accessible than ever with having releases on the switch and even the NES classic console.
Envision yourself in a time where you're able to look at the best selling NES games ever.
From the classic Super Mario Bros. to The Legend of Zelda's tough gameplay, these games have endured the test of time and are still played by gamers today.
So, let's get started and explore the world of classic NES games!
Table of Contents
- 10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (4 million copies sold)
- 9. The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (4.38 million copies sold)
- 8. Dragon Quest III (3.8 million copies sold)
- 7. Excitebike (4.16 million copies sold)
- 6. Mario Bros. (5.44 million copies sold)
- 5. Tetris (6.0 million copies sold)
- 4. The Legend of Zelda (6.51 million copies sold)
- 3. Super Mario Bros. 3 (18 million copies sold)
- 2. Duck Hunt (28.31 million copies sold)
- 1. Super Mario Bros. (40.24 million copies sold)
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (4 million copies sold)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the first in the side scrolling beat 'em up game in the trilogy created by Konami.
You'll control one of the four turtles - Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, or Raphael - as you navigate several levels loaded with some seriously difficult enemies and obstacles to avoid. Each turtle has distinct skills that you can use to your advantage.
Donatello has a vast range with his bo staff, yet Raphael is the toughest of the four turtles and can withstand more blows.
This was one of those NES hard games that will punish you if you are a newcomer to the game. Once you learn the route and get as many scrolls as possible, it'll all work itself out.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has sold over 4 million copies globally since its debut in 1989. This demonstrates the game's lasting popularity and universal appeal.
9. The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (4.38 million copies sold)
The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was released in 1987 and brings you a fantastic 8-bit sprite art that is wonderfully appealing with its pixelated art design. Given its age, it's really gracefully gone out like a fine wine of sorts and still holds up well today.
The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link's music is one of the franchise's most iconic ones. The game's sound design was developed by Koji Kondo, a prominent musician well recognized for his work on the soundtracks of many Nintendo games. The game's music and sound effects are still regarded as beautifully crafted, offering the game a remarkable sense of atmospheric depth.
The Adventure of Link was a massive commercial success, with over 4.3 million copies sold globally. Even though it did sway away from the original formula quite a bit, it was a blast to play through in our eyes and there's a clear reason why it's one of the best selling NES games ever.
8. Dragon Quest III (3.8 million copies sold)
Dragon Quest III's gameplay is a textbook illustration of classic RPG mechanics. As you explore the colourful globe and engage in turn-based battles against a variety of creatures, you command a party of heroes.
The game has an open-world area with so many different villages and massive dungeons to explore. The combat in Dragon Quest III are difficult, requiring strategy and quick thinking to defeat powerful bad guys.
We loved going through each of the classes in the game. Being able to select from a range of classes for each of our party members, picking and choosing the right one was a joy.
In Japan, Dragon Quest III was a commercial success, selling over 3.8 million copies and becoming the series' best-selling game. It was also well-received in North America and Europe, where it was known as Dragon Warrior III.
7. Excitebike (4.16 million copies sold)
We liked how basic Excitebike is yet how addictive it is.
Drive around on a motorbike racing other enemies while jumping off lifts and trying not to hit obstacles that slow you down.
That sure sounds like a fun time to us. Especially considering we haven't seen anything like this on the NES before.
Excitebike has sold a whopping 4.16 million copies worldwide. That's enough to buy a few more pizzas on the way home from school.
Making it deserving of the number 7 spot on our list of the best selling NES games ever.
6. Mario Bros. (5.44 million copies sold)
This black box game is a port of the arcade game by the same name. You'll be able to face off in an arena taking on goombas and other famous enemies in a frenzy.
We loved the challenges where you have to pick up coins in a race off event in order to pass the levels and progress further.
Seeing Mario kick the enemies off the screen after bumping them from underneath makes us laugh every time it happens.
This is also a fanstic NES multiplayer game where you can try to kick each of the enemies onto the other player and take them out. It's almost like a fight for survival in a pit of Nintendo themed enemies.
5. Tetris (6.0 million copies sold)
Tetris is a fantastic puzzle game that didn't quite pick up steam until it was brought to the Nintendo home consoles. Both the NES and Gameboy received a version of the game.
The Gameboy release did allow for a two player battle mode option where you could duke it out with your friend using the link cable and two Gameboy devices.
Sadly, this didn't happen for the NES. The original release only featured a one player mode.
But still, it offers incredibly fantastic gameplay that shouldn't be missed out on. It's literally everywhere you look.
4. The Legend of Zelda (6.51 million copies sold)
The Legend of Zelda takes place in the land of Hyrule, which is under siege from the wicked wizard Ganon. Princess Zelda has been kidnapped, and the Triforce of Wisdom, a magical artefact, has been dispersed across the kingdom to keep it out of Ganon's grasp.
Link is entrusted with locating the Triforce parts and rescuing Princess Zelda. He meets several folks along the road with some seriously cryptic messages to tell him what to do next. For real, you'll get a good laugh at some if you haven't seen them already.
With the open world gameplay and being able to choose the path you wished, it's no wonder it's sold a whopping 6.5 million copies worldwide. The Legend of Zelda on the NES is easily our number 4 choice for the best selling NES games ever.
3. Super Mario Bros. 3 (18 million copies sold)
You might be able to put some of the massive success for Super Mario Bros 3 on the marketing it was able to produce back in the 90s.
This was being advertised everywhere, from TV to radio ads, there was even a full fledged movie by the name The Wizard that kids would line up for days just to get a glimpse of the game footage on the big screen.
Super Mario Bros 3 was bigger, brighter and better than the games that came before it. There really wasn't anything like this on the NES up until this point. If you put this side by side with some of the early Super Nintendo games, you'd probably think they were on the same console.
Super Mario Bros 3 is a fanastic NES platformer and it's clear to see why it's sold a ton of copies.
2. Duck Hunt (28.31 million copies sold)
Duck Hunt is the definition of the NES lightgun game that comes to mind when you think of these style of games. It's a shame that this type of game has just gone away with the advancement of TV tech. No longer are the days of the big and bulky CRTs.
Duck Hunt is a blast to play. It's something that you, your friend, mother or even grandmother are able to pick up and play. It's so easy to just sit down and hit a few ducks and watch the dog pick them up.
With such an amazing laid back approach, it's easy to see why Duck Hunt is one of the best selling NES games of all time.
1. Super Mario Bros. (40.24 million copies sold)
The original Mario Bros can now be beaten in less than 5 minutes, flat.
That's right, a game that would have taken you hours to master with your copy of Nintendo Power handy by your side is an extremely short game that has left it's mark on gaming history.
With such an important release, being included in as a pack in title on the NES, it's no wonder it's spawned so many franchise defining items. Super Mario Bros was everywhere, from lunchboxes to Mario toys to being a full fledged 90s cartoon show.
Super Mario Bros is an excellent platformer game that is right up there with other heavyweights in the genre.
Although the NES is considered a relic of the past, it is still a treasured and revered console among many.
The best-selling NES games were experiences that defined a generation and established the standard for what great video games could be.
These games are being played today, and their legacy will go on for future generations.
So, what are you holding out for?
Start your NES (or Nintendo Switch Online) and prepare to be enchanted by the magic of the NES. Here are all of the games that were covered in this article:
- Super Mario Bros. (40.24 million copies sold)
- Duck Hunt (28.31 million copies sold)
- Super Mario Bros. 3 (18 million copies sold)
- The Legend of Zelda (6.51 million copies sold)
- Tetris (6.0 million copies sold)
- Mario Bros. (5.44 million copies sold)
- Excitebike (4.16 million copies sold)
- Dragon Quest III (3.8 million copies sold)
- The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (4.38 million copies sold)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (4 million copies sold)