Classic Nintendo games leave a lasting legacy of greatness that invites old and young gamers into the culture. The company tries to innovate and create interesting experiences that break barriers in the industry, but sometimes even the best video games turn into relics of their time periods.
These classic Nintendo games all won praise for their ingenuity upon release, but they feel a little outdated if played decades later.
1. The Legend of Zelda (NES)
The adventure that started it all for Link and Zelda feels very archaic in the 2020s. The graphics are some of the worst on the NES, and the open-world exploration works better in concept than in practice. The Legend of Zelda remains a vital part of gaming lore because of the franchise it spurred, but nothing more.
2. GoldenEye 007 (Nintendo 64)
GoldenEye 007 capitalized on the popularity of first-person shooter games during the 1990s by immersing gamers into the world of James Bond. The graphics are glaringly polygonal, and the controls don’t operate like modern titles in the genre.
3. Nintendogs (Nintendo DS)
Nintendogs revolutionized animal and pet simulation games on the Nintendo DS, and the marketing toward children helped sell millions of handheld consoles. The simplicity and lack of extensive longevity make the software feel more like a demo for the DS than an actual video game.
4. Star Fox (SNES)
Star Fox showed the SNES’s otherworldly graphical power back in the early 1990s. While most games were confined to 2D side-scrolling, this game about anthropomorphic fighter pilots expanded the genre possibilities of the time period. Star Fox 64 outdid the title in every regard.
5. F-Zero (SNES)
F-Zero’s one-dimensional racing resembles the aged shooting mechanics of Star Fox. Much like that game, F-Zero introduced new mechanics to the scene, but the subsequent games in the franchise turned the first title into a historical footnote.
6. Metroid (NES)
Metroid brought a gritty science fiction universe to living rooms that were used to the Mushroom Kingdom and Hyrule and lands on every list of classic Nintendo games. Samus’s first galavant through the galaxy doesn’t hold up today, as the protagonist controls kind of clunky and the weapons pale in comparison to future 2D Metroid games.
7. Super Mario Kart (SNES)
Super Mario Kart deserves loads of credit for spawning the best racing series in video games. The game defines the term “pioneer” in every sense of the word, but the outdated graphics and lack of game modes don’t hold up compared to Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart 7, or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
8. Pilotwings (SNES)
Pilotwings remains another vehicle-focused affair that focused on showing off Model 7 graphics and advanced controls during the 1990s. The quests don’t ask much of the gamer, though, so the flying feels redundant and stuck in the era it originated in.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t garner much acclaim when it was released, and this ensures it hasn’t aged well, either. The side-scrolling fighting title moves at a slow pace and doesn’t provide any depth or dynamic gameplay.
10. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
Super Mario 64 seems ageless to many fans, but Mario’s first 3D title doesn’t match the innovation or fun that emanates from Super Mario Galaxy or Super Mario Odyssey. The camera and floaty jumping mechanics make the game loose. Historians should still cite Super Mario 64 for its importance, but it doesn’t feel fresh nearly 30 years later.
11. Kid Icarus (NES)
Kid Icarus presented a new kind of action/platforming to the NES back in the 1980s. The short length and old-school gameplay make the title a snapshot into the decade it came out in, but the jumping doesn’t possess the same oomph of Super Mario Bros.
12. Duck Hunt (NES)
Duck Hunt showed Nintendo at their most creative and previewed the company’s insistence on peripherals. The basic objective of shooting a duck with the toy gun gets old pretty quickly and can be played in the WarioWare franchise instead!
13. Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64)
Super Smash Bros. features a barebones selection of characters and stages compared to the most recent release, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The camera pans out on the stage too far, and the lack of variety makes the game feel like a rough draft of the future iconic classics in the franchise.
14. Wii Fit (Wii)
Nintendo’s dedication to the motion controls of the Wii led to some wonky ideas like Wii Fit. Doing static exercises on the Wii Balance Board in the middle of a living room feels unnecessary when there’s a gym on every corner in America.
15. Mario Party (Nintendo 64)
Mario Party spurred one of the funniest party series in gaming, but the sequel immediately improved every aspect of the virtual board game. More characters and mini-games made the GameCube entries better, as well.
16. Donkey Kong 64 (Nintendo 64)
Donkey Kong 64 often gets deserved criticism for its bloated collection obsession. The gameplay focuses more on getting hundreds of bananas, coins, and other items instead of pure platforming. Compared to other Rare games like Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64 operates more on nostalgia.
17. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)
Ocarina of Time remains fun to play 25 years later, but much like Super Mario 64, most of the 3D Zelda games take the mechanics from it and build upon them. The pioneering adventure classic will always hold a special place in gamers’ hearts, but it would sound foolish to claim Nintendo never learned how to make Zelda games better after this.
18. Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (Nintendo DS)
Brain Age leaned into Nintendo’s reliance on simplicity and marketing to the casual gamer during the late 2000s. Most of the brain teasers in this package are replicated in simple iPhone games and other smartphone software. The touchscreen controls remain intuitive, though.
19. Wii Sports (Wii)
Wii Sports exploded onto the scene with the excitement of the Wii’s motion controls. With that era long gone, the sports title locks itself into a very specific time period in Nintendo’s history, and the Switch provides better experiences in this genre today such as Nintendo Switch Sports.
20. Tecmo Bowl (NES)
Even people who love Tecmo Bowl can admit that Madden reigns supreme now. This football simulation might entertain new gamers for an hour or two, but the old graphics don’t allow for a true representation of the gridiron.
21. Mario Paint (SNES)
Mario Paint displayed the Big N’s affinity for Mario to leave the constraints of the platforming world. The art creation gameplay doesn't really qualify as a video game now, and similar software was found on the PC later in the decade.
22. Super Star Wars (SNES)
Star Wars ushered in the era of the movie-to-game adaptation, but Super Star Wars doesn’t hold up well. The lack of graphical capabilities in the 1990s didn’t allow the game to recreate the magic of the galaxy far, far away.