Ah the NES, the quintessential 8-bit wonderbox. It shaped many childhoods (including mine.) How we remember countless hours playing Mario, Zelda, Mega Man and countless other classics. However here are 10 games that are either lesser known, under appreciated or just weird for whatever reason. Chances are there's a few on the list you have never played. But you should.
1. Wario's Woods
Chances are you might have actually played this on the Super NES, but the lesser known NES version is more than a mere 8-bit version. The last NES game to officially be released is quite good. If you haven't played it, it's a bomb-bliss style puzzle with a twist, rather than moving the bombs (and enemies) around, you control a small character (toad) who runs around the playing field picking up, dropping and kicking enemies and bombs to get them lined up. It's hopelessly addictive and wonderfully designed. If you've played the Super NES version, all you have to know is this version is different, and some would even say better than the Super NES classic.
2. Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics 2
Nearly anyone I've talked to has some memory of the original StarTropics, even if they never owned it or even if they never played it (the game's commercial was certainly memorable enough.) But the sequel seems to have been forgotten. There's no getting around the fact that the original is more fun, but the second game is no slouch, and has better controls. Forgotten in the deluge of Super NES games, this late-era NES game is worth a look.
3. Ultima: Quest of the Avatar
Out of the three attempts to bring this classic PC RPG series to the NES, the second is the truest attempt, being quite a lot better than the PC version. There are two other Ultima Games for the system, though Exodus is good, Warrior's of Destiny is not. Quest of the Avatar though is sublime, crafting the perfect mix of the original PC game and Nintendo's aesthetic. It's a game that will make you look at situations in a very different light than in most games, and the quest is massively long.
4. Sweet Home
Speaking of Ultima, this game looks a lot like Ultima at first glance, the character graphics certainly look like Quest of the Avatar. Expect that and you'll be surprised though. Sweet Home is a quirky RPG that isn't very well known, but it has one thing going for it, it's the only horror-themed RPG for the NES I can think of. Hell I can't even think of any other horror-themed RPGs for any other system. So in that case you have a surprisingly unique experience.
5. Mighty Final Fight
Final Fight didn't really translate well to the Super NES (though it got two great sequels on there...) so what would make the NES style work at all? Actually this chibi-themed Final Fight is a lot better than the broken Super NES port. The cute style makes it work in 8-bit and it has a level up system similar to the NES Double Dragon (or perhaps River City Ransom.) If you're a fan of Final Fight, you gotta give this a fair shake.
For the record, it's prounounced "Ass-TIE-uh-nax". With that out of the way, this game is absolutely great, though it tends to get bad press for being very hard. The detailed cut scenes, great sprites and solid gameplay help the game out, as it does have a few flaws, but it's a great experience that will test both your mettle and patience. The engrish-filled translation can make the storyline a bit silly, but the basic idea is great. Reminds me of a medieval Ninja Giaden with the gameplay being a classic hack and slash. Loads of fun.
7. Final Fantasy III
You might have actually played this one on the Nintendo DS (it's not to be confused with the SNES game, which is actually Final Fantasy VI.) This one never got a proper release here until that DS version, which I think unsatisfactorily get's it's 3D load all over the place. The original (which you can find emulated and even translated) is a great game, far outstripping the dismal Final Fantasy II (though that one at least good a decent remake for Game Boy Advance). If you were turned off by the stylistic choices of the DS version, the NES original is still there to play.
8. Dragon Quest IV
This is another one you might have played on the DS, and good for you because THAT is how you do a remake. If you never played the beautiful DS version (don't have a DS maybe) or if you're curious about the original, the NES version is still a masterpiece. This one got mostly ignored due to the Super NES, and that's a shame as it's longer and better than many Super NES RPGs. It doesn't have the sixth chapter added to the DS (and Playstation) versions, which makes the ending kind of grim. Most modern RPGs owe a lot to the Dragon Quest series, and this game is the one that made things like a tragic story and a sympathetic villain popular, along with many great gameplay innovations. Oh and a note, if you're looking for the NES version, it's called Dragon Warrior IV in the US.
9. Gradius II
Maybe you caught this one in an Arcade (unlikely) but missed out on the great NES version. This is very likely actually, as it was never released outside of Japan. Instead they gave us Life Force, which many people saw as a sequel to Gradius (it's actually a remake of a Gradius-style game called Salamander.) Gradius II is actually even better than Life Force, and as Life Force was great, you owe it to yourself to get this. Emulation is the word, folks.
Surely I jest! Of course you've played Tetris. It was a huge NES and Game Boy hit and has been on every fucking system since then. But you probably missed the NES game by Tengen (which is a secret code word for "Atari") They got sued for thier "bootleg" versions of games like Pac Man, Gauntlet and yes, Tetris. It's a shame that this really didn't see a wide release, as it's better than Nintendo's version. It has a plethora of amazing modes, including an incredibly fun co-op mode (that's two players playing the same field at once.) It's actually pretty close to the original arcade version, and it's kind rare. So check it out.