18 Best Looking NES Games, A Visual Trip in Gaming Nostalgia

You might be looking to answer the question, what are the best looking NES games ever created.

This article will transport you to the 8-bit era and feature some of the most visually stunning games to ever appear on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

These games pushed the limits of what the NES machine was capable of, with inventive graphics and original designs that enthralled players.

We’ve had some incredibly fond memories of all of our NES times, sitting around holidays getting a new cartridge.

We were often bummed out when games had bad graphics on our shiny new Sony CRT. When we finally opened a new NES game that had great graphics, you should have seen the look on our faces!

We’ll explore the pixelated environments, vivid colors, and outstanding sprite work that set these NES games apart from the competition.

This article will give you a glance into the aesthetic marvels that the NES had to offer, whether you are a longtime retro gaming enthusiast or you are just curious about the hidden treasures of the past and answer the question what NES games has the best graphics.


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18. Kirby’s Adventure

Best Looking NES Games Kirby's Adventure

Kirby’s Adventure, released near the end of the NES lifespan, introduced Kirby’s signature copying ability and featured surreal worlds that allowed the developers to go wild with their designs.

The game utilized the NES color palette effectively to create bright, beautiful levels that stood out despite the console’s limitations.

The game’s graphics were stunningly detailed, with gorgeously animated sprites and expressive character designs.

Best Looking NES Games Kirby's Adventure 2

We fell in love with Kirby right away thanks to the lovely charm with which he was portrayed in the game.

The background music was the ideal accompaniment to the graphics, enveloping players in a whimsical setting that greatly improved the whole experience.

17. Metal Storm

Best Looking NES Games Metal Storm

Metal Storm, another NES game, showcased advanced graphics for its time. It used graphical tricks to create scrolling backgrounds, which became a standard feature in later shooters.

The game also introduced the concept of reversing gravity as a gameplay mechanic, which was later popularized by the indie hit VVVVVV.

Metal Storm, created by Tamtex and released by Irem in 1991, offered NES players a novel and exciting experience.

Best Looking NES Games Metal Storm 2

The ability to reverse gravity was a novel gameplay element that set this side-scrolling shooter apart from other games of the time.

In order to navigate the challenging levels of the game, the player-controlled robot may fluidly switch between walking on solid ground and defying gravity.

16. Crystalis

Best Looking NES Games Crystalis

Crystalis for the NES was not only innovative in terms of gameplay but also impressive in its graphics. It had a large world with detailed towns, NPCs, and enemies, giving it a more modern RPG feel compared to other NES games.

The game’s elemental and magic effects were particularly noteworthy and have influenced many titles that came after it.

Crystalis made an enduring impression on the video game industry and is still hailed as a genuine classic. Its cutting-edge gaming mechanics, engrossing plot, and stunning aesthetics serve as a model for upcoming RPGs and action-adventure games.

Best Looking NES Games Crystalis 2

A generation of players were inspired by Crystalis, and the game had a profound influence on other titles that came after it.

15. Super Mario Bros. 3

Best Looking NES Games Super Mario Bros. 3

When Super Mario Bros. 3 debuted on the NES, it was like a meteor, stretching the limits of what the system was capable of. With its vibrant graphics and well crafted levels, Mario’s world came to life like never before.

The Tanooki outfit, a well-known power-up, and the adaptable Hammer Bros. outfit, among others, were introduced in the game, providing diversity and intrigue to the action. Each level was a visual joy thanks to the artwork and animations’ unmatched degree of detail.

Best Looking NES Games Super Mario Bros. 3 2

Super Mario Bros. 3 had a profound impact on both the video game industry and popular culture in general.

Future Mario games and platformers in general were built on its ground-breaking design and inventive gameplay. The game’s popularity also opened the stage for the Nintendo franchise to take off globally and influence the gaming industry for future generations.

14. Castlevania 3

Best Looking NES Games Castlevania 3

Castlevania 3’s graphical prowess is particularly noteworthy. By providing larger enemy sprites, intricate backgrounds, and fluid animations that brought the game to life, Konami pushed the NES to its limits.

Every setting, from the opulent Castlevania halls to the ominous and perilous forests, was painstakingly designed to offer an immersive and visually spectacular experience.

Best Looking NES Games Castlevania 3 2

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse stood out on the NES with its additional animations, large enemy sprites, branching paths, and companion characters.

It pushed the graphical limits of the NES and created a gothic atmosphere with its visuals and soundtrack, making it a standout action-horror game of its era.

13. Contra

Best Looking NES Games Contra

Contra is renowned for its famous moments and secrets in addition to its challenging gameplay.

Who could ever forget the powerful Spread Gun, a weapon that shot a hail of bullets in every direction, destroying everything in its path?

Best Looking NES Games Contra 2

Not to be forgotten is the Konami Code, a well-known trick that gave players extra lives and came to be associated with the game itself.

Contra demonstrated that the NES was capable of handling ports as good as or even better than the original arcade versions.

Its art style was considered superior to the arcade version, and the NES port maintained smooth gameplay with large enemy sprites, varied levels, and co-op action.

12. Blaster Master

Best Looking NES Games Blaster Master

Blaster Master showcased large, detailed sprites and a mix of side-scrolling and overhead shooting gameplay. It proved that the NES still had plenty of life left in it, even in the face of competition from the 16-bit Sega Mega Drive.

Even when contrasted to its arcade and 16-bit predecessors, the game’s visual splendor demonstrates the remarkable capabilities of the NES.

The vivid surroundings and meticulous attention to detail in both the character sprites and the gameplay give depth and immersion.

Best Looking NES Games Blaster Master 2

Beyond its technological accomplishments, Blaster Master’s unique and evocative music has made a lasting impression on gamers all around the world.

Intense action on screen is wonderfully complemented with eerie melodies and upbeat sounds, which further immerses players in the game’s environment.

11. Little Nemo: The Dream Master

Best Looking NES Games Little Nemo: The Dream Master

Little Nemo: The Dream Master, released by Capcom, featured beautifully crafted levels based on dreams, with impressive animations and cinematic cutscenes.

Despite being underrated and challenging, the game’s visual quality has made it a standout title on the NES.

Little Nemo has left an indelible mark on the gaming landscape, earning a special place in the hearts of players who grew up with the NES.

Best Looking NES Games Little Nemo: The Dream Master 2

Its timeless appeal lies not only in its captivating gameplay and stunning visuals but also in the emotions it evokes.

Revisiting Little Nemo is like opening a nostalgic portal to the past, allowing players to relive cherished memories and share them with a new generation.

10. Battletoads

Best Looking NES Games Battletoads

Battletoads, known for its high difficulty, had a unique alien vibe and vibrant color choices that worked well with its Saturday morning cartoon style.

It offered impressive visuals throughout the game, even if many players struggled to progress far enough to see them.

Battletoads has had a lasting impact on popular culture in addition to being a popular video game.

Best Looking NES Games Battletoads 2

Due to the game’s success, a multimedia franchise was created that included an animated television series and comic novels.

The Battletoads themselves have developed into recognizable figures among gamers and non-gamers.

Battletoads has also served as a model for creative gameplay and unique character design, inspiring several game developers.

9. Insector X

Best Looking NES Games Insector X

Insector X, despite trailing the arcade and Mega Drive versions in raw graphics, still stood out as one of the best-looking games on the NES.

It featured unusually large and detailed sprites, complemented by highly detailed backgrounds.

Despite being overshadowed by other well-known NES games, Insector X is still a gem that should be appreciated.

Best Looking NES Games Insector X 2

It stands out from other NES games because to its exceptional graphics, challenging gameplay, and distinctive setting with an insect motif.

Insector X is a must-play for any fan of classic video games or anyone looking to discover undiscovered gems from the past.

8. Gradius

Best Looking NES Games Gradius

Gradius, the first NES game released by Konami in North America, impressed with detailed sprites and minimal flickering during intense action sequences.

Its sequel, although not released outside of Japan, was also a technical achievement on the NES.

Gradius has endured the test of time, engrossing gamers with its addicting gameplay and difficult levels for decades.

Best Looking NES Games Gradius 2

Its standing as a shoot ’em up genre pioneer is untarnished.

The game popularized game-changing elements like the power-up system and the capacity to customize your spacecraft, which later became standards of the genre.

7. Little Samson

Best Looking NES Games Little Samson

Little Samson, an overlooked gem, was a visually stunning platformer with the ability to switch between four playable characters.

Its beautifully detailed levels spanned various environments, making it one of the best-looking games on the NES.

We have found many titles that pushed the limits of what was thought to be feasible on the NES throughout our research of the library.

Best Looking NES Games Little Samson 2

With its vivid graphics and attention to detail, Little Samson stands out as one of the NES’s best-looking titles.

The option to switch between four different characters gives the games depth and strategy, making it a very satisfying experience.

Little Samson is also one of the most expensive NES games ever!

6. DuckTales

Best Looking NES Games DuckTales

You can get to know a colorful group of animated series characters thanks to DuckTales on the NES.

Every person in the story, from the naughty nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie to the steadfast Launchpad McQuack, offers something special to the trip.

As you advance through the game, interact with renowned NPCs like the sage Gyro Gearloose and the cunning Magica De Spell.

Best Looking NES Games DuckTales 2

Scrooge’s reliable pogo cane serves as more than just a walking staff; it is a strong instrument that is useful for both battle and exploration.

You can get to higher platforms, find hidden spaces, and expertly dispatch enemies by bouncing on them and other things in the environment.

Players of all skill levels will enjoy DuckTales NES’s gameplay mechanics because they find the ideal balance between simplicity and complexity.

5. Recca

Best Looking NES Games Recca

Recca, developed to push the Famicom hardware to its limits, was a blazingly fast shooter with constant action, explosions, and background effects.

Despite being released late in the NES era, it still looked fantastic and found wider availability in recent years.

Recca was created specifically to test the hardware capabilities of the Famicom.

Best Looking NES Games Recca 2

Its late-NES era release demonstrated the system’s unrealized potential and demonstrated that, even in its later years, the NES was still capable of providing a compelling gaming experience.

Recca attracted gamers with its blistering speed and unrelenting gameplay, continual action, loud explosions, and rich backdrop effects.

4. Gremlins 2

Best Looking NES Games Gremlins 2

We were totally transported to the 8-bit era in Gremlins 2 on the NES. This 1990 game quickly gained popularity among NES fans after its release.

The Gremlins movies’ funny and anarchic universe is authentically reconstructed in the game, which was created by Sunsoft.

With its distinctive graphics and sound design, Gremlins 2 NES pushes the capabilities of the NES technology to the limit.

Best Looking NES Games Gremlins 2 2

Despite the technical limitations of the platform, the game succeeds in capturing the oddball charm of the Gremlins world.

The levels are crammed with vibrant and creative backgrounds, and the character sprites are highly detailed and readily recognized.

3. Mighty Final Fight

Best Looking NES Games Mighty Final Fight

Mighty Final Fight features richly colored backdrops, flowing animations, and finely drawn character sprites that wonderfully bring the pixelated world to life.

With its attractive retro design, the game successfully captures the spirit of the NES period thanks to the attention to detail.

The game immerses you in its urban jungle while being accompanied by a lively and upbeat soundtrack, improving the whole gameplay experience.

Best Looking NES Games Mighty Final Fight 2

It is important to check out the classic video game Mighty Final Fight for the NES.

It is a must-play for aficionados of the beat ’em up genre thanks to its captivating gameplay, spectacular visuals, and endearing characters.

Prepare to lash out with your fists of rage to save Jessica from the grasp of the Mad Gear gang.

2. Darkwing Duck

Best Looking NES Games Darkwing Duck

Darkwing Duck, developed by Capcom, showcased impressive graphics with vibrant stages and detailed character sprites.

It closely resembled its animated counterpart and even included impressive cutscenes for an NES game.

Best Looking NES Games Darkwing Duck 2

In Darkwing Duck, you’ll take on the role of the fearless lawman himself, making their way through a number of difficult levels, fending off evildoers, and ultimately rescuing St. Canard from the grip of evil.

1. Batman: Return of the Joker

Best Looking NES Games Batman: Return of the Joker

Batman: Return of the Joker, a sequel by Sunsoft, displayed impressive visuals on the NES. The Batman sprite was highly detailed and accurate to the comics, while the levels were large.

Take on the role of the fabled Caped Crusader as you make your way through the perilous streets of Gotham City while fending off a swarm of supervillains and their evil plots.

Best Looking NES Games Batman: Return of the Joker 2

With its immersive experience, Batman: Return of the Joker puts you right in the middle of the action, giving you the impression that you are playing as the Dark Knight.

You will become immersed in the furious confrontations against the Joker’s goons with every punch, kick, and batarang throw.


We hope you have enjoyed this wistful trip back in time to the 8-bit era as we come to an end with our examination of the best-looking NES games.

Each game put the NES’s visual prowess on display, from Crystalis’ inventive graphics to Castlevania III’s gothic allure, and made an enduring impression on video game history.

Whether you have played these games before or are just learning about them, their eye-catching visuals and captivating gameplay have not lost their appeal.

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