With the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the fall of 1985, the North American video game market was reborn in a way no one thought possible.

Revitalized as if overnight, Nintendo’s new “toy” quite literally took the world by storm and invaded millions of homes across the continent – bringing with it an impressive selection of titles that quickly showed society gaming was back. And this time, it was here to stay!

For close to a decade, the revolutionary little console set cash registers ringing across the country, and select titles flying off of store shelves at an alarming rate, as consumers looked to return to a revived industry by experiencing the very best that Nintendo had to offer.

This list may take into account only a small percentage of the 716 games created for the console but, as you will see, there were no hotter titles than these back in the day. Which games made that cut? Let’s find out right now with a look at the

10 Best-Selling NES Games Of All Time!

Note: The following represents worldwide sales numbers, not just those limited to North America…

Golf (4.01 Million)


Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and developed in a joint venture between HAL Laboratory and Nintendo R&D2, the aptly named Golf would tee off in Japan for the Famicom on May 1st, 1984 before finding its way over to North America in time for the launch of the NES in October 1985.

Featuring both single and multiplayer modes as well as single stroke, double stroke, and match play, Golf puts players at the forefront of a virtual 18 holes and would go on to sell over 4 million copies worldwide by the time all was said and done – with more than half of those sales coming from Japan.

Clearly, Nintendo’s bid to bring adults over to their new game console was a hole-in-one!

Excitebike (4.16 Million)

Excitebike for NES

A side-scrolling racer directed by Shigeru Miyamoto and developed by Nintendo R&D1, Excitebike sped into the Famicom library on November 28th, 1984.

Eventually released for the NES in October 1985, this classic features engaging graphics, simple controls, and an innovative track design mode that has gone on to make it a staple of 8-bit gaming for close to 40 years.

Add to that a selection of different play modes and a fun little multiplayer option and it’s not hard to see why Excitebnike would finally cross the finish line with over 4 million copies on the NES.

Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link (4.38 Million)

Zelda II The Adventure of Link was a big seller for nintendo

Released in Japan on January 14th, 1987, this platforming side-scroller is a direct sequel to The Legend Of Zelda that once again follows Link on a quest to save his beloved princess.

While it bears little resemblance to its contemporaries thanks to a unique design that strays away from the top-down perspective of other games in the franchise, Zelda II: Thae Adventure Of Link would go on to become one of the best-selling games that sold in North America when released for the NES at the end of 1988.

In the years since its release, the game has sadly become somewhat of an outcast among fans, but with over 4.3 million copies sold, this Nintendo R&D4 developed Shigeru Miyamoto sequel is far from a slouch.

Dr. Mario (4.85 Million)

Dr. Mario

One of my personal favorite puzzle games from back in the day, Dr. Mario enjoyed a worldwide launch in July of 1990 that was padded by ports released to the arcade, Japan’s Famicom, and the original Game Boy respectively.

A fun and addicting puzzler produced by Gunpei Yokoi and developed by Nintendo R&D1, the game sees players attempting to destroy the viruses populating the playing field by matching colored vitamin capsules to their corresponding disease.

Close to 5 million copies of Dr. Mario would be sold for the NES, with the game standing apart from similar titles of the day thanks to fun graphics, memorable music, and a polished learning curve that made it something much more than just another clone of Tetris or Columns.

Tetris (5.58 Million)


To me, there is no more perfect game on the Nintendo Entertainment System than Tetris. The worldwide appeal of this Gunpei Yokoi produced port of Alexey Pajitnov’s original puzzler is off the charts for multiple reasons.

With no story to set up or hindrances due to language, Tetris is a game that can be enjoyed by anyone no matter where they are from. It’s a truly lean title that trims away all the excess fat in exchange for a focus firmly planted on gameplay – meaning that anyone taking up residence on this big, blue ball can pick it up and enjoy some seriously fantastic (albeit, increasingly frenzied) fun on even the slightest of whims.

With over 5 million copies sold just for the NES following its 1989 release, clearly more than a few were doing just that.

The Legend Of Zelda (6.51 Million)

The Legend of Zelda

Shigeru Miyamoto’s timeless adventure game arrived for the Famicom in February of 1986, introducing the world to one of pop culture’s most beloved protagonists.

A fully realized epic that eventually arrived in North America in August 1987, it all but perfected the top-down adventure genre and would go on to spawn one of the biggest video game franchises the world over.

A prime example of all that was great about Nintendo’s foray into the world of video games, The Legend Of Zelda still stands as a sprawling fantasy fable whose successors continue to go toe-to-toe with the very best that the industry has to offer.

Super Mario Bros. 2 (7.46 Million)

Super Mario Bros. 2

The world was deep in the thralls of Mario Mania when Nintendo released this stupendously silly Kensuke Tanabe sequel in September of 1988.

Taking place completely in one of Mario’s dreams, this single-player side-scroller allowed gamers to play as either Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Princess Toadstool as they looked to save the peaceful world of Subcon from the evil Wart and his maniacal minions.

Essentially a re-skin of Japan’s Doki Doki Panic, this fantastical follow-up to the original Super Mario Bros. was so vastly different from what the Japanese market got that it ended up being renamed Super Mario Bros. U.S. in that part of the world.

As can be seen by those sales numbers listed above, none of us cared what it was called. We just wanted to play it.

Super Mario Bros. 3 (18 Million Copies)

Super Mario Bros. 3

Sure it was a pack-in promoted by the release of The Wizard in 1989, but there is no denying that Super Mario Bros. 3 is one seriously solid sequel. Heck, I’d even go so far as to say it is the best Mario game we’ve ever gotten. And yes, I will die on that hill!

Even without all the pomp and promotion, this Shigeru Miyamoto masterpiece took everything that fans loved about the franchise and dialed it up to eleven.

This game was fun, and it successfully introduced a slew of fresh concepts that are still present within the Mario mythos today! It not only raised the bar but successfully set the stage for what was to come just one year later with the release of Super Mario World in 1991.

As a game, it lacks nothing and I doubt we will ever see a successor truly worthy enough of filling its shoes!

Duck Hunt (28.3 Million)

Duck Hunt sold millions

A pack-in sold with the NES Zapper light gun beginning in the spring of 1984, Duck Hunt is a shooter developed by Nintendo R&D1 in collaboration with Intelligent Systems.

As the title suggests, you use the Zapper in combination with a CRT TV to hunt ducks. A simple enough concept to be sure, but a fun one to boot!

Heading into 1985, Duck Hunt would also be doubled up on cartridges featuring Super Mario Bros., which only further aided in the impressive sales numbers listed above.

However, with all the fond memories I have of playing this one over the years, I have no doubt this Shigeru Miyamoto shooter would’ve still moved units without the aided promotion.

Super Mario Bros.(40.24 Million)

Yeah, like you didn’t know this one was going to be at the top of the list of best-selling Nintendo Entertainment System games!

Super Mario Bros is the best selling nes game

The first pack-in to be released with the NES in October 1985, Super Mario Bros. showed the world exactly what it could expect from this new age of electronic entertainment. Not only that, it would also go on to launch two pixelated plumbers from Brooklyn to a level of superstar status, unlike anything the world had ever seen!

Mario Mania was soon to set in. Given the catastrophic crash of the North American gaming market just a few years prior, it’s amazing to ponder just how thoroughly Nintendo managed to turn things around. And it was this R&D4 Shigeru Miyamoto directed gem that was leading the charge!