From Super Mario Bros. to Metroid, the original Nintendo Entertainment System features some of the most iconic video games in history.

Launching in the fall of 1985, this unassuming little toaster of a console successfully brought the gaming industry back from the brink and birthed some of the most beloved franchises the world over – many of which are still going strong close to four decades later.

That said, they weren’t all winners. Not every NES game stamped with the Nintendo Seal Of Approval was a home run. In fact, there were more than a few bad games released on the NES that were just plain awful. Here is a list of

The 15 Worst NES Games Of All-Time


Released in 1986, this single-player platformer from SNK sees players taking control of a princess who goes off on an adventure to cure her boredom.

Athena for NES

Filled with horse-headed bad guys and more than a few pesky potato bugs, this game is extremely weird and far too basic to offer anything by way of a real challenge. It’s also incredibly glitchy and never really feels as though it was properly finished before being released to retail.

The bottom line, Athena is on board for a reason. This game is a snore fest with weak graphics and zero fun to be had. Avoid at all costs.

Bible Adventures

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with The Good Book, it’s just not the sort of thing that should be turned into a video game.

Bible Adventures Game

Released by Wisdom Tree, and featuring three Old Testament adventures, this 1991 single-player platformer showcases some pretty good graphics but is wholly uninspired and plays out like a far less fun version of Super Mario Bros. 2.

The gameplay is bad, the aesthetic lazy – and it all comes to you on a strangely baby blue colored NES cartridge.

Trust me, there are far better ways to discover the Word Of God. This isn’t one of them!

Super Pitfall

A loose remake of Activision’s 1984 Atari classic, Super Pitfall hit shelves in the Fall of 1986 and sees players guiding Harry through numerous different mazes in the hopes of rescuing his family.

A frightful follow-up to the original, it resembles some sort of poor man’s Super Mario Bros., complete with overly plain graphics, sloppy in-game mechanics, and zero passion.

It has absolutely no place within the realm of NES classics and is sure to lull you off to sleep before too long. Although, it is a really great example of how to desecrate a legend.

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Originally published in 1886, this Gothic novella from Robert Louis Stevenson is a true literary masterpiece. However, that doesn’t mean it should ever have been turned into a video game!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Released in April 1988, this single-player side-scroller features everything that was bad about the 8-bit era.

From sad graphics to confusing gameplay and poor use of two of the most iconic characters in all of literature, this game is flawed on almost every level and is easily one of the most frustrating and unenjoyable experiences to be had on the original NES, and one of the worst games ever.

Hudson Hawk

It’s no secret that games based on movies are pretty crappy. And Ocean Software’s early 90s version of Hudson Hawk is no exception to the rule!

Players assume the role of cat burglar Hudson Hawk – who is sent on a mission to steal three Da Vinci artifacts.

Featuring delayed controls, dull backgrounds, and an overall poor use of space, the whole thing comes across as rushed and more than a little shrunken down. Although, it’s always funny to watch the pixelated guard dogs latch themselves onto your butt as you try to run away! So, I suppose there’s that.

Where’s Waldo?

Based upon the popular book series of the same name, THQ’s single-player puzzler has gamers attempting to help Waldo get to the moon by finding him in eight different levels making up the game.

Where's Waldo for Nintendo

Panned by fans and critics, it’s known for its poor graphics and Waldo’s absurd ability to change color on occasion.

On top of that, many of the objects within each of the game’s levels had a similar color scheme to Waldo, which made finding him extra frustrating.

It’s just a disappointing experience overall. Stick with the books. Avoid the game.


Published by Taito, Renegade was released in May of 1986 and is perhaps the worst fighting game to grace Nintendo’s terrific little toaster.

Renegade is not a good NES game

Featuring loads of poor design choices, the game has players fighting crowds of people – that look just like you! It’s extremely lazy and features goofy graphics, mediocre mechanics and a garbage can adorning the title screen – which is perhaps the only appropriate design choice that was made before this one went to market.

Fortunately, there are a ton of better fighting games to choose from within the NES library, and any of them, from Punch-Out to Urban Champ, will quickly show you just how bad this catastrophic clone really is.

Mighty Bomb Jack

Full disclosure, I actually liked this game as a kid. However, with its soft graphics, floaty character mechanics, and irritating soundtrack, it is one of those poor NES titles that has not aged well with the passage of time.

Mighty Bomb Jack is one of the worst games for the Nintendo Entertainment System

Looking back, I can’t even decide if the main character is supposed to be human or some sort of blue bug in baggy pajamas. 

All things considered, I will admit that it was pretty fun to thumb through the manual from time to time, if for the simple fact that I swear the staff at Temco used it as an opportunity to terrorize gamers brave enough to add Mighty Bomb Jack to the ranks of their NES library.

Leave this one by the wayside.


Based off the popular ‘80s toys of the same name, M.U.S.C.L.E. is another staple of my youth that hasn’t aged as gracefully as one would have hoped.

Tag Team Match M.U.S.C.L.E.

With its sluggish controls, poor graphics, and retina-pulverizing color pallet, this was a game far from easy on the eyes – although flying off of the ropes or unleashing a suplex on your opponent was always satisfying.

Still, M.U.S.C.L.E. is a brand more suited for the life of a preposterous pink plaything than a video game. At least that way you don’t have to worry about facing down one of those awful socket-sizzling strobes!


Hi Tech Expressions gave Mattel’s flagship doll this dud in December of 1991.

Honestly, how could this even be a game? What are you supposed to do? Go shopping? Drive a pink Corvette? I am not 100% sure, but I do know this was not one of the more popular titles to come off the NES.

While the graphics aren’t the worst to be seen, the game features a series of truly boring and senseless objectives complemented by far too much pink. Yes, I know it was meant for little girls at a time when there wasn’t a lot for them to choose from when it came to electronic entertainment, but even they’d have told you this was a bad idea before pressing the power button. 

The Adventures Of Gilligan’s Island

Released in 1990, this Bandai strategy game sees players taking control of the Skipper and you spend most of your time searching the island for several different objects. Along the way, you’ll also gather clues from the other castaways and protect Gilligan from various threats as he follows close behind.

The Adventures of Gilligan's Island

Babysitting your ‘little buddy’ gets rather tedious before long, plus there is just way too much dialogue to digest along the way. Granted, the publishers were no doubt trying to make this one feel as close to the classic sitcom as possible, but it all comes off as more annoying than anything else.

Dare I say the survivors of the SS Minnow wouldn’t even like this one – and they were stranded on an island for three seasons!

Muppet Adventure: Chaos At The Carnival

Another terrible entry courtesy of Hi Tech Expressions, Muppet Adventure is a port of a computer game released in 1989.

While the NES version does offer some unique features over its contemporaries, the game is plagued by irritating music, boring gameplay, and frustratingly unresponsive controls that make it one of the worst games on the NES.

Might I suggest a viewing of Muppet Treasure Island or Muppets From Space instead? Either would be a far better use of your time!

The Uncanny X-Men

Where do I even start?

The Uncanny X-Men is a bad game

The character sprites are awful, the partner A.I. is terrible, the level design is horrific and it all came courtesy of the folks at LJN – a company that never should have been allowed near a game console! X-Men is an IP that oozes potential, with loads of source material to mine for video games.

However, what we got here was a poorly executed final product rushed to market to make as much money as possible. There’s no love here, no mission. Just a sad sack of a platformer that doesn’t deserve to bear the name of Marvel’s beloved Mutants.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes Of The Lance

A side-scrolling action-adventure game set within the Dungeons & Dragons Universe, Heroes Of The Lance sees eight different heroes coming together for a quest – each with their own unique set of strengths and skills.

For its time, U.S. Gold released the game to the NES in 1991, it was actually pretty impressive. However, the level of difficulty coupled with the fact that there is no way to save your progress makes this one of the most frustrating titles to call the NES home.

Plus, it’s not as pretty, nor does it sound as nice, as its DOS counterpart. Skip this version and seek out one of the other ports if you can.

Deadly Towers

Arriving on the scene in 1986 from Irem, Dark Towers is a single-player action role-playing game that must have spent most of its budget on the attractive cover art.

Gameplay is repetitive, the graphics are ho-hum and the audio defiantly leaves something to be desired. Seriously, if you’re looking for a cure for insomnia, this is it! Pop this bad boy into your NES and you’re certain to be sawing logs before too long!

By my account, this is the worst NES game ever. Dark Tower is not only bad, it’s boring! And there ain’t no magic spell that can change that!

Avoid playing this game like the plague. You’ll be glad you did!