THE LEGEND OF ZELDA (1986)
With all apologies to the Mario collection — and I’m not about to say that Zelda games are better than Mario games, or anything like that — The Legend of Zelda might just be the greatest NES game of them all. It’s remarkable that they got so much of Hyrule — albeit with no buildings and no people except those living in caves and tree trunks — into those 8 tiny bits. The ending isn’t that much but it is an improvement over the SMB ending, where at least you get some closing credits and a compliment at the end for being awesome (although wasn’t it a bit presumptions to end the game by calling it “The Legend of Zelda 1?”). I also like the peppier, upbeat version of the classic Zelda theme; too bad this won’t be the last time that that pig-monster Gannon shows his snout around these parts.