Top 5 Multiplayer Games for the NES

Growing up with the Nintendo was a blast. And one of the things Nintendo does best is multiplayer games. Unfortunately, couch co-op games aren’t as popular as they used to be but we’ll step into our 80’s time machine and take a look at some of the best multiplayer games the NES had to offer.

1. Marble Madness

Marble Madness is an incredibly popular game for the NES where you had one simple goal; control your marble and get it to the goal. However, the game was notorious for having clunky physics that can sometimes feel like you’re fighting your marble instead of controlling it.

The multiplayer aspect of this game was two-fold. This was first-most a race where you and your opponent would control and fight to get the finish line first. The second aspect was you and your friend vs. the game. Playing nowadays can feel more like a puzzle game than a racing one as you try to find out the best routes and how to finish them before you’re sent back to the title screen.

2. Anticipation

Probably my most controversial entry, Anticipation was essentially Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary combined into one. What made this unique however was that this was one of the few games where you could have four players on two controllers. This was essentially completed by having the “buzzer” of the game to answer be the opposite ends of the controller.

While the replayability is a bit lacking, where this game really shines is the difficulty. While on easy mode everyone is given dots and hints to help you figure out the answer. With the harder difficulties though, you’re running on blind. The categories are more difficult and you have no dots to help you figure out the picture before the clock runs out.

3. Contra

The quintessential run and game for the system, Contra has earned a notoriety for both it’s difficulty and fun factor. Employing both side-scrolling and some pseudo-3d segments, the goal of the game was to take down the enemy forces and take out their leader.

The multiplayer part of this game was top-notch. You both had equal access to everything the game had to offer. This helped out with building up your friendship with both players by talking about tactics, health items, and power ups. Although brutal, the game is very fair and rewarding for players skilled enough to make it through all 19 stages without the Contra code.

4. Mario Bros Versus Mode

And here comes the world’ most famous plumber. This fairly quick but incredibly competitive version of Mario had you and another player using your jumps, POW blocks, and even enemies to take each other out.

These matches tended to be very slow to start but can become incredibly difficult very fast with the introduction of faster enemies as the matches went longer. The replayability is sadly lacking but for a quick match with a friend or to settle an argument, this was a great and quick game to settle your differences.

5. Double Dragon II

Double Dragon II was the more successful and better selling sequel to the 1987 original. This game had just about everything you needed from co-op. Replayability, intuitive controls, and a difficulty that meant you could get over a dozen hours of enjoyment before you finally triumph over the bad guys.

The key bonus to this multiplayer game was the ability for you to chain your attacks with your teammate. This rewarded players who synced up with their buddies more and definitely contributed to an easier run.