Top 10 NES Puzzle Games

Top 10 NES Puzzle Games

Put on your 8-bit thinking cap

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for NES on

Although the NES' game library is renowned, its puzzlers don't get enough recognition so here are the 10 best NES puzzle games.

Note: to qualify for this list, each game had to have been released on NES in North America.

Wario's Woods

Wario's Woods combines action gameplay and tile-based puzzle fun in a unique blend that's best enjoyed against a friend. Running around as a little Toad while trying to match colours of goofy enemies only for them to explode via similarly coloured bombs makes for one solid NES puzzle game. Fun fact: debuting in 1994, Wario's Woods was the last official game released for NES in North America.

Wario's Woods screenshot
Good thing Toad got a solid workout in Super Mario Bros. 2

Loopz

I know what you're thinking: what the heck is Loopz? Well, I picked it up at a local game store back in summer 2013 and was immediately impressed with its clever gameplay. You're presented with random shapes of track which you can rotate and place on the playfield and the objective is to make closed circuits with them. It's brutally challenging but trying to get high scores is an absolute blast.

Pipe Dream

Speaking of randomly assigned pieces of track, here's Pipe Dream! Also known as Pipe Mania, this ingenious puzzle game has you connect pieces of pipe in order to guide liquid as far as you can. Getting bonus points for crossover sections adds to the challenge and it ends up being one super-addictive puzzler. Be sure to also check out Pipe Dreams 3D for PS1 and Pipe Mania for PS2, PSP, and DS.

Similar game: Crossroad Crisis
Pipe Dream screenshot
There's something about connecting pipes that never gets old

Puzznic

Taito has a long history of making excellent arcade games and this console adaptation of one of their puzzlers is a ton of fun. Sliding tiles across its stages with gravity in place while making matches in order to completely clear each stage is a lot trickier than it looks. If you want a more modern version then be sure to play the PS1 release which features a cast of cute anime characters.

Dr. Mario

Dr. Mario may not be the most challenging or engaging puzzle game yet slowly ridding its stages of those pesky viruses makes for a highly enjoyable formula, especially while racing against a friend. Performing chains only to watch unwanted pills fall down your opponent's playfield feels great. Overall, Dr. Mario is a fantastic competitive 8-bit puzzler for 2 players and its solo modes are fun to chill to.

Also featured in: Top 10 NES Multiplayer Games Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure Review
Dr. Mario screenshot
Mario's always pushing pills but nothing beats diet and exercise

Kickle Cubicle

Here's another underrated gem. This Irem puzzle game has you freeze enemies so you can push them into the water to form paths on your way to collect Dream Bags. This may sound simple but there are some welcome wrinkles such as the ability to form ice blocks and defeat enemies by pushing frozen foes into them. When it comes to action arcade puzzlers, you can't get much better than this.

Adventures of Lolo

Between making Kirby games, HAL Laboratory created an incredible trilogy of tricky puzzlers for NES. Each Adventures of Lolo game has you solve single-screen rooms while avoiding plenty of death traps and enemies along the way. Carefully setting yourself up for success can be stressful but once you execute a solution and snatch the precious gem only to move onto the next stage, it feels awesome!

Adventures of Lolo Review
Adventures of Lolo screenshot
Solving these bite-sized puzzle rooms is oh so satisfying

Solomon's Key / Fire 'n Ice

Beginning as an arcade game, Tecmo's puzzle platformer Solomon's Key is one of the most rewarding and open-ended puzzle games of the 8-bit era. Being able to create and remove blocks means that each stage has multiple solutions yet efficiency will grant you more points. Avoiding enemies while trying to unlock the door to the next room is tricky stuff indeed. Years later, a prequel named Fire 'n Ice debuted for NES which featured gorgeous animation and tasked players with extinguishing flames with ice cubes. Hmm... sounds kind of like Kickle Cubicle. Anyway, both games are top-notch puzzlers and I recommend playing them if you're a fan of puzzle platformers.

Tecmo Classic Arcade Review (includes Solomon's Key)

Tetris

Of course, Tetris easily takes top spot as the best NES puzzle game. It was a global phenomenon when it first released and since then, gamers still can't get enough Tetris even over 35 years after its debut. This original console release didn't feature modern conveniences like the hold feature or instant drop but it's still a challenging and satisfying classic. Also, if you can get your hands on the Tengen cartridge which is a port of the Atari arcade version then you can even play a fun cooperative mode with a chum.

Tetris Effect Review
Tetris screenshot
Is there anything more rewarding than a perfectly timed Tetris piece?
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