Puzzle games were a big hit for the NES and it was one of the main genres at the time. In fact, there were so many great NES puzzle games that it’s hard to whittle them down to a top 10.
We’ve had a go, though. Here is our take on the best NES puzzle games. Let us know if you agree in the comment section below.
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10. Wario’s Woods (1994)
Wario’s Woods is a falling puzzle game a la Tetris, and was one of the last games to have been released for the NES.
It’s a fairly simple game which involves clearing rows of monsters inside large tree trunks by aligning them by color horizontally, diagonally, or vertically.
What makes this stand out from falling puzzle games is that you get to control the character Toad, who can pick up the monsters and different objects in order to move them around. Bombs also drop into the screen, allowing players to clear particularly troublesome blocks of monsters.
For me, Wario’s Woods is a worthy swansong for the NES, and comfortably one of the best NES puzzle games around.
9. Klax (1990)
Klax is a very simple puzzle game in which you control a conveyor belt that collects blocks coming towards you at an ever-increasing difficulty.
The blocks must be separated according to color and, as you advance further through the levels, you’ll realize that it becomes a lot harder than it sounds.
What really makes the game, though, is the sound design. There are some absolute bangers on here which will likely bring on a serious bout of nostalgia, perhaps even if you haven’t played the game before!
8. Yoshi’s Cookie (1992)
Easily one of the best NES puzzle games, Yoshi’s Cookie is a tile matching game in which the player must line up rows of cookies in consecutive patterns so that they fill an entire column or row.
A wildcard cookie appears in the shape of Yoshi’s head that can be used to help clear all different types of cookies. Given how simple the game is, Yoshi’s Cookie is surprisingly fun, and it’s replay value makes it one of the best NES puzzle games around.
7. Pipe Dream (1990)
Pipe Dream is a puzzle game developed by The Assembly Line in which players are tasked with assembling pieces of pipe in the correct order to successfully construct a long, unbroken path for the pipe.
The pipe pieces can’t be rotated, but you are able to see which shape of pipe will appear next on the screen. This allows the player to quickly map out the route of the pipe, all whilst you race against the clock.
It sounds simple, and it is. But sometimes that’s all you need in a puzzle game, and this is definitely one of the best puzzle games for the NES. Plus, it has incredibly catchy music.
6. Dr. Mario (1990)
Dr Mario is yet another falling block puzzle game in this list, but it’s a great one. Tasked with destroying viruses with vitamin capsules (where’s Dr Mario when we need him now?), players must align the colors of the dual-colored capsules and the viruses in order to clear the screen.
If you allow too many pills to enter the screen, though, the virus spreads and the game becomes increasingly difficult. This is what makes Dr Mario one of the best NES puzzle games, though. It has the perfect balance of challenge, skill, and fairness that will just keep you coming back for more and more.
5. Lemmings (1992)
Lemmings is a highly addictive puzzle game that, at one point, was considered to be one of the best games of all time. It’s easy to see why, too. The game is certainly unique and brought something new to the puzzling table at the time.
You have to try and save as many Lemmings as possible by guiding them from the entrance to the exit door. To do this you must dig, crawl, block, climb, float, and mine your way to victory.
The charm of Lemmings can’t be understated. It’s still an enjoyable game to play today, and will certainly go down as one of the all time greats.
4. Solomon’s Key (1992)
Initially released as an arcade game in 1986, Solomon’s Key came to the NES in the early 90s and was an instant hit for fans of the puzzle genre.
With over 60 levels in total, the game’s objective is simple – collect the key and get to the door to escape the room. The gameplay is not so simple, though. You control a sorceress who has the ability to build and destroy blocks in order to make your path easier, but enemies roam the levels and make the task incredibly difficult.
This game will test your skills and reflexes, but it is totally worth the challenge. It is easy to see why Solomon’s Key is widely regarded as one of the best puzzle games for the NES.
3. Solstice (1990)
Solstice offers a unique puzzle experience in the NES world. In the game, you play as a wizard from an isometric perspective, and you must save a princess by navigating through a puzzle ridden labyrinth that involves moving objects, avoiding spikes, magic boots, and a lot more.
The sound design is excellent and appropriate (except for maybe the death scream…), and the visuals are pleasantly smooth and endearing. In fact, the only thing stopping this from being higher in the list of the best NES puzzle games is it’s difficulty. Solstice is insanely difficult at times. Frustratingly so. Luckily, you can get extra lives, special items, and potions to make your journey through the game easier.
No doubt about it, this is a top-tier puzzle game for the NES.
2. Tengen Tetris (1989)
It’s impossible to make a list of the best NES puzzle games without including the most notable puzzle game of all time. In reality, I could have chosen either the Tengen version or the Nintendo version of the game. Both are great and pretty much identical, but I’ve chosen the Tengen version of Tetris as I prefer the music and the more colorful layout.
There’s really not much to add here. Everyone knows what to expect with Tetris, and this version is no less addicting than any other. It’s always a pleasure to play!
1. Adventures of Lolo (1989)
The Adventures of Lolo is a puzzle game that requires players to navigate Lolo – an anthropomorphic round blob – through various rooms of a castle in order to rescue his beloved Princess Lala. Sound nonsensical? Well, it is, and that’s why the game is so lovable.
Adventures of Lolo has an unparalleled charm within the world of NES puzzle games, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. You are thrust straight into the action without ceremony, and must use your noggin to solve 50 puzzles that require you to collect hearts, move blocks, and open a treasure chest.
When you add into the mix a charming sound design and lovably simple aesthetic, you’ve got yourself one of the best puzzle games for the NES, and possibly of all time.
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For another take on the best NES puzzle games, check out the great YouTube video below by CheesestringXX.