Top 10 Video Games of the 3rd Generation

Top 10 Video Games of the 3rd Generation

With a huge leap in design, the games we play today owe everything to the generation that revitalized the industry. Welcome to and as part of our series of the best games of all time, we’re counting down the top ten games of the third generation. For those not in the know, the third generation covers everything from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the SEGA Master System, as well as arcade and PC games released between 1983 and 1990. As always, we’re sticking to one game per franchise. Based on the popular cartoon series, the player takes control of Scrooge McDuck as he travels the world with his trusty pogo cane, in order to collect five ancient treasures. Borrowing the successful formula of the Mega Man franchise, Ducktails made a name for itself as one of the NES’s best games by offering non-linear gameplay, excellent control and presentation, a great sound track and an overall sense of adventure and fun. This action platformer stars twin dragons Bob and Bub as they blow bubbles to both defeat their enemies and reach upper levels. Offering one hundred different stages and multiple endings, though this game was ported to many systems, the original arcade game remains the definitive version as its physics were tweaked to perfection. This jam was addicting, challenging and at the same time, of course, really fun. Featuring an impressive interconnected world, a memorable soundtrack and fantastic game play that focused on exploration and retrieval of power-ups, Metroid stands as one of the best games on the NES. Nintendo proved to be ahead of its time, by introducing one of the first female protagonists, Samus Aran, as she attempts to stop the space pirates from harvesting metroids, parasitic organisms on the planet, Zebes. An enhanced version of the original “King’s Quest”, “Quest for the Crown” gives us a classic adventure. As the knight Graham, the players tasked to rescue the kingdom of Daventry by retreating three legendary treasures. Notable at the time for its epic journey in which you fight all sorts of creatures and solve puzzles, players could take different routes to go about finding the treasures and saving the kingdom. Humorous and inventive, The Secret of Monkey Island takes place in the Caribbean during the golden age of piracy. The player takes control of Guybrush Threepwood on his quest to become a pirate and ends up having to save the governess from the Ghost Pirate LeChuck and his undead crew. Notable for its witty humor and iconic moments, “Monkey Island” remains one of the best point-and-click adventures of all time. Capcom’s platforming shooter meshes aspect every video game perfectly. Focused combat, superb presentation, refined graphics, solid narrative, and of course the music is absolutely fantastic. Taking on the role of the Blue Bomber, the players set out to defeat the evil Dr. Wiley as you face off against his robot masters, while acquiring new abilities after each defeat that would ultimately proved to be Wiley’s downfall. Arguably the best game on the SEGA Master System, “Alex Kidd in Miracle World” rival the Super Mario Brothers long before a curtain hedgehog ever appeared. As the titular Kidd, you use your fists to battle Jenkin the Great and his henchmen though out seventeen bright, colorful stages. The vehicular sequences as well as the rock-paper-scissors boss fights were all ahead of their time. This game came preloaded on some Master Systems, ensuring that owners of the console never got bored of him. The game that started one of the greatest franchises in video game history, The Legend of Zelda effortlessly combines adventure, role-playing, action and puzzle-solving. Our hero, Link, gathers the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom in order to stop Ganon and his Triforce of Power. With an epic score and deep gameplay mechanics as well as the previously unheard of ability to save your progress, the land of Hyrule and its legends would soon become a household mainstay. Who knew that placing blocks would create a gaming phenomenon? The Russians apparently, as this USSR-produced blockbuster lit the gaming world on fire. With gamers matching falling puzzle pieces in order to create lines and get that elusive high score for decades, Tetris has set itself has a timeless classic with multiple iterations that keep the core gameplay intact. As such, this is our first worthy contender for the best game of all time. Before we reveal our number one game for the third generation, here’s a look at some honorable mentions. Pushing the NES to its limits, Super Mario Brothers 3 hit the nail on the head in every department. With eight worlds to explore as well as new power-ups like the Raccoon, Frog and Tanooki suits, the game has Mario and Luigi face off against the Koopalings and Bowser, in order to, once again, save the Mushroom Kingdom. While the original Super Mario Brothers will always remain a classic and a blueprint for all video games to follow, number three is the epitome of the perfect NES game and another game worthy of our all time list. Disagree with our picks? Let us know which games from the third generation you would include among your favorites. For more awesome top tens published daily, be sure to subscribe to

100 Comments on “Top 10 Video Games of the 3rd Generation”

  1. Ale Kidd? LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. To include Alex Kidd and leave Contra and Castlevania out. For fuck sake. Wait a minute… erm… AAHH, IT'S DONE. I JUST WENT TO THE BATHROOM AND TOOK A NICE MOJO-DUMP. IT'S DEFINITELY ON MY NOVEMBER TOP 10.

  2. 1. Super Mario Bros. 3
    2. Mother/EarthBound Zero/EarthBound Beginnings
    3. DuckTales
    4. Mega Man 3
    5. Ninja Gaiden
    6. Mega Man 2
    7. Super Mario Bros.
    8. Zelda II: Adventure of Link
    9. Ninja Gaiden 2
    10. The Legend of Zelda

  3. 10. Bubble Bobble
    9. Manic Miner
    8. Wonderboy 3: The Dragons Trap
    7. Duck Hunt
    6. Maniac Mansion
    5. Contra
    4. DuckTales
    3. Mega Man 2
    2. The Secret Of Monkey Island
    1. Super Mario Bros. 3

  4. I always thought Mega Man 3 was the best in the trilogy! That's when they added the slide! And the music of Shadow Man's stage!

  5. 1.Super Mario Bros 3
    2.The Secret of The Monkey Island
    4.Mike Tyson's Punchout
    5.Dragon's Lair
    7.Legend of Zelda
    8.Metal Gear
    10.Duck Tales

  6. – Super Mario Bros. 1,2,3 (NES)
    – Sonic The Hedgehog 1,2 (SMS)
    – Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers 1,2 (NES)
    – DuckTales 1,2 (NES)
    – Alex Kidd series (SMS)
    – Bubble Bobble (Arcade)
    – Shinobi (Arcade)
    – TMNT2, TMNT3 (arcade, NES)
    – Castlevania 1,3
    – Zelda (NES)
    – Metroid (NES)
    – Mr. Gimmick (NES)
    – Mickey Castle of Illusion, Legend of Illusion, Land of Illusion (SMS)

  7. "Hey, guys. We need a Master System game on here. I guess Alex Kid will have to do. Let's put it above Mega Man 2. That's accurate, right?"
    -Watch Mojo idiots

  8. 10.Ducktales (1989)
    9.Contra (1987)
    8.Castlevania (1987)
    7.Bubble Bobble (1987)
    6.Metroid (1986)
    5.Megaman 2 (1988)
    4.The Legend of Zelda (1987)
    3.Pac Man (1980)
    2.Tetris (1984)
    1.Super Mario Bros. (1985)

    Honerable Mentions
    – Maniac Mansion (1987)
    – Kings Quest: Quest For the Crown (1984)
    – Ghosts N Goblins (1985)
    – Cannon Ball (1985)
    – Altered Beasts (1988)

  9. so, Mario 3 is better than Tetris, Tetris is better than Mario world, and world is better than 3? that doesn't make sense

  10. IN MOTHER RUSSIA, YOU DON'T PLAY TETRIS, TETRIS PLAY YOU! (That's why it became popular, also cuz of gameplay).

  11. Oof. A lot of disagree here.

    Ducktales was a kind of fun, but mostly kiddie game. The whole stage select platformer was done way better by Mega Man, which was also more iconic. No reason to include both on the list.

    Bubble Bobble was another kind of fun okay game, but it wasn't influential and most people would quickly get bored playing it today. Top 10 of the ENTIRE generation? No way.

    Metroid is iconic and all, but honestly it was pretty unplayable without a guide. 90% of the game was getting lost, getting stuck in walls, and sloooowly refilling your energy by killing random enemies for drops. Super Metroid recognized that a map and instant energy fill was required for this game to be playable. NO ONE would ever go back and play this game again over any other Metroid type game. The formula was even done better at the time by other NES games like Clash at Demonhead.

    The Kings Quest games fucking SUCKED. Know how people talk about impossible convoluted puzzles in adventure games? They're really talking about King's Quest. They were also the worst examples of "game is now impossible to beat but you wouldn't know it" adventure game trope. Impossible dumb puzzles combined with endless pun jokes, the lowest possible form of humor.

    Mega Man I fully agree with.
    Alex Kidd was better than a lot of platformers, but Mario was way more influential and fun. There were also a bunch of non-mario platformers that were better. The 2 categories to judge these top 10 lists by are fun factor and influence. If Alex Kidd falls behind on both, why include it at all?

    Zelda/Tetris sure.

    Contra should have gotten a spot. Not only was it THE grand daddy of run 'n gun platformers, it's STILL fun to play today! Same with Mike Tyson's Punchout. Why only honorable mentions for them while nobody today cares about Alex Kidd?

    Altered Beast?????!!!!!! That game was TERRIBLE, even at the time. And that's the Genesis Version. The 8 bit version was even worse. I remember at the time we were so jealous of kids who first got a Genesis. Then when we finally got to play Altered Beasts, the universal action was "…oh my god, this sucks."

    Dragon's Lair????!!!! You pick only one arcade game and name DRAGON'S LAIR as the best one from 1983-1990? The granddaddy of the hated QTEs? That's like naming Night Trap the best game of the 16 bit era.

  12. My Top 10 Favorite Games Of The 3rd Generation:

    10. Dr. Mario (NES, 1990)
    9. Metal Gear (MSX2, 1987)
    8. Metroid (NES, 1987)
    7. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (MSX2, 1990)
    6. Bubble Bobble (NES, 1988)
    5. The Legend Of Zelda (NES, 1986)
    4. Kirby's Adventure (NES, 1993)
    3. Duck Tales (NES, 1989)
    2. Donkey Kong 3 (NES, 1986)
    1. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES, 1990)

  13. They probably only put Alex Kidd there so that the Master System gets referenced and that Sega fanboys don't get triggered because basically, the NES was the 3rd Generation because it had all the great games because Nintendo had a total monopoly on the industry.

  14. No Double Dragon but BUBBLE FUCKING BOBBLE!?! Because Contra and Punch Out isn't as good as BUBBLE FUCKING BOBBLE now I guess. I'd rather play with my left nut than play BUBBLE FUCKING BOBBLE. What a joke.

  15. Sid Meier's Pirates!
    The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
    Super Mario Land
    Out Run
    Sonic the Hedgehog 2
    Phantasy Star
    River City Ransom
    Sensible World of Soccer
    Final Fantasy

  16. Bubble Bobble yeah ! i loved every version i played
    KIng's Quest .. man what memories you bring back
    The Secret of Monkey Island .. never had so many laughs while playing a game "None Shall Pass!" , the insult sword-fighting..:-)
    Alex Kidd in Miracle World .. it came in-built with my Master System ๐Ÿ™‚
    Maniac Mansion .. hilarious weirdo's ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. My list

    7) Mega Man 3
    6) Contra
    5) Ms. Pac-Man
    4) The Legend of Zelda
    3) Super Mario Bros.
    2) Tetris
    1) Super Mario Bros. 3

  18. Duck Tales? Really? I mean it was good, but there were better ones that could have been on the list I think.

  19. Final Fantasy, the game that DEFINED the RPG category doesnt even get an honorable mention? Who the hell made this list

  20. How is this the best of 3 generation only secret of monkey island for pc and only alex kid for master system wow. What about ultima or shinobi. The master system version of altered beaat gets an honrable mention. I think yall are drunk.

  21. Why you insist that the 3rd generation saved video games when it's only half true, it only applies to North America mostly, in the rest of the world (including Japan) videogames were doing just fine.

  22. This is what I think the list should be:
    3rd Generation Games:

    10. Duck Tales

    9. Bubble Bobble

    8. Metroid
    7. The Secret of Monkey Island

    6. Mike Tysonโ€™s Punch Out

    5. The Legend of Zelda

    4. Contra
    3. Tetris

    2. Mega Man 2

    1. Super Mario Bros. 3

    Honorable Mentions: Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Kingโ€™s Quest: Quest for the Crown, Maniac Mansion, Altered Beast, and Dragonโ€™s Lair

  23. Really? The game that SAVED the video game industry isn't even in the honorable mentions!?!? I didn't really expect it to be below number five but come on!

  24. Bubble Bobble? Kings Quest? Monkey island? … Are you fucking retarded? ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

    Ever hear of Double Dragon, Adventure Island, Tecmo Superbowl, River City Ransom, TMNT, Castlevania.

  25. Not even honorable mention to River City Ransom? Or Double Dragon? C'mon. Also, the most revolutionary game is SMB1. It changed the standards.

  26. I love watch mojo, this channel is so nostalgic, and just is truly a great channel with tons of content for people of all walks of life. Thanks watch mojo great work

  27. Ducktales was great, so was Chip n Dales' Rescue Rangers. I remember some Friday nights if I was lucky I got to rent a game from the GROCERY STORE (that was a thing) and get a pizza. Life was good

  28. I still play Mario 3 sometimes, I'm 36. I remember when my cousin got it for his 8th birthday, we were so happy. Good memories.

  29. Contra is an honorable mention? WTH.. and super mario bros not the no 1? Its just not done right.. cud hv mentioned some pre 1983 ones line Donkey Kong!

  30. No Castlevania 1 , 2 , or 3?
    No Super Dodgeball?
    No Double Dragon 1 , 2 , or 3?
    No Tecmo Superbowl?
    No Ninja Gaiden 1 , 2 , or 3?
    No River City Ransom?
    No Dragon Warrior 1 , 2 , 3 , or 4?
    No Track & Field 2?
    No Baseball Simulator 1000?
    No Ring King?
    No Ghost N' Goblins?

  31. Also #10 and #9 are wrong, zelda is obviously #1, and Tyson not being top 3 or 5 is criminal. Oh and Altered Beast shouldnt be mentioned. At all. Still love ya tho

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