You've probably already played through
Super Mario 64 (N64): Out of all the games on this list, Super Mario 64 is one of the most groundbreaking. The first title for the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 was one of the very first 3D platform adventure games made for a game console. Don't dismiss it as a historical note, though; the gameplay remains great, and the diverse levels and copious puzzles make Super Mario 64 a still-excellent game, even over a decade after it was released. Super Mario World (SNES): Mario's maiden voyage on the Super Nintendo remains one of the greatest platformers ever crafted. While Mario 3 introduced several great new game elements that still persist in the series, Super Mario World took those elements and polished them to a shine. Yoshi, cape feathers, multiple routes, and an expansive world map make this a must-play game. Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (SNES): What Super Mario World did to the Mario series, Link to the Past did to the Zelda series. With two big versions of Hyrule, loads of clever puzzles, and some of the best top-down adventure action out there, LttP remains one of the best Zelda games ever made. It also presented the first use of the in the series. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64): If you ask Nintendo fans what their favorite Zelda game is, you'll probably get one of two answers: Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. I personally still hold a soft spot for LttP, but even I can't deny how excellent Ocarina was. It also followed the Zelda Pattern, one of the indicators of a great Zelda game. Its only real detraction is Navi, the painfully irritating fairy who shouts "HEY! LISTEN!" every few minutes. Just try to tune her out. Super Metroid (SNES): Samus' 16-bit adventure took her back to Planet Zebes to once again fight Mother Brain. This time around, though, Samus has more weapons, the planet has more areas to explore, and the bosses are a whole lot bigger. Better yet, it had an automatic map and a save system, two vital tools for any planet-exploring bounty hunter.
- Paper Mario (N64): Arguably the only good RPG on the Nintendo 64, Paper Mario paved the way for the GameCube classic
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Doorand the excellent Wii platform-puzzle-adventure Super Paper Mario. While it's not the first RPG Mario starred in (Super Mario RPG on the Super Nintendo holds that distinction), it is the first to turn Mario flat. And now, monsieur, a wafer-thin plumber. Gunstar Heroes (GEN): Giant robots, muscle-bound henchmen, mix-and-match weapons, and... a giant board game of death. This Genesis shooter really has it all. Unfortunately, it's not the longest game out there. Fortunately, it's one of the few games on this list you can play with a buddy! Star Fox 64 (N64): Star Fox 64 introduced force feedback to a generation of console gamers with the inclusion of the N64 Rumble Pack. Unfortunately, that rumble hasn't carried over to the Virtual Console. What's left is a still-great space shooter with multiple vehicles, branching paths, and great big bosses. Considering the middling gameplay of Star Fox Assaultand Star Fox Command, this download could be your only chance to play Star Fox as it was meant to be played until Nintendo finally announces a Wii-native Star Fox title. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (GEN): You've heard of him. Blue hedgehog, moves fast, has had several cartoons and comic books about him? Well, this is one of the best games the little guy's ever been in. To say that his recent 3D iterations have been lacking would be an understatement, but this is nothing but good, old-fashioned dash-and-crash action. It also marks the first appearance of his partner Tails, and the first use of his Spin Dash attack (an attack you're going to see quite often when he hits Super Smash Bros. Brawl).
- Ninja Gaiden II: Dark Sword of Chaos (NES): The VC has a surprising number of excellent ninja games, like Shinobi III and the original
Ninja Gaiden. Out of all of them, though, Ninja Gaiden II is probably one of the best. Long before he was climbing walls and slaughtering enemies on the Xbox, Ryu Hayabusa was climbing walls and slaughtering enemies on the NES. Beware of the rather sharp difficulty curve, though. This game has some jumps that will make you want to take a katana to your Wii.