The Smithsonian American Art Museum is opening a new exhibit in March, the Art of Video Games. In honor of gaming making it to America's premier cultural institution, we're taking a look at our picks for the top 5 games to ever have been made for 8-bit NES system.

  • 5

    Duck Hunt

    The game that taught us all to shoot an orange gun

    Included as a game bundled with the NES (along with Super Mario Brothers), Duck Hunt was often gamer's first introduction to the NES and its Zapper gun. The game features the opportunity to shoot one or two ducks at a time or clay targets (for the PETA-minded). The game also features a character considered one of the most annoying of all-time: the dog who retrieves the shot ducks or belittles your failure.

  • 4


    The game that brought the arcade home

    There are many games that made the transition from arcade stardum to homeplay. Donkey Kong, BurgerTime and Elevator Action also fall into this list. We chose Paperboy in honor of its innovative theme of taking a mundane task (delivering newspapers) and creating a fun gaming experience around it rather than following the thematic track so many games wrapped around far-out fantasy, ninja or space theme. An iPhone Paperboy app was released in 2009 to celebrate the game's 25 anniversary - now if that app only came with the awesome handlebar controller that the arcade version had....

  • 3


    The game that brought down the Iron Curtain

    OK so maybe a video game wasn't responsible for Perestroika, Grasnost and the fall of the Soviet Union, but Tetris was the first Russian video game to be imported to American consoles. With its deceptively simple gameplay of routing and rotating 7 shapes into straight lines, Tetris tops many gamers' lists of the best games of all time.

  • 2

    The Legend of Zelda

    The game at made RPGs cool for everyone

    What can we say about the original Legend of Zelda? It's the first of 15 (and counting) games set in the world of Hyrule. It's the game in which we first meet the green-smocked Link and his arch rival Gannon. The gameplay, which broke away from the NES-standard lineal scoller, allowed players limitless options on how they explored the overworld, underworld and secret passages.

  • 1

    Super Mario Brothers 3

    The game at which NES reached Nirvana

    Released just as the 16-bit revolution of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo was hitting, Super Mario Brothers 3 could be considered the crowing achievement of the NES. The third installment of the Mario franchise became one the best selling games of all time. Filled with innovative worlds (desert, giant) and Mario suits (Tanooki, Frog, and Hammer), SMB3 is considered by many gamers as the best Mario title of all time.