Gamer Koala

The 10 Best Nintendo Multiplayer Games from the 1980s

Think way back now… What was better than sitting on your floor playing the original Nintendo system? Easy! Sitting on the floor with a friend playing the original Nintendo system!

These old-school Nintendo games knew that gaming was better with a friend. Let’s take a look at the 10 best games on the NES that you could play with a friend!

10. Caveman Games

Caveman Games
Electronic Arts

The concept behind 1988’s Caveman Games (a.k.a. Caveman Ughlympics or Caveman Ugh-lympics) is hilarious. It’s an Olympics-themed sports game set in the Stone Age. The game is filled with humor. You compete in events such as the Dino race, Dino vault, clubbing, fire making, Saber Race, and Matetoss. It’s most fun with 2-4 players.

9. Dr. Mario

Dr. Mario

Competitive multiplayer puzzle games are few on NES. But luckily, 1990’s Dr. Mario provides some challenging gameplay. In Tetris style, you race against your competitor to deal with viruses using strategic thinking, planning, and precision. The gameplay is fun and highly addictive.

8. Balloon Fight

Balloon Fight

Balloon Fight first appeared in arcades in 1984, then consoles in 1985. It’s similar in play to Joust. However, your goal is to pop balloons. There’s a great thrill in sabotaging your competitor so you nab the high score. But it’s equally fun to cooperate and see how far you can get together.

7. Kung Fu Heroes

Kung Fu Heroes
Culture Brain

Kung Fu Heroes is an obscure NES title, but worth the effort to find. It’s a super fun beat-’em-up game released to arcades in 1984, and consoles in 1986. In competition, you’ll take pleasure in punching and flip-kicking your enemies, gaining power-ups, hidden warp zones, and accessing mini-game levels.

6. Mario Bros.

Mario Bros.

Mario Bros. is a 1983 arcade platform game that was ported to NES in 1986. In multiplayer, the game has an excellent blend of competitive and cooperative elements. Although you might want to bump your enemies, joining forces can affect how far you progress. Mario Bros. remains fun to this day.

5. Shadow of the Ninja

Shadow of the Ninja

Shadow of the Ninja is a 1990 side-scrolling action game. This overlooked gem is an extremely fun multiplayer game. Not only is it filled with action, but includes tricky platform segments, clever enemies, and a handful of memorable bosses to battle. Cooperative fighting strategies and careful weapon choices improve the gameplay.

4. Contra


Released to arcades in 1986, and then consoles in 1987, Contra is a run-and-gun video game that provides a variety of perspectives, including side-view, fixed screen, and a pseudo-3D view. To get the most out of it in multiplayer, you’ll need to have an equally skilled partner. Contra spawned a series and is a must-play game.

3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game is a 1990 NES port of the arcade version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The name change sought to avoid confusion with the 1989 NES game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In this beat-’em-up classic, you and another player control 2 of the 4 turtles. There are lots of tough enemies, hazards, and epic boss fights.

Read More: My 1989 NES Library – A Casual Retrospective

2. River City Ransom

River City Ransom
Technōs Japan

River City Ransom is a 1989 open-world beat-’em-up classic that is famous for its open-ended, non-linear gameplay. Players can perform tricky fighting moves, use or throw various objects, and even utilize RPG elements. The game is even more enjoyable in multiplayer, as players can cooperate to defeat gangs. Another notable game like this? Double Dragon.

Read More: Grab Your Quarters – These Are The Best Arcade Games Of The 1980s

1. Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble is a 1986 platform game whose various ports are faithful to the arcade classic. Don’t be fooled by how simple the game begins. The difficulty ramps up fast. You’ll need to think outside the box to master some of the higher levels. In terms of pure fun alone, Bubble Bobble has earned its reputation among the greatest games ever.

Read More: The Most Popular Game Arcades From The ’70s To The ’90s