The NES boasts one of the most memorable and iconic libraries of any video game system.  Even though the NES is limited in power, the games are polished, challenging, and extremely fun.  To pay homage to the Nintendo Entertainment System, I have decided to create a list of the 10 best NES weapons and power ups.  Let’s get it crackin’!

10. Ghosts N’ Goblins: Knives

Ghost N’ Goblins is known to be one of the most difficult games ever created.  There are projectiles and enemies all over the screen, bosses with huge life bars, and devils that literally fly right at you.  All you have is a measly hit count of 2 before you are dead.  Needless to say this game was the cause of many broken controllers in my youth.

The first time I “beat” the game I felt so accomplished.  The reason why I have “beat” in quotes is because I didn’t technically beat it.  At the completion of level 6 you get this message….

ghosts and goblins ending 1st quest

As a kid I had no idea what this even meant.  The only thing I knew was that I had to start the game completely over.  Yeah…. you have to beat it twice.  Only to get this fantastic ending…

ghosts-n-goblins ending 2nd quest

Seriously?  They couldn’t even take the time to spell correctly!

Rant over…

Let’s discuss the knives.

The knives are not glamorous.    They are not a sexy weapon like some of the other weapons you will find in this list, but the knives are essential.  So essential in fact that I couldn’t imagine beating this game with any other weapon.   If Ghosts N’ Goblins were real life, the knife would be equivalent to water because without it you will die.  Period.

Check out the knife in action.  Commentary by the Angry Video Game Nerd sums up how I feel, and how you should feel about this game and the knife.

9.  Mega Man 5: Mega Buster

The Mega Man series is one of the greatest of all time.  His Mega Buster ravages enemy robots and cuts them down to size.  In part 4 Mega Man gained the ability to charge the Mega Buster.  This meant players could hold the fire button and after 2 seconds they could fire a more powerful shot.  This was an awesome addition.

The Mega Buster charge did not reach it’s full potential until Mega Man 5.  In this version the charge shot was more powerful and was bigger.  A bigger fireball means…..  a bigger hit box.  Don’t be dirty!  A bigger hit box allows you to more easily hit enemies in your path.   Check out the Mega Buster in action.

8. Ninja Gaiden 2: Shadow Ninjas

Like Ghosts N’ Goblins, Ninja Gaiden has also been a the culprit of many broken controllers.  This game is hard.  The series seems to pride itself on it’s difficulty.  Even the new versions of the game are excessively difficult.  With that said, no power up helps you in this series more than the shadow ninjas of Ninja Gaiden 2.

These hologram looking copies of Ryu trail behind you in a line.  They slice enemies that approach you from behind and simultaneously fire sub weapons without using extra inventory.  These shadow ninjas also hover in the air.  This a very useful power up when defeating the stage bosses.

Here is a very impressive Ninja Gaiden 2 run that illustrates how useful these ninjas can be.  Sometimes the ninjas seem to disappear in the video but that is because they are difficult to capture with a recording device.  The shadow ninjas constantly blink so at times they are lost in the frames, but trust me, they are both behind him the entire time.  Take note at how fast he eliminates the level bosses because of these added attackers.  Also the level 4 boss gets wiped out quickly because of the shadow ninja’s ability to hover in the air.

7. Super Mario Bros. 3: The P-Wing


The P-Wing maxes out Mario’s P-bar and allows him to fly infinitely throughout any single level. Once the level is complete the P-effect is lost and you will be wearing a normal Raccoon suite.   The P-Wing can be found using a few tricks, defeating hammer brothers, or at the completion of certain worlds.  My advice is to save your P-Wings for level 8.  You will need them!

P.S.  If you beat Mario 3 and begin the game again you are rewarded with 28 P-Wings in you item inventory.  Rock on!

6. Zelda: Bombs

zelda bombs

The bombs in Zelda are often over looked but serve many purposes.  The bombs open up blocked pathways, are essential for killing certain enemies, and have a huge hit box.  Without the bombs you could not complete the game.  In fact, you can’t even get into Gannon’s Castle without the bombs.

If you are new to Zelda it will seem like you can never have enough bombs.   I remember recklessly bombing all over the place in order to find my way through the game.  I would run out of bombs so often that I literally felt like I spent 90% of my playing time looking for bombs.  This is not a fun situation, but illustrates just how important bombs are.

Check out this speed run to see just how essential and effective the bombs are.

I thought my 45 minute run of this game during a “sick day” in high school was fast, but geez that was impressive!

5. Double Dragon: The Elbow

In Double Dragon you receive power ups based off of points that you score from defeating enemies.  Deep into that list of power ups comes the ability to elbow.  It might sound like a bland power up but this is no normal elbow attack.  This attack is the most powerful tool you have in your arsenal.  This powerful attack allows you to bust up chicks with blue afros, Chin, and Abobo with ease.

The devastation of this attack is so well known that nerds all over create videos displaying their dominant Double Dragon Elbow.

Witness the elbow’s dominance at 13:32.

4. Castlevania: Holy Water

Castlevania is the first game that had an eerie, ominous feel to it.  You play as Simon Belmont and it is your job to slay the evil darkness that is Dracula.  A lot easier said than done.  This game boasts some of the most difficult sequences of game play.  Medusa heads flay at you, chimp men jump all over the place, and skeletons throw their bones at you.  Not to mention Death himself comes to pay you a visit.  This game is a horror fan’s dream come true but the average gamer’s worst nightmare.

The only shred of hope you have in this game is your trusty holy water.  Holy water paralyzes enemies and dishes out multiple hits on contact. Without the holy water, the bosses in Castlevania are close to unbeatable.  If you dare pick up this game, do yourself a favor and utilize the holy water!

3. Mega Man 2: Metal Blades

You acquire the metal blades from beating Metal Man.  This weapon is multi-directional, strong, rips right though lines of enemies with a single blade, and hits smaller enemies that your buster flies over.  Not to mention the metal blades drain the special bar so slowly that you will never run out.  This is truly the best Mega Man weapon ever and number 3 on the all time best NES weapons  list.

2. Metroid: Screw Attack

When you first play Metroid you realize it is long, contains tons of back tracking and is serious hard work to beat.  Then you get the screw attack!  The screw attack is basically a version of the Mario 3 star flip, except that you never lose it.  That’s right.  It is permanent invincibility and destruction.  Samus goes up in the air in a somersault while glowing and thrashes through enemies with ease.  It is  2nd most awesome NES power up of all time!

1. Contra: Spread

Contra is an unforgiving shoot ’em up platforming game with enemies that kill you in a single hit.  They don’t even have to shoot you.  Simply making contact with an enemy’s body will cause death.  It is no wonder the developers added the spread gun to the game.  The spread shoots out a flurry of bullets that spread wider and wider as they make their way to the other side of the screen.  The gun looks so awesome and effective that you might think it is cheating, but trust me you will need this gun.  The alternative is to put in the Konami code at the title screen.  This code allows you to begin with the game with 30 lives. (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start)

What were your favorite weapons on the NES?  Leave your comments below!

Also, besure to check out my list of the Best NES Games You Never Heard Of