5. Commander Keen: Marooned on Mars (MS-DOS)
The first game in the Commander Keen series released in the early 90s for MS-DOS, Marooned on Mars sees eight year old Billy Blaze fly to Mars in the Bean-With-Bacon Megarocket only to lose some key parts of his ship on arrival. Donning a Green Bay Packers football helmet and the name Commander Keen, it's up to Billy to track down his missing ship parts so he can get home. This was the first computer game to successfully replicate the side-scrolling gameplay of the Mario series and, while later Keen games became significantly more detailed and advanced, the charming simplicity of the original just can't be topped. Marooned on Mars was released as freeware, and it's still readily available should you want to give it a go via DOSBox.
4. Cave Story (Just about everything, but I favor the 3DS version)
Another freeware title, Cave Story follows the adventure of Quote, a mute robot, as he explores a mysterious cavernous island and watches as a surprisingly tragic turn of events unfolds there. Cave Story is not a new game, so at this point there isn't really much I can say about it that hasn't been said already. Between it's rock solid gameplay, excellent soundtrack, and its moody atmosphere, it's very hard to dislike Cave Story. It's available on a number of consoles these days, but you can still pick up the freeware version. And, I can't recommend it enough if you haven't played it already!
3. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS, also Wii)
DK's return on the Wii was great fun, but it was the return of his return on the 3DS that cemented this platformer's place on the list. An impressive game already in its original home console iteration, the nearly uncompromised jump to the handheld resulted in one of the meatiest and most visually impressive games in the 3DS's library. Add in New Mode to tone down the frustration factor, and you've got yourself a bona fide masterpiece.
2. Shantae (GBC, 3DS VC)
WayForward's oft overlooked GameBoy Color adventure starring a half-genie who whips her hair at bad-guys recently got a release on the 3DS's virtual console, allowing it to be widely available for the first time. And thank goodness for that! A sidescrolling platformer with the structure of a Zelda game, Shantae oozes personality. From it's incredibly detailed animations to it's memorable locations, insanely catchy music, cleverly designed dungeons, and it's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, Shantae is good fun the whole way through. Make no mistake, the game is seriously challenging and can get a little frustrating at times, but it's always worth it to push through and figure out what to do next.
1. Kirby's Adventure (NES, Wii & Wii U VC, 3D Classic on 3DS)
Kirby's Adventure is just fun. Everything about it is fun. It has fun gamplay. It has fun levels. It has fun music. It has fun graphics. It's just fun. And that sense of fun is infectious. Of course, outside of its irresistible charm, Kirby's Adventure is also an incredibly well designed game. The level designs are extremely inventive and varied and finding all the secrets sprinkled throughout the game's world is a considerable challenge. But, most of all, Kirby's Adventure is a game that just puts you in a good mood when you play it. And, really, isn't that the whole point of video games; to enjoy yourself?
Also...not a single Mario game on the list. Surprise!