In fact, these days I'm far more likely to reach for the five games listed below--each of which offer up music, graphics and gameplay that I consider to be on par with those aforementioned Nintendo-made classics.
1. Don Doko Don 2--I'm guessing Taito's decision to turn Don Doko Don's sequel into a Super Mario Bros.-esque, side-scrolling platformer was met with at least a bit of skepticism back in the day (it was released in 1992), but gamers needn't have worried. After all, the contents of this particular cart is a treat for the eyes, ears and even hands. (You know, because it controls well and is an overall joy to play.) Plus, it features a cameo of sorts by Chack'n (of Chack'n Pop fame)--which, in my mind at least, means it's an absolute-must-play.
2. Hoshi no Kirby: Yume no Izumi no Monogatari (aka Kirby's Adventure)--Is Kirby's first console outing his best? I tend to think so, although I also hold Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby's Return to Dream Land in high esteem. (Sorry, I've yet to play Kirby Super Star.) Regardless, the game known to westerners as Kirby's Adventure easily is one of the more enjoyable--and precious--platformers released for Nintendo's 8-bit super system. It is easy? Yes, it is, but that's the point. Focus on taking in the sights and having fun while doing so and you won't regret a second of the time you spend with this one.
3. Pajama Hero Nemo (aka Little Nemo the Dream Master)--Would you believe me if I said that this may be my favorite Famicom/NES game? Well, it is. Or it may be. Whatever. Anyway, even if you don't agree--due to its difficulty, most likely--you have to admit this title is a looker. I mean, really, how adorable are those sprites? That Little Nemo sounds nearly as good as it looks just adds to its status as a top-shelf platformer that should be experienced by everyone who isn't afraid of a bit of a challenge, a splash of color and a protagonist who's still in his pajamas.
4. Wanpaku Dakku Yume Bōken (aka Duck Tales)--This next comment will surprise no one who actually lived through the 8-bit era, but I'm going to say it awyway: Capcom absolutely killed it during the days of the Famicom and NES, and this trend-bucking (when it comes to licensed releases) games is proof positive of that fact. The keys for me: The ability to use ol' Scrooge McDuck's cane both as a pogo stick and as a golf club. Also, its highly explorable stages (something that also can be said for the game above, by the way). Spend some time with this one and you'll understand why so many of us "mature" gamers say things like, "They sure don't make 'em like they used to."
5. Yume Penguin Monogatari--This is one of those fabulously weird games that, for reasons unknown, never left Japan. I guess it was just too odd for us buttoned-up Americans? It wouldn't surprise me, considering the game is about a rather chubby penguin who, desperate to reunite with his ex-girlfriend, works his way through level after level (some of which involve shooting, a la Gradius or Parodius, rather than platforming) in order to "lose the chunk" for his judgmental former lover. Whatever the reason, it's too bad, as Yume Penguin Monogatari is one of the most unique titles to have been made for the Famicom.
Note: Look for follow-up post--titled, "Five more favorites: Famicom/NES platformers that don't involve a fat, Italian-American plumber"--to be published within the next few days.