The 100 Greatest Nintendo Games, Pt. 10

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Well here we are, the very end. It has been a pleasure to work alongside my SOS colleagues and produce this massive list of 100 titles (110, if you count special mentions), each of which reminds us why we love Nintendo so much. As I mentioned prior, we started out with about 450 games, and slowly we cut away. While no person will be 100 % satisfied with each and every pick, much less the order, I’m pretty happy with the overall results, and hopefully most of you are too. We will be dedicating all of February to Nintendo so be sure to check back all month long. In the meantime, here is our top 10! Enjoy!
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In celebration of the 30 years since Nintendo released the NES here in North America, we decided to round-up the SOS troops and compile a list of the 100 greatest games published and or developed by Nintendo, and released exclusively to their consoles. Here’s our final part, the top 10.
Mega_Man_X_Coverart10. Mega Man X
Developer(s) Capcom / Rozner Studios (PC)
Publisher(s) Capcom
Platform(s) SNES
December 17, 1993
Genre(s) Action, platform

Capcom made Mega Man fans wait a very long time for the arrival of Mega Man X, releasing the game for the SNES two and a half years after the system’s debut. But when it arrived, it was obvious why it took so long. This wasn’t just another Mega Man game, it was a complete reinvention of the franchise and it blew our young minds. The classic series mythology forms the basis for Mega Man X, but the plot is new – taking place a century after the original Mega Man series with an all-new arch-nemesis named Sigma, and a supporting hero named Zero – a Maverick Hunter/ mechanical soldier who helps X (Mega Man) defeat robots who turned against humanity. With the help of his partner Zero, X must thwart the plans of Sigma and save mankind. The standard run-and-gun action remains intact with traditional attack strategies all carrying over – but this time around players get an assortment of advanced maneuvers like dashing, wall-jumping and instant weapon-swapping. In addition, X can charge his buster and the slide has been replaced with a dash. Furthermore, Mega Man could now increase the length of his health meter — and he could upgrade his suit, piece by piece, to complete a set of new armor (which makes you look more and more like his hero, Zero). If you haven’t yet played this game, give it a try, and find out why Mega Man X is one of the all time best. There’s so much to say about this game, and why, as a sequel, it is one of the best; but since I’m limited to the amount of words I can write, I recommend checking out this amazing video essay. (Ricky D)
250px-Super_Mario_64_box_cover9. Super Mario 64
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
NA September 26, 1996
Genre(s) Platforming

Many gamers’ first introduction to the legendary mustachioed plumber came in the vein of Super Mario 64, a Super Mario Bros.entry which is not only one of the best in the franchise, but also one of the most influential 3D platformers ever crafted. Throughout the rest of this most transitional of console generations, Super Mario 64 would be aped again and again, but few games would even approach the inventive design and addictive gameplay of the title, let alone match it. This is also the Mario game that first introduced several new features which have since become series staples, such as the progressive triple jump, the tree and object climbing mechanic, the backflip, the long jump, and the somehow-never-inappropriate butt-stomp maneuver. The only place where this title flounders is in its power-ups, which stand among only a desolate few that have never been reiterated in the series’ sequels. The challenging levels, diverse tasks, and dozens of hours of gameplay, however, more than make up for this small hiccup. (Mike Worby)
Final_Fantasy_VI8. Final Fantasy VI
Developer(s)  Square
Publisher(s) Square
Platform(s) SNES
Genre(s) Role-playing
Though Final Fantasy VII is often cited as the game which changed Final Fantasy forever, a strong argument can be made for Final Fantasy VI as the proper bearer for such a title. Up to this point in the series, each of the installments had been placed in a decidedly medieval setting. From the jaw-dropping, pseudo-3D, opening moments of FFVI it’s clear that all of that has changed. Mechs, firearms, and a variety of technologies that ride the line between science-fiction and steampunk all make their Final Fantasy debuts here. This is also one of the series’ darkest entries with characters who contemplate suicide, several major deaths, and an insanely malicious villain who actually succeeds completely in his horrifying plan by the games halfway point. With the largest and most diverse cast of the entire Final Fantasy franchise, some haunting and emotional music from long time composer Nobuo Uematsu, the best set of side-quests ever delivered, and a wildly intense final battle, Final Fantasy VI is, without question, a series standout. (Mike Worby)
250px-GoldenEye007box7. Goldeneye 007
Developer(s) Rare
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo 64
Genre(s) First-person shooter, stealth

Rareware’s epochal Bond game should have been terrible. As a film license, it should have been a lazy cash-in. As a violent action game, it should not have been embraced by a Nintendo machine. And as a first person shooter, it should not have worked at all on consoles, which had yet to break into the first person shooter market. Against these odds, Goldeneye became one of the best-selling games on the Nintendo 64. It controls extremely well and allows veteran players to move effortlessly through levels, which obviously bolsters its now-legendary multiplayer mode. It takes advantage of the European glamour and exoticism of its source material, offers plenty of weapons, and considerable variety in level design. Higher difficulties mean more missions, and completing these means unlocking secret levels, adding incentive for replays. Yes, its short draw distances and blurry textures encapsulate everything that is ugly about Nintendo 64 graphics, but the game itself has never stopped being immensely playable. (Guido Pellegrini)
250px-SuperMarioGalaxy6. Super Mario Galaxy
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Wii
NA November 12, 2007
Genre(s) Platforming
The Nintendo 64 had Mario 64, but obviously the next direction Mario should go after Super Mario World should be the galaxy. Super Mario Galaxy would eventually be released in November 2007 and is widely considered one of the best video games of all time. This Mario entry is set in outer space and follows Mario as he tries to save Power Stars from Bowser’s evil clutches and help a new character, Rosalina, restore her observatory. Each new planet that Mario visits on his quest has its own gravity, usually having Mario walking sideways or upside down. Similar to Mario 64, players are collecting stars to open more levels and complete more difficult tasks in each stage. Super Mario Galaxy really does a fine job of using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. When players shake the Wii Remote, Mario is able to spin attack his enemies. Secondly, it is used as a Star Pointer to pick up star shaped objects known as “Star Bits”, that can be used offensively or to unlock special bonus stages. For anyone who might’ve been disappointed with Super Mario Sunshine, this was a true sequel to Mario 64 and an amazing accomplishment from the team at Nintendo. (Max Covill)

250px-Tetris_BoxshotSpecial Mention: Tetris

Designers: Alexey Pajitnov, Vladimir Pokhilko
Game Boy, Game Boy Color
Developer(s) Bullet-Proof Software / Nintendo
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy
NA July 1989
Genre(s) Puzzle

It’s safe to assume that almost every video gamer has heard of Tetris and most of us associate it with Nintendo, specifically their portable Game Boy system. The hugely successful handheld version of Tetris for the Game Boy – which was launched in 1989 – is arguable the ultimate version of the perfect puzzle game. However, we decided to keep it as a special mention since Tetris had already existed in various incarnations since its creation in 1984, and was sold for a range of home computer platforms as well as the arcades, long before Game Boy ever existed. The famous puzzle game from creator Alexey Pajitnov, is not only brilliant, but extremely addictive thanks to it’s simplistic design. With this particular version of Tetris came a competitive two-player mode made possible with the link cable and an instrumental version of the Russian folk song “Korobeiniki”. Nintendo has made some of the best partnerships in the history of the gaming industry, and pairing Tetris with their new greyscale portable system back in the day, is one of their best decisions in the company’s 125 years in existence. Tetris was a phenomenon – and literally laid the bricks for the foundation of the handheld gaming industry that Nintendo has continued to dominate ever since. (Ricky D)
Resi4-gc-cover5. Resident Evil 4
Developer(s) Capcom Production Studio 4
Publisher(s) Capcom
Platform(s) GameCube,
January 11, 2005
Genre(s) Survival horror

Let’s be honest here. This game is probably the main reason you bought a GameCube! I know it was for me. Well despite whether it was or not, Resident Evil 4 was not only a masterpiece of a videogame but also groundbreaking in horror/action titles. Enter Leon Kennedy making a return from Resident Evil 2. Now a U.S government special agent, your mission is to rescue Ashley Graham who has been abducted by an unknown cultist group in a remote rural area of eastern Europe. Resident Evil 4 made leaps and bounds over its predecessors. Breaking from it’s traditional fixed camera angles to an over-the-shoulder, third-person view gave the game a more claustrophobic look, and even introduced new enemies to gun your way through. Zombies are gone! And it was a well received new take for the series. The controls were more refined as well from it’s predecessors, giving you the ability to target specific locations. RE4 also introduced QTE (quick time events) in it’s cutscenes. Reminicent to Shenmue, you were made to rapidly tap buttons, or press on the directional buttons during some cutscenes. The game was full of relentless and terrifying moments, but it was well worth it. Shinji Mikami is still revered as the godfather of action horror and Resident Evil 4 is a true testament to that statement. (Aaron Santos)
Chrono Trigger4. Chrono Trigger
Developer(s) Square
Publisher(s) Square
Platform(s) SNES
NA August 22, 1995
Genre(s) Role-playing

When video game fans are typically asked what their favorite Square Enix game is, the first response is to usually answer with a Final Fantasy game. Then there are others that understand that Square Enix’s greatest accomplishment is Chrono Trigger. Chrono Trigger was released in 1995 on the SNES and received countless praise from critics and fans alike. Interestingly enough the story isn’t all that revolutionary. A young boy must gather some allies and save the world from destruction. What was new, though, were the gameplay interventions Chrono Trigger introduced. Instead of random encounters a la Final Fantasy, battle were triggered by coming into contact with enemies on the world map. Players also had to navigate through time to defeat the evil Lavos. Actions completed in the past had significant effects on the future and companions ranged from a prehistoric cave woman to a futuristic robot. Included in the fantastic adventure is a timeless musical score from Yasunori Mitsuda and Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. For the time, it featured an incredible amount of music for a video game and remains one of the best soundtracks ever created. Chrono Trigger stands out as one of the finest accomplishments in the RPG genre and continues to delight upon each journey. In fact, the game was one of the first to feature various endings depending on how and when the game was completed. Chrono Trigger didn’t so much reinvent the wheel with the story, but its characters, music, and gameplay innovations have stood the test of time. (Max Covill)
250px-The_Legend_of_Zelda_A_Link_to_the_Past_SNES_Game_Cover3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Super NES
November 21, 1991
Genre(s) Action-adventure

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. While Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was an interesting departure from the style ofThe Legend of Zelda, the 1991 SNES game A Link to the Past took the original game of the series and perfected what was already there. A Link to the Past isn’t necessarily innovative. Unlike Ocarina of Time, it didn’t usher in a whole new experience for gamers. But for many, A Link to the Past is the definitive Zelda game (and one of the best video games of all time) because of how utterly streamlined and polished it is. Everything that was fun and exciting about The Legend of Zelda is here tenfold: an arsenal of neat items at your disposal, an expansive world full of memorable settings and enemies, cleverly-designed puzzles, challenging boss battles and the general feeling of the epic quest (aided by the soundtrack) that puts the “Legend” into the title. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is just pure, simple gaming at its heights where every little piece comes together flawlessly to create the ultimate action-adventure experience. The game was re-released for the Game Boy Advance and received a follow-up for the 3DS (A Link Between Worlds), solidifying its place in the canon of not just the Zelda series, but as one of Nintendo’s finest products of all time. (Sean Colletti)
250px-Smetroidbox2. Super Metroid 
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D / Intelligent Systems
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) SNES
March 19, 1994
Genre(s) Action-adventure / platform-adventure
One of the things most notable about Super Metroid is its profound and effective sense of atmosphere. Few games have managed to make an alien world that feels so strange and surreal as the planet Zebes does here. Though the evocative music goes a long way to establishing the sad and decaying world, points must be given to the design team who really nail the deliberate strangeness of the creature and area layouts. What makes Super Metroid such a strong experience is its uninhibited use of wordless story-telling to craft an emotionally-engaging narrative which casts two characters as mothers and creates an intense dichotomy and rivalry between them, culminating in an unforgettable battle over a savage but innocent child. In the nuts and bolts department, the gameplay is wildly inventive, utilizing the power-up based exploration mechanics which were introduced in previous installments, Super Metroid takes an everything and the kitchen sink approach to growing your character, wherein you start off as a pellet-firing weakling and end the game as an invincible, hyper-driven, flashing, super-speeded, infinite-jumping juggernaut. Add to that the fact that you’re playing as the most badass female bounty hunter in the galaxy, and Super Metroid equals pure gaming bliss. If you want a game that absolutely lives up to all of its hype and more, than you need to play Super Metroid. (Mike Worby)
The_Legend_of_Zelda_Ocarina_of_Time_box_art1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo 64
November 21, 1998
Genre(s) Action-adventure

Call me the king of hyperbole, but it is my opinion that The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, is without a doubt, the greatest game ever made – a game in which even the tiniest speck can have value, and an experience of amazing emotional power. The game is cosmic in scope and mystic in tone; something to experience, think, and talk about for years to come. Ocarina of Time pushed the boundaries of the medium of video games in many ways, but none more important than that of storytelling. You begin the game as a child of the forest. As a young boy, Link is tricked by Ganondorf, the King of the Gerudo Thieves to gain access to the Sacred Realm, where he places his evil hands on the Triforce, and transforms the beautiful Hyrulean landscape into a barren wasteland. Link is determined to make things right, so with the help of Rauru, he travels through time gathering the powers of the Seven Sages. By the time you’ve completed the adventure, you’ll be a fisherman, a messenger, a traveling mask salesman, a warrior, a hero – and an adult, having traveled countless miles encountering epic bosses, glorious set-pieces – and solving imaginative puzzles. But what really makes Link’s first 3D outing stand out, is how it affords players time to invest in the quiet moments. Ocarina of Time forces you to think before you act, and to reflect on the choices you’ve made. And yes, players are given choices which will determine your direction moving forward. Time plays an important role throughout the game. As you proceed, time passes, and a quiet day can quickly turn into a dangerous night. Time travel also comes into play, allowing you to jump seven years into the future and back again. From start to finish, it entertains, enthralls and awes. Ocarina of Time reminds us of the power of the medium of video games – and why we love Nintendo so very much. (Ricky D)

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