The 100 Greatest Nintendo Games Pt. 5


Here we are, halfway through our list, and so many more amazing games to mention. Remember folks, we are dedicating the entire month to Nintendo, and will be publishing fresh, original content each and every day.


The_Legend_of_Zelda_A_Link_Between_Worlds_NA_cover60. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Group No. 3
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo 3DS
NA November 22, 2013[1]
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Leave it to Nintendo to take an old idea and do just enough to make it utterly amazing. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was supposed to be a new game in the style of the SNES classic, A Link to the Past. No one could’ve imagined that it was essentially the same world map! Other than a few design elements, A Link Between Worlds completely reinvents those concepts. The Zelda formula is changed for the better with a new weapon system that allows players to take on the various temples in any order they see fit. A Link Between Worlds also is the first Zelda title for the 3DS to really utilize 3D to full effect. What could’ve easily been a nostalgia cash-in, A Link Between Worlds fully justifies its existence and is one of best Zelda games in recent memory. (Max Covill)
Donkeykongcountryreturns59. Donkey Kong Country Returns
Developer(s) Retro Studios, Monster Games
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Wii
NA November 21, 2010
Genre(s) Platformer
After seeing what they did with the Metroid series, Nintendo made the very wise decision of choosing Retro Studios to helm their Donkey Kong Country franchise for a new generation. Retro, for their part, didn’t pull any punches with this series reboot. While many worried that the difficulty of the original SNES series would be side-lined to make the game more accessible, Retro instead doubled-down with the most challenging installment yet. Levels include amazing set-pieces like a giant rolling egg which is slowly breaking and disintegrating, forcing the player to scramble just to stay alive, or a mutant bat who screeches around trying to crush you while you ride a rocket-powered barrel. Furthermore, augmenting Donkey Kong’s abilities based on whether he has Diddy with him actually forced players to play far more carefully than they once had, lest they lose his handy hover ability. This is the game that took the DKC formula and turned it up to 11 and it just might be the best installment in the series. (Mike Worby)
SNES_F-Zero_boxart58. F-Zero
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) SNES, Virtual Console
November 21, 1990
Genre(s) Racing

F-Zero was one of the original North American launch titles for the SNES. Set in the the year 2560, the game revolves around a racing circuit known as F-Zero, which is financed by multi-billionaires who profit from human civilization’s expansion into the cosmos. Even after all these years, it remains remarkably impressive from a purely visual standpoint. Critics lauded F-Zero for its fast and challenging gameplay, variety of tracks, and the Mode 7 rotational and scaling effects — which were relatively new back in 1990. Although the N64 sequel would add more racers and the ability to use a spin attack on your rivals, the SNES original set a standard for the racing genre and lay down the blueprint for Super Mario Kart, which would emerge from Nintendo’s labs not too long after. From the tight controls, perfect sound effects, fantastic music and the impeccable course design, F-Zero reinvigorated the genre and inspired the future creation of numerous racing games – not to mention, the game also introduced Captain Falcon/The Blue Falcon, Dr. Stuart/The Golden Fox, Pico/Wild Goose, and Samurai Goroh/Fire Stingray. (Ricky D)
220px-Zelda_II_The_Adventure_of_Link_box57. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link 
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) NES
NA December 1, 1988
Genre(s) Action RPG

Not too many people like Zelda II, including our Games Editor who is furious knowing it is making an appearance on this list. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is the black sheep of the Legend of Zelda franchise, but I find it hard to understand why it’s been so chastised over the years. Zelda II is criticized for its shift in direction, in play perspective (the game combines side-scrolling action with role-playing game elements) and in gameplay mechanics – but I believe that is what makes it great. I give credit to Shigeru Miyamoto for trying something new, and for taking chances by breaking away from the award wining formula of its predecessor. For those of you fixated on the fact that it’s “not like the others,” I’ll ask you to consider that this is also what makes it all the more unique. Like it or not, The Adventure of Link revolutionized the franchise and introduced elements such as Link’s magic meter and the Dark Link character that would become commonplace in future Zelda games. And in all honestly, I believe it is the difficulty of this game that turns people off, and not the presentation. This isn’t your typical Zelda game; it’s incredibly hard to finish – and possibly the toughest game to beat on the NES. (Ricky D)
56. Donkey Kong150px-Donkey_Kong_arcade
Developer(s) Nintendo
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Arcade
July 9, 1981
Genre(s) Platforming

This classic that launched the careers of Donkey Kong and Mario (here named Jumpman); but nobody ever bothered to ask what happened to the beautiful Pauline trapped within the paws of the giant ape. The game was the latest in a series of efforts by Nintendo to break into the North American market and was developed by first-time video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. The rest as they say, is history. Drawing from a wide range of inspirations, including Popeye, Beauty and the Beast and King Kong, Miyamoto developed a critical and commercial success that helped establish him as a key player in the industry. If you happen to be a nostalgic gamer, or even a huge Nintendo fan who wants to explore the company’s back catalogue, this is essential to your collection. Quick note: We’ve listed the arcade version and not the NES conversion since that only features three of the original four stages, and loses the opening cutscene in which Donkey Kong stomps the girders into place. (Ricky D)
Excitebike_cover55. Excitebike
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo Entertainment System
November 30, 1984
Genre(s) Racing game
Few tracks, simple gameplay, and deep mechanics. The template for many modern independent, portable, and cell phone titles was established by early console and arcade gems like Excitebike, originally released for the Famicom and later ported to Nintendo’s VS. System arcade platform. It was also included as an unlockable in its sequel, Excitebike 64, which proved how well the old classic had aged and how badly the newcomer would eventually compare: after weeks struggling with the well-made but somewhat clunky 64-bit release, this reviewer tried the original and, having missed it during the Nintendo’s heyday, discovered something strikingly fresh, elegant, and challenging. There’s not much to Excitebike besides moving from left to right and negotiating obstacles. But, tucked into this basic scheme, are plenty of relevant variables: speed, inertia, angle of descent, timing jumps from ramps, leaning your bike for landings. Mastery is about dexterity and grace. The game’s lessons live on: to pose one example, the desperate running man in Canabalt, who sprinted into smartphones in 2009, likely took some notes on the importance of fluid movement from Excitebike. (Guido Pellegrini)
Metroid_boxart54. Metroid
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1 / Intelligent Systems
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo Entertainment System
August 6, 1986
Genre(s) Action-adventure

Among the all-time classic NES games that spawned hugely popular series, Metroid may only trail the likes of The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. Less linear than a normal platformer, Metroid brought true action-adventure exploration to players as they controlled Samus Aran, an early success story for female protagonists in video games. Though not as expansive as The Legend of Zelda, Metroid may be even more engaging of an experience than its popular cousin because of its well-defined atmosphere and tone. The planet Zebes looks and feels real, and despite the fact that later entries in the Metroid series benefitted from the inclusion of a map, there’s something spectacularly forlorn about playing the original Metroid—total isolation bearing down on the player. The series would eventually take Castlevania into its “Metroidvania” phase, showing that Metroid was as influential on the gaming world as it was necessary to owning for Nintendo fans. (Sean Colletti)
6163_front53. Pokemon Gold and Silver
Developer(s) Game Freak
Publisher(s) Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
Platform(s) Game Boy
NA October 15, 2000
Genre(s) Role-playing video game

In 1996, Pokémon first entered the scene and wowed early Japanese adopters.  More than two years later, Pokémon first arrived in the States in the form of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue.  The results were staggering, and the beginning of a multi-billion dollar franchise and legacy still as relevant today as it was at the turn of the century.  The sequels, Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, were left with the daunting task of matching the predecessor titles while building on the phenomenon that they had started. They did so with flying colors.  Maintaining the familiar battle/catch/train/evolve mechanics of the first entries, Pokémon Gold and Silver introduced mainstay mechanics such as held items, migratory Pokémon encounters, shiny Pokémon, breeding, a revolutionary day and night system, as well as introduced two new elements of Pokémon, Dark and Steel.  Paired with Pokémon designs that measured up against the first generation, and in full color no less, Pokémon Gold and Silver managed to maintain the legacy of RedGreenBlue, and Yellow, proving them truly deserving of their names. (Tim Maison)
250px-NewSuperMarioBrothers52. New Super Mario Bros.
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Group No. 4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo DS
NA May 15, 2006
Genre(s) Platforming

Nobody does a throwback quite like Nintendo and New Super Mario no exception. This game is packed with all of the lovely Mario-isms that properly filled any happy childhood but with a little more graphical panache. It also added two great new power-ups to the fold in the Mega Mushroom (which, appropriately enough, made Mario into a massive, screen-shaking, Goomba-crushing colossus), and the Mini Mushroom (which had the opposite effect of shrinking Mario into a pint-sized plumber). New Super Mario Bros. also gets bonus points for having one of the coolest Bowser encounters ever during the finale. All of the addictive platforming action that made the NES and SNES iterations so memorable returns in a game that reminds you that sometimes the best way to move forward is by going back. (Mike Worby)

MikeTysonPunchOut51. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D3
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) NES
NA October 1987
Genre(s) Sports, Fighting
The climb to the top is filled with insurmountable challenges. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! features the tiny boxer, Little Mac, who must face a variety of foes on his journey to the championship. Little Mac must use his wits to his advantage since he lacks the size and power of many of his enemies. Players are limited to left and right jabs, left and right body blows, and an uppercut. Many of the battles require Little Mac to counterattack his opponents. The many memorable foes include Don Flamenco’s flashy fight, with his trademark “Flamenco Punch”, and King Hippo who needs to remember to cover his mouth. Pattern reconition and colorful characters are the key to the legacy of Punch-Out!! Also, who can forget the training montages! (Max Covill)

250px-FFCCboxSpecial Mention: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
Developer(s) Square Product Development Division 2
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo GameCube
NA February 9, 2004
Genre(s) Action RPG

Something of a forgotten gem in the Final Fantasy series, Crystal Chronicles went heavily under-played during the time of its initial release. On a system that was often heavily starved for both RPGs and quality 3rd party titles, it seems strange that FF:CC was so widely disregarded back in 2004. Unforunately, both Nintendo and Square-Enix bear a heady portion of the blame for this. The decision to push the GBA connectivity, to the point of making the multiplayer options completely unplayable without it, left many fans feeling cold to the title, and rightfully so. Underneath all of that comtroversy, though, was a solid action-RPG with slick production values and a great soundtrack, and even if the game lost some of it’s fun factor by cutting out the highly emphasized multiplayer aspects, it was still well worth the journey by the time the credits rolled. (Mike Worby)

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