The 100 Greatest Nintendo Games, Pt. 6

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In celebration of 30 years since Nintendo released the NES here in North America, I 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 is part six.


SSBB_Cover50. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Developer(s) Ad hoc development team
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Wii
NA March 9, 2008
Genre(s) Fighting, action, platformer

This third installment in the Super Smash Bros. series of crossover fighting games, somehow made it farther down our list than the most recent addition which I called a masterpiece. I’m not entirely sure why, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter since both versions get a spot either way. Brawl is the first game in the series to expand past Nintendo characters by allowing players to control third-party icons such as Snake, the gritty soldier from Konami’s hugely popular Metal Gear series, and Sega’s longtime unofficial mascot Sonic the Hedgehog. Among the other new characters playable in the game are Meta Knight, the sword-wielding nemesis of Kirby; Pit, the angelic archer from Kid Icarus; Zero Suit Samus, and Wario, who surprised everyone with his incredibly deadly attacks. But Brawl’s biggest addition was its Wi-Fi Connection support which surprisingly functioned really well at the time. Add on the introduction of the level editor, the gorgeous full-motion cut-scenes, and the utterly astounding soundtrack (which will probably go down in history as one of the greatest), and you have yourself a game that is completely engrossing and wholly entertaining from beginning to end. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is one of the great multiplayer titles of the generation, and a game that will forever stand the test of time. (Ricky D)
img_58184_banjo-kazooie-n64-click-clock-wood-fall-theme-10-hour49. Banjo Kazooie
Developer(s) Rare
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo 64
Genre(s) Platforming, action-adventure

Banjo-Kazooie is the story of a bear and the bird he carries with him in his backpack, as he tries to save his sister from the evil witch Gruntilda, who wants to steal her beauty, by collecting musical notes and puzzle pieces. For a developer that dominated the medium in the 90’s, it speaks volumes when one says that Banjo-Kazooie is one of Rare’s best. Banjo Kazooie took the foundation laid down in Mario 64 and built on the idea by adding an interesting 2-in-1 character design. Here’s a game that not only boasts a split-personality protagonist but also an hysterical game-show finale and subsequent boss battle that force you to use every skill acquired across the game. The detailed graphics, immersive sound, and intricate level design helped win it two awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (Console Action Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Art/Graphics); but what makes the game stand out, is its self-awareness and utterly charming personality. (Ricky D)
Animal_Crossing_Coverart48. Animal Crossing 
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s)  Nintendo GameCube
NA September 15, 2002
Genre(s) Life simulation game / Role-playing game
Who would’ve thought that one of Nintendo’s most fun and addictive games would basically just be a re-working of The Sims with a little Harvest Moon thrown in for good measure? Originality arguments aside though, Animal Crossing is truly a blast to play for a few different reasons. First off is that it’s just such an innocent and lovable game to begin with. You basically just move into a cutesy animal village and live the good life–what’s not to like? The next thing this game has going for it is the real-time scheduling. The fact that the time of day, time of year, and even the weather are reflected in-game makes the setting infinitely relatable, and a place that always feels like a second virtual home. As anyone who ducked out of a party to get home in time for a Tom Nook sale can attest, Animal Crossing is the kind of world that you never want to leave. Just stay away from that reset button,, or you might have an unwelcome visitor next time you pop in to town. (Mike Worby)
250px-Metroid_Fusion_box47. Metroid Fusion
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
NA November 17, 2002
Genre(s) Action-adventure

Following in the storied history of the irreverent classic, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion undoubtedly had some very major shoes to fill. Though few would argue that Fusion even approaches the classic status of its forebear, that is not to say that it is a weak game by any standard. Brimming with new ideas, Fusion introduced several new elements to the series both narratively and in gameplay terms. The SA-X made for a compelling villain, and the focus on a new type of alien to combat took the series in some unexpected new directions. On the other side of things, Samus was given the ability to absorb her parasitic foes, hang from ledges, and use ladder-like systems to move about ceilings and walls, all the while able to hang and shoot. A slightly hand-holdy campaign and a new graphics engine that sometimes appears at odds with itself aren’t enough to hold back what might be the most challenging title in the series. (Mike Worby)
250px-StarFox64_N64_Game_Box46. Star Fox 64
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo 64
NA July 1, 1997
Genre(s) Rail/scrolling shooter

The original Super Nintendo title was a showcase for what the 16-bit machine could do. With a little help from the famous Super FX chip, it displays then-stunning three-dimensional polygon graphics – and the on-rails shooter gameplay is fun, too! Work quickly began on a sequel, and by 1995 it was all but completed. Yet, before it could reach stores, Miyamoto-san pulled the plug. He believed the spacefaring franchise should forget the SNES and move into greener, more advanced, 64-bit pastures, and thus was Star Fox 64 born. It incorporates ideas that would have been introduced by Star Fox 2, like all-range mode; allows players to pilot a fighter spacecraft, a submarine, and a tank; includes force feedback through the Rumble Pak accessory, the first Nintendo 64 game to do so; and refines or expands features from Star Fox. Whereas the 1993 title has three separate routes to the end, each a different difficulty level, the 1997 follow-up has dozens of crisscrossing permutations. There are three standard interplanetary paths through the Lylat system, but players can jump between them by fulfilling certain tasks, and though individual playthroughs last about an hour or two, it takes longer than that to visit every planet, and even longer to complete every combination of levels. Star Fox 64 fulfills two kinds of cravings: for short, intense gaming experiences; and for longer sessions, spread out over weeks and months. (Guido Pellegrini)
250px-Links_Awakening_box45. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy
NA August 1993[2]
Genre(s) Action-adventure
After the successful release of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nintendo moved their sights into expanding the franchise to its popular Game Boy handheld console.  Originally an unsanctioned, after-hours project, the concept behind a Zelda-handheld game evolved from being a port for the SNES installment to a standalone Zelda game unlike any other; an adventure that excludes established elements such as Princess Zelda, the Triforce and Hyrule.   Despite its initial monochrome appearance (something that is later ‘fixed’ with the release of Link’s Awakening DX for Game Boy Color), the depth and detail in Link’s Awakening rivals other handheld adventure titles of its time.  With the introduction of a town full of ‘suspicious’ characters, side quests, a trading sequence and mini games,  the game helped shape future installments in the franchise; in fact, Nintendo producer  Eiji Aonuma once remarked that if it wasn’t for Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time would be ‘very different’. (Katie Wong)
250px-Turtles_in_Time_(SNES_cover)44. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
Developer(s) Konami
Publisher(s) Konami
Platform(s) SNES
NA August 1992
Genre(s) Side-scrolling beat ’em up

Based on the the original 1987 TNMT animated series, Turtles in Time is a side-scrolling beat’em up for the SNES. The game takes you, as the name implies, back through time as you battle Shredder’s foot army and get back the Statue of Liberty which Krang stole. The game produced so many fun moments such as surfing in a sewer battling reptiles, and facing our favorite classic Saturday morning catoon villains like Bebop and Rocksteady and ultimately facing Krang himself in the Technodrome. Another memorable aspect to the game would have to be the soundtrack. The music in the game was so upbeat it lent itself well to the action and it even had the “Pizza Power” song form the TMNT live concert! It could be just me that realized that fact or even remembered that there was a time where there was a live concert tour. Anyhow, the game got itself a remake called Turtles in Time Re-Shelled in 2009 for Xbox Live and PSN. Turtles in Time is probably the best game the series ever produced and a classic to anyone, certainly everyone who grew up as a kid in the 90’s. (Aaron Santos)

Metroid Prime II: Echoes
Developer(s) Retro Studios
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) GameCube
NA November 2004
Genre(s) Action-adventure

Another fine entry in the light world/dark world setting that Nintendo seems to love so much, Metroid Prime II: Echoes brings bounty hunter Samus Aran back for a second Gamecube outing as she explores the mysterious planet Aether – a world split between two dimensions thanks to a meteor strike unleashing that pesky dark energy Phazon. The gameplay is much like the first Prime: Samus must upgrade her various visors, beam weapons and abilities to unlock new rooms and areas on the map (hey, they don’t call the play-style Metroidvania for nothing). Travelling through Dark Aether damages Samus’s suit, forcing the player to stay within safe bubbles dotted around the environment as they explore their surroundings. Often routes will be impassable in one dimension but open in the other, leading to much switching between the two. It’s definitely a much tougher game than the first, although not just because of the dimension-hopping minefield. There’s a fair increase in boss fights for starters, as well as a head scratching scavenger hunt towards the end that may have players reaching for a guide on more than one occasion. But all the strengths of the first Prime are present and correct here too – it’s gorgeous to look at, with a great musical score and sublime gameplay. If Metroid Prime introduced the play-style and world of Samus Aran to a new generation, then Echoes surely built on it, perfecting nearly every part of the formula. A must buy. (Tariq Ashkanani)
Super_Mario_3D_World_box_art42. Super Mario 3D World
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Tokyo  / 1-UP Studio
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Wii U
NA November 22, 2013
Genre(s) Action, platform
Super Mario 3D World came out at a troublesome time for Nintendo. The Wii U hadn’t seen that many “must have” titles and really needed to deliver. Luckily for Nintendo, Super Mario 3D World was of incredibly high quality and is one of Wii U’s best games. The game uses typical side-scrolling platforming, but includes a little bit of the freedom of the 3D Mario entries such as Galaxy and Mario 64. Four players can join in on the action and each of the four has their own unique abilities. Of course, what is a new Mario title without some new suits for Mario and his friends to try? The Cat Suit gives the characters the ability to run faster and climb up walls, while Double Cherries make a clone of the character and provide some unique twists to the proceedings. Super Mario 3D World succeeds by not only being a terrific entry in the Mario series, but also showcasing a beautiful new Mario title for the Wii U. (Max Covill)
256px-Secret_of_Mana_Box41. Secret of Mana 
Developer(s)  Square
Publisher(s) Square
Platform(s) SNES
August 6, 1993
Genre(s) Action role-playing

As action-RPGs started to gain in popularity in the mid 90’s, many game companies began cashing in on this new trend. Square (now Square Enix) developed and produced possibly the 2nd best of the 16-bit era: Secret of Mana, the sequel to the 1991 game Seiken Densetsu (released in North America as Final Fantasy Adventure). Although the storyline isn’t quite as epic as Square’s Final Fantasy series of games, the result is a visually stunning, and highly original, action-packed role-playing title that’s become one of the most beloved RPGs ever created. Unlike its 16-bit contemporaries Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana is an active-time RPG — in other words, its battles take place in real time. This unique battle system is just one of the many reasons Mana is still recognized today as one of the best games ever made. It also offered another major breakthrough for the genre; Secret of Mana allowed for up to three players to control your party members if you had the proper setup (the game cartridge, the system, three controllers and the SNES Super Multitap accessory). Each character is distinctly individual and all three of the characters must work together in order for the party to succeed. The game received considerable acclaim for its bright colorful graphics, expansive plot, its Ring Command menu system and the incredible soundtrack by Hiroki Kikuta. Squaresoft proved yet again that it is indeed one of the world’s master RPG makers. Following the releases of Sword of Mana on GBA, plus spin-offs Children of Mana and Heroes of Mana on DS, be sure to go back to the series’ roots and find out why Secret of Mana is so wonderful and charming. (Ricky D)
F-Zero_GX_box_artwork (1)Special MentionF-Zero GX
Developer(s) Amusement Vision

Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) GameCube
NA August 25, 2003
Genre(s) Racing

Sega and Nintendo teamed up and redefined the futuristic racing genre with F-Zero GX, a game which features difficult, high-speed racing styles and brilliant track designs, while retaining the basic gameplay and control system from its Nintendo 64 predecessor. GX also introduces a story mode element, where the player assumes the role of F-Zero pilot Captain Falcon through nine chapters while completing various missions. The game offers 20 different tracks and over 30 unique pilots, as well as a custom craft editor where players can create their own vehicle. It marked Sega’s first collaboration with Nintendo after having dropped out of the hardware market – and it’s the pinnacle of the series. After all these years, other racing games are still playing catch-up. (Ricky D)

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