Nintendo‘s transition from a humble playing card creator to one of the biggest companies in gaming is a real rag to riches story. A continuous cascade of wonderful games has helped the Japanese giant to sell millions of consoles over the years while also helping to stave off constant competition from the likes of Sony and Sega.
While it’s certainly true that a lot of the foundation for the company’s current success was laid in its early years, Nintendo isn’t the sort to rest on its laurels. It continues to innovate and create, with new first-party titles raising the bar to new heights on a fairly regular basis.
10 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (92)
The Switch port of Mario Kart 8 was always going to surpass its Wii U counterpart, but many were surprised by just how much better Mario Kart 8 Deluxe ended up being. It’s one of the most exciting console racing games ever made and runs incredibly smoothly on the Switch hardware.
While series like Forza and Gran Turismo have always striven for realism, the Mario Kart experience is instead centered around good, clean fun; and that’s once again the case here. The tracks are great, the items are as infuriating as ever, and the introduction of a few non-Mario characters and karts really helps to freshen up the experience.
9 Xenoblade Chronicles (92)
Nintendo’s acquisition of Monolith Soft in 2007 has proven to be incredibly lucrative for the Japanese giant, and a big part of that is down to the success of the Xenoblade games. They’re a continuation of the studio’s cult-classic Xeno series, with several of the same team working on Xenoblade Chronicles.
The definitive edition for the Switch is undoubtedly the best way to experience the game and the sequel arguably offers a more refined package. Neither, however, had the same impact as the original release for the Wii. At the time, it was streets ahead of any of the other RPGs available for the system and remains one of the best games to have ever graced it.
8 Super Smash Bros. For Wii U (92)
The decision to release two different versions of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and the 3DS seemed a little strange at first. Like many of the choices made by Nintendo, however, it has since proven to be a stroke of genius. Between them, they have sold more than 15 million units; making it the best selling iteration of Smash at the time.
Despite reviewing significantly better than the 3DS version, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U didn’t sell anywhere near as well due to the Wii U’s smaller install base. Regardless though, its huge roster of characters, tight controls, and the addition of DLC fighters helped make the game a worthy successor to Brawl and paved the way for the release of Ultimate just a few years later.
7 Fire Emblem: Awakening (92)
The inclusion of Fire Emblem characters in some of the earlier Smash Bros. games was a little confusing to many western players. It’s not that the games weren’t popular, but the series’ first six entries were never released stateside. That all changed shortly after the release of Melee though, with a host of great Fire Emblem titles making their way west.
The pick of the bunch has to be Fire Emblem: Awakening, which released for the 3DS in 2013. At the time, it was one of the best looking titles on the system and was also one of its greatest tactical RPGs. Its deep story, huge cast, and DLC content make this one of the most fleshed-out Fire Emblem games ever made, one that provides hours upon hours of challenging gameplay.
6 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (93)
Nintendo really wasn’t kidding when it said that everyone would be there! With 74 fighters featuring in the base version of the game and a further nine added into the game through DLC, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is easily the biggest and most action-packed iteration of Smash ever made. Believe it or not, there’s still plenty more to come.
Not only does Ultimate feature the largest roster of any Smash game, but it also has more of just about everything. It’s hard to imagine exactly how Masahiro Sakurai could ever top the game, although that was also true of the post-Brawl era. Somehow, he has been able to deliver time and time again since then.
5 The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword (93)
Despite many Zelda fans seeing The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword as the weakest of the 3D games, its 93 Metascore still ranks it as one of the best adventure games ever made. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have a few problems here and there, but it does go to show just how spoiled the community had been by some of the series’ previous entries.
In many ways, the game could be seen as a big step forward for the franchise, thanks to its stunning visuals, great story, and delightful overworld. On the other hand, the unreliable motion controls, poorly implemented upgrade system, and infuriating companion prevent the game from taking its place alongside the likes of Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild.
4 Super Mario 3D World (93)
Whether or not the upcoming Switch port of Super Mario 3D World will be good enough to better the original’s 93 Metascore remains to be seen. If what has been seen so far is anything to go by, it should be just as enjoyable at the very least.
Serving as the sequel to 2011’s Super Mario 3D Land, the game celebrates everything that fans love most about the incandescent Italian. It’s vibrant, controls perfectly, and introduces the fantastically bizarre Lucky Bell power-up to the series. It might not be the most innovative of Mario’s 3D outings, but it’s easy to see that just as much passion went into its creation.
3 The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (94)
Although not the first time that Nintendo had entrusted an outside studio with the Zelda IP, it was a little surprising to many when the company allowed Grezzo to remake one of the series’ most beloved titles. Thankfully, the Japanese developer was more than up for the task.
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is remarkably faithful to the original game while also providing a slew of quality of life updates. It also looks and plays much better and the stereoscopic 3D effects also add to the experience. It might not have sold quite as well as the N64 original, but it has led to Grezzo being trusted to remake several other classic Zelda games.
2 Super Mario Odyssey (97)
That Mario has been able to remain relevant for more than 35 years is an incredibly impressive feat for a game about a plumber. It certainly helps that he is one of the most recognizable characters in the history of gaming, but make no mistake; a lot of hard work has gone into ensuring the series’ continued success.
Mario’s mainline 3D titles each have their own distinct feel to them and Super Mario Odyssey is no different in this regard. The addition of Cappy and the associated mechanics add yet another layer of depth to the series that really makes it feel like a brand new experience rather than just another Mario game. With each new mainline entry reinventing the series, it’s exciting to think of what we might see from the portly plumber next.
1 The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (97)
Even for a company with standards as high as Nintendo’s, The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is a true masterpiece of a video game. Its stunning visuals, sprawling open world, and innovative gameplay mechanics make this the best Zelda title since the N64 era and, arguably, the best one ever made.
It’s amazing that the series has been able to recycle what is ostensibly the same story over and over again without it ever feeling tired. This is perhaps a testament to the strength of the series’ core cast of characters. With a direct sequel looming somewhere on the horizon, it really is a great time to be a Zelda fan!