Matt’s Top Ten Nintendo Games
Today it was announced that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had passed away on July 11th, 2015 due to a bile duct complication. To say that myself and the rest of the gaming community were shocked and saddened by this would be an understatement. What Iwata-san has done for video games is immeasurable. Starting in the 80’s as a programmer for NES games such as Kirby and the almighty Earthbound. He worked his way up the ladder eventually being named Nintendo’s president in 2002 spearheading the development and launch of the revolutionary Nintendo Wii. Along with the visionary Shigeru Miyamoto and Reggie “My Body is Ready” Fils-Amie he put his face out there and became a very public face for the company. Focused on transparency, making personal connections with Nintendo fans, and delivering high quality and above all, fun experiences, us fans looked forward to each installment of Iwata Asks and the Nintendo Directs. In a gaming scene that was veering towards homogenization he took the wheel and steered the climate of Nintendo into one of innovation and genuine personality. Even just a few weeks ago he responding and commenting on the feedback he had gotten from Nintendo’s E3 showing.
From my first NES console at age at 7 to last night spreading ink all over the place in Spatoon on the Wii U, Nintendo has been and always will be a huge part of my life. From helping create and grow friendships over some rounds of Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros to easing my sadness with the bright and colorful Mushroom Kingdom and Dreamland to waxing philosophical and adventuring into the unknown with The Legend of Zelda series and Earthbound, Iwata-san has either directly or indirectly influenced some of the most joyous moments in my life. The photo below is a shot of a bit of my current Nintendo collection (unfortunately things get lost and broken when one moves around a lot) and each piece there is more than just a game or character. Each is a memory of a good time and good times to still be had.
When someone dies I feel it is better to celebrate their life than mourn our loss. So, in honor of Satoru Iwata I would like to make a Top Ten of my all time favorite Nintendo games. Many will be obvious and maybe a couple out of left field will pop up and a looooooooot have been left out (I could have easily made this a Top Twenty or Thirty list). All are among the best games I have ever played and have returned to countless times. To put it simply, each game is fun. Quoting Iwata-san “Video games are meant to be one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone.” And with that quote he sums up why I love Nintendo and look into the future with nothing but positive vibes for the house he helped build.
R.I.P. Satoru Iwata. Thank You!!!
#10: Super Mario Bros.
What is there to say about Super Mario Bros. that hasn’t already been said. Undoubtedly the most important, iconic, and revolutionary game ever, the portly plumber from New York stole the hearts of an entire world and delivered us countless fun and frustrating hours jumping, running, and crushing Goombas in a quest to save Princess Toadstool from the fire-breathing demon turtle King Koopa. Did you know, in a recent survey of grade-school age children, they recognized Mario more than Mickey Mouse. Talk about relevance.
If Mario Bros. has taught me anything it would be patience. I only had a limited amount of controllers, so freaking out and tossing it across the room was not in my best interest. If I took my time I could make it through the course with time to spare, and eventually be able to breeze through the game without taking my thumb off of the run button. It also showed that even an ordinary plumber can be a superhero giving the blue-collar working class their very own hero.
#9: Adventures of Lolo 2
The first puzzle games I’ve ever played still is one of the most difficult. Luckily its difficulty was offset by its charm, and the fact that my uncle would help me and we would spend hours together working out the spacial logic puzzles it tossed at us. It’s a shame that after Lolo’s third adventure (and one on the Gameboy as well) he would fade away. Here’s to hoping that Nintendo revives this little know classic one day.
#8 Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon
Of all the Nintendo characters there are, Mario’s brother Luigi is by far my favorite. With such a lovable and endearing scaredy-cat personality, it hard to imagine someone not liking that tall, skinny guy in green. Often forgotten in the shadow of his well-known brother, Luigi really got a chance to shine in Luigi’s Mansion for the Gamecube. However, its sequel on the 3DS takes an already great game and refines it to deliver one of the funniest and adorable bit of interactive entertainment I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
Tasked to search various haunted mansions, Luigi has to find the shards of the Dark Moon so he can stop the mischievous Boos from taking over the Mushroom Kingdom. While scared and terrified of ghosts, Luigi dives into his task with his head high and just charms my socks off. One of my favorite scenes of the game has Luigi doing a bit of plumbing and when he’s done he turns around, gives a quick jump and thumbs up and says ‘Go Green!’. Maybe it’s because it’s the first time I’ve seen the any of the Mario Bros. do some actual plumbing or how he still finds joy in his profession in such odd circumstances I can’t help but feel happy. Also, as you walk around the levels Luigi will occasionally hum along with the music…. So… Fucking… Adorable!!!!!
#7 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Being my favorite game series of all time, this won’t be the only LoZ entry on this list. While Skyward Sword was met with conflicting opinions due to it being built around motion controls, I am obviously in the camp that thoroughly enjoyed them. Being able to run around as Link and slice up baddies and break jars with my sword has been a dream of my since childhood, and this was the best thing to that next to putting on a green tunic and getting arrested for destroying a pottery shop.
I also loved the origin story as well as the art direction. Lanayru Desert is top among my favorite locations/dungeons in the series. Being able to take this orb that shows the past version of the area and move it around moving the time within the orbs reach from present to past is one of the neatest game mechanics I’ve ever played. And then there’s Groose. Groose is awesome.
The youngest game on this list and Nintendo’s newest franchise, Splatoon has been able to win over the hearts of gamers everywhere and reinvigorate a staling shooter genre in the couple short months it has been on the market. Basically it’s like a shooter in reverse. Instead of the aim of getting the most kills you need to spray ink all over a map and which ever team covers the most of the map win. So unlike other shooters, instead of being forced to always aim for kills, you can be non-violent and just run from a battle focusing on covering the map and still be a help to your team. Splat Zones (a take on the King of the Hill mode) and Tower Control (an even crazier take on King of the Hill mode) and tons of unique weapons and gear give the mulitplayer variety and longevity. Not to mention the fact Nintendo rolls out free content updates weekly. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much time I’ve sunk into this game the past couple months and will for the time to come.
Oh, you play as a kid who can turn into a squid who can turn into a kid who can turn into a squid who can turn into a kid who can turn into a squid who can turn into a kid….. In its insanity, it’s basically Nintendo’s take on Cthulhu 🙂
#5 Mario Kart 8
Fuck that goddamn blue shell!!! WTF you already hit me!! Why are you hitting me again. Oh COME ON!! I was in first and now I’m in last. Seriously!! Fuck you!! Godfuckindammit! Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuckfuckfuckfuck!!!! I fucking hate you all!!! Man do I love this game!
#4 Super Smash Bros. Melee
Picking out which version of SSB was one hell of a hard choice. The original N64 version is a revolutionary classic, Brawl had the uber-cool Subspace Emissary, and SSB for Wii U and 3DS is the most polish and balanced version available. And while the Wii U/3DS version is objectively the superior one (and one I have been playing the shit out of), the memories of downing beers and talking shit with my buddies during my 20s win it over.
By making Japanese Sumo Wrestling a fighting game filled with a wealth of Nintendo characters (and lots of 3rd party ones as well), SSB is unlike any fighting game ever. Easy to pick up, difficult to master, and outright impossible to put down, this series epitomizes the ethos of fun first that is drenched onto every Nintendo game. That is until I wipe the floor with you with Luigi 😉
You should call home to mother before you go beat up that hippie with your golf club.
Quirky, charming, waaay out there, and still relatable and familiar this RPG adventure to save the world still remains as one of the most unique and ahead-of-its-time games ever made. When released, it was unheard of having an RPG take place in a world without dragons, wizards, and all that D&D stuff. Yet with razor-sharp writing, beautiful art direction, and charming characters there is a reason why Earthbound has one of the strongest cult following of any game in history.
I remember loving this game because I could see myself in Ness’ shoes, going to school and having to call in occasionally when out with friends. I loved it even more when I played it when I was older because I could understand the social satire woven into something that was ‘for kids’. And now I love it because no matter my mood, there will be something that will make my smile when plug the game in for a bit of grinding. If you have never stepped foot into the town of Onett (if you get that joke, you are awesome and you will appreciate this game even more), I implore you to.
Not only one of Nintendo’s greatest achievements, but also one spearheaded by the great Satoru Iwata.
#2 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Super Mario Bros. revolutionized video games, A Link to the Past refined them. Removing obtuseness from puzzles yet still keeping them challenging, perfecting locomotion and swordplay, creating timeless graphic styles, and building complex narratives (for its time) that one of any age could follow and enjoy, ALttP is probably the game I have played and replayed the most times in my life.
ALttP created a world so immersive and realized it pretty much cemented my love for video games as something that would last a lifetime. Whether it pissing of Cucoos to see how long I could last their vengeance attack or scouring every last pixel on the map to find every single piece of heart, there is not a single moment where I play this game without an ear-to-ear grin on my face. And even when I’m not playing, I find myself humming its iconic music more than some of that metal music I love so much.
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Until recently, I would have told you that ALttP was my all time favorite game of forever. Then, with its remaster and re-release on the 3DS I got to spend some time with and re-familiarize myself with the oddest game in the Zelda franchise, Majora’s Mask. Maybe because it was so wildly different when it came out or the melancholy of its world, it just didn’t resonate that strongly with me initially even though I did enjoy it. Going back and experiencing it with more mature and knowledgeable eyes led me to realized that Majora’s Mask is more than an expertly crafted game.
With the moon speeding down and set to destroy the world in 72 hours, Link must bend time and use masks to stop the unwitting Skull Kid from annihilating the world. In order to finish your quest you need to collect different masks which grant Link different abilities or let him access different areas of the map. To acquire said masks you need to help people. From putting a kindhearted warrior’s soul to rest to stopping an alien invasion from abducting a milk farms cows, everything you must do is centered on the theme of saving the world by helping others or just simply listening to what they have to say during a time of distress. Basically, all the game is saying is you can save the world by being a good person and helping others. I can not think of an outlook or philosophy simpler or more noble than that.
Having some of the darkest yet most joyful moments in any of the Zelda games, often within the same quest (The Lover’s Quest in particular), it creates this perfect Yin-Yang contrast that even to this day, so few games dare explore. Also, with the ability to now slow down time in the 3DS version, it is possible to help almost every character before bringing the game to an end (sorry Granny, you still have to get mugged for the greater good).
“I wonder…. The face under the mask…. Is that your true face?”