The Best Nintendo Games Of All Time

Highlights

  • Nintendo games push the boundaries of gaming, offering innovative gameplay styles, exploration, and genres that leave a mark on the industry as a whole.
  • Many of Nintendo’s best games are exclusive to the brand, becoming synonymous with its history and style.
  • The games mentioned, such as Pikmin 3 Deluxe, Pokemon Emerald, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, offer improved controls, customization options, and immersive experiences that keep players entertained for hours.

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Nintendo is one of the biggest names in the gaming industry, famous for its innovation across game consoles and individual titles. Nintendo games are a childhood staple for many people, but it’s not just the nostalgia that makes them great.

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Nintendo’s best games often pushed the limits of what gaming could do at the time, particularly when it came to gameplay styles, exploration, and genre. Whether it’s The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, or Metroid, Nintendo’s game series have left a mark on the medium as a whole. These are some of the best that the company has ever produced.

Many of these entries include titles that, while not developed by Nintendo themselves, are exclusive to the brand. They’re so ubiquitous with Nintendo’s history and style that it’d only be fair to give them the title of “Nintendo Game.”

10 Pikmin 3 Deluxe

Switch Pikmin 3 Deluxe Demon Cephalopod Attack

Pikmin 3, just like the rest of the Pikmin series, is a charming mixture of adorable and challenging, thanks to its titular Pikmin and real-time strategy mechanics. Pikmin 3 Deluxe greatly improves upon its predecessors when it comes to controls, adding quality-of-life improvements for a smoother experience.

While many people thought the original Pikmin 3 was too easy, the Deluxe version introduced Ultra-Spicy mode, allowing you to customize the gameplay to your preferred difficulty level. Deluxe also gives you the option to play the story mode with another person in local co-op, so you can share the joy of Pikmin with others.

9 Pokemon Emerald

Pokemon Emerald start screen with Rayquaza looming in the background.

Pokemon Emerald sees you journey through the Hoenn region after moving to Littleroot Town. The Hoenn region is full of unique town designs, like Fortree City, that make it a joy to explore, and the upbeat music throughout only elevates your adventure.

Generation 3 introduced various new mechanics, such as Double Battles and Abilities, which became staples in the rest of the series. Emerald takes the best parts of Ruby and Sapphire and reinvents their stories by including both villainous teams and the iconic legendary Pokemon Rayquaza. It also has some of the best post-game activities in the series – the Battle Frontier had seven areas where you could take on battles of different styles, giving you even more hours of gameplay.

8 Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Isabelle And The Other Villagers Mingling

Animal Crossing: New Leaf took the Animal Crossing formula and gave it a shiny new polish, with more customization options and control over your town. After stepping off the train to your new home, you’re mistakenly thought to be the town mayor by Isabelle, who quickly brings you up to speed with your mayoral duties.

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Seeing your town grow in real time is incredibly immersive, with different villagers moving in and out, and the main street developing the more you spend time there. There’s always something to keep you entertained, even if you’ve played the game every day for the last six months. Because of how personal the game is, everyone has their own unique experience with New Leaf, whether you spend your time completing the museum or befriending the villagers.

7 Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus Uprising 3DS Pit in the clouds

Kid Icarus: Uprising is brimming with charm, especially thanks to its humorous voice lines and Pit’s character in particular. It features two different types of gameplay: flying and shooting in the air, and attacking on the ground. It can be tricky to get to grips with at first, but there’s a lot of variety in what you can do, making it exciting to try different approaches.

It’s also possible to fuse weapons together, enabling you to customize your playstyle. Each level is intricately designed and fun to replay. It has an entertaining story, excellent music that soars as you fly through the level, and interesting characters inspired by Greek mythology.

6 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Over a dozen characters from Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is for everyone, competitive and casual players alike, whether you’re watching a tournament or having a match with friends. Super Smash Bros. made the fighting genre accessible to anyone and created a strong community behind it, with Ultimate refining the formula.

Something that kept Ultimate alive after its launch was the announcements of challengers, with lots of fan-favorite series seeing representation through their main characters. Each one has a unique moveset connected to their character, such as Ness using PK Fire. It has a massive roster, from classic Mario to Sephiroth and Sora. The series are referenced through the stages, too, with music and visuals that make the fights all the more fun.

5 Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Cover Art for Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition Bionis in the background of grassy landscape with Monado sword stuck into the ground

Xenoblade Chronicles is a huge RPG with vast, open environments and a strong narrative that keeps you engaged for the many hours you play. Its heartfelt moments are heightened by the talented voice cast, making it even more touching.

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You can also raise the affinity between the playable characters, which allows you to see how the individual relationships between the party grow, as well as improve their abilities in battle. The battle system is intricate, taking into account your position and how your attacks combo with the other characters. It’s a long journey to discover the secrets of the Monado and the Mechon, but it’s one of the best RPG experiences on a Nintendo system. Definitive Edition enhanced the graphics and added a new story, Future Connected.

4 Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 - Mario Flying With The Wing Cap Next To A Globe With Peach's Castle And Enemies On It

Super Mario 64 was revolutionary when it launched in 1996 and is still one of the strongest entries in the Super Mario series. It was Mario’s first outing in 3D, offering a freer platforming experience thanks to how you could control Mario. By traveling through paintings in Princess Peach’s Castle, you can complete courses to find Power Stars.

Whether you’re sliding down icy slopes or avoiding lava, each course is distinct from the next, with challenging platforming and impressive 3D environments for its era. Well-designed courses and areas all made for an easy transition to 3D for Mario, and cemented it as one of the most influential 3D games ever.

3 Super Metroid

Super Metroid - The Last Metroid is in capivity the galaxy is at peace - and samus portrait

Super Metroid has an opening that immediately captures your attention. Ridley takes the Metroid larva, leaving the scientists dead and Samus Aran with just one minute to escape the self-destructing colony. It creates a somewhat haunting atmosphere that’s built on throughout the game.

While the first Metroid laid the foundations for power-up-based exploration, Super Metroid honed the gameplay style, leading it to become part of the standards for future Metroidvania titles. It fostered a sense of achievement when you discovered a new power-up and figured out what it unlocked, which its expansive areas further encouraged. Its influence on the Metroidvania genre, and gaming as a whole, cannot be overlooked.

2 Earthbound

The four main characters of Earthbound walking along a dirt path.

Earthbound captures childhood whimsy through its young characters and mechanics, as you wield weapons like baseball bats and yo-yos, and equip items like caps and ribbons. It begins in Onett, a riff on Suburban America, but takes you on a worldwide adventure, with Scaraba being based on ancient Egypt and Summers taking inspiration from France.

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Earthbound is well-known for its creative dialogue, and it’s worth taking your time to speak to many of the witty NPCs throughout the game. It’s full of endearing details, such as Ness becoming homesick when he doesn’t call home in a while. One of the game’s main themes is courage in the face of adversity, leaving you with a feeling of hopefulness.

1 The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Link holding the Mask of Truth in front of the cast of Majora's Mask.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time set a precedent for 3D Zelda games, and Majora’s Mask easily took up the mantle as the next title. The Hero of Time’s next adventure takes place in Termina, where the moon threatens to fall because of the mischievous Skull Kid.

Entering Clock Town and hearing its theme song immediately draws you in, inviting you to explore and connect with the characters living there. The game has a strong melancholic undertone, particularly as you must reset every time you reach the third day, causing the characters to forget Link and what he’s done for them.

Majora’s Mask excels in every way a Zelda game should, with expertly crafted dungeons, like the Stone Tower Temple, intriguing characters like the bizarre Happy Mask Salesman, and an enjoyable gimmick in its various masks.

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