This Sunday, four Nintendo Enthusiast writers will host a panel in Toronto at EGLX 2018. The three-day event runs Oct. 26-28, and you can find tickets for the expo here. Our panel will focus on figuring out which games make up the 10 best exclusives ever released on a Nintendo platform. It will be a mighty challenge. After an hour of fighting, however, we are confident we will emerge with a respectable, yet controversial, list.
In preparation, each panelist is publishing a list of their own top 10 best Nintendo games. These games will provide a roadmap as we craft our website’s definitive list. Following our panel on Sunday, we will publish the list on Nintendo Enthusiast for all our readers to see. Please note, we are allowing exclusives in our top-10 list. That means that some fantastic games, including one of the best Wii U games, Bayonetta 2, are eligible for this list.
10. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess is what I consider one of the most underrated Legend of Zelda titles. I’ll admit, the first couple hours can be a drag. However, once the pace picks up, you set out on one of the most epic adventures to ever happen in Hyrule. Twilight Princess finally gave gamers what they’d been longing for with a more mature, story-focused take on the series. Not only that but in my opinion, Twilight Princess has the best temple design in the series history.
9. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
While I did miss the Subspace Emissary single-player mode that was introduced in Super Smash Bros. Brawl., Smash Bros. for Wii U was still a huge step up mechanically. It brought back faster gameplay, incredibly unlikely characters, and boatloads of fan-service-y content. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is shaping up to be the ‘ultimate’ Smash experience. Until it launches in December, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the best iteration of the series.
8. Super Mario 64 DS
Super Mario 64 changed gaming as we know it when it launched on Nintendo 64 in 1996. This ambitious title showed just how brilliant 3D games could be. The game would later be ported to Nintendo DS with tons of extra content and updated graphics. In some ways, it’s inferior to the N64 version due to the lack of a joystick and some graphical changes. However, pop this bad boy in a 3DS and it plays fantastically with the 3DS slider joy-stick.
7. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf brought back everything we loved about the previous games in the series and simultaneously flipped it on its head. For the first time, you’re the mayor of your town. This brings on a bunch of new features and jobs to do. However, the highlight of New Leaf is the SpotPass feature that lets you visit real-life passerby’s towns. This unique function allows you to buy items from their towns as well. I’m hoping a similar feature is in Animal Crossing for Nintendo Switch.
6. Bayonetta 2
What may come as a surprise is that I didn’t fully delve into Bayonetta 2 until it launched on Nintendo Switch earlier this year. I had stupidly written off the game after playing the demo on Wii U. I didn’t know what I was missing! The best word to describe Bayonetta 2 is “insanity”. With super fast gameplay, stylish graphics, and over-the-top characters, set-pieces, and plot. This extremely sexualized title is everything most Nintendo first-party games aren’t, which is why I’m stoked Nintendo is backing this franchise so heavily.
5. Super Mario Odyssey
Prepare for a bold statement, Super Mario Odyssey is the best game available on Nintendo Switch. It isn’t just a masterclass of level and sound design, it’s a celebration of the Super Mario franchise. With the return of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine features like a fully-controllable third-person camera, a health bar, and non-linear open worlds to explore, it’s the culmination of everything we love about Mario in one package.
4. Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver
After loving Pokémon Red for GameBoy, Pokemon Gold blew my mind because of how vast the world felt in comparison to its predecessor. For the first and only time, you were tasked with becoming the ultimate Pokémon trainer in two regions. I’ll never forget when I thought I had completed the game after completing the Johto region. Little did I know some familiar faces were waiting for me in the Kanto region. Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver were very well done remakes built from the ground up with the Nintendo DS hardware. With beautiful visuals and extra features, I had to put the definitive version of Gold & Silver on this list.
3. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
I’ll never forget anxiously awaiting the latest Nintendo Power Magazine so I could see new screens of what would become The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Nintendo took bold chances with Wind Waker, bringing a cartoony, cell-shaded art style and a brand new way of traversal to the series for the first time. People were initially upset over the changes, but after jumping into the majestic open world of The Great Sea, all our worries washed away. Combat is fun, temples are smart, and most important of all, it’s a world you constantly want to be a part of.
2. Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy is a masterclass of level design and intuitive ideas that ultimately pay off in a magical way. With no gimmicky gameplay mechanics like Cappy from Odyssey or F.L.U.D.D from Sunshine, Mario Galaxy’s gameplay revolves around its gravity mechanics. Throw in a clever platforming elements, a wonderful soundtrack, and a lush presentation, and you get what is still the best Mario game ever created.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a huge turning point for the legendary franchise. Nintendo took the game in a bold new direction with 3D game design but it still offered an engrossing world and incredible puzzles you would have expected from a Zelda title. It’s still considered by many to be one of the best video games ever created. For me personally, I agree with that sentiment. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the reasons I got so invested in video games. I recently made a video dedicated to it, watch here.
Honorable Mention – Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. has aged like a fine wine. For a game that launched in 1985, it still plays and looks impressively in 2018. Super Mario Bros. is sort of like riding a bike. It’s a game I can always pick up and play and never forget where a single secret warp pipe. My oldest gaming memories involve this iconic game so I couldn’t go without putting it on this list.
So that’s my list, and I’m ready to tell Andrew how wrong he is at EGLX 2018 this Sunday. I hope to see you there! In the meantime, though, if any of my choices made you particularly hot and heavy, why not sound off in the comments?
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Brett Medlock is a senior editor and a lead on video production here at Enthusiast Gaming. He’s obsessed with action-adventure games, platinum trophies, and K-pop. To hear more about how lame he is, follow him on Twitter @brettnll