It’s hard to talk about the world of video games without mentioning Nintendo. The Japanese company was founded in 1889 and has been at the forefront of game console innovation, established their original characters as icons, and most importantly — created some of the most legendary games. There are very few all-time lists without a Nintendo game on them. The best Nintendo games of all time have become synonymous with the gaming world for their orignality and ability to keep players hooked for decades.
Insider spoke with gaming icon Shigeru Miyamoto, who told them: “Ultimately I want a lot of people to enjoy the game, but the initial barometer and gauge is whether I enjoy it or not.” That barometer has worked out well for them – according to IGN, Nintendo is responsible creating five of the top 10 best-selling games of all time.
With sales like that, there’s a good chance that you’ve purchased a Nintendo video game in your lifetime, or at least heard of one of their many characters: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Link, Zelda, Samus… the list goes on! Nintendo’s gaming history started with the Color TV-Game, followed by the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U, and finally the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo systems also include the entire GameBoy handheld line.
Video games aren’t all pleasure, either. The mental stimulation gaming provides can help players develop better coordination, response times, and reflexes. A study conducted by neuropsychologists from Ruhr-Universitat in Bochum, Germany even found that gamers tend to be faster learners and outperformed non-gamers when presented with a learning task. “Our study shows that gamers are better in analyzing a situation quickly, to generate new knowledge and to categorize facts – especially in situations with high uncertainties,” says the study’s first author Sabrina Schenk in a press release. Another study found that playing video games can lead to higher IQ levels in children, vs other activities such as watching tv or spending time on social media.
So before you pick your next Nintendo game to play, take a seat and read about the best Nintendo games of all time. StudyFinds visited 10 expert websites to put together a consensus list of the top recommendations. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!
The List: Best Nintendo Games of All Time, According To Experts
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
Link’s first adventure on the Nintendo 64 is an unforgettable fully 3D experience. With a princess, a castles, dungeons, and time travel – this title has everything and is widely considered one of the best Nintendo games of all time. “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time deserves its spot for a wealth of reasons,” says IGN. It’s responsible for introducing a huge number of conventions we now take for granted in the much-beloved franchise, including target locking and context-sensitive buttons, as well as the first to render Link and (and Hyrule!) in glorious 3D. But more than that, it’s got a storyline that grips you tightly from its first moment and refuses to let go long after the last. Ocarina of Time raised the profile of Zelda as a franchise and gaming as an art form. For that, we’re all eternally in its debt.”
Game Rant says, “the highest-rated Nintendo game of all-time based on Metacritic scores is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It should come as no shock that a Zelda title took the top spot. So many titles from the franchise made this list, with Zelda remaining the most popular series in Nintendo history. This is the fifth game in the series and the first to move to 3D graphics for its gameplay. Link has to stop Ganondorf from obtaining a wish-granting relic.”
“The Nintendo 64 game, released in 1998, is merely one point away from a perfect score on Metacritic, which is the highest rating in the site’s history. Players take on the familiar role of Link and complete dungeons throughout his adventures in Hyrule. This title makes history by being the first to include 3D graphics and is a cult favorite among Zelda fans. Ocarina of Time lives up to its hype as one of the greatest video games ever made,” writes CBR.
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild
Link’s most recent adventure (until later this year) that released day-and-date with the Nintendo Switch is one of best video games of all time. It switched up the norm that people expected with the franchise and produced an engrossing adventure that had players making new discoveries every time they played. “The game offers one of the best open-world experiences in all of gaming, thanks to the enormous yet meticulously designed map that seems to have a quest, activity, or secret hiding around every corner.Breath of the Wild stands out for how much freedom it gives players, as once they leave the tutorial area, they’re free to head in absolutely any direction; even straight to Hyrule Castle to confront Ganon,” says Game Rant.
Polygon went deep with their analysis: “In the end, it’s not just that Breath of the Wild signals that Zelda has finally evolved and moved beyond the structure it’s leaned on for so long. It’s that the evolution in question has required Nintendo to finally treat its audience like intelligent people. That newfound respect has led to something big, and different, and exciting.”
Acccording to Hypable, “…you have the choice of having a grand adventure. Breath of the Wild is what you make of it. The four main dungeons are only a drop in the bucket when compared to the multitude of mini shrines and overworld puzzles scattered throughout the beautiful land of Hyrule.Weapons break, food gives you power-ups, and you can ride a bear. Need I say more? It may seem obvious to say this out loud, but Breath of the Wild is the one game you need to have on your Nintendo Switch.”
3. Metroid Prime
Nintendo’s space action-adventure game had a few entries on the Nintendo GameCube, but the best one according to experts is Metroid Prime. Shifting the game to a first-person view – made the world of Metroid come alive. The game was recently remastered and re-released on the Nintendo Switch. CBR says that, “fans can’t forget the acclaimed entry, Metroid Prime. Metroid Prime is the first entry to receive a first-person perspective and 3D computer graphics. The game was released on GameCube in 2002 and is the fourth main installment in the Metroid series. Players control the protagonist, Samus Aran, and have to take on opponents and solve puzzles along the way during her adventures. A remastered version of the game was released in 2009 as a Japan-exclusive for the Wii.”
As Boss Level Gamer puts it: “The best Nintendo games have a knack for taking popular franchises to places they’ve never been before. With Metroid Prime, the franchise transitions from a side-scrolling exploration shooter to a first-person adventure shooter. It’s such an impressive fit that it feels like Metroid was made for the first-person genre. Developer Retro Studios took the impossible task of developing Metroid Prime but was up to the task. It’s a beautiful experience that delivers an unforgettable adventure and plenty of engaging action.”
IGN talks about how people were originally unconvinced. “It was difficult to be anything but skeptical when it was announced that Metroid Prime would be played from a first-person perspective. Many assumed the worst: this was Nintendo’s answer to Halo. What it ended up being was an immersive adventure through a lonely alien planet – a fresh, innovative, and atmospheric adventure that successfully encapsulated the spirit of the 2D classics that came before it.”
4. Super Metroid
Before Metroid Prime — the third installment in the Metroid franchise also stars Nintendo’s space heroine, Samus Aran. Not only is it an amazing game – the title was so popular it became a genre in video games! Alongside Castlevania, people started calling games like these “Metroidvanias” – a term that is still used today.
“The breadth of Super Metroid is jaw-dropping. Considering all of the technological leaps Super Metroid took on the SNES, there’s nothing quite like it out of all of the best Nintendo games. Samus got off to a great start in the original Metroid for NES and Metroid II, but the next adventure she embarks on in Super Metroid makes the first two games look like child’s play. Super Metroid is the definitive Metroidvania (which yes, the genre wouldn’t exist without it’s predecessors, but still, it’s that revolutionary),” says Hypable.
Despite the game’s popularity and success, it can be overshadowed by Mario and Zelda at times. “She doesn’t always get credit for her ability to charm while kicking butt, and some have made the argument that she didn’t really fit in with the rest of the Nintendo cast. Nonetheless, the 16-bit exploration game received praise from critics and fans, and was an adventure from start to finish,” says One37pm.
“The level design of this game is incredible and revolutionary as it has 6 maps that loop back into each other to create a seamless gameplay experience,” says Screen Rant, “Overall, what makes this game better than its two predecessors is its smooth mechanics and the fact that it’s so entirely immersive. Though it might be a little short for most modern gamers, it is considered one of the most flawless games that Nintendo has ever released.”
5. Super Mario World
At last the icon himself makes an appearance on the list of Nintendo games! Released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 in and 1991 in the US, this is widely considered the best Mario game ever made. While Mario has made the jump to stunning 3D, it’s hard to knock the original. “Of the 2D Mario games, Nintendo achieved perfection with ‘Super Mario World’. Sure, one could dismiss it as ‘another Mario game’, but it’d be safe to assume that individual hasn’t played ‘World’. It’s a SNES gem that excels in level design as levels hide away all kinds of secrets for you to discover, whether it be as simple as going down a pipe or requiring use of the Cape power-up,” says WatchMojo.
Complex humorously writes: “When the world ends and aliens eventually come to our destroyed planet, they will seek out what we did for leisure in our spare time. Sure, they’ll find iPads, and bicycles, but they’ll also stumble upon Super Mario World, and they will be pleased. They will then seek out the greatest Mario game of them all and they will find this gem. It will be a good day for all alien-kind. We envy them.”
Sometimes, the nostalgia of childhood is powerful. A reviewer at The Top Tens says, “The game that defined my childhood. No game makes me happier to this day.”
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.
Agree with some games that I had, but would you please correct the Metriod for METROID.
Super Mario is a master piece, still play it with my kid (5yo), don’t know about Zelda’s games, but I would exchange at least one of them for Super Mario 64.
I’m kinda shocked Super Mario 3 is not on the list but that’s why we all have our own opinions.