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200 Best Nintendo Games (Part 5) Get N or Get Out

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The success of Nintendo’s handhelds would inspire the latest generation of portable gaming, the Nintendo DS. Marketed as an experimental “third pillar” of Nintendo’s console lineup, supposedly to compliment the Game Boy Advance and the Gamecube, its success would would eventually establish it as the successor of the Game Boy series. Dual-screen gaming was a unique idea, especially with the bottom screen featuring a touchscreen, which reinvented the whole handheld market, a success that has continued today with the 3DS. The Nintendo DS would again cement Nintendo as the handheld leader.

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Greatest Nintendo Games

Part Five: 2000 – 2005

121) Metroid Fusion
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Yoshio Sakamoto
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: NA: November 18, 2002
Genre(s) Action-adventure

It had been nearly eight years since the last side-scrolling Metroid game, Super Metroid, had been released on the SNES, and expectations were high for the release of not one, but two new Metroid games in one year. The first, Metroid Prime, became one of the greatest games of all time, a masterpiece and a testament to the excellence of the medium. The other, Metroid Fusion, had something of a different reaction. Initially loved by critics, it has become something of a black sheep within the series, derived by some for its linear pace and unoriginal setting. Far from that, Metroid Fusion is an excellent testament to how excellent atmosphere can create an engaging gameplay experience. Ratcheting up the tension is the SA-X, Fusion’s primary antagonist and Samus’ doppelganger, who is easily one of the series’ most threatening villains. Metroid Fusion is an excellent Metroid game, and one that is still worth playing, even fifteen years after its initial release. (Izsak Barnette)

122) Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Developer(s) Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo
Publisher(s) Konami
Director(s) Junichi Murakami
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance, Mobile phone
Release: NA: May 6, 2003
Genre(s) Platforming, Action, Adventure

Following the similarly lauded but more divisive Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, Aria of Sorrow was the third and final Game Boy Advance entry for the long-running vampire-slaying franchise, all somehow released within a two-year timeframe. Aria of Sorrow tells the story of Soma Cruz, a high school exchange student in Japan who is transported to Dracula’s castle during a solar eclipse in 2035. From that starting point begins one of Castlevania’s most compelling narratives, full of twists and turns that would shake up series canon like a bat out of hell. As the first Castlevania to take place in the modern world, it stands out from the gothic classicism of past entries, despite its mostly traditional weaponry and castle interiors.

But outside of its startling story and setting, Aria of Sorrow doesn’t stray far from the masterful Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Indeed, Aria of Sorrow is arguably the purest incarnation of the Iga-vania formula on the Game Boy Advance. Outside of the innovative soul collection system, which enables Soma to absorb an enemy’s ability upon defeating it, Aria of Sorrow plays its castle exploring and monster slaying straight as an arrow, and arguably more refined than ever before.

Fortunately, the GBA trilogy went out on a high note, as Aria of Sorrow balances the difficulty and upgrades the audio quality of the first two entries while giving the series the shot in the arm it needed: an unexpected change of setting and unpredictable twists that freshened up the then-annual series. Occasionally dull backgrounds, an underused soul collection system, and short length notwithstanding, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow remains one of the definitive action-RPGs on GBA, and one of the best entries in its long-running franchise. That Konami decided to continue Aria of Sorrow‘s storyline in the series’ equally brilliant DS debut, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, speaks to the warm and deserved affection Aria of Sorrow earned on release and has retained to 2017, a time when longtime fans are crossing their fingers that Koji Igarashi’s upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night can similarly transplant classic gameplay in a new world. (Kyle Rentschler)

200 Best Nintendo Games

123) F-Zero GX
Developer(s) Amusement Vision
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: JP: July 25, 2003 / NA: August 25, 2003
Genre(s) Racing

Sega and Nintendo teamed up and redefined the futuristic racing genre with F-Zero GX, a game that features difficult, high-speed racing styles and brilliant track designs, while retaining the basic gameplay and control system from its Nintendo 64 predecessor. GX also introduces a story mode element where the player assumes the role of F-Zero pilot Captain Falcon through nine chapters while completing various missions. The game offers 20 different tracks and over 30 unique pilots, as well as a custom craft editor where players can create their own vehicle. It marked Sega’s first collaboration with Nintendo after having dropped out of the hardware market — and it’s the pinnacle of the series. After all these years, other racing games are still playing catch-up. (Ricky D)

124) Fire Emblem
Developer(s) Intelligent Systems
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: JP: April 25, 2003 / NA: November 3, 2003
Genre(s) Strategy

Fire Emblem for the Game Boy Advance was most of the Western world’s first exposure to the franchise after seeing Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Neither of those two were playable in this game, but that didn’t stop it from being a solid entry in the franchise, and one of the best places to start playing.

Fire Emblem‘s roster of 40+ soldiers all come form different backgrounds and walks of life. Each character feels unique. Their personalities come forth in the game’s myriad support conversations, which bring to light details and tidbits that would otherwise be unknown. It makes the loss of a unit feel like more than a slight mistake, and turns perfectionist players into reset-happy tacticians to save the lives of their units. Thirty different chapters, three different stories, and plenty of nostalgia helps the cast of Fire Emblem stand out as one the franchise’s most memorable.

The franchise has a come a long way since Fire Emblem, but it’s without a doubt a classic and a catalyst for how big the franchise grew outside of Japan. (Taylor Smith)

125) Mario Kart: Double Dash
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: JP: November 7, 2003 /NA: November 17, 2000
Genre(s) Kart racing

Since its inception on the SNES back in 1992, every Nintendo home console has had a Mario Kart, and Double Dash is definitely one of the cooler games in the series. On top of more than doubling the playable roster of characters, Double Dash is one of the few GameCube games to make use of the Broadband Adapter, which lets you hook up multiple consoles. The game’s gimmick and namesake come from being able to swap between two racers on one kart. With the adapter, you can have full 16-man races, a feature no other console Mario Kart title can do. The only true way to really experience Double Dash is with 7 friends, two consoles, and two TVs for an 8-man race.

There’s more to Double Dash than just its awesome LAN options, however. It’s the first game in the series to allow you to pick your racers and kart independently of each other, giving almost 200 different combinations of drivers and karts. The game also has a co-op race mode, something that hasn’t been done since. Co-op lets players swap between using items and driving, and also gives access to new moves, such as allowing the player riding in the backseat to steal items off of other players and increase the amount of initial boost you can get at the start of the race.

Double Dash is an oddly innovative and experimental title on the GameCube that helped redefine Mario Kart. Freedom of kart choice has been a staple ever since, and the massive local races you can have on the DS and 3DS games, as well as the online races on the Wii and Wii U entries, all call back to Double Dash and its use of a LAN connection. A personal favorite of mine and many others, Mario Kart: Double Dash is a “must-own” for the GameCube. (Taylor Smith)

126) Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Developer(s) AlphaDream
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: NA: November 17, 2003
Genre(s) Role-playing

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is the first in the Mario & Luigi RPG series, and some would argue the best thanks to the perfect mix of adventuring, platforming, and turn-based combat that places an emphasis on timing and elaborate attacks. It’s one of those games that stands the test of time with its beautiful 2D art, light-hearted dialogue, and fast-paced action. I’m not sure if this turn-based RPG needed a 2017 remake on the 3DS, but if anything, it may at least introduce a new generation of gamers to one of Nintendo’s most enjoyable games. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, this is a great place to start. You’re guaranteed to love the game’s whimsical tone, in-game jokes, and numerous comical references to the heritage of the Super Mario series. (Ricky D)

127) Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
Developer(s) The Game Designers Studio
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Series Final Fantasy
Platform(s) Nintendo GameCube
Release: JP: August 8, 2003 / NA: February 9, 2004
Genre(s) Action RPG

Something of a forgotten gem in the Final Fantasy series, Crystal Chronicles went heavily underplayed during the time of its initial release. On a system that was often heavily starved for both RPGs and quality third-party titles, it seems strange that FF:CC was so widely disregarded back in 2004. Unfortunately, both Nintendo and Square-Enix bear a heady portion of the blame for this. The decision to push the GBA connectivity to the point of making the multiplayer options completely unplayable without it left many fans feeling cold to the title, and rightfully so. However, underneath all of that controversy was a solid action-RPG with slick production values and a great soundtrack, and even if the game lost some of its fun factor by cutting out the highly emphasized multiplayer aspects, it was still well worth the journey by the time the credits rolled. (Mike Worby)

Metroid128) Metroid Zero Mission
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: NA: February 9, 2004
Genre(s) Action-adventure

The idea to remake Metroid was a truly brilliant one, and with its pedigree for bringing back retro gaming, the GBA was the perfect place for it. Made with the same engine as Metroid Fusion, the first thing you will notice about Zero Mission is how dramatically different it looks and plays in comparison to the original Metroid. The additional use of a map system and save locations were godsends, serving as much-needed add-ons that make Zero Mission far more playable than the endless trial and error experience of the original title. Though much of ZM is a deliberate retread of Metroid (and even Super Metroid to a certain extent), where it really shines is in expanding the Metroid mythology, particularly through an extended epilogue sequence in which Samus’s gunship is shot down by space pirates, and she must use a stealth-based strategy to survive outside of her iconic power suit. Though the experience of Metroid: Zero Mission is a short one, it lives on as a game with tons of secrets to find, and a lot of replayability. (Mike Worby)

129) Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Developer(s) Intelligent Systems
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: JP: July 22, 2004 / NA: October 11, 2004
Genre(s) Role-playing

No stickers, no cards, no things; it turns out that the key to making a beloved Nintendo role-playing game — and the best game in the Paper Mario franchise — is simply to stick to the genre basics of progression and deliver a whimsical storybook adventure in a visually stunning world. The Thousand Year Door does exactly that, giving fans of the N64 original wittier and often hilarious dialogue, distinct and engaging characters, and that ever-satisfying timing-based combat system that the Mario RPGs are known for.

The plot, unfolding around the mystery of a seaside town called Rogueport and the predictable disappearance of one Princess Peach, probably won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but the compelling narrative or no, charm has always been at the heart of the appeal of Paper Mario, and The Thousand-Year Door is loaded with it. From the seven party members that join the heroic plumber to lend a hand, like the sassy Goombella or the grieving Admiral Bobbery, to the diverse cast of Mushroom Kingdom favorites populating the land, the astounding amount of personality on display can’t help but pull the player into this pop-up world come to life. Thankfully the gameplay doesn’t pull them out of it, so full attention can be given to grinning over the reams of clever puns and marveling at the amazing attention to detail on display. A couple of sequels later, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door still stands as the benchmark for the franchise, and one of the best GameCube games. (Patrick Murphy)

130) Pikmin 2
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Shigefumi Hino
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: JP: April 29, 2004 / NA: August 30, 2004
Genre(s) Puzzle, Real-time strategy

The original Pikmin is a charming little game that served as a grand tech demo for the GameCube, showing off a number of unique models it could handle, the system’s powerful graphical capabilities, and Nintendo’s ability to competently create a real-time strategy game on the console. That said, Pikmin 2 is the full realization of these ideas, removing the original game’s more frustrating elements, and delving more into what makes the series interesting.

While Pikmin 2 is still a hybrid RTS/puzzle game, there’s a huge emphasis on exploration. The 30-day time limit from the first game is gone, but the day-to-night timer is still there. You still have to manage your time properly, but there’s no rush or punishment for not optimizing how you go about collecting treasure across the foreign planet. The game rewards curious players, hiding many of secrets well out of the way, and making maps so big you can’t possibly cover them in just one day. Pikmin 2 also introduced dungeons — micro levels within levels that don’t consume your timer, which is pretty good since they can sometimes take hours to complete (an average Pikmin 2 day is about 13 minutes).

While making the game more accessible by removing the time limit is great, where Pikmin 2 really excels is in the variety of things it adds to give the game more strategy elements. Two new Pikmin types add layers to combat and puzzle solving. Large purple Pikmin can stun enemies they’re thrown at and lift the same amount as 10 Pikmin of any other color, and small white Pikmin can dig up various pieces of buried treasure and deal with enemies and traps that use poisonous gasses without harm. Pikmin 2‘s other big upgrade was adding a second captain in the form of Louie, allowing skilled multi-taskers to complete a variety of challenges and puzzles at the same time. It also led to an interesting VS mode, probably the game’s weakest element, but worth trying at least once.

Pikmin 2 is without a doubt the best games in the franchise. The amount of polish and in-series innovation it has makes it a must-own for any GameCube collector. Both it and the original are available on the Wii with “new control style” re-releases, with the first game having just been added to the Wii U’s line of digital download Wii titles. (Taylor Smith)

131) WarioWare Twisted!
Developer(s) Intelligent Systems
Nintendo SPD
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: JP: October 14, 2004 / NA: May 23, 2005
Genre(s) Action, Puzzle, Rhythm

When hearing the term “motion controls,” it’s easy to think of the mega-hit that was Nintendo’s Wii. Games like Wii Sports showed just how much fun could be had when motion controls were done right. However, Nintendo’s best movement-based game isn’t found on the Wii — it debuted in 2004 on the Game Boy Advance. Wario Ware: Twisted! combines the fast-paced, surreal microgames the series is known for with excellent gyroscopic controls to create one of the best handheld games ever made.

Just like in the previous entries, Wario Ware: Twisted! tasks players with clearing collections of microgames based around a character and their theme. This time around, the themes relate to different gameplay ideas rather than their subject matter. Dr. Crygor’s stage will require gamers to turn their console like a wheel, whereas other stages may only require slight tilting of the GBA. The motion controls work wonderfully, and are rarely ever frustrating (unless it’s being played in a moving vehicle, of course). Completing stages also awards players with hundreds of different in-game toys and collectibles that can be accessed from another menu. Some of these are fully-fledged games that have high score tracking. It’s hilarious to see some of them in action, and it adds a ton of replay value to an already fantastic experience. (Zack Rezak)

132) Mario Party 5
Developer(s) Hudson Soft
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: NA: November 10, 2003 / JP: November 28, 2003
Genre(s) Party

Nintendo probably has the gaming industry’s most uncanny ability to effortlessly place cutesy kid-friendly characters in games with rage-inducing, friend-ruining multiplayer. While the Mario Party series seems to be casual bait when judged by the cover, underneath the surface lies an unforgiving and remorseless machine designed to teach you and everyone you love that the house — or in this case Bowser — always wins.

The series’ fifth instalment was the second on the GameCube, and made several notable improvements over its predecessors. The most impactful change was the introduction of the capsule system to take over from the old items that were introduced back in Mario Party 2. Instead of buying items, certain spaces on the board allow players to get a free capsule that needs to be thrown up to ten spaces ahead on the board to trigger its effects once it’s landed on. This obviously means that no item is guaranteed for anyone, and when some of the effects are also determined by roulette wheels, you’re getting into random number inception territory. It’s fun. Honestly.

Mario Party 5 also introduces new game modes, new characters, full-3D game boards, a new single-player story, and boasts 70 new mini-games, making it one hell of a package. As far as party games go, on value at the very least, it could not be beaten at the time. That so many of the mini-games are wildly enjoyable further accentuates the series’ dominance over the party game genre.

Mario Party’s biggest draw is its wonderfully dichotomic requirement of both skill and luck to succeed. Keeping things simple enough to draw all types of players in and giving them all a chance at winning its undisputedly Nintendo’s forte, and Mario Party 5 is perhaps the clearest example in gaming of this formula at work. (Alex Aldridge)

133) Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Developer(s) Square Product Development Division 4
Publisher(s) Square
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: JP: February 14, 2003 / NA: September 8, 2003
Genre(s) Tactical role-playing

If you’re going to share names with one of the most widely revered role playing games of all time, then you’ve really got to deliver, or the backlash will likely be twice as acerbic as it ordinarily would. Fortunately, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance managed to live up to the lofty standards set by the earlier Final Fantasy Tactics, and stands as one of the best portable role playing games of all time.

The storyline here isn’t much to write home about, but when it comes to tactical role playing combat — particularly for a handheld game — the title really shines. The amount of freedom afforded the player in developing their characters as they see fit would be laudable for a game releasing today, let alone in 2003 and on a handheld console, and while the game does suffer from a couple of technical issues thanks to the limits of the hardware, Square managed to squeeze every drop of power out of the tiny portable to ensure the battles positively pop from the screen.

The star of the show here though is the job system, which shines as an example of how to give players the ability to progress as they choose while still adhering to the confines of an otherwise linear experience. Perhaps there are a couple of jobs that might seem a little redundant, and you’ll likely find yourself relying on tried and tested role playing staples, but the options available are impressive none the less. (John Cal McCormick)

134) WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: JP: March 21, 2003 / NA: May 26, 2003
Genre(s) Action, Rhythm

Before Wario Ware, mini-game collections had been around for years. Playing an assortment of bite-sized games within the confines of a larger one was a novel concept that seemed fun enough in its current state. However, what if the games were even smaller? Enter Microgames‘ insanely short games, nibbles that last only a few seconds and are meant to be played in quick succession. Leave it to Wario to turn an established genre on its head and create one of the most unique and stylistic games ever made. Wario Ware, Inc. forces players to rely on twitch reflexes from a random assortment of mini-challenges in order to be successful. What really makes the game so special is its outlandish style. Some of the microgames feel like strange fever dreams, especially since they come at the player so fast.

A whole new cast of quirky characters have also been introduced in this debut title, and each one is just as charming as the last. Each character has their own specific set of microgames that cater to a particular theme. Jimmy T’s stage focuses on sports, whereas 9 Volt’s has microgames related to classic Nintendo games. It’s a neat way to package the experience, and adds a sense of personality to the franchise that is unrivaled in the genre.(Zack Rezak)

135) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Trials and Tribulations
Developer(s) Capcom
Publisher(s) Capcom
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: January 23, 2004
Genre(s) Visual novel adventure

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Trials and Tribulations is the last game in the first Ace Attorney trilogy. Many fans consider this game the best entry in the franchise, and with plenty of good reason. Trials and Tribulations ties up a lot of events from previous games, and adds in backstory to otherwise unexplored main characters. All five of Trials and Tribulations’ cases work together, each building tiny details on top of each other for one of the longest, most exciting, and most engrossing final trials the franchise has ever had.
If the first Ace Attorney game helped popularize portable adventure games, then Trials and Tribulations shows what they look like at their peak. Text-adventures tend to lack in the gameplay department; they live and die by their scripts. Trials has excellent writing and localization, on-par with the creativity and hilarity of its two predecessors. Ace Attorney — Trials and Tribulations stands as one of the best Game Boy Advance and DS games with its imaginative characters, great soundtrack, and beautiful sprite-work. (Taylor Smith)

136) Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Developer(s) Retro Studios / Nintendo
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: November 15, 2004
Genre(s) Adventure, First-person shooter

While the Metroid Prime trilogy is rightly touted as being home to some of the finest games in the franchise, Echoes is often cited as the weakest of the three, and not without reason. The light and dark world mechanic had been used by Nintendo before, most notably in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. On top of the old hat concept, Echoes also deviates heavily from its progenitors by actually punishing exploration for large sections of the game, as any time spent in the dark reality damages Samus outside of safe zones.

Qualms aside, Echoes does still offer a lot to love. Its beam system was completely original, and it came up with more new gadgets and mechanics than either of its Prime siblings. It also introduced one of the franchise’s most popular antagonists in the form of Dark Samus. Though this was another riff on an idea that originated in the Zelda series, Dark Samus is still a great villain, and the encounters with her are tense and memorable. Though not Metroid’s finest moment, Echoes is an astute reminder that even a subpar Metroid game is generally heads and tails above everything else on the market. (Mike Worby)

137) Viewtiful Joe
Developer(s) Capcom Production Studio 4
Publisher(s) Capcom
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: JP: 26 June 2003 / NA: 7 October 2003
Genre(s) Action, Platforming, Beat ’em up

If there was ever a game with so much style and flair that all I could do is say to myself “THIS IS FABULOUS!,” well Viewtiful Joe is that game. Viewtiful Joe made its first appearance in North America on October 7th, 2003, released exclusively to the GameCube. The core gameplay consists of a traditionally 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up, but the unique aspect of this game is the Viewtiful FX power (VFX), which emulates the camera tricks seen in films. These powers come in handy for fighting off enemies, as well as solving various stage puzzles found in the game. The powers you have include the ability to slow time, which increases your ability to deal damage and dodge, as well as Mach speed, which gives Joe an after-image effect giving you the ability to take on multiple opponents on the screen, and Zoom-in causes the camera to get up close, giving you the ability to focus attacks and use a new set of power moves. The game was a bit of a hidden gem, selling less than a 100,000 in its first week of release in Japan, and only 275,000 worldwide. It fell short of what Capcom predicted, but due to its small budget, it still did relatively well commercially. All in all, this is a solid game that made the GameCube a very appealing console to own during the time period. (Aaron Santos)

138) Resident Evil 4
Developer(s) Capcom Production
Publisher(s) Capcom
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: January 11, 2005
Genre(s) Survival horror

Series creator Shinji Mikami reinvented the wheel with the fourth numbered entry in the Resident Evil franchise. Reinventing the series was a risky move, but fortunately Capcom nailed it with a new over-the-shoulder third-person aiming system that reinvigorated the genre. There is a reason why this game is cited as one of the primary inspirations for many extremely successful third-person shooters, such as Uncharted, Gears of War, and Dead Space. Resident Evil 4 did for the action-horror genre what Super Mario 64 did for 3D platformers. By combining horror with genuinely clever, exhilarating survival combat and an oppressive atmosphere, Capcom created a near-perfect game, and arguably one of the finest video games ever made — and its greatest achievement is how fresh and vital it remains after all these years! (Ricky D)

139) Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones
Developer(s) Intelligent Systems
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release:  JP: October 7, 2004 / NA: May 23, 2005
Genre(s) Strategy

As a follow-up to Fire Emblem‘s Western debut, Sacred Stones is a worthy, if imperfect sequel. It’s essentially more of the same premise — a nation at war, displaced warrior nobles, and a plucky band of soldiers — but he game’s stylized fantasy world is brought to life with gorgeous artistic direction and characters that are both fun and memorable.

Sacred Stones’ tactics gameplay is, like most Fire Emblem games, fairly arcade-y. You control your soldiers, unique units with varied classes and abilities, as you complete objectives on a grid-based map. There aren’t any resources to manage, save for gold, so you only have to focus on how you want to make use of your units in a given situation. Various RPG elements, like item loadouts, leveling up, and stats, create a distinct sense of progression. The strategy that Sacred Stones calls for isn’t the deepest, but this game truly shines with its entertaining cast and satisfying gameplay.

Sacred Stones suffers from a problem that would continue to plague the Fire Emblem series well into the future: grinding. The original Fire Emblem that released in the West was a tightly designed experience that called for careful team management. If you relied too much on a single character or composition, you were bound to run into trouble. The addition of “The Tower of Valni” completely negated that. If you encountered any opposition, you could merely head to the Tower and repeatedly go through the first floor, which had an enemy unit that would give high amounts of XP well into higher levels. Regardless of the first floor exploit, the fact that the Tower even exists means the developers accounted for the player to have a limitless source of growth, which raises questions about the overall level design.

For all of the game’s faults, Sacred Stones still possesses the heart and soul of a worthy entry in the Fire Emblem series. (Kyle Rogacion)

140) The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Developer(s) Capcom
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release: JP: November 4, 2004 / NA: January 10, 2005
Genre(s) Action-adventure

Most Zelda fans will stand by a single game as their “absolute best” when looking at everything the series has to offer. Minish Cap was the last conventional top-down Zelda until A Link Between Worlds revived the genre on the 3DS, and is a charming game that takes a unique spin on classic Zelda enemies. Your early game bosses aren’t giant spiders or bomb-eating dinosaurs, but instead just normal chu-blobs and octoroks. The difference is that you’re 2cm tall, so even the least threatening of basic baddies will be a powerful enemy in comparison.

Swapping between normal and Minish size has a very light/dark world feel to it. Minish Cap builds on the foundations of A Link to the Past and the Oracle games, and explores many different kinds of puzzles and side-quests that require you to change size and make use of items that are unique only to Minish Cap.

Minish Cap also has one of the most charming art styles in a Zelda title, and combines the cute and cartoony visuals of Wind Waker with 32-bit sprites. What’s left is an endearing cast of characters that have great expressive and idle animations. Often overlooked, but still just as big as other Zelda games, Minish Cap earns its place on the top Nintendo games list. (Taylor Smith)

141) Kirby’s Canvas Curse
Developer(s) HAL Laboratory
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo DS, Wii U
Release: JP: March 24, 2005 / NA: June 13, 2005
Genre(s) Platforming

The opening dialogue of Kirby’s Canvas Curse is very 80s/early 90s inspired. From the written story setting the scene for the player, to the nostalgic soundtrack blasting through, this isn’t your average Kirby game, and designed to utilize the full-extent of the new Nintendo DS, it became an entirely new concept for Kirby.

Canvas Curse implemented the dual-screen in a way that would become common for many DS titles. The touchscreen is the focal point of the game, with movement requiring the stylus’ guidance. The top screen becomes much like a previous options screen, showing information such as the map, lives, and stars collected.

In many ways, Canvas Curse isn’t a Kirby game, but a game with Kirby in it. Gone is Kirby’s usual nature to inhale enemies and absorb their abilities. This time, Kirby operates much more like Sonic the Hedgehog, rolling with the sway of the stylus, bashing enemies with a simple jump into them. Kirby’s Canvas Curse isn’t so much about Kirby but instead revealing the concept of the Nintendo DS, and with that it did a fantastic job, becoming enough of a success to declare itself as one of the most familiar games in the Kirby series. (James Baker)

142) Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Developer(s) Intelligent Systems / Nintendo SPD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) GameCube
Release: JP: April 20, 2005 / NA: October 17, 2005
Genre(s) Strategy

While Japan had been playing Fire Emblem games on home consoles since 1990, the West had only known of the series as a portable franchise. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was a big deal not only for being the series’ first worldwide console release, but also being the first game to use 3D models, fully animated cutscenes, and voice acting. It was a huge step forward for the franchise in terms of visuals, and set a high standard for later games to live up to.

Despite its overhaul in visuals, Path of Radiance plays it safe when it comes to gameplay. It sticks to its roots, combining several mechanics from across previous titles to help build a good experience. Combat is still dictated by a rock-paper-scissors mechanic, with a few outliers and oddballs thrown in the mix to keep players on their toes. Each member of Path of Radiance‘s playable cast has their own unique story that can be expanded upon through pre-battle support conversations. There are plenty of other things to do in the pre-battle menu as well, such as crafting custom weapons and helping units level up with bonus experience acquired during missions.

It’s no mystery why Path of Radiance commands such a high price given its scarcity, overall positive reception, and a great amount of polish. The game’s positive feedback is what led Intelligent Systems to make the next Fire Emblem title, Radiant Dawn, a direct sequel. (Taylor Smith)

PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE | PART SIX | PART SEVEN

Humans by birth. Gamers by choice. Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.

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