It is hard to rank Nintendo’s franchises against each other, because most of them are in a league of their own. Mario Kart is a frantic racing game, Donkey Kong is a challenging platformer, Metroid created a genre of its own… the list goes on but you’ll be hard-pressed trying to name a Nintendo game that didn’t reinvent the wheel or build on a legacy.
Right now, my job is to describe to you the beauty of some of Nintendo’s grandest achievements. I’ll tell you now, I won’t be able to do that, because that’s predominately impossible. I can’t recap the last month of my life playing through Earthbound for the first time. I can’t describe the feeling of beating my first Zelda game. And I definitely can’t outline every fight the Shepherds came across in Fire Emblem: Awakening.
It would take nearly one million words to perfectly capture hours of an exciting adventure fulled with heartache, fear and joy, but here is my best attempt to relay to you my three favorite Nintendo games.
Earthbound is flawless. It is honestly as simple as that. Enemies are challenging, but the system is fair. The dialog is hilarious, but the story can get seriously grim. I am very critical when it comes to video games, but I don’t have a single complaint with this game. I do however, have a complaint with the rest of the world, because this work of greatness is not as mainstream as it should to be. I do however, have a complaint that a sequel isn’t in my damn hands yet.
It took me a full month to go from the beginning to end with this game, and damn was it worth it. You’d think a game that shipped with a strategy guide would be rage inducing and unfair, but you’re given everything you need, you just have to be smart about it. Earthbound provides you with task after task, but rewards you with a greater sense of charm and wonder after completing your struggle.
I talked to a dog who was possessed by a spirit of a video game designer, I fought a new age hippie, I gave a monkey bubble gum, I flew in a UFO, and somewhere along those lines, I saved the world. Earthbound is so abstractly amazing that nothing else compares to it. It’s a damn shame more people haven’t played this gem.
When I bought the Wii U, the first two games I got were Mario Kart 8 and Wind Waker HD. I’m one of the few gamers in the world who played Ocarina of Time and didn’t call it one of the greatest of all time, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore the gorgeously shaded Great Sea. Strictly based on graphics, Wind Waker became my favorite Zelda game, and as I went through the dungeons and explored the vast collection of islands, I finally understood the appeal of the franchise.
It’s so calming yet fun to just sit down and immerse myself into that world. Then another revelation hit me, that’s why I didn’t enjoy Ocarina of Time to the fullest. When I was playing Wind Waker, it was in the comfort of my room with minimal distractions. I played Ocarina on the 3DS as I was travelling on trains or playing in small bursts in-between classes. That’s not how I can enjoy this franchise. The triforce demands my attention, and I demand peace as I play these games.
So what do I do now? Buy Ocarina of Time (if I can find a damn copy), buy Majora’s Mask, and buy A Link Between Worlds for my 3DS and play those games not as handheld titles, but in the seclusion of my home with zero distractions.
But as of right now, Wind Waker is the only Zelda game I’ve beaten. Even though collecting the eight Triforce pieces took me nearly five hours, it was still fun, and the final showdown with Ganon is freaking phenomenal.
I’ll never truly be done with Fire Emblem. Besides Persona 4 Golden, Fire Emblem: Awakening is my favorite handheld game of all time. I bought a 3DS for it, and hardly play anything else on the device. I beat this game about two years ago, and still play it on a regular basis.
You want to talk strategy? Try any Fire Emblem game that exists because it is one of those games that knows how to challenge a person’s mind while also being fun, heartwarming and hilarious.
During my first playthrough of the game back in 2013, I thought I figured out how to win on a consistent basis. Then I made one small error that I didn’t even notice was an error until it was too late. I watched as an enemy spear critical hit Sully for 20 damage, killing her … my cavalier was gone. Permanent death in a virtual world may seem meaningless in some games because you can just fill the slot in with another character, but Fire Emblem characters have character. Sully had personality, she had goals and I was planning her wedding, and all of a sudden she was gone. I couldn’t imagine continuing without all of my characters.
So I reset the game, said goodbye to the twelve hours of progress, and started anew. No Shepard gets left behind.
On a contrast to how I like Zelda games, I love playing Fire Emblem on the go. Great characters, tons of strategy, endless amount of replay value … simply put, Fire Emblem is another flawless game, and is perhaps the best strategy RPG out there.
Those three games are just personal of my favorites, I still haven’t touched every Nintendo franchise yet. On my short list of games that I’m eager to play are Metroid Prime, Super Mario World, and Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze.
Nintendo’s ability to craft diverse, intelligent and charming products is hard to match, and there is a reason why their fan-base is so loyal. After years of pumping out quality game after quality game, who couldn’t admire this company?