Old School to Modern Day: The Best Nintendo Games Ever

Many of us have fond memories of growing up with Nintendo. An early player in the world of video games, Nintendo has been the developer behind many of the video games that we’ve come to associate most strongly with our childhoods—such as Super Mario, the Legend of Zelda and other great works by the incomparable Shigeru Miyamoto. 

Over the years, Nintendo has released some of the most iconic games of all time. These games are more than just a way to kill a few hours idly—many of them can be seen as bona fide works of art for their stunning graphics, storytelling and depth of gameplay. Though any list of this sort is sure to leave out a few important titles, these are our top picks for the best games for Nintendo fans of all time.

Our Picks

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

This game follows the famous Kokiri hero Link as he is—once again—trying to save the land of Hyrule and its enigmatic princess, Zelda, from the clutches of the nefarious villain Ganondorf. In Ocarina of Time, Link discovers that it’s his destiny to free the Seven Sages in this classic battle against good and evil.

This one stands out as one of the most revolutionary in video game history out of every game in the series. Despite being released in 1998, its immersive gameplay has stood the test of time and made this one of the most outstanding titles that Nintendo has ever released—and possibly one of the greatest that it ever will.

<h3>Super Smash Bros Brawl</h3>

This follow-up to the original Nintendo 64 game and subsequent sequel Super Smash Bros: Melee for GameCube was released on the Wii and is possibly the best game in the series. Featuring the same “knock-em-down” battle gameplay that made the first two installations such a wild success, Brawl includes an expanded range of characters, abilities and arenas that provide hours’ worth of intense multiplayer gameplay.

In addition, this game features online multiplayer, which was not available in the previous two installments. As far as combat games go, it’s hard to find one that’s more fun than this.

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Super Mario 64

In terms of titles that forever changed the history of video games, Super Mario 64 ranks right near the top. With graphics that were unparalleled in their time—as well as previously unseen gameplay—Super Mario 64 provides a fun, light-hearted experience. Players hop their way through Peach’s castle and a variety of challenging levels as the jovial Italian plumber whose name has become legendary in the video game community.

Featuring plenty of bosses and challenging, interactive gameplay, this is undoubtedly not only one of the best Nintendo games ever created, but one of the greatest video games of all time.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Though The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess didn’t do much to revolutionize video games—or even the Zelda series for that matter—it still included the same classic characters and gameplay that makes the Zelda games perennially fantastic, with a few updates to give the game its unique style.

In this game, Link is again on a quest to save Hyrule from the villainous clutches of his nemesis Ganondorf while an otherworldly twilight is consuming the world. Accompanied by sidekick Midna, a mysterious pixie with unknown connections to the twilight world, players navigate the twilight world as a wolf version of Link while playing as the human version of the character in the regular world.

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Super Mario Bros. 3

Going way back, this game was one of the first of its kind to ever hit the world of arcade video games in 1988. In Super Mario Bros 3, King Koopa—who would later come to be known in the series as Bowser—has kidnapped Princess Toadstool, better known to fans of the series as Princess Peach. It’s the beginning of an oft-repeated plotline of the series that somehow manages never to get old.

In this game, Mario must hop and skip through various arenas to save the Seven Kingdoms of the Mushroom World, fighting King Koopa’s seven children as a boss at the end of each. This is one of the earliest examples of addictive gameplay, with fans sinking hours into it when it was first released. Simply put, they’d never seen anything like it before and it shifted the paradigm of the video game world.

Super Metroid

The third installment in this iconic series was released on GameBoy in the mid-90s. A classic side-scrolling adventure game, it features Metroid universe hero Samus Aran as she hunts for something known as a Metroid, which has been stolen by the villainous Ridley—the leader of a group of space pirates. Players must jump, crawl and fight their way through a series of engaging levels that make this one of the best games ever released on the GameBoy.

This game is also the first to reveal the gender of the series’ iconic main character—previously presumed male by fans, it is discovered at the end of this game that Samus Aran is, in fact, a female character. It may seem like a small detail, but in retrospect was a significant step forward in terms of female representation in the world of video games.


Although this list is by no means exhaustive, we’ve made an effort to include various games that we think represent Nintendo at its best. Nintendo has been around for a long time—since the 1990s. In that time, countless games have been released by the platform, and most of them have been exceptional. To list them all here would be impossible.

We hope this provides you with a nostalgic walk down memory lane. If you have any of these old games or systems handy, give them a try. You would be surprised how many of them have stood the test of time with exceptional style. As we said at the beginning of this article—a great game can be more than just a source of idle entertainment. It can truly be a work of art.