Nintendo has had an incredible ten years. Between 2010 to 2019 they transitioned between a number of consoles, each one birthing scores of fantastic and important titles on the gaming landscape. The 3DS was littered with hit after hit, even though the launch was a bit barren. Switch games pretty much speak for themselves in terms of quality and success. So many of its latest entries get the highest praise I’ve heard during the entire decade.
Nintendo also saw some rough patches, but the games were always top tier. Picking through the most interesting, impactful and fun of their releases from the past decade, we created out personal Top 10 Nintendo Games of the Decade list. We are sure we missed some names, and not everyone will agree with out choices. Don’t hesitate to let us know what you think in the comments!
10. Pokemon X and Y (2013)
There have been quite a few generations of Pokemon in the last ten years, so picking just one is a difficult task. We saw HeartGold and SoulSilver at the very beginning. One notable thing about those two is they are now extremely hard to track down, not to mention expensive. We also saw Black and White and their sequels. Those seem to be big fan favorites among the community, but personally I think X and Y take the prize. They were the first entries on the 3DS, and more importantly, the first 3D rendered games in the series. The old sprites had become fully animated models. It introduced some terrific new Pokemon such as Greninja, Pyroar, and Aegislash. They also brought back many fan favorites, including the Gen 1 starters.
It’s also worth mentioning that the cartoon for this particular set of games was probably the highest quality the show will ever get.
9. Tomodachi Life (2014)
Tomodachi Life was not your traditional video game. The closest thing you can really compare it to is Tamagotchi toys from the 90’s. Basically, you took care of your Mii’s on a virtual island. You interacted with them, watched them build relationships, and helped them solve problems. It really hit the spot for those of who are into that type of game.
Tomodachi Life may not be as impactful, or even as popular as other one this Top 10 Ninentdo games of the decade list. However, I think it was an incredibly fun experiment, which Nintendo used to build later games such as Miitomo on mobile devices. Here’s hoping we get a sequel eventually.
8. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2013)
For the first few years of its existence, Animal Crossing had remained mostly the same. It was adapted slightly from game to game, jumping from handheld and then back to console. Then in 2013 we received New Leaf and that is where the game finally found its true identity. Instead of being just another resident in town, you were the mayor. You got to customize your town more than ever while also doing all the collecting you loved in earlier entries. A new character, Isabelle, was introduced and quickly became the mascot of the series. It was the biggest and best by far.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is coming in 2020 and looks to take what New Leaf started and use it to become the most customizable Animal Crossing game to date.
7. Tetris 99 (2019)
Earlier this year we were introduced to the fast-paced, competitive gameplay of Tetris 99. This Nintendo Switch Online exclusive brought us the strange combination of the battle royale genre and the best puzzle game of all time. Initially, many observers wrote it off as a joke. Maybe fun to check out once or twice, but ultimately insignificant.
That misconception shattered almost instantly, as players were hooked on the innovating and unique gameplay. Nintendo saw the game’s potential at launch, and they continue to support Tetris 99 with updates and events. We have seen DLCs for offline modes, fun Nintendo-themed skins for the pieces, and most recently a brand new free team-based mode.
6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (2017)
No Best Nintendo Games of the Decade can be complete without this one. In 2014 the next Mario Kart game for the Wii U launched. This version of the popular racer brought new and old tracks, an interesting cast of characters, and anti-gravity gameplay that pushed the Mario Kart formula to its limits.
Later DLCs for the game really challenged what a kart racer starring Mario could be. They added Animal Crossing characters and a track, as well as a track for The Legend of Zelda complete with a playable Link. It was strange seeing Link, Isabelle, and Mario driving side by side, but it felt right.
5. Super Mario Maker (2015)
Mario Maker 2 came out earlier this year, and it is arguably the better version, although I cannot say that it has made quite as big of a splash as the original. Super Mario Maker was a massive internet phenomenon, specifically on YouTube. Many LetsPlayers built entire careers around playing it.
The other thing that the original gets better than the sequel, is how intuitive and uniting its built-in social aspects were. They used Miiverse integration to allow you to comment, share, and more. Nintendo was able to recreate some of this in Mario Maker 2 even after Miiverse shut down, and even added new features such as a like and dislike button. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t feel quite as connected as it used to be. The OG 2015 Mario Maker is definitely the more Super one for me.
4. Splatoon 2 (2017)
New Nintendo franchises are few and far between. Especially any that take off in popularity. Splatoon is a happy exception, although its recognition didn’t arrive instantly. When it was announced, many didn’t quite know what to think of it, or even what it was supposed to be. There was the awful commercial-turned-meme, featuring the unforgettable gem “You’re a kid now! You’re a squid now!”
However, once Splatoon released it was successful enough to get a sequel almost instantly after the Switch arrived. That’s when I think its popularity really skyrocketed, and for a good reason. Its bright, colorful world and creative battle mechanics were like nothing shooter players had seen before. Shooters are a dime a dozen, but this one was different, and I love it for it. It is absolutely one of the best Nintendo games of the decade.
3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)
Super Smash Bros. has been a phenomenon ever since its first entry on the N64. Seeing all those major Nintendo mascots (and Jigglypuff) together in one game was a bizarre yet engrossing experience. And to think Nintendo almost didn’t even bring it to the west!
Melee was probably the most popular game in the series, at least in the competitive scene, up until Ultimate was released. It did the unthinkable and brought together every previous fighter, while adding brand new, long asked-for characters. On top of that we got most previous stages, a ton of music, and what is essentially a new storymode.
2. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)
Now, I know what you are thinking. Super Mario Galaxy? What about Super Mario Odyssey!? Well I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. As much as I like Odyssey, I think Galaxy 2 was better. I know, I know, you are pulling out the pitchforks and torches but hear me out. Odyssey was great. It was full of fun characters, huge maps filled with stuff to find, and a really original power-up system. Here is the thing though: I know many people adore the sandbox formula. Having so many moons to find and tasks to complete sounds great on paper, but in practice it can get a little repetitive after a while.
On the flip side, Super Mario Galaxy 2‘s levels were completely thought out and methodical, bringing just the right amount of challenge and variety. It built on the phenomenal gravity mechanics of its predecessor while adding cool new things like Yoshi. The music, while not quite as good as the original Galaxy, was still just as beautiful and moving. Overall, it just felt like a tighter experience than Odyssey and that’s okay. Both are unforgettable games, even if I think one is better.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
I am sure most of you expected this, but perhaps some of my reasoning is different from that of other Zelda evangelists. That is because I didn’t grow up playing Zelda games, but also because Breath of the Wild has been special for everyone for different reasons. It stood apart from previous titles in the franchise by going bigger, bolder and more beautiful across the board.
I became immersed in this gorgeous world that felt alive and absolutely massive. I had never played anything quite like it before. And I know my impressions were echoed by countless other players. I’m not sure there will ever be an experience quite like it again, even with the sequel coming in a couple of years.