When one thinks of Nintendo, the mind tends to gravitate towards their A-list games. Titles that have either garnered a level of success and critical acclaim that puts them at the head of the pack. Mainline Super Mario games easily clear this bar. So do the mainline Zelda games. While it’s one of the newest franchises, the massive success of Splatoon would put it up on that pedestal as well. Where you and I draw the line may vary here and there, but I think we can generally agree on which Nintendo games are at the top and which ones aren’t on that same level.
It’s not necessarily because these games are worse. Maybe they just haven’t found their footing. In spite of being great since the start, it took Fire Emblem decades of time and like a dozen releases before finding a wider audience. Some franchises sell well enough to still get multiple sequels, such as WarioWare or BoxBoy. Others are meant to be niche products, such as Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball. Though Nintendo probably would like for all of their games to sell in the 10+ million range, I get the sense that they’re willing to make and publish B-tier games so long as they make enough of a profit to justify their creation.
In any case, not every game and franchise in Nintendo’s ecosystem is on the same stratosphere. But with a bit more love, maybe some of them could be. Here are a few of my picks for B-tier Nintendo games and franchises that deserve another shot.
Long before war got its “groove” back, Nintendo paved the way for turn-based strategy games with mainstream appeal with Advance Wars! You won’t need a time machine to relive the fight. Just watch the VOD as we play through the first few levels and have a great chat about the Nintendo Direct that hadn’t happened just yet at the time of recording, games that expanded our horizons, our favourite tactics games and more!
We got our Extra Life 2018 Medal!
Why I trade in and sell old games
How I fell in love with Advance Wars
My wife’s bougie Chess origin story
My Gameboy Advance SP NES Classic Edition
Playing Gameboy Advance during class
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From R.O.B. the Robot, to Wii Music, to ARMS, Nintendo is no stranger to all things weird. Back in 2003, their most unusual contribution to gaming was WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! In a time when mini games were still hot, Wario and his new friends starred in a Gameboy Advance game would push the genre to ridiculously short lengths.
Just beat Advance Wars again. This time on the Wii U Virtual Console. Holy cow that game is good. Even after all of these years, it still holds up as a brilliant turn-based strategy game. Hopefully its inclusion on the Wii U means that more people will get to continue to enjoy this underrated Nintendo classic!
For more on why Advance Wars is so great, check out this piece I wrote from a while back!
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first appeared on the Gameboy Advance. It was the first in the series released outside of Japan. Back when this came out in 2003, I was already a fan Nintendo’s turn-based strategy games thanks to Advance Wars
. However, I was not ready for how unique Fire Emblem
was compared to its sister strategy game, nor was I ready for how freaking awesome
it would be.
What separates the two besides the obvious thematic differences is that Fire Emblem is much more of a role-playing game. Instead of managing an army of disposable units, each of the characters in your party has a name and story arc. You equip them with weapons and other gear. Best (or worst) of all, if they die in the game, they die forever. The strategic joy from Advance Wars is certainly here, though it’s only amplified by how high the stakes are when you’re managing a team of characters you care about that could die if you screw up.
Intelligent Systems and Nintendo have improved on the formula over time, though this first international release is still a masterpiece that is as fun to play now as it was in 2003. For die-hard fans of the series like me, owning this new version on the Wii U Virtual Console gives me a way to play the game again on a modern platform. If you haven’t played any in the series yet, this is a relatively affordable entry-point, since the game is under $10 on the eShop. If you’re ever going to give the series an honest try, this is a great place to start!
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For those of us
suckers ambassadors that bought a Nintendo 3DS at launch price a few months back, I’ve got good news for you. Those 10 Gameboy Advance games that Nintendo promised its “ambassadors” are now available for download on the Nintendo 3DS eShop for free. If you don’t know what games you’re getting, click through for the full list!
To even the most diehard Nintendo fans, the name Fire Emblem means nothing to them outside of Marth, Roy and Ike, who all appeared in various versions of Super Smash Bros. They may not be household names like Mario or Link, but little do they know that those three guys come from one of Nintendo’s oldest and longest-running franchises, which dates back to 1990. Most people also don’t know that the Fire Emblem series of games are awesome. I don’t think I could do my love for this franchise justice in a blog post, but I’m going to try anyway.
A lot of people tend to gloss over the fact that Nintendo does more than just Mario, Zelda and Metroid. If you look far enough into their catalogue, you’ll find a number of different games and franchises that span almost every genre. Some of these games maintain cult followings and steady sales, such as Fire Emblem and Kirby, while others fall by the wayside with only a few people caring that it likely won’t come back (unfortunately, I’m looking at you, Elite Beat Agents).
Though Advance Wars made its North American debut in the early 2000s, the series originated in the late 80s in Japan. Why did it take so long to make it to North America? I don’t know. But I can tell you that when it did, it blew my mind.