The 2010’s were an interesting time for Nintendo as it was slowly coming off the success of the Nintendo Wii with its revolutionary gameplay and huge sales numbers. People were wondering what would be next as it really became a make or break time with the company who rose from the ashes like a phoenix.
Firstly, The Nintendo 3DS launched in the UK in March 2011 with a stereoscopic 3D display which didn’t require the use of 3D glasses. The handheld was backwards compatible and had new features including StreetPass, Virtual Console (eShop) and Miiverse (a social media). There weren’t too many launch titles with the biggest being Pilotwings Resort and Nintendogs + Cats. The 3DS would see an XL expansion model with a second analogue stick ‘C-stick’ and would go on to sell 65 million units.
The console hadn’t been the success Nintendo wanted with limited third-party support which would become a problem for years and the 3D effect didn’t catch on with a lot favouring the cheaper 2DS alternative that released in 2013. What made this Nintendo handheld different to any previous was the growing mobile phone market and futhermore, the expansion of mobile gaming which is now a lot of people’s source for gaming. Whilst the 3DS did have a decent longevity and saw games from all popular Nintendo series’ it was time to leave that chapter of Nintendo behind.
Nintendo Wii U
The Wii U was to be the next home console from Nintendo and had a lot to live up to not just because of how popular the Wii had been, but because of the impact the XBOX 360 and PS3 had made in terms of sales, online play, games and streaming services. The console launched in the UK November 2012 and featured a touchscreen controller and HD graphic support. The gamepad enabled the player to interact with certain games using both the pad and TV, or let players play games solely on the pad whilst others used TV for other purposes. The console was backwards compatible and supported all the Wii’s gadgets and featured the Virtual Console, a couple of streaming services and Miiverse.
However, the gamepad had a short battery life and Nintendo lacked third-party support and online playability which was the dominant market in games at the time. The console lacked a lot of key Nintendo titles and had a poor launch with the biggest game being New Super Mario Bros. U (Which was kid of a rehash of a game from the DS). The Wii U to date managed sales of 13.56 million which is a very low number when you compare it to the over 100 million the Wii managed. It wasn’t a bad little console either and I have fond memories playing great games on it, but it wasn’t what the world was wanting and Nintendo missed the boat.
The Nintendo Switch was the saving grace for Nintendo and has really re-invented gaming, but not without everyone worrying about Nintendo and gimmicks at the beginning. The console launched worldwide March 2017 with The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and has currently sold 39.7 million units. The Switch is both a home console with a docking station and is a handheld when removed.
The controller design is pretty standard for Nintendo and has seen big titles already (with a few gaps here and there). With the revival of interest in Pokémon and popular ports of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, the attention and popularity for Nintendo has grown massively. It’s a great console for local multi-player and full of interaction and has finally seen a lot of support from third-party and independent titles. The catalogue is huge! In September 2019 there was the release of the Nintendo Switch Lite which was a sole handheld version of the Switch and was a cheaper alternative. 2020 will see releases for Animal Crossing and hopefully Metroid.
Now for ten great games from Nintendo in the 2010’s!
Pokemon Soul Silver & Heart Gold (2010 DS)
Whilst they may have launched in Japan in 2009, Heart Gold & Soul Silver released over here in the UK in 2010 and the second generation of Pokémon games were already my favourite, but damn were these remakes enjoyable. Your first party Pokémon could follow you around everywhere you went and the games featured all the great additions from generation 3 and 4 including those sweet running shoes. The games are expansive as they include all of the gyms from the first game and the titles are very nostalgic for me. It would have been nice to expand the world even further, but beggars can’t be choosers and I’d love to see another remake in the future with Sword & Shield graphics.
There’s something that puts me at ease with the second generation and I love the Pokémon as you get both generations
Super Mario 3D World (2013 Wii U)
This is one of my favourite Super Mario Bros. Games ever. When I started playing it I couldn’t put it down and I basically completed it all besides that very last level (and I mean as far into the game as you could). Like New Super Mario Bros. On the Nintendo DS, this Mario game continued the style of collecting three coins (or green stars in this case) and was filled with secret levels and expanding universes. There were collectable stamps and multi-player that could be helpful and enraging. Please Nintendo bring this game to the Switch this year! (Did you know it has a 93/100 Metacritic score?)
The levels felt fresh and new and that was even after playing Super Mario Land and I loved all the new characters that had been introduced since Super Mario Galaxy. The cat costumes made the levels exciting and you spent so much time scouting through the levels to get the collectables (I mean they were necessary). The Bowser fights were great and even the mini boss battles were fun, although they were a little repetitive. There were plenty of new ways of getting through the game which included the cherries pick-up that multiplied your character and surfing on Plessie was great fun and sometimes hilariously infuriating.
The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013 3DS)
A Link Between Worlds took the magic of A Link To The Past and brought in the 3D potential of the 3DS and added colourful new designs and a new wall travelling ‘imitation art’ motion to get around the game. All the classic enemies and characters were back and it felt like a solid sequel to the SNES titan. Travelling through the Hyrule and Lorule worlds was a wonderful display of colour and if you love a simpler Zelda title then this is perfect for you.
I mean A Link Between Worlds still has its difficult dungeon designs and you will fall off and into things and get blown about to lower levels. Zelda games are all about commitment and dedication. It’s a solid Zelda game when it comes to puzzles, game design and audio and ticks all the boxes you have from its predecessors with the exciting new 3D models. There’s a great story trying to recapture the seven sages and get your hands on the Triforce… and you have your house inhabited by shopkeeper Ravio who lets you rent classic items to help you progress through different dungeons. Hilarious and intriguing characters as always.
Mario Kart 8 (2014 Wii U)/Deluxe (2017 Switch)
Definitely the most refined Mario Kart title to date and the colour and gameplay were really something else. After plowing hours into previous Mario Kart games (especially Wii) you really wondered what Nintendo had up their sleeves. Well Mario Kart 8 was a game I had to play as soon as I saw it and complete instantly. The game felt so fresh and felt a bit more difficult on the Switch. The new style of low gravity driving made for a more balanced driving experience. There was more customisation and even DLC with beaufiful Legend of Zelda, F-Zero and Animal Crossing maps. It makes me excited for the endless possibilities Nintendo could do with the next Mario Kart game – endless cups and characters and constant vehicle alterations. I think the next Mario Kart title might be even better.
In my opinion this is one of the most well-put-together Mario Kart games and it looks beautiful. It is full of variety and I think it has everything you need from a Mario Kart game. I got to play as Waluigi which I think is crucial for any Mario Kart game.
Super Smash Bros. (2014 Wii U)/Ultimate (2018 Switch)
Smash Bros on the Wii U and Switch has brought together everything we love about the game and furthermore on its release: every playable character ever and an amazing collection of battle maps. The more you update these games, the bigger the challenge and more playtime you need to conquer it all and this Smash has plenty. I’m not a very good Smash player, but it’s a game my friends and I can have a great time on and I love the variety it presents. The Fire Emblem characters are some of my most used and we can’t forget to mention the success of Amibo due to these games.
If you’re bored of Mario Kart and want a new multiplayer challenge then you have to pick up Smash. There’s so many controllers you can now use everyone has their own strengths on how to play and a game which features all of my favourite characters and dedicates mechanics is one to treasure. This isn’t a game you can just finish or just get good at and it takes time and effort which I think a game like this deserves.
Super Mario Odyssey (2017 Switch)
From the moment I first saw the trailer for this game I knew it was going to be great. Most 3D Mario games are great (though there are few in general) and Super Mario Odyssey’s beautiful and clean colour scheme opened my eyes to a world full of ideas. Nintendo always have their best people working on Mario games and Odyssey’s worlds of deserts, prehistoric grasslands, food lands, cities and beaches gave us a whole bunch of new characters and ways of progressing through Mario levels. It still had the traditional 3D Mario feel with lots of new skills and missions and has really used modern gaming and the Switch to its best abilities. You can spend plenty of hours hunting for moon crests and even after finishing the game there’s plenty more exploration to be had. I really hope we have another 3D Mario on the Switch.
It was a unique Mario story with lots of costume designs and skills that incorporated Cappy’s abilities which included morphing into multiple mobs (all who would sport a Mario moustache), jumping off of obstacles, or using Cappy to traverse through levels. It has become one of my all-time favourite Mario titles. Take a back seat Sunshine and Galaxy.
Splatoon (2015 Wii U)
Splatoon was really something new for Nintendo with it being their own take on the online shooter multi-player genre. In true colourful Nintendo fashion it was like nothing we’d really seen before.
It became an instant hit with its monthly ‘vs’ events and collectathon of weapons and clothes as well as its ranked battles. The unique playing style of the game had you firing paint guns in a turf war and to recharge you would have to soak up the paint which left you vulnerable. It was a team-based game and only showed slight connection difficulties, but never had team voice talk. I plugged plenty of hours and found the competitions to be the most thrilling, winning points for my team and ranking up to King level. Some games were really intense and had me on the edge of my seat trying to win and you know I think there was a time I was quite decent… for the first time ever in a multiplayer.
Animal Crossing New Leaf (2013 3DS)
Animal Crossing isn’t your average game. It isn’t largely story or plot driven, but it’s one of the most enjoyed and addictive games produced by Nintendo and they always tend to improve with each title. In New Leaf you are the new mayor of the town and get to explore the town and a fishing island, as well as interacting with the anthropomorphic characters, collect bugs, fossils and buy items. You could visit other camps, but not interact with other users which will be important in the new title released later this year.
There are so many great quotes from characters who each have a unique style and identity and if you need a game just to kick back and forget the world with then it has the be New Leaf. If you like collecting and adorable characters then this and its previous titles are the games for you.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn (2011 Wii)/Yoshi’s Woolly World (2015 Wii U)
One of my favourite art styles I have seen in years and I felt it was necessary to group both of these games together because I loved them both and feel I’d be saying similar things. Whoever came up with the idea of redesigning popular Nintendo characters as if they were made of yarn is a genius. Now Kirby’s Epic Yarn is certainly more experimental in its level design in comparison with the swinging and moving elements around, but Yoshi’s Wooly World certainly had you figuring out how to progress through the levels with such help as Poochie. Both titles still keep the characters, multi-player and collectathon elements both are renowned for, but the collecting is certainly more interesting when you can design rooms in Kirby.
In the Yoshi games you could redesign characters skins with the help of amiibo which was fresh to see and the colour in the games were so fresh and exciting. Of course both games kept their intensity as they progressed, but Kirby was certainly more of a pain. What I really want to say is that these games are fun and imaginative and I think they should be ported to the Switch for more people to try out.
Super Mario Maker (2015 Wii U)
Super Mario Maker was a breath of fresh air in the Super Mario Bros. Franchise with the crazy amount of creativity it had to offer. You could make your own Mario-based levels with designs from four popular titles and incorporated the specific gameplay styles from each game. Super Mario Maker showcased incredible game design from players and completely new challenges in comparison to your average Mario level. Some were unbeatable and some were magical… Some were weird like those motorised music levels.
You could use amiibo to change your character and saw levels being built to imitate other games, as well as recreating actual Mario levels block by block and creating a whole new Mario world. It had the cheesy Nintendo touch with applause, fanfare and lots of silly on-screen add-ons, but it was a nice time to leave the gameplay to yourself. Do I want to make a water level? Do I want to use underworlds? Do I want to come up against ten Bowsers at once? The possibilities were endless and its sequel has taken all that and then some. It was one of the best uses of the Wii U game pad and you had to beat your own level before uploading which was very important!
What have been some of your favourite Nintendo titles over the last ten years?