Top 10 Nintendo Games of 2017

2017 was a banner year for Nintendo. This was the first year in quite some time that Nintendo dominated discussion. The Switch turned Nintendo’s fortune around after the disastrous Wii U; and the 3DS, despite being in its twilight years, managed to score some killer software of its own and even kept pace with the record-breaking Switch in sales. People weren’t buying their console to check out whichever Mario or Zelda game managed to capture people’s faint interest; they were excited to be playing Nintendo software (plural) on Nintendo consoles. This was a huge shift in the narrative surrounding the company.

Naturally, their software played a big role in this reversal. Somehow, Nintendo managed to deliver not just one, but two genre-defining hits that captured both overwhelming critical acclaim and the public’s imagination in a way that few games do, along with a slew of other high quality titles to service those megahits and keep the buzz going. We thought it only natural to cap off last year with a look into some of the best games that came from Nintendo last year!

(As a side note, we chose to forgo Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Pokken Tournament DX, and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon from this list. While they are fantastic games that absolutely deserve acknowledgement, they are updated versions of games that released already. We felt that these games already got their due with their prior iterations.)

10. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

  • System: Switch
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft Milan
  • Release Dates: August 29th, 2017

Thanks to the efforts of a child inventor, the Rabbids have somehow found themselves in the Mushroom Kingdom! And, naturally, they immediately start wreaking havoc in ways only the Rabbids can. Mario teams up with his friends, along with some other Rabbids who decide to come along for the ride, to get the Rabbids under control. But it’s going to take more than mushrooms and flowers to stop them. Mario’s going to need some heavy artillery and learn to work with people on the battlefield this time!

Okay, so technically Mario + Rabbids is an Ubisoft effort through and through… but c’mon, it stars the mascot of Nintendo and the most recognizable video game character of all time! And it’s a great example of what can be done with Mario when interpreted by an outside company in the same way Squaresoft once did with Super Mario RPG. Rather than a platformer, we got a turn-based strategy game where the only jumping can be done with the help of a teammate in order to clear extra ground.

9. Fire Emblem Warriors

  • System: Switch, New 3DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Omega Force, Team Ninja
  • Release Dates: October 20th, 2017 (US)

Team up with your favorite Fire Emblem characters in this take on the Dynasty Warriors formula! You’ll be able to pick from a variety of different games, with Fire Emblem Warriors largely drawing its cast from the original game/Shadow Dragon, Awakening, and Fates. But don’t think it’s just Warriors with a Fire Emblem skin! Fire Emblem Warriors adds a layer of tactics to the combat goodness by way of Fire Emblem’s famous weapon triangle and pairing systems. Join up with other characters on the field for a stat boost and focus on fighting enemies that have a natural disadvantage to your weapon.

It’s a shame that, in one of Nintendo’s most exemplary years, the rock-solid yet unambitious Fire Emblem Warriors got lost in the mix. It’s incredibly polished; one of the smoothest running Warriors games since Hyrule Warriors. Fire Emblem Warriors is not terribly different from other Warriors games, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a solid entry into a proven franchise and is a perfect “pick up for an hour to blow off some steam from the work day” kind of game.

8. Snipperclips – Cut it Out, Together!

  • System: Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: SFB Games
  • Release Dates: March 3rd, 2017

You’ll play as two sentient pieces of papercraft in Snipperclips. You have the power to cut out pieces of your partner in order to either make shapes or make it easier to carry items to a position on the map. You’ll play together with a friend, clear levels, and just have fun screwing around with one another.

Snipperclips is a showcase for simplicity, showing how Nintendo is able to appeal to all gamers, not just people who grew up with the medium. It’s one of those rare games that appeals to an uncommonly targeted demographic in video games; couples that play together. The cute aesthetics and puzzle-solving mechanics make Snipperclips accessible to anyone who’s never picked up a controller before. The low stakes make it perfect for a slow afternoon when you both have the day off and can’t decide what to do.

7. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Dates: May 19th, 2017 (US)

War between the nations of Rigel and Zofia has terrorized the land of Valentia. It’s certainly caused problems in Alm’s life. He just wanted to live a peaceful life with his friends in Ram Village. That calm comes to an end once his friend Celica is forced to move away from her home for her own protection. Alm, frustrated over this loss, swears to Celica that they will meet again one day.

You didn’t think Fire Emblem Warriors was it for Fire Emblem this year, did you? In addition to the Warriors spin off, we also saw the release of a brand new mainline game to boot! Well, “brand new” in the loosest sense of the term, since it’s technically a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden from the Famicom. However, it’s so wildly different from that game, with massive gameplay enhancements and story revisions, which never saw a release outside of Japan, that for the rest of the world it is a completely brand new game.

6. Metroid: Samus Returns

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: MercuryStream, Nintendo EPD
  • Release Dates: September 15th, 2017

Samus flies to SR388, the homeworld of the titular monsters, after a request is sent from the Federation to avenge the loss of a squadron that was sent to investigate Metroids. Enough is enough. It’s time to wipe out Metroids once and for all. They’ve been running amok throughout the universe thanks to the Space Pirates getting their hands on them, and it’s time to just nip them at the bud. Samus will have to explore SR388 and hunt down the Metroids one by one.

People were sure Metroid was finished. The series’ director, Yoshio Sakamoto, has stated he was completely disinterested in returning to work on Metroid games. Retro Studios had lost a lot of their key talent from Metroid Prime and has seemed more concerned with reviving Donkey Kong as of late. But thankfully MercuryStream managed to convince Nintendo of revisiting the Gameboy’s Metroid 2 with a full-on remake in Metroid: Samus Returns. It’s a game that fans have been craving for years, and now it seems like Samus is back for good!

5. Splatoon 2

  • System: Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo EPD
  • Release Dates: July 21st, 2017

It’s been two years since the last Splatfest. Callie and Marie have slowly grown apart, partially due to them going their separate ways career-wise and partially thanks to Marie’s victory over Callie driving a wedge between them. Marie tries to not let her suspicions of Callie’s distancing herself get to her and continues on with her life. However, when she returns to Inkopolis after a visit to her parents’, she discovers that both Callie and the Great Zapfish have been lost. Now she’s back to enlisting recruits to stop yet another invasion from the Octarians.

While Splatoon 2 doesn’t do too much different from its predecessor, it’s one of the most comprehensive and enjoyable online games you’re going to find on the Switch. Salmon Run, Splatoon 2’s new horde mode, has proven to be immensely popular and a very welcome addition to the series, adding an immense amount of replay value and incentive to keep booting up Splatoon 2 every weekend to get your fill. That, while building up on the revolutionary ink-based mechanics of the original makes it worth the price of admission alone.

4. Arms

  • System: Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo EPD
  • Release Dates: June 16th, 2017

Everyone’s got stretchy arms.

Bam. That’s the story of Arms. And really, that’s all there needs to be. The real hook here is how you use those Arms for intense, bare-knuckle brawls against your friends. Combat couldn’t be any simpler; all you need to do is use the Joy-Con motion controls to throw a punch and curve your trajectory shifting the controller as your arm extends, or diehard traditionalists can opt for button inputs. Before each map, you can set up your build and choose between different gloves to give yourself different tactical advantages.

Nintendo has always had a different approach to game design. They always start with a gameplay mechanic and build a world and game around that. And it’s great that, as giant of a company as Nintendo is -they could just very easily coast by making Mario and Zelda their entire lives- they’re willing to invest in such high-concept, experimental titles like Arms and have them turn out to be such a blast. It’s somehow the perfect multiplayer Punch-Out revival we never knew we wanted.

3. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

  • System: Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Monolith Soft
  • Release Dates: December 1st, 2017

Titans: benevolent continent-sized creatures that inhabit the cloud world of Alrest. Humans have taken up residence on top of Titans, but unfortunately, as the Titans are living beings, they can die like anything else. This has led to wars over territory, as nations fight over livable lands. One young man named Rex wishes the fighting could be stopped, but genuinely believes it could if someone could climb up to the top of the World Tree and reach Elysium.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does exactly what fans wanted after the more gameplay-focused Xenoblade Chronicles X; brings the focus away from the gameplay and back on the story. However, it does this without forgetting that the Xenoblade franchise at its core was built on exploring rich, luscious worlds and hyper-technical but rewarding gameplay systems. It’s a phenomenal effort from Monolith Soft to nail it 3 games in a row, especially with Xenoblade 2 coming out only two years after the last game!

2. Super Mario Odyssey

  • System: Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo EPD
  • Release Dates: October 27th, 2017

Do we really need to tell you that Bowser captured Peach and Mario has to save her? Well, it’s a bit different this time, as now Bowser’s going to tie the knot with her once and for all, whether she wants to or not. And along the way, Bowser captured Tiara, a ghost who also can, coincidentally, transform into a Tiara. Her brother Cappy teams up with Mario to chase down Bowser on a new globe-hopping adventure!

Super Mario Odyssey is the first open world 3D Mario game since Super Mario Sunshine released over 15 years ago. And what a welcome return to form it is! Few games can boast such a colorful, fun game world, with almost no repeated art assets between worlds. This keeps the game from ever losing its sense of wonder, with new sights to behold and secrets to discover every time you travel somewhere new. And it controls perfectly, with Mario’s jumps feeling crisper than ever. It’s the grand Mario experience we’ve always wanted, and we hope Nintendo can keep up this magic with the next one!

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

  • System: Wii U, Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo EPD
  • Release Dates: March 3rd, 2017

Link wakes up in a cave, unsure of where he is. He hears the calling of a woman in his mind, but doesn’t know what to make of it. The scenery is lovely, but there doesn’t seem to be a trace of civilization left. In fact, it seems like he’s stranded on top of one lonely plateau with no way out. However, there is one lone woodsman with a paraglider that could let him escape, but he’s going to have to snag some treasure in some abandoned ruins first…

Breath of the Wild is hardly the first open world adventure game out there. However, few can claim the sheer scope and density of the world that Breath of the Wild holds. Every single area has something for you to find, whether it’s a hint towards a shrine, a mini-puzzle to net you a Korok Seed, or even something as simple as some mushroom you can use for cooking later. There are no dead ends in Breath of the Wild; no matter where you go, you are going to be constantly rewarded for exploration and adventuring. It’s one of those few games that somehow keeps getting better the more you play it, and that’s why it tops our list this year.

Final Thoughts

These are our choices for what we thought were Nintendo’s best of the best. However, that’s not all they worked on! They had tons of other releases in 2017. If we missed your favorite game from them this year, please let us know in the comments below!

Mario-Rabbids-Kingdom-Battle-Wallpaper-700x326 Top 10 Nintendo Games of 2017


Author: Matt Knodle

I come from Indiana, where I grew up near a video rental shop that proudly stated “The widest selection of anime in the state”, setting me on a course to enjoy as much anime as possible. I’ve devoted myself to over-analyzing various sports anime and video games probably more than they were ever intended. I currently co-host a weekly sports anime fan podcast called KoshienCast with my good friend, Matt.

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