My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #30-26

30. F-Zero

Games: F-Zero (SNES), F-Zero X (N64), F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (GBA), F-Zero GX (GCN)

Here’s a controversial one to kick things off. I know there are plenty of vocal F-Zero fans who swear by the well-tuned arcade (read: insane) difficulty of the futuristic racing series, and said fans are positively foaming at the mouth for a new sequel. The last console entry in the franchise, F-Zero GX for the Gamecube, is now more than a decade old, so a new one is indeed long overdue. F-Zero’s ridiculous energy, intergalactic character roster and unique aesthetic do arguably set it apart from Nintendo’s higher-profile racing series, and Captain Falcon is an insanely popular character thanks to the Super Smash Bros series, so its a little baffling why it’s taking the Big N so long to get things going again. I’d buy a new F-Zero game, even though I would be terrible at it.

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29. Yoshi Series

Games: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (SNES/GBA), Yoshi’s Story (N64), Yoshi’s Universal Gravitation (GBA), Yoshi Touch & Go (DS), Yoshi’s Island DS (DS), Yoshi’s New Island (3DS)

This is a bit of a loose categorisation, and it doesn’t even include the Tetris-like Yoshi puzzle games from the early ’90s. This entry just collects every platformer wherein Yoshi is the protagonist. Having said this, there’s a lot to like about the world’s most famous dinosaur mascot, but I haven’t played too many of his games and that’s mostly because they don’t really grab me. The series is still on this list, of course, and that’s largely due to the strength of the original Yoshi’s Island, but the rainbow-hued reptile’s solo adventures have begun to blur together somewhat as of late. After the story book sweetness of Yoshi’s Story, everything in the series seemed obsessed with recapturing the magic of the SNES original. Yet the upcoming 2015 Wii U exclusive Yoshi’s Wooly World looks to change things up a bit, with an eye-popping textile aesthetic and two player co-op functionality, though I’ll probably hold off until I know more about it.

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28. Pullblox

Games: Pullblox (3DS), Fallblox (3DS), Pullblox World (Wii U)

Many of you reading this list may not have heard of the Pullblox series (known as the Pushmo seies in North America), but you’d best believe it’s a rapidly growing franchise with some quality design talent behind it. Created by Intelligent Systems, a Nintendo development house you are going to see a lot of on this countdown, the Pullblox games are visually charming downloadable puzzle titles with easy-to-learn mechanics that quickly turn into some of the most devious, sadistic brain-benders ever hidden within a cute and cuddly aesthetic. The games cast you as sumo-wrestling-thing Mallo and charge you with moving blocks around in spatially challenging ways, playing with perspective and constantly adding newer elements to ramp the difficulty up. The best thing about this young series, however, is the community of creative players who make and share levels based on 8-bit artwork of famous videogame characters. Check it out.

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27. Kid Icarus

Games: Kid Icarus (NES), Kid Icarus: Of Myths & Monsters (GB), Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

It’s very easy to point out the drastic differences between the first two side-scrolling Kid Icarus games and 2012’s rail shooter Uprising, but considering that if I separated the games the series wouldn’t qualify for this countdown, I’m grouping them together. Why does the series make the list? Because, despite my limited experience with those early games, Kid Icarus: Uprising is excellent. Still one of the most technically impressive titles on the 3DS, the game was made by Smash Bros head honcho Masahiro Sakurai and it shows. The amount of depth, innovation and online stability packed into that one little cartridge is staggering, which bodes well for the fast-approaching Super Smash Bros For 3DS. The game has also re-elevated Pit to Nintendo’s top tier of major characters. The only thing that let the game down was a horrendous (if unavoidable at the time) control scheme, so I would gladly jump aboard the hype train for a dual-stick Wii U sequel.

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26. Pokemon Rumble

Games: Pokemon Rumble (Wii), Pokemon Rumble Blast (3DS), Pokemon Rumble U (Wii U)

Of all of the countless franchises and sub-franchises Nintendo and their partners have churned out over the years with the word “Pokemon” in their names, only three of these make my Top 30, and each one thoroughly deserves to be there. Pokemon Rumble is the first, and if you’ve never played the original and still have access to a Wii, there are far worse things you can do with 25 bucks. I must have restarted a new playthrough on that game half a dozen times, each time with different co-op partners. The Diablo-lite style gameplay is super basic yet hopelessly addictive four player fun, and the unconventional Pokemon evolution/upgrade mechanics get their hooks in early. Though the 3DS sequel was sadly both rushed and overpriced, the Wii U game is a solid, if slightly restrictive, entry in the franchise. I hope we get to see more of this series in the future.

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