My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #20-16

20. Mario Party

Games: Mario Party (N64), Mario Party 2 (N64), Mario Party 3 (N64), Mario Party 4 (GCN), Mario Party 5 (GCN), Mario Party 6 (GCN), Mario Party Advance (GBA), Mario Party 7 (GCN), Mario Party 8 (Wii), Mario Party DS (DS), Mario Party 9 (Wii), Mario Party Island Tour (3DS)

Oh, the nostalgia. Words can’t adequately express the feelings that come with reminiscing about the days I spent playing the first two Mario Party games with my friends and siblings as a kid. It was like playing a themed board game where any outcome was possible, and whether that meant you got to come back from the brink of certain loss to win the day thanks to your secret ability to land on special spaces, or you got absolutely shafted by your sister’s coincidental run of extreme luck, the chaotic memories were burned into your brain. The minigame design of the early games was also tight enough to warrant playing them on their own, and while it’s true that the series suffered a drop in quality (not to mention originality) as it moved into the Gamecube era, the last couple of years have seen a couple of fresh ideas making their way back into proceedings. I’m cautiously optimistic about Mario Party’s Bowser-centric Wii U debut.

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19. Starfox

Games: Starfox (SNES), Lylatwars/Starfox 64 3D (N64/3DS), Starfox Adventures (GCN), Starfox Assault (GCN), Starfox Command (DS)

When it comes to the arcade space combat of the Starfox series, I find that a lot of my opinions aren’t shared by too many other Nintendo fans. Not only do I disagree with the seemingly common sentiment that Starfox Adventures was utter trash, but I actually really enjoyed its splitscreen-toting Gamecube sibling Starfox Assault, which gave me dozens of hours of entertainment whether I was on the ground or in the air. That said, my favourite game in the series is still probably the most common choice, Starfox 64. Though extremely short in average playthrough length, the game’s Star Wars-esque combat is good enough to convince many fans that every Starfox game somehow needs to be just like it. I’m particularly fond of the recent 3DS remastered version, which polishes up the visuals nicely and reinvents the multiplayer mode enough to entice me to put in several hours with friends. There’s more coming from this lovely series, and soon, on the Wii U. Bring it on.

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18. Mother

Games: Earthbound (SNES), Mother 3 (GBA)

The Mother series represents a sore spot for a vocal subsection of Nintendo fans, as it remains arguably their highest-profile franchise yet to receive anything even remotely resembling consistent attention in Western markets – Australia didn’t even get an official release in the series until Earthbound hit the Wii U eShop last year! Like many fans, I was introduced to the franchise through Ness’ appearance in the Super Smash Bros franchise, but it wasn’t until Super Smash Bros Brawl and the appearance of my most used character Lucas (R.I.P man – hopefully you’ll make it into the new Smash Bros via DLC) that I really took a personal interest in playing the games. What I discovered was a bizarre yet warmly familiar suburban RPG series with clever, unique gameplay mechanics and overarching story themes that have brought me to the brink of tears multiple times. Mother is powerful stuff and there isn’t much like it, so Nintendo, please, give us more!

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17. Super Mario (2D Games)

Games: Super Mario Bros (NES), Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (NES), Super Mario Bros 2 (NES/GBA), Super Mario Bros 3 (NES/GBA), Super Mario World (SNES), New Super Mario Bros (DS), New Super Mario Bros Wii (Wii), New Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS), New Super Mario Bros U/New Super Luigi U (Wii U)

I initially had the New Super Mario Bros series listed separately from the older Super Mario Bros series on this countdown, as the former is generally developed by very different teams from the ones that worked on the latter back in the day, but considering all the objective similarities that the two sub-series share, I was forced to combine them. That impacted the position of this entry on the countdown, because if you couldn’t tell by now, I’m not the biggest fan of the “New” games, though I did enjoy the DLC-turned-full-release game New Super Luigi U for its quick pace and chaotic design. All of that aside, if you’re reading this list then you’ve probably played at least one or two 2D Super Mario games and you’re well aware of their quality, so I don’t have to say much there. Although it’s worth mentioning that I’ve never stuck with a 2D Mario platformer released last century long enough to make it to the end. I was a late arrival to home console gaming for my age, starting with the N64, so that’s probably a factor. More on that soon enough.

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16. NES Remix

Games: NES Remix (Wii U), NES Remix 2 (Wii U)

This is technically the newest franchise on my list, having only debuted in downloadable form on the Wii U very late last year, but it has already rocketed up my personal favourites list and if it continues to expand and deliver, I have no doubt it will continue upwards. The two NES Remix games released so far are the only Wii U titles I would recommend without hesitation to absolutely any owner of the system, as they balance nostalgic, old-school Nintendo challenges with a very modern scoring and delivery system that will be familiar to anyone who has played a mobile game in the last half dozen years. Then they add devious, often hilarious twists to the equation, and they do it for a fraction of the price of a full retail Nintendo release. Though the games are great single player time-killers, playing them in a room full of people takes them to another level. There’s a reason I gave this series its own section in my Wii U starters guide. Play it.

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