Nintendo released several new games and gadgets in the 2010s. With 2020 looming just around the corner, the iMore gaming team decided to pull our heads together and discuss the best Nintendo games, accessories, and characters over the past 10 years.
This decade has seen some of Nintendo's worst flops as well as some of the most spectacular hits. As such, some of these decisions were easy while others took a lot of debate. Our awards cover products made from Nintendo as well as cross-platform games that were playable on Nintendo hardware. See what we finally decided upon for the best of Nintendo over the past 10 years.
Best Nintendo Exclusives
Nintendo exclusive games have a different feel from other gaming company exclusives. They can be quirky, innovative, playful, and for players of all ages. Here are the best games from the last decade that you can only play on a Nintendo device.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild provides an epic adventure that can span over a hundred hours. In Breath of the Wild, Nintendo crafted a world full of interactive systems, where players are still discovering new ways of progressing and unorthodox methods of fighting foes. From the first time you beat a Bokoblin and use its ax to chop down a tree, to the final epic showdown against the nightmarish Calamity Ganon, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the most compelling reasons to own a Nintendo Switch. -Samuel Tolbert
2. Super Mario Odyssey
The Super Mario series never ceases to amaze. While everything you know and love about Mario is in this latest game, Super Mario Odyssey takes the formula and enhances it. There is something for every player, from an accessible story to soul-crushingly difficult mini-missions. Mario Odyssey has fun new game mechanics with Mario's new side-kick, Cappy, and an expansive world that make this entry stand out. Plus, the replay value is fantastic. Long after the story mission is complete, you'll find yourself working your way through endgame material and tons of optional content, including Luigi's Balloon World mini-game. It combines 2D platforming with 3D action, and it utilizes all the fun Nintendo accessories like the Nintendo Labo and the amiibo. Super Mario Odyssey definitely earned this spot on the list. -Sara Gitkos
3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The long-running Fire Emblem series has seen its ups and downs, yet Fire Emblem: Three Houses managed to find the perfect balance of in-depth tactical options, roleplaying, and likable characters to draw in series fans and newcomers alike. Combining this with an epic story that can take multiple twists depending on a couple of pivotal choices and you have the perfect time sink, a warring world of factions players will get lost in on the Nintendo Switch. -Samuel Tolbert
4. Bayonetta 2
When Sega decided it wasn't going to publish the sequel to PlatinumGames' hit Bayonetta, Nintendo stepped in. The result was Bayonetta 2, a game that took everything players loved about the first game and joined them with smoother controls, gorgeous visuals, and incredible setpieces — as well as some neat twists that veterans of the first title won't see coming. The visual upgrade from the first title really can't be overstated, with stunning use of strong purple and blue tones. Skipping out on this Nintendo exclusive? In the words of stumbling fool Enzo, "Fuhgeddaboudit!" -Samuel Tolbert
5. Luigi's Mansion 3
Nearly two decades ago, Luigi went on his first solo adventure into a haunted building with his trusty Poltergust 9000 and spirit-freezing flashlight. This year, Luigi made his way into a luxurious haunted resort and back into our hearts. Traverse the adorably scary dark halls of this haunted hotel to help Luigi rescue his friends from being locked into paintings. Luigi's Mansion 3 has won a handful of awards this year, including Best Family Game at The Games Awards. If you're a fan of the original (and the sequel), you're not going to be disappointed in this follow-up gem. -Lory Gil
6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart has always been a must-have game regardless of console. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn't an entirely new Mario Kart; the original Mario Kart 8 launched on the Wii U. However, since the Switch is so much more popular than the Wii U, Deluxe meant more people were able to experience it. The Deluxe edition also meant that players got all of the DLC content that came out on the Wii U without having to pay extra, and there is a ton of content for everyone to enjoy. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has a fun single-player mode where you can unlock extra kart parts and tracks, and you can play with up to seven other racers in online or local multiplayer. All of your favorite Nintendo characters are here. See who is the best racer and watch out for that Blue Shell! -Christine Romero-Chan
7. Pokémon X & Y
Pokémon X and Y added several new elements to the standard Pokémon formula that made for an exciting new experience. Firstly, this was the first time a core Pokémon game used 3D models for Pokémon instead of sprites. It was also the first Pokémon game that didn't require you and your friends to go to a Pokémon Center to trade. All you had to do was tap the PSS (Player Search System) button on the bottom of the screen and you were whisked away to the trading menu. In that same vein, the GTS (Global Trade Station) allowed players from all around the world to find someone to trade with, making it much easier to complete the Pokédex. The best thing about the GTS is that it didn't require you to have any kind of online membership, as long as you were connected to Wi-Fi it was available.
Another huge thing X and Y have going for them is that the starters all looked adorable. While Chespin's final evolution kind of ends up looking like a deranged Buzz Lightyear, each of the starters have decent-looking final evolutions (no Popplios here). Overall, this is the best Pokémon game generation of the decade. -Rebecca Spear
8. Super Mario Maker 2
Very few games inspire the kind of creativity and freedom that allows you to torture your fellow gamers like Super Mario Maker 2. Seriously, have you seen what some of the most sadistic people on the internet have come up with? Some of these levels require you to make split-second movements the entire level through and only a small percentage of players have been able to beat them.
What makes this sequel so great is that it built upon what the original provided, gave us more creative options, and easier ways to search through the content that other players create. I love that they added a storyline mode, that way even players who don't have a Nintendo Switch Online membership can enjoy challenging levels without needing to rely on other players making them. -Rebecca Spear
9. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
As we patiently await Animal Crossing: New Horizons, it's a good time to look back at one of the best entries to the series: Animal Crossing: New Leaf. This 3DS title puts you in charge as Mayor of a new town, and with the help of Isabelle, the mayor's assistant, you have to keep your citizens happy. This life simulation game receives a few fun upgrades, including more activities and shops, mayoral duties like adding facilities to the town, and the Happy Home Showcase that lets you view other players' homes on StreetPass. If you are a fan of simulator games, this is a great one to play. -Sara Gitkos
10. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds/Link's Awakening
The last entry on this list is a tie between the 'sequel' to the classic Legend of Zelda Link to the Past and the remake of Link's Awakening. Link Between Worlds utilizes the world of Link to the Past but explores it with entirely new game mechanics. Known to twist the formula, this 3DS title changed how players used items and navigated the worlds of Hyrule and Lorule. The most interesting new game mechanic is Link's ability to become a mural and merge into solid walls to traverse previously unexplored areas. It's a fun, new twist on a classic title.
Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch also breathes new life into a series favorite by transforming what we know and love about the original into a brand-new experience. Fans of the Game Boy original will love this remake's toy-like look and revamped game mechanics. It's everything the classic game had to offer with a much-needed boost. -Sara Gitkos
Ranking the Nintendo gaming systems of the 2010s from best to worst
In the last 10 years, Nintendo released incredible hits as well as horrendous flops. Here are all of the Nintendo gaming systems ranked from best to worst.
1. Switch (Original & 2.0)
I found the perfect video game console. The Switch manages to be both an easygoing handheld that you can pop out and play whenever and wherever, and a home console where you can shred epic fantasies on the full screen. It is the perfect solo device when you're waiting at the doctor's office, and is also great for group gatherings. Whether you connect to a dock or use the 7-inch touch-capacitive screen, the Switch is versatile enough to be the right console at the right time for practically any occasion. Its unique hybrid design makes it not only the most interesting release Nintendo has launched in the past decade but also the most innovative across the gaming landscape. -Lory Gil
2. 3DS (All variants)
The 3DS revolutionized the portable handheld video game system as we know over the past decade. Due to the clamshell design, you didn't have to worry about damaging either of the two screens inside since they were both protected. Just slip it into your pocket and go! While the 3DS went through several design changes, the base clamshell design remained, making it a classic that we can't forget. It was comfortable to hold, the buttons provided good feedback, the casing was extremely durable, and it had a huge library of excellent games, from Nintendo themselves as well as plenty of third-party support. -Christine Romero-Chan
3. Switch Lite
After the rousing success of the larger Switch hybrid, Nintendo released its less expensive and more brightly colored handheld-only Switch. While this console doesn't offer all of the functionality of the larger Switch, it does make it $100 easier to play Nintendo Switch games. The smaller Switch feels amazing in your hands, more so than the original console, because it was designed solely for handheld mode. With its happy yellow, turquoise, and sleek gray colors, the Switch Lite just looks awesome and is a great secondary system for any Switch owner. -Rebecca Spear
4. 2DS (All variants)
The 2DS is the less-cool younger sibling of the 3DS. It plays all of the same games and works pretty much the same except for the fact that the 2DS didn't offer the snazzy 3D vision. Nintendo seemed to want to discourage anyone from picking up this less expensive device by making the first iteration an incredibly clunky square device that couldn't fold in half. However, as with the 3DS, the 2DS went through several different versions and eventually got made into a sleek little handheld. It was a great option if you were a parent worried about your child's vision getting destroyed by the 3D technology found in the 3DS or if you simply wanted to save some money and still play 3DS games. The only thing I didn't like about it was the confusing names of the last few versions. It was hard to search for and tell the New 2DS XL and the 2DS XL apart since they were named so similarly. -Rebecca Spear
5. Wii U
To say that the Wii U was a disaster is a bit of an understatement. From the name to a crippling lack of games, it was not Nintendo's finest hour. Though it is considered a smudge on a long record of great consoles, the Wii U did pave the way for the Switch. Plus, it holds a special place in my heart. Nintendo is known for trying out new ways to explore gaming and it's had a fair amount of failures, but these attempts have helped it find new and innovative ways to play games. While the Wii U's controller design was bulky and could not travel far, it helped establish the Switch as we know and love it today. -Sara Gitkos
Best lead character
The main character of a story makes or breaks the game. If you can't relate with the characters or like them in some fashion, it makes the game difficult to play. Luckily, there have been plenty of great characters on Nintendo platforms this decade.
1. Link / Zelda
What can I say? Link and Zelda are iconic. Sure, Mario might be Nintendo's beloved mascot, but it's hard to top the silent Hyrulian Hero and the regal Princess Zelda. This pairing is locked in an eternal bond, bound to rise against evil generation after generation. Zelda is a strong and capable princess whose goal is to protect the people of Hyrule, and Link is the silent hero who rises to the challenge.
This fated duo has spanned several consoles, with the newest incarnation being the acclaimed Breath of the Wild. Link edges out a win in this category, however, simply because he gets way more screen time. He's funny, faithful, and can swing a sword better than almost anyone. Plus, he's had a few solo ventures, like Link's Awakening. He's got the look, the skill, and he's a crowd favorite. However, Link and Zelda are really a package pair. -Sara Gitkos
Mario is, without a doubt, the most recognizable Nintendo character in the world. His can-do attitude, mustache, red hat, and overalls are super iconic and make him stand-out in any appearance. Many kids are introduced into the video game world through one of his multiplayer games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Mario Tennis Aces, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and many more. I think that's why Mario, and Nintendo in general, continue to hold a lot of nostalgia for people as they grow older. Mario is a magical part of many childhoods. -Rebecca Spear
Bayonetta is one of the last Umbral Witches capable of almost completely stopping time, not to mention she can gun down demons and angels by the bucketload, wielding all manner of powerful handguns, claws, swords, and whips. She's smart, sexy, and ridiculously confident — for good reason! The number of beings in the universe that pose a serious threat to her can probably be counted on your right hand. Even so, she has something of a kind heart and even goes out of her way to rescue fools who are in over their heads, while still making sure she's staying over-the-top, of course. With all that in mind, is it any wonder she's become something of a new Nintendo icon, even making her way over to Super Smash Bros? -Samuel Tolbert
Luigi doesn't get enough respect — no respect at all! Sure he's not as well-known as his brother Mario and his characterization often revolves around cowardice instead of bravery, but there's a lot that still makes him a hero. He can typically jump higher than his brother, for one, which gives him the edge in platforming, but he also gets to play around with some better weaponry, like the Poltergust throughout the Luigi's Mansion games. Luigi might not have as many games named after him as his brother, but he's just as important. I know plenty of people who would choose Luigi over Mario in Mario Kart any day. -Carli Velocci
5. Samus Aran
Learning that the badass space warrior behind this sleek armor was actually a woman is one of those special rites of passage for Nintendo fans. When I first learned it as a kid, I was blown away and became more interested in her. After all, there aren't many lead female characters among Nintendo's roster.
She takes on massive alien creatures and explores the far reaches of space. Whether she's in her armor or her zero suit, Samus can own you with either her gun arm or her fighting skills. This makes her a compelling choice in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While we've been waiting forever for the new Metroid Prime 4 game on console, she did have an awesome side scroller released on 3DS with Metroid: Samus Returns. Hopefully, the long-awaited Metroid Prime 4 will be given a release date soon. -Rebecca Spear
6. Donkey Kong
Our favorite gorilla had to make the list, and why not? He's a series favorite, he's one of the strongest characters in Super Smash Bros., and he has a plethora of amazingly fun games behind him. We know that there's not a lot of story most of the time, but Donkey Kong himself is brave, funny, and always ready to throw a barrel in someone's face. He's as much a staple to Nintendo games as Mario, since they debuted together all those years ago. But in this day and age, when he's not helping you beat other video game favorites to a pulp or cruising around a racetrack, Big DK is trying to keep things from getting too cool in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. -Sara Gitkos
7. Star Fox
Despite not having as many games released in the past 10 years as we would have liked, Star Fox continues to be one of our favorite Nintendo characters. He's a smooth-talking commander who knows how to pilot his own ship and expertly fire a blaster. In some ways, he feels like the Han Solo of Nintendo. He's super cool, calm, collected, and fights massive enemies in space. When he's not cruising past the stars, you can find him beating up his fellow Nintendo comrades in Super Smash Bros. He's one of my go-to picks and on top of all of that, he's a pretty snazzy dresser. -Rebecca Spear
Kirby is my favorite ball of mush. He's cute, squishy, and if you make him mad, he'll eat you and steal your identity. What's not to love about this guy? While he has his own game series, the most recent being Kirby Star Allies, he takes a lead role in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's campaign, World of Light. Don't let his adorable face fool you. This little guy is a fierce contender, and his irrepressible cheer earns him a spot here. Plus, he can eat anything. He has some serious food goals. He's a fun, versatile character, with an impulse-control problem and an adorable design. How can you not love him? -Sara Gitkos
At last, Mario's trusty steed. Yoshi is the lovable and sweet dino-partner to the famous Mario Brothers. Yoshi may be super cute, but he is a force to be reckoned with. Whether he's battling in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or smiting his shy guy foes in Yoshi's Crafted World, this dinosaur can take care of himself. He can eat his enemies and turn them into eggs. (Cute characters who eat their opponents seems to be a Nintendo theme.) He can also just dance around making adorable sounds that will make you melt. I just want to squeeze him! Luckily, there's a Build-a-Bear for that. Oh, and there's not just one. There's a whole rainbow of different Yoshis out there. He's cute, a strong ally, and those sounds he makes are just too much! He's equal parts lovable and deadly. He's simply the best. -Sara Gitkos
Before his resurgence in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, the last time we saw Pit from Kid Icarus was way back on the Game Boy. This Greek-inspired hero set himself apart from the likes of Link from Legend of Zelda simply by speaking. Updated for a new age, he finally got his title after such a strong reaction to his appearance in Smash. He's the typical hero with a sense of justice, faith, and he knows his way around a bow. Though a capable fighter, Pit often sees the good in everyone, and would rather show compassion then kill. But he's also young, and with that comes a host of problems; that and his "dark" counterpart may offer more insight into a more sinister side of this hero. It adds a little complexity, which earns him a spot on this list. -Sara Gitkos
Best indie game
Up until recently, Nintendo didn't allow independent developers to release their titles on Nintendo hardware. That changed within the past 10 years and we're super happy it did. Here are the best indie games that made their way on Nintendo Switch.
1. Untitled Goose Game
You get to run around a small village, stealing things, breaking others, and messing up everyone's day. Since you play as an adorable goose, you can't be morally opposed to the destructive content of the game. Everyone knows geese are ornery, which further adds to this game's appeal. Unlike other games that have you going around helping random NPCs, this one lets you live vicariously through your inner goose as you go around messing with people's lives and cackling to yourself about what you've done. All I have to say is HONK HONK HONK! -Rebecca Spear
2. Ori and the Blind Forest
Equal parts beautiful, challenging, and touching, Ori and the Blind Forest is one of the best indie games to release in the past decade regardless of platform. Though we are anxiously awaiting the sequel, the original earns stars for stunning environments, a compelling narrative, and a difficulty level that will have you screaming at your screen. Players control Ori, a white guardian spirit, and Sein, the light and eyes of the Forest's Spirit tree, in this platform-adventure game solving puzzles while trying to bring balance to the world.
Ori must recover three main elements to save the forest of Nibel, but this is not a task for the casual player. The platforming is challenging, requiring pinpoint accuracy and perfect timing, and the story is a gripping coming-of-age tale that will draw you in. Plus, it has an amazing soundtrack. The Definitive Edition has a few new modes, including an easier difficulty and an even more challenging "One life" mode, making it more accessible to players of all skill levels. It is definitely worth picking up. -Sara Gitkos
Cuphead delivers on every conceivable front. From its tight 2D side-scrolling combat to its absolutely jaw-dropping art style, this indie passion project manages to outclass many of its AAA contemporaries. Cuphead simply oozes style and originality, presenting players with some of the best animations in video game history. This bright world filled with oddball characters is only made even livelier by an incredible big band era jazz soundtrack. What started as an Xbox exclusive is now one of the must-own games for Nintendo Switch. -Miles Dompier
4. Hollow Knight
This is one of those beautifully difficult games out there. Since you lose all your money when you die, the stakes are a lot greater and require you to play more skillfully. I love the challenge it brings. There are also different endings for you to discover, giving the game plenty of replay value. You'll definitely want to play through the levels more than once. The game is both simple and incredibly complex. Finally, the art style and haunting music are amazing. If the beauty of this game doesn't move you, are you even human? -Rebecca Spear
5. Stardew Valley
When Stardew Valley hit the scene back in 2016, I was immediately in. I grew up playing games like Harvest Moon, so a new IP farm sim meant I was extra excited. I expected the standard gameplay, but I didn't expect that I'd come to love (and replay) this game so much. You have a mine, seasons, a farm, a town this is struggling, and the evil Jojamart that wants to put the local market out of business. Along with all of these aspects are romance options, the ability to build your home, exploration, raising animals, and plenty more.
Stardew Valley is easily one of my favorite games because the developer put care into every aspect of gameplay to create something fun and soothing instead of stressful. I love watching my crops grow, participating in festivals, and falling in love over and over again. It's a beautifully polished product, which is something I don't often say about any game, much less an indie. -Jen Karner
Best remake or remaster
Over the past decade, we've seen several remakes and remasters on Nintendo hardware, many of which were in the Zelda series. There's nothing quite like being able to play a classic game with updated controls and menus to make it relevant by current gaming standards and to introduce it to new audiences.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
From the opening scene to the final boss, the Link's Awakening remake brings back all the fond memories of hacking bushes, breaking jars, and fighting baddies. Originally launched on the Game Boy in 1993, it was an immediate hit, and for some, the jumping-off point for a long love affair with the pixelated protagonist. What makes this remake practically perfect is that it is nearly identical to the original in terms of story and gameplay. The much-improved graphics and speed turn a beloved classic into a 2019 modern hit. Whether you play the 25-year-old original on Game Boy or are just beginning your adventures with Link this year, Link's Awakening will become one of your favorites. -Lory Gil
2. Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Of all of the Pokémon games, this one was the one that got me most excited for the future of Pokémon. It brought the charming 2D graphics of the original version to 3D, introduced overworld Pokémon, and the ability to see which Pokémon were appearing in the tall grass. When surfing in the water, you could even dive down and encounter deep-sea creatures. I thought for sure that this kind of freedom would be explored in future Switch games. Sigh.
These games also provided the most distinct differences between the two versions out of any other Pokémon game — there was a different enemy team depending on which version of the game you played. One of the things I loved most was that when you beat the game, you were able to fly over the land in 3D. You could even battle bird Pokémon flying in the sky next to you. I had hoped that this flying aspect would be in Sword and Shield, but alas that didn't happen. To this day, this is still one of my favorite Pokémon games and is definitely one of the best Nintendo remakes. -Rebecca Spear
3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The Nintendo 64 holds a very special place in my heart as a gamer, and this game is the sole reason why. Ocarina of Time is considered a masterpiece by many, and I'm thrilled that it received an update for a new generation. This game had a brand new and fresh coat of paint with tweaked graphics and fixed mechanics. Add on the Master Quest and you've got yourself a solid remake! It's an amazing way to re-experience the game or for newcomers to jump onboard the OoT train. It earns its spot as one of the all-time greats, so this is a title to buy. -Sara Gitkos
4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
I was super excited when I learned that Majora's Mask was getting remade for 3DS. The graphics update was seriously needed as the original blocky look of the 64 version doesn't hold up well. As a kid, this was a complicated game that took a lot of my time and attention. I definitely had to rely on guidebooks to keep all of the sidequests straight. However, the remake included additional elements that made the game easier to play.
First off, additional saving locations were added throughout the map. You can't fly to them, but they definitely make it easier to save your progress. Another thing I loved was that the Bomber's Notebook was updated to include more helpful information, making it easier to complete sidequests. Finally, the 3DS version rearranged the menus and offered different button mapping options, which made it easier to equip the weapons and items you want. Even with all these changes, the game is still challenging and complex. -Rebecca Spear
5. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The Wind Waker was a polarizing Zelda title, to say the least, but it was a beautiful game when it first released on the GameCube. The Remaster rerelease for the Wii U gave this amazing title in stunning HD, and this is how the game was meant to be played. If you bought a Wii U for any reason, having this game should be one. It is a visual masterpiece. Plus, the gameplay has received a much-needed upgrade, and by that, I mean you get a Swift Sail. It changes the wind's directions for you, so you don't have to whip out the baton every five seconds — full speed all the time. Also, the grappling hook pulls in items a lot faster too. Using the Wii U controller, you can really take advantage of the Picto Box item, and give Link some funny emotes while you're at it. And for hardcore gamers, there's now a Hero Mode. -Sara Gitkos
Best online multiplayer
Online multiplayer games are a big part of the gaming community, but Nintendo offers its own flare on multiplayer experiences. Here are the best online multiplayer games of the past decade.
1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has a great online multiplayer system, the first for the series, allowing anyone to race with up to seven other people from all over the world. Everyone can pick their favorite Nintendo characters and customize their karts. When that's done all players choose their favorite track to race on in hopes of it getting chosen. Since it's randomized, everyone gets a fair chance of home-court advantage, and once the race begins, it's fun chaos! Even if you aren't the best Mario Kart player, it's just downright fun to play with others that aren't in the same room as you, and each course is full of its unique quirks. Plus, with the online multiplayer in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you can easily add new friends if you liked racing with them. -Christine Romero-Chan
2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
With an enormous roster of characters, including every fighter seen in previous iterations of the game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the pinnacle of fighting games. I love figuring out each characters' specific attacks and then working on mastering them. I love that I can pass controllers out to my friends and we can all play against each other. This brings out some of the most hysterical comments from all of us. Then if my friends aren't around, I can play against random people online. It's a fun challenge knowing I'm playing against a human instead of an unintelligent AI. -Rebecca Spear
3. Rocket League
Want to play soccer, hockey, or basketball using cars with speed boosts that can collide and blow-up at any second? Sure you do! Rocket League is a highly addictive sport, driving, high-octane competition game that takes play over five short minutes and has a fan-base of over 40 million players. This game is a natural choice for online multiplayer. With so many people playing, and with cross-platform play being a big factor, you can play with any player regardless of the platform. That's pretty exciting. Battle it out on the court or team up to destroy others. Three...two...one...Go! -Sara Gitkos
4. Splatoon 2
Get your ink on! It's time to gear up and cover some ground in the sequel to the squid and ink third-person shooter, Splatoon 2. Take your Inkling and rally your team, it's time to defend your territory. The goal is to gear up with several unique and helpful weapons and cover some turf. Play on-offs, League Battles, and Ranked Matches and compete against other players anywhere. Splatoon 2 has classic modes like Splat Zones and Tower Control, but it has a few new modes like Clam Blitz and Salmon Run. There's a lot of fun to be had in this competitive free-for-all. -Sara Gitkos
5. Super Mario Party
Let's face it; the best part about Super Mario Party is the mini-games. Compete across the interwebs in some challenging, frustrating, and addicting mini-games in the Online Mariothon. Leaderboard rankings and high scores are the perfect reason to keep playing, and of course, you've got to beat your friends. The only problem is that you don't get access to the 80 or so mini-games the game has to offer. Still, if you want to try your hand at online gameplay, it could be worth the swearing and possible friendship loss. -Sara Gitkos
Best local multiplayer
It's sad to say, but Nintendo is the only gaming company that consistently provides ample couch co-op options, which is funny considering TV screens have become enormous. This makes split-screen far more doable than it used to be. Whether you're sharing a screen or doing split-screen, here are the best local multiplayer games from the last 10 years.
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Playing a Super Smash Bros. game is as synonymous with local multiplayer as a match of Halo on Blood Gulch or Chun Li vs. Ryu in Street Fighter. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes that concept to the absolute maximum possible. When the advertisements for this game said that everyone was here, they meant it. Dozens upon dozens of characters, both from Nintendo's storied history and surprising guest appearances, are all available for friends to use against each other, making this one of the most perfect party games. The kicker? It's STILL getting DLC, with new unknown fighters coming over a year after the game's release. -Samuel Tolbert
2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
If you aren't into the whole online multiplayer thing, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also has a local multiplayer option where you can play with up to seven other people, given that you have enough Switch consoles and controllers. With local multiplayer, everyone can race together in the same room with a split-screen view. Even though the screen estate for each player is reduced, it's not hard to see what's awaiting you on the track, and this is great for allowing others who don't own a Switch to enjoy the fun of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe together. Now, let's all try to be civil when it comes to Rainbow Road… -Christine Romero-Chan
3. Overcooked 2
What better way to spend time with your friends than in the kitchen screaming orders out? Overcooked 2 takes what its predecessor has done and has made it better. This fun and fast-paced cooking-themed co-op game is a great way to spend your time. Its simple game mechanics and rules make it accessible to any kind of player, and each level offers a fair set of challenges that will keep you running back into the kitchen. I've spent an eight-hour session playing this addicting game with friends. I legitimately lost track of time while taking orders, chopping up ingredients, and throwing things across the kitchen. Plus, with all the DLC, you can play this game forever. Bonus, you can pick from an outlandish and fun group of avatars. Want to play as a pirate or a narwal? Go right ahead! Grab your pals and get cooking. -Sara Gitkos
4. Luigi's Mansion 3
Luigi's Mansion 3 is one of the most fun games I've played. There are hilarious moments, cartoony weapons, and moderately challenging puzzles to solve. Something I love about it is that it's a great game to play with a friend. The game supports two-player co-op, with one player controlling Luigi and the other controlling Gooigi. What's more, it does a decent job of giving both players relatively equal importance since they both have strengths and weaknesses that the other doesn't have. You'll need to work together to beat bosses and solve puzzles. If you need a break from the main storyline, you can jump into the multiplayer modes, which support up to eight players. That way, the whole family can play. -Rebecca Spear
I love run and gun games a lot, but there are so many out there that they don't tend to stand out from each other that much. Cuphead is the exception. It features the unique animation style of the 30s, which gives it a special charm. The devilish look of some of the bosses fits the difficulty level and the retro art style perfectly.
Cuphead is simple in that there aren't a lot of controls. However, the game forgoes intensive tutorials in favor of throwing you into the level to sink or swim. Each enemy uses some kind of pattern. To be victorious, you need to observe that pattern and then use the correct attacks at the right moments. Some people find it freakishly hard while others think it's a fun challenge. Not gonna lie, I've been tempted to throw my controller against a wall while playing it. -Rebecca Spear
Best Mature game
Despite what many people think, Nintendo isn't all bright colors and rainbows. There are plenty of awesome, Mature-rated games on Nintendo gaming systems.
1. Bayonetta 2
Nintendo has, somewhat understandably, a reputation for mostly providing family-friendly content, games that are suitable for most, if not all, ages. Bayonetta 2 takes that idea, puts it in a catsuit and whips it while pole dancing and licking a lollipop. With this game, Nintendo backed a title that is quite clearly intended for mature audiences. Just look at Bayonetta herself, who manages to be the embodiment of the words "sexy" and "female empowerment" at the same time. That never detracts from the incredible combat or art direction that PlatinumGames implemented; it just enhances it. How Bayonetta qualified to be in Super Smash Bros. and was thus fine for "good boys and girls of all ages" we may never know, but in her own game, she gets to let loose and be what she is: the most powerful witch in Earth, Heaven, or Hell. -Samuel Tolbert
Doom is a classic. It's a game that put first-person shooters in the mainstream, a futuristic, horror-twisted adventure that can satisfy any player's need to vent frustration. With brutal kills, horrific enemies, and a killer soundtrack, this game is definitely not one for the kids. Players take on the role of the Doom Slayer and must travel back and forth through portals to Hell to stop an invasion of demons on the Mars research facility owned by the Union Aerospace Corporation. From tearing creatures in half to beating them to death with their own arm, it doesn't get more bloody than this... except maybe in Doom Eternal. -Sara Gitkos
3. The Witcher III
I'm still not sure if releasing the Witcher 3 on the Nintendo Switch was a good idea. The game is visually intensive and doesn't look especially great on the smaller console, especially in handheld mode. However, if CD Projekt Red wants to get this game to as many audiences as possible, I'm all for that. The Witcher 3 is one of the most memorable games of the past decade and for good reason. It presents a sprawling world that's filled with lifelike characters and story bits that can be engaging, sometimes hilarious, and even heartwarming or tragic. The main character, Geralt, is the right combination of gruff and sympathetic, and he gets the job done. I would still recommend getting this on another platform if you can, but if the Switch ends up being your console of choice, please give this a shot. -Carli Velocci
4. Resident Evil 4
I remember the first time I completed Resident Evil 4 on the GameCube way back before the Wii was even in the picture. It may be simplistic to say, but it's a satisfying experience. Everything just works together. The set pieces are bombastic, the gameplay is challenging but fair, there's a whole lot to do, and in the end, you feel like a hero. The Resident Evil series has had its ups and downs over the past decade, but you can always rely on Resident Evil 4 to provide a good time. The franchise has also always had a home on Nintendo consoles, and the Switch is no exception. Best of all, the game is just old enough that it meshes perfectly with the Switch's power capabilities. I call that a win all around. -Carli Velocci
5. Outlast: Bundle of Terror
I'll be the first to admit that I haven't been able to handle these horror games well — there's definitely a lot of screaming when I play. What makes this game so terrifying is that it requires you to run around a demonic asylum trying to avoid criminally insane abominations and your only course of action when something attacks is to hide. There's plenty of jump scares and creepy-looking enemies that you have to escape from. This game isn't a Nintendo exclusive, but it's the only version of the game that lets you play in handheld mode. If you're clutching your Switch in a dark room, it sure makes you feel vulnerable when you lift your eyes away from the screen and listen a little too intently to the silence of your home. It's the perfect game for any horror enthusiast. -Rebecca Spear
Bonus: There are mature Nintendo games?
Whenever I mention Nintendo, there's inevitably someone who's unaware of the fact that mature games are available on the gaming company's hardware. I can't say I completely blame them considering that Nintendo has dominated the family game section of the market. Still, other players are fully aware that they can play mature content on the Switch but prefer the happy, lighthearted games Nintendo offers. There's no right or wrong way to play. As long as you're enjoying the games you're playing, it doesn't matter if they are "kid-oriented" or "adult-oriented." -Rebecca Spear
Best family game
Nintendo stands apart from other gaming companies by providing far more family-friendly games than its competitors (just look at its domination of the family Game Awards category). Here are some of the best family games of the 2010s.
1. Super Mario Party
Mario Party is my go-to game for parties and gatherings — yes, even more so than Mario Kart. Having fun isn't predicated on skill or Nintendo knowledge. It's just there to work with everyone regardless of age or experience with games. Of course, the game doesn't always work for you, which is where the tension comes in. Luck is a factor, but also what your fellow competitors are willing to do to win. People joke that Mario Party can mark the end of relationships, and that might be true, but it's worth it for the laughter that'll ensue.
Super Mario Party is especially a great entry in the long-running franchise. Not only does it bring back the traditional gameplay from older Mario Parties (the previous two games departed a bit from the formula, which rattled people the wrong way), but it adds online multiplayer! Now you can pick apart your friend groups from across the world if you want. It's a dangerous feature to add but it makes the game that much more universal. -Carli Velocci
2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
This is one of the few games that I can play with my four-year-old nephew. I set up the kid controls to prevent him from going the wrong direction and to make sure he continues moving forward on the track at all times. He's blissfully unaware of how much the game prevents him from coming in last place and I get to play a game with him without having to stop and help him out every few seconds. Additionally, since the game can support several players at once, my whole extended family can play together when they come to visit. The cartoony graphics and silly weapons appeal to everyone. -Rebecca Spear
3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Have you ever had a friendly dispute with a family member about which Nintendo character is best and why? With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you can finally duke it out and prove to the other person why you're right! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest Smash Bros. yet as it brings back every character that was in previous games, as well as every battlefield, item, and more. There are also a ton of unique DLC characters that you can get access to with the Fighters Pass, and the devs are constantly adding new events and goodies. You can even play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with your family either online or locally, and up to eight players can Smash it out together. It's the best multiplayer fighting game for a reason. -Christine Romero-Chan
4. Luigi's Mansion 3
This is a game that anyone can enjoy, whether they're a little kid or an adult. You and whoever you play with will be laughing at the silly ghost antics as well as the exaggerated ways Luigi responds to them. Since this game features optional two-player co-op, you can play with a buddy whether that's your little nephew, your sibling, or your significant other. While the puzzles aren't ridiculously hard, they do require a little problem solving, making them a good fit for any kind of player. If more family members want to play at once, you can turn over to the multiplayer modes, which boasts support for up to eight players. It's a game that anyone can enjoy. -Rebecca Spear
5. Overcooked 2
Funny, adrenaline-pumping, and a little absurd, Overcooked 2 is great family fun if you can keep the cursing to a minimum. You and three other chefs storm the kitchens of some wacky restaurants as you sharpen your culinary skills to serve the growing threat, the Unbread. As ridiculous as it sounds, this game is a ton of fun.
Work together with your friends or family to serve up a plethora of challenging recipes and try to get the highest score possible. No blood, no guts, but all the bragging-rights and glory. Honestly, you will feel accomplished when you get all three stars on a level. The game is challenging but simple. It's easy for anyone to pick up. If you've never played a game before, there is almost nothing to this one. Still, it not only manages to be engaging, but down-right addictive. This is easily one of the best games to pick up for couch co-op fun. -Sara Gitkos
6. Yoshi's Crafted World
First things first, Yoshi's Crafted World is adorable. Yoshi is cute, cuddly, and perfect for wholesome family fun, and this action-platformer is a great way to get young kids into gaming. If you love Yoshi like I do, it can be good fun on its own. I don't mind playing it in front of my one-year-old, and I love playing it with my young nephews. For those who aren't very skilled with games, Yoshi's Crafted World has a Casual Mode; Yoshi has a set of wings, and can pretty much fly through levels unscathed. It's a relaxed game experience that is easy to jump into and a joy to play. Plus, a two-player option makes this a good family pick. Just be aware, it can be tricky when two Yoshis join the fray. -Sara Gitkos
7. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
This game holds special significance to me because it was the game my husband and I played while we were dating and getting to know each other. Under the pressure of peers and family, he'd misguidedly decided that he had to "grow up" and leave video games behind, but New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe helped me show him that video games still had a place for adult players.
What makes this game so fun is that it's great for any age or experience level. Inexperienced players or kids can control Nabbit or Toadette, who both play easily and don't die when they touch enemies. When they feel more confident, players can move up to controlling Mario or Luigi, who play at a standard difficulty level. It allows the whole family to enjoy a gaming session together and helped me ease my now-husband back into video games. What's more, this game requires a lot of cooperation, so it's a great family bonding experience. -Rebecca Spear
8. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
Mario hasn't been in a decent turn-based RPG for several years except Ubisoft's Mario + Rabbids. You need to strategize, take advantage of the skill tree, and upgrade to the proper weapons if you want to make it far in this game. There are so many silly weapons, ridiculous characters, and hilarious cutscenes that make this a super fun game to play. It's also got plenty of replay value since new abilities and map elements unlock later in the game. You'll want to go back and replay the levels you've already completed. -Rebecca Spear
9. The LEGO games (all of them)
Whether you're a Marvel, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or a Star Wars fan, there's probably a LEGO game out there for you. These are quirky, fun, simple games to pick up for good old-fashioned family time. Re-live your favorite stories told in the light-hearted LEGO perspective. Collect LEGO pieces, build, and explore some truly charming levels. The objective is relatively simple, depending on which franchise entry you choose, and the gameplay is easy enough for novice players to pick up. It's also quite enjoyable for players of all kids, especially if you are a fan of the corresponding movie. So gather your family, pick up a controller, and explore your favorite LEGO game together. -Sara Gitkos
10. Pokémon Sword and Shield
Gotta catch 'em all! Pokémon has always been a family-friendly title, and that still applies to Pokémon Sword and Shield where anyone in the family can play the game and become the next Champion of Galar. But if the younger ones are having a bit of trouble beating certain Gym Leaders or even the Champion, then it's the perfect time for the older Pokémon Masters to help out! Creating the perfect team of six Pokémon can be a great family effort, with everyone having a personal pick in the team. Plus, if more than one person in the family has the game, then make sure to get both versions! There are exclusive Pokémon in each one that you can't obtain in the other, making it a great game to bond over. Not to mention that there is a lot of fun activities to do even after you beat the main game, so everyone can work together to complete that Pokédex and then some! -Christine Romero-Chan
Best handheld game
For many years, Nintendo has held the market for best handheld gaming systems. In this last decade, the Japanese gaming company had some competition with the PlayStation Vita, but it's hard to compete against Nintendo's established handheld franchises, like Pokémon. Here are our picks for the best handheld games of the last decade.
1. Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
The reason I bought the 3DS was so I could play Pokémon games, so none of the titles on the handheld system captured my attention as much as Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. I love the pirates in Alpha Sapphire, I think the legendaries look amazing, the starters are all cool, and I love that you can detect Pokémon in the tall grass. What made this game fun was that after you've beaten the main storyline, you can fly around the map on Latios or Latias. It offers an awesome new way to experience the original game that released on Game Boy Advance. -Rebecca Spear
2. Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem as a series had been around way longer before Awakening hit the 3DS in 2013, but for a lot of North American players, it was only for the die-hard strategy or Japanese RPG fans. Then Awakening happened. This game hit the games community like a bomb. I remember everybody I know trying to get their hands on it, share their choices online, and play through it multiple times to get every possible outcome. It's a genius game that doesn't break new ground when it comes to the core turn-based gameplay but does wonders in terms of narrative. Introducing the kids from the future idea not only gives you concrete results of your romantic pairings, but it adds a whole new level of strategy. It also gives you ample reason to play over and over again. A lot of Fire Emblem games since Awakening have tried similar techniques to varying degrees of success, but Awakening did it right the first time. -Carli Velocci
3. Pokémon X & Y
Pokémon X & Y offered several new elements to the standard Pokémon formula. This game made it easier to complete your Pokédex since you could easily trade with players online. It had some of the coolest looking legendaries we've seen so far, and it allows you to customize your character. I got a little more sucked into dressing my character up than I like to admit, but it made it feel more like I was in the game instead of controlling some random character. I played this game everywhere — while doing laundry at the laundromat, while on road trips, or in bed before I fell asleep for the night. Talking about it makes me want to delete my save file and play again. -Rebecca Spear
4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Before the Switch made handheld systems obsolete, we had the magic that was the 3DS, and what better series to make it shine than the Legend of Zelda? Link Between Worlds was a return to the classic land of Hyrule as imagined in the previous franchise entry, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Players were excited to go back to the fan-favorite world of LttP once more, but Link Between Worlds offered a new twist. You must navigate Link through both Hyrule and Lorule, jumping back and forth between 2D and 3D puzzle-solving action. The items are handled differently as well. You can use most of the items up front, using a rent-to-buy mechanic; however, each dungeon requires specific items. If you want to use more than one, you have to shell out the rupees. It's a unique turn for an existing world, and the design allows players to explore more than they could previously. Link Between Worlds is fun, exciting, and everything a Zelda game should be. -Sara Gitkos
5. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
This decade's Animal Crossing (non-mobile anyway) took some huge strides with the series formula. Players stumble into their role as "Mayor" of a brand new town, and with the help of Isabelle, the Assistant Mayor, you make the rules and reign with an iron fist. Kidding, but you do get to decide how to build out your town, how to raise funds for city projects, and make the rules townspeople need to follow.
When you aren't busy running the joint, you can relax on an island, browse some of the fun shops, and run errands for your neighbors. Fish, catch bugs, find some fossils; you can pretty much do what you want. However, if you don't give your city the love it deserves, you will get suggestions from concerned citizens — that and a ton of weeds. The goal is to please the people of your town, but you can ignore it and sit on an island all day. The town will either love or hate you for it. Either way, it's good to be the Mayor. -Sara Gitkos
BONUS: Any Switch game
Due to the hybrid nature of the Nintendo Switch, most of the titles released on the system are technically handheld games. There are plenty of favorites like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The Switch makes any traditional console game effectively a handheld game and it's wonderful. You can play in-depth Switch games anywhere you want. I love that I can play Witcher 3 while on a plane, or Luigi's Mansion 3 in bed right before I fall asleep. It's a new experience that we haven't seen before. -Rebecca Spear
One of the things that can draw you into a game is a phenomenal story. Over the past decade, we've seen several amazing plots that have sparked joy, caused us to think, or brought tears to our eyes.
1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Stories are built on connections with characters, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a multitude of personalities for players to bond with. With a charming cast of characters, murderous plots, religious zealotry, and twisted scientific experiments, Fire Emblem: Three Houses provides one of — if not the most — compelling story of any Nintendo exclusive of the past decade. Best of all, due to your experience changing depending on your chosen house, it's got three different stories to offer. -Samuel Tolbert
2. Child of Light
Child of Light is a beautiful love letter to classic JRPGs. Players take on the role of Aurora, a child who wakes after dying from a mystery illness who must take to the sky to return home. Told entirely in rhyme, this touching, yet simple coming of age story is filled with a colorful cast of unique characters, interesting twists, and heart. Aurora is not alone in her misfortune, and the companions who join her have detailed motivations of their own. Together, they face the trials set upon the world of Lemuria and unite to rebuild what was lost. It's a fairytale in the form of a game, and it is a treat to play. -Sara Gitkos
3. Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a horror game, but not in the way you might think. The main character, Mae, goes back to her small mining hometown after dropping out of college only to find that things aren't as she remembers them. A lot of people are out of work, her friends are working dead-end jobs, and she has to figure out if there is or isn't a cult kidnapping people. Whether there's a cosmic horror living under the town is irrelevant, but the existential dread that Mae feels day-to-day is. It's a game with lofty ambitions and a large story that still feels intimate and real, even when it gets into supernatural territory. Plus, it's just hilarious while still being one of the saddest games I've ever played. There aren't enough words to describe how good Night in the Woods is. Just play it. -Carli Velocci
4. What Remains of Edith Finch
People who know me personally are probably sick of hearing me describe my affinity for What Remains of Edith Finch. This is a title that caught me completely off guard and devastated me in a way no other video game has. Playing through this fairly short experience is not only hypnotic but somewhat therapeutic for those looking for self or family reflection. What Remains of Edith Finch takes you on a haunting journey through the tragic history of one truly unfortunate family. I highly recommend setting aside a few hours with a massive box of tissues to experience a prime example of how video games as a medium can deliver experiences that can't be achieved through any other form of art. -Miles Dompier
5. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The Zelda franchise may not have the most unique or deep stories to tell; however, when it comes to scale, Ocarina of Time is classic. A young, displaced hero on a journey, a cast of interesting characters, sprawling landscapes, and classic good versus evil are all wrapped up in this epic. With excitement, humor, and just a touch of suspense, this game captures all the elements of a good story. There's a reason why it's considered one of the best games of all time and the characters in this tale stick in your memory; some for better or worse. (We're looking at you, Navi.) OoT raised the standard of story-telling for Zelda, and each entry since has tried to capture the experience. -Sara Gitkos
If you want to enhance your gaming experience, you need the proper accessories. Of all the gaming companies, Nintendo is best known for trying out new gadgets and playing experiences.
1. Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
The Pro Controller is a must-have for anyone with a Nintendo Switch. If you prefer to play your Switch games in Docked mode on a high-resolution TV, then the Pro Controller is a no-brainer. Even if you play in Tabletop mode with the kickstand, the Pro Controller should be in your arsenal too. The Pro Controller has a much more comfortable grip than the Joy-Cons and is in-line with other console controllers like the DualShock 4 and Xbox One S controllers. The buttons, including the trigger buttons, are also more comfortable to press, and there isn't the issue of drift as much as with the Joy-Cons. The Pro Controller also charges up via USB-C, and it has about 30–40 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is superb. -Christine Romero-Chan
Looking at my beautiful collection of amiibo, it's hard to think that these figures were created in response to a competitor instead of being one of Nintendo's brilliant, original-albeit-strange ideas. Back in 2011, Activision started releasing a wide array of Skylanders-themed NFC-enabled figures that interacted with video games. It wasn't until 2014 that Nintendo released its first amiibo in response to them. They quickly found their way into the hands of collectors and children alike. The funny thing is it felt like the idea of figurines that interacted with video games fit better with Nintendo than the franchise that originally created them.
Nintendo initially didn't make enough of them — whether that was by design or happenstance is debatable — but it drove up the value for many amiibo and propelled serious collectors into a frenzy to collect them all. They were popular enough to function with Wii U, 3DS, and Switch games. I'll admit, I've collected some amiibo to unlock things in games, but the majority of them I've simply bought because they look amazing. I mean, unless you get a defective one, they're all made with care and provide a beautiful way for you to show off your love of a specific franchise. -Rebecca Spear
3. Mario Kart Wheels
Being able to place your controller inside of a plastic wheel while playing Mario Kart isn't new to the Switch. This kind of accessory was available with the Wii and the Wii U. However, it makes for a fun and more immersive racing experience on Switch. The Joy-Con controllers are so small that being able to hold onto something bigger makes these wheels appealing. We're not picky about who designed them, either. Several different companies offer Switch racing wheels and most of them are awesome. -Rebecca Spear
4. Labo / Labo VR
Nintendo is known for experimenting with strange and new experiences. It's part of what makes Nintendo what it is. Some of these inventions have forced other gaming companies to try and replicate their wacky designs. However, they usually don't work out as well as they do for Nintendo audiences. One of the things that only Nintendo could pull off is Labo and Labo VR. I remember being so shocked when I saw that Nintendo was shipping cardboard accessories that you had to assemble yourself. These simple creations allowed kids to experiment and interact with video games in ways that they hadn't been able to before. They've been a huge hit and are usually sold out whenever I check Amazon or go to an electronics store. All I can say is thank you Nintendo for being willing to experiment in ways that no other gaming company will. -Rebecca Spear
5. Ring-Con & Leg Strap
Speaking from personal experience, the Ring-Con is one of the most amazing accessories to launch for any of Nintendo's consoles. Using a loose interpretation of Pilates Toning rings, Nintendo created an exercise game that is so much more than just going through daily workout routines. With Ring-Con in hand and Leg Strap attached, players are taken on an adventure across the land, fighting the bodybuilding foe, Dragaux. The Ring-Con and Leg Strap act as your fitness equipment and your movement trackers. If you want to stop off at one of the in-game gyms, you can pump iron (or at least resistance train) and get swole before your next battle. -Lory Gil
Most annoying characters/enemies
Whether they're intentionally annoying or simply annoying due to bad mechanics, characters and enemies seriously impact our experience with a game. Here are the most annoying characters and enemies we've encountered on Nintendo hardware in the 2010s.
1. Fire/Ice/Electric Keese (The Legend of Zelda series)
It doesn't matter which entry you play, the Legend of Zelda series has one of the most irritating enemies ever. Fire Keese are the worst. Not only do they flutter out of reach, but they are also small, hard to see, and they like to flap around, which makes it difficult to shoot out of the air with your slingshot, bow, or hookshot. What's worse is these stupid creatures fly slow enough for you to miss, but ramp up the speed as they get closer to you. Good luck if you have a wooden shield; if you get hit once, it's burnt to a crisp. And yes, you have to buy a brand new one. Ice Keese are just as bad. They turn you into a block of ice and then casually fly away. Honestly, any type of enemy that flaps around in the Zelda series is pretty annoying. Crows, keese, I don't care. Just make them stop! -Sara Gitkos
2. Your rival in every Pokémon game
We saw a major change in Pokémon rivals over the past decade. The first few generations of Pokémon games, you competed against a jerk who was always one step ahead of you. Heck, no matter what Pokémon you selected as your starter, your rival always chose the Pokémon that had a type advantage over you. However, more recent Pokémon games have found a new way to annoy you. With incompetent rivals. For example, Hop in Pokémon Sword and Shield never really grasps how the type system works even by the end of the game. He's always getting beaten by you and acting as a massive tutorial that you interact with throughout the game. It just makes it so I cringe whenever I see him. -Rebecca Spear
3. Insane level creators in Super Mario Maker 2
I absolutely love seeing all of the creative things people come up with in the Super Mario Maker 2 community. Seriously, I don't know that I would ever come up with some of the things people create. However, there are also sadistic creators out there who make nearly impossible-to-beat levels. Things like requiring that you jump just right on the backs of flying Koopas for a long stretch while avoiding close-quarter spikes. I mean, I love going onto Super Mario Maker 2 and relaxing with a challenging course. But, there's a fine line for when challenging turns into torture. Curse you, crazy Super Mario Maker 2 level creators! -Rebecca Spear
4. Wesker (Resident Evil 5)
Wesker was once your colleague, but now he's not. Now he's a monster threatening to bring some ungodly experiments to the masses. Resident Evil 5 features a lot of bosses and monsters for you to fight, and by the end of the game you're exhausted, but Wesker is the last one. He's fast, super strong, and deals a lot of damage. It's always best to save up your Magnum ammo for this one. Otherwise, you'll be stuck having to not only shoot him down but manage your inventory so you can survive. Worst of all? He's not even all that special or terrifying. There are way better bosses in Resident Evil 5 and they come around much earlier in the game. Sure Wesker was your friend so there are emotional stakes, but unless you played some of the older entries in the series, you probably don't care. He's just another annoyingly-tough baddie that you have to take down. -Carli Velocci
5. Ghirahim / The Imprisoned (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)
Skyward Sword featured a lot of interesting things, but it was also a treasure trove of annoying characters, enemies, and mechanics. This ungodly game brought us Ghirahim, the super-strong weirdo who could deflect your sword with his arm. His personality is strange enough, but fighting him was annoying. While battling him, I had to stop my game so many times to re-pair my Wiimote to match the motion controls. It was the only way to beat him and since motion controls were especially error-riddled on Wii, fighting him was a nightmare.
Then there was The Imprisoned. I hated this boss for several reasons: 1.) He had a lame design that looked like something my five-year-old nephew would have drawn. 2.) You defeated him by popping his weird water balloon toes. 3.) You had to battle him not once, not twice, but three times by the end of the game, which seems like a cop-out for including other cool bosses. It just makes defeating him feel like a chore instead of an exciting experience. Maybe that was the point, but I didn't like it. -Rebecca Spear
6. Blue Shell (Any Mario Kart game)
This is a choice all about perspective. If you're towards the back of the pack during a round in Mario Party and unlock the Blue Shell, it's a blessing. However, if you're in first place and doing your best, it can be a curse. The Blue Shell is a joke in gaming, an almost automatic way to ruin the day of the first-place player. It's powerful and gets the job done, which is why it's only given to the players that need it, but can you imagine doing well and then getting hit with one of these? It's a mood killer of the highest order. This past decade has seen a lot of treatises on the Blue Shell from writers across gaming, and while some of them may be a bit hyperbolic, they all come from the same hurt place. It's the pain that can only be felt if you've been hit with the Blue Shell and that's something unique in games. -Carli Velocci
7. The Owl / Na'vi (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D)
Step back, Gannon. Here are the real villains of the game. Let's be clear; I love Ocarina of Time. However, you can't deny how annoying these characters are. The Owl, while helpful to new players, will...not...stop...talking! This unavoidable conversationalist vomits text on players who mindlessly click on buttons to make it go faster. The worst part? At the end, you will be asked a comprehensive question, and that jerk trolls the entire player base by switching the order of the Yes and No options. Clicking on the wrong one will steal another five agonizing, dialogue-heavy minutes you will never get back. Just as irritating, your sidekick, Navi, is the Karen of video games. She'll scream "Hey!" and "Listen!" at you forever if you decide to take too long getting back to the main quest. Let me do my side-quests in peace! She also helps you lock onto enemies or items, but some of the views make me wonder if she's just trying to get Link killed. She'd probably still be saying "Hello?" to his lifeless body. Like I said, the true villains of OOT. -Sara Gitkos
8. Hammer Bros. (Any Mario game)
The one enemy that always trips me up in Mario side scrollers, whether that be Super Mario Maker 2 or New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, is the Hammer Bros. These helmeted villains enchant me with their rhythmic-yet-random hammer throwing and then when I think I've found an opening; I always get nailed. See what I did there? Seriously, though. I'll be running along in the level and then when I notice those falling tools I stop and have to mentally psyche myself up to continue. I'll take a wheel of Boos, rotating flame throwers, a poison mushroom, or an angry sun over the Hammer Bros. any day. Just keep them away from me! -Rebecca Spear
9. Mice . . . or are they rats? (Overcooked)
Overcooked is a ton of fun, and Overcooked 2 is even better. But, I will never forget the nightmares from the original. Okay, I'm being dramatic, but if you ever played Overcooked and had to contend with mice in the kitchen, you would understand. They are the single most rage-inducing aspect of the game, and they are only in one or two stages. This is especially true if you are playing two-player co-op. The mice are a kitchen obstacle; they run across the kitchen, steal any food you leave on the counter, and take it back to their little home. This doesn't seem too bad, especially when there's one. But once that dinner rush hits, several more mice scurry across the floor to grab anything you've prepped. The only way to stop them is to punch them. You need to dedicate one person to that, otherwise, nothing is getting done. If there's only two of you, that can make things pretty impossible. Who knew a mouse could make you rage quit a family game? -Sara Gitkos
10. Clem (Luigi's Mansion 3)
I found every boss in Luigi's Mansion 3 a breeze to defeat except for when I was fighting Clem, the evil handyman in the basement. There's an easy way to defeat him, but it took me longer than I like to admit to figure out what it was. He determines that you'll battle him while on a floaty in a water tank and won't allow you to hit him while standing on land. If you try to use the Poltergust vacuum to suck up his floaty, he notices and throws mines at you. As a further jerk move, once you defeat him, Clem throws the elevator button that you're after into the bottom of the tank, so you have to go after it. He's just annoying from start to finish. -Rebecca Spear
Part of what can make a game enjoyable is how much skill it requires to master it. In the last 10 years, there have been several challenging titles on Nintendo gaming systems. Here are the toughest ones.
1. Super Mario Maker 2
The game itself isn't the hard thing, it's the creations that other people come up with that make this game difficult. Don't get me wrong, I love me a challenging Mario side scroller, but I refuse to put myself through the twisted gauntlets that some people make. Any game that requires me to dodge a million flamethrower wheels and only survive by jumping on my enemies' heads for the full course isn't worth it to me. I'll go enjoy the thousands of sane levels that other players have created, thank you very much. Of course, that all changes when I'm the one designing a course. Bwahaha! -Rebecca Spear
You can only win if you figure out the patterns of each boss and then take the necessary movements to avoid getting hit. What makes the game so hard is that the boss will change up their attacks and there will be multiple things happening at once. For instance, sub-enemies shooting cannonballs at you while the main boss attacks you from front and back. There's just so much to keep track of that you typically end up dying several times before you're able to best a boss. The thing that's nice about this game, though, is that when you die, it shows you how far into the boss battle you got. It also immediately starts you back at the beginning of the battle without forcing you to sit through any cutscenes or initiate the fight all over again. However, after repeated failures, you might just want to fling your controller against a wall. -Rebecca Spear
3. Ori and the Blind Forest
If you want a game that is stunning, compelling, and soul-crushingly difficult, then Ori and the Blind Forest is the game for you. This platform-adventure title puts you in the role of Ori, the white forest spirit, as he tries to reestablish balance to the forest of Nibel. With the help of the light and eyes of the Spirit Tree, Sein, the goal is to find and recover the three elements. Ori can jump, climb, and Metroidvania his way through each obstacle, and as you play, you get new abilities to help on your journey. The game has RPG elements that involve experience points and upgrades as well. It seems simple enough, right? Wrong. The platforming requires precision and perfect timing, especially during escape sequences. One mistake will have you starting over at your last save point. Plus, the game is so kind as to keep track of the number of times you've died. At least you have a little bit of a life bar, but if you fall into a hole, it doesn't matter much. If normal mode wasn't hard enough, really hardcore players can take on the One Life mode in the Definitive Edition. -Sara Gitkos
Platformers typically represent some of the toughest games around (Souls-likes notwithstanding), so having Celeste on here isn't the oddest pick. However, what makes it stand out across the entire genre is how emotionally and physically grueling it all is. You not only need to be a master of timing but also of the skills the game teaches you. You need to switch strategies at the drop of a hat as you go through its many intricately-designed levels. The game is so mechanically difficult that it offers an assist mode that lets you change several features just so you can get through it. However, it's also a game about mental health and how the title character has to fight herself to reach her goals, which can be difficult to handle in a different way. Celeste seems to work on multiple levels. It's a challenge, but on purpose, designed to create an environment that's tough to get through to reflect on its somber narrative. It's a challenge with a purpose. -Carli Velocci
5. Enter the Gungeon
The randomized weapons, enemies, and rooms of this shoot 'em up game make it harder for you to learn from your past mistakes and then improve. There are over 200 guns in the game, so you don't know what you're going to get when you open a chest. On top of that, there's usually a lot going on in any given room. Bosses blast out a ton of projectiles at once making it hard to dodge out of their path. Since you have very low health, it only takes a few hits before you need to start over. However, it's super rewarding when you finally complete one of the Gungeoneer's stories and can move on to the next character. That also presents a challenge, given that each character has their own starting weapons and items. You'll have to learn how best to use that character as you're making your way through the labyrinth. -Rebecca Spear
The 2010s have seriously been the decade of the sequels whether you're looking at gaming or media in general. That's not to say it's a bad thing. If there's an amazing game, I'm happy to experience more of it. Here are the best sequels on Nintendo hardware in the last decade.
1. Luigi's Mansion 3
Tying together nearly 20 years of a story, the Luigi's Mansion trilogy is taken to the next level in this third installment. From Luigi's first adventure, where he meets Professor Gadd, who's been trapping ghosts in paintings for years, and runs into King Boo, who is none-to-happy with Luigi's current task of ridding this old mansion of ghosts, to this year's release where Luigi must rescue Professor Gadd from a painting and fight his old nemesis King Boo all over again, Luigi's Mansion 3 is the perfect followup to Dark Moon. The adventure just keeps growing, even though the familiar characters remain the same. -Lory Gil
2. Super Mario Odyssey
This long-awaited sequel and launch title for the Nintendo Switch was well worth the wait. Super Mario Odyssey took the formula we all know and love and made it even better. Mario and his new sidekick, Cappy, are off to save the Princess Peach again, but this game offers so much more than its simple story implies. There are so many things to collect, areas to explore, and mini-games to play, you can get lost in this game for hours. With a mix of classic 2D and new-age 3D platforming, Nintendo has managed to create a game that hits that nostalgia spot while offering something exciting and new. Search for over 999 Power Moons, try your luck at Luigi's Balloon World, and just explore the vibrant and exciting world of Super Mario Odyssey. Oh, and you can be a T-rex. Enough said. -Sara Gitkos
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo set out to make something new. Something incredibly different from Zelda games of the past, something that stood out. Focusing on systemic design, this new approach paid off in spades and the game's critical and commercial success speaks volumes about how well the new design has been received. The most telling factor of its success? When Nintendo announced a new Zelda game at E3 2019, they explicitly confirmed it was a sequel to Breath of the Wild. -Samuel Tolbert
4. Super Mario Maker 2
The original Super Mario Maker was a huge hit on the Wii U, but since this wasn't a very popular console, many people didn't get to play the game. The sequel released on the hit Switch hybrid, which meant that a much larger audience of players can access it. This, in turn, means you find more creations created by others online. Super Mario Maker 2 also includes updated interfaces and hundreds of additional creation options. While I'd argue that not all of these changes were for the better, the majority are. Some of the new tools I love using are the different coin options, being able to add slopes, and all of the options given to you with the on/off switches. I also appreciate that the sequel includes a story mode so you aren't completely reliant on creating a level or finding another player's level to entertain yourself. -Rebecca Spear
5. Bayonetta 2
With Nintendo's backing, PlatinumGames took everything that worked in Bayonetta and took it up to an eleven. The visuals are better, the soundtrack is bolder, the setpieces more fluid and stunning. Bayonetta 2 is everything fans loved while still being less punishing for newcomers to understand. We'll have to wait and see if PlatinumGames can one-up itself again with Bayonetta 3 but for now, Bayonetta 2 stands as one of the definitive sequels on Nintendo platforms. -Samuel Tolbert
6. Super Mario Galaxy 2
This game just barely makes it on this list having released back in 2010 for the Wii. I loved the original game, but the second one improved the camera placement, making it easier to follow the mustachioed plumber as he jumped from one planet to the next. There were new ways to use motion controls, like balancing on top of a rolling ball. Every level was colorful, exciting, and didn't overuse elements from previous ones. Even if something familiar was thrown at you, there was always something unique added to it to make the experience new instead of just feeling like a repeated chore. Most important of all, the ways you earned each star was creative and usually made me smile. -Rebecca Spear
7. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn't that different from Mario Kart 8. They're the same game, except the latter was for the Wii U, a console that almost nobody had. To bring the game over to the Nintendo Switch for the console's launch was an excellent idea for a lot of reasons. Mario Kart is an easy way to get anybody into a new platform (who doesn't love some classic racing?), and Mario Kart 8 improved on just enough elements to make it a must-buy for any gaming fan. Players got a lot of new characters to play with, anti-gravity sections, an improved Battle Mode, and gorgeous graphics. Deluxe included all the released DLC as well, so it gave potential racers a complete package to start their Switch experience with. -Carli Velocci
8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I don't know how many times through the years I've heard people complain about not being able to control the character they'd loved most in a previous version of Smash. But that all changed with Ultimate. Every single character from the previous games is included with a host of new ones — like Banjo-Kazooie! I love being able to host a party for all of my friends to play together or being able to find random players online to play with if none of my friends are available. Some awesome amiibo figures were also designed specifically for this game and while I don't end up using them as much as you'd guess, I love having these amazing Super Smash Bros. figurines on display. -Rebecca Spear
9. Super Mario Party
It's been so long since a Mario Party game was this fun! Super Mario Party is a sequel that returns to its roots, but with all-new party games! Play locally or online with your friends with 80 different mini-games, so you can curse at your switch screen or your buddies on the couch. The board game is back for the standard Party Mode, where four players can take turns searching for stars and playing minigames. You can also play "Partner Party" if you want to play on teams! While the boards are on the short side, there are plenty of new ways to play. The real fun is in all those mini-games. It's refreshing to have so much variety rather than the same few recycled over and over. And the gang's all here! Mario, Luigi, and now...Bowser! It's definitely the way to bring back the Party. -Sara Gitkos
10. Nintendo Switch Lite & Switch 2.0
We love the Switch here at iMore. It's a great handheld/console hybrid that did almost everything Nintendo sought to do with it. You can bring your game to parties and then dock it on your TV when you're done. It's a more powerful console than previous Nintendo offerings, so the catalog is a lot larger, too. There were slight problems though. The battery life was poor and it was a little too big for some people who wanted to take it with them on the go. It did both handheld and stationary gaming but didn't excel in either category. Enter both the Switch Lite and the Switch 2.0. The former capitalized on the handheld idea and introduced a product that was not only cuter but was smaller and had fewer detachable components, which made it more portable. Switch 2.0, which came out around the same time as the Switch Lite, introduced some tweaks like better battery life to the main Switch console that also improved its portability. This shows that Nintendo wanted to move in one direction over the other (sorry home or console players), but it was what the people wanted. -Carli Velocci
Most replay value
One of the things that makes a game worth it for me is how long I'll be able to play it and if I'll be able to enjoy it a second, third, or fourth time after beating it. Here are the Nintendo games of the 2010s with the most replay value.
1. Super Mario Maker 2
While there's a lot of fun in replaying the main storyline with its 100+ levels, the real replay value for this game comes from your fellow players. Every time you jump onto the online portion of the game you'll find brand new creations ranging anywhere from super easy to insanely difficult. Since people get to vote for their favorites, you can easily find well-made online creations that fit what you're looking for in a Mario side scroller. As long as people continue to create new levels, you'll theoretically have a never-ending supply of new levels to play. -Rebecca Spear
2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses doesn't offer one incredible campaign: it offers three. The faction players choose at the beginning of the game (and another possible choice much later) determine which epic story you'll see through and which characters you'll get to bond with. After you finish, going back and seeing what a different faction was up to fills in more of the story while also providing one incredible "for want of a nail" scenario. Edelgard, Dimitri, Claude, and their houses all have something to offer. -Samuel Tolbert
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Saying there's a lot to discover in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is like saying there's life in the oceans. Sure, it's technically true but it doesn't quite capture the gravity of what is going on. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo forsook the tried-and-true heavy dungeon focus and gave players an incredible overworld filled with challenges. The results are incredible. Need to get across a chasm? Chop down a tree as an impromptu bridge. Need to reach a high place but your stamina isn't good enough? Attach those weird Octorok balloons you've been hoarding to something sturdy and float your way up. This game doesn't hold your hand – it teaches you to think outside the box, introducing a wide variety of tools, then says "Okay, figure it out." -Samuel Tolbert
4. Stardew Valley
One of the biggest perks of playing Stardew Valley is that you never get the same game twice, even if you are using the same map for your farm. You never know what kind of fish you might catch off the pier, what artifacts you might find in the mine, or what the weather will look like each day. Since you can also choose between several different maps, even your farm can change drastically. One of the significant aspects of gameplay is also the romance option with a dozen different characters available for you to marry. This means you at least have the opportunity for 12 different playthroughs as you romance and marry each eligible bachelor or bachelorette in the valley! -Jen Karner
5. Pokémon Sword and Shield
Even though you beat the Champion and become the Champion yourself and then capture the Legendary Pokémon, there's still so much to do in a Pokémon game. With 400 Pokémon in the Galar Pokédex, that means you have a ton of Pokémon to catch. And since some Pokémon are exclusive to each version of the game, you'll need to find someone else to trade those exclusives with, or hope you get lucky in Surprise Trade. Plus, some Pokémon have very specific conditions before they can evolve, and some, like Alcremie, have several dozen possible combinations, giving you plenty of reason to come back and keep playing if you're a completionist. You can also hunt for shiny Pokémon, build the absolute perfect team for competitive play, work on completing the Curry Dex, and so much more. Just because you're Galar's Champion and have Zacian or Zamazenta doesn't mean you're done with the game just yet. -Christine Romero-Chan
6. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
One of the most replayable games ever on the Switch is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. With over 70 fighters on the roster, and every stage possible from the history of Super Smash Bros., there is a ton of stuff to do in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And just because you've unlocked every fighter and beat the World of Light campaign doesn't mean you're done! You can always go back to the Classic Mode and beat it with every character, collect all of the Spirits, and always play with friends or online in ranked matches. Nintendo has even brought back fan favorites like Home Run Contest, which are insanely fun to play and try to beat your own high scores. And if you have the Fighters Pass, then you get a new DLC fighter added to the roster every few months, and that always adds a breath of fresh air into the game. -Christine Romero-Chan
7. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
I don't know how many times I've played this game since I got the Nintendo Switch, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was in the hundreds. Every time my niece and nephew come over, or whenever we throw a party, this game inevitably gets requested. You're constantly unlocking new gliders, karts, and wheels, which all affect your racing stats. For that reason, there's always a new combination of racing gear that can make you go faster or handle turns better. Since there are 41 characters, you've got a lot of different players to use. Since the games don't take long it's easy to play for one round and then turn the game off. The playful tracks and silly weapons make it an addictive game that you can play over and over. -Rebecca Spear
8. Overcooked 2
Say good-bye to your afternoon and your weekend, especially if you decide to pick up Overcooked 2. This game is so addictively fun, you could spend your hours toiling away in a kitchen, willingly. Overcooked 2 has several world maps, different destinations, and tons of DLC to keep you coming back to this exciting couch co-op. While not as exciting to play alone, when you pair up with a buddy, you'll find yourself attempting to pass each of these wonderful stages with all three stars. Chop up some veggies, throw a steak, and try your best not to burn the kitchen down as you step into each wacky new kitchen. Even after you beat the game, you may get the itch to go back to beat your score. Order up! -Sara Gitkos
9. Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is an extremely fun sequel with tons of replayability. While the main story may not take terribly long to complete, there are so many places to visit, side missions to complete, and items to collect. There are 999 possible Power Moons to find, numerous costumes to buy, and a challenging hide-and-seek minigame called Luigi's Balloon World that will certainly keep you busy. There is plenty to discover long after you've finished the story. With varying difficulty levels and amiibo and Nintendo Labo additions, Super Mario Odyssey is a game that will keep you busy for a long time. I still find myself going back between other games. Nintendo knows how to make'em last. -Sara Gitkos
10. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
This is one of the best games to play with your family and friends. It provides a cooperative experience where you all have to work together to collect all the coins, defeat enemies, and win. What's more, the "baby mode" provided by the Toadette and Nabbit characters makes it a game that any child or inexperienced player can enjoy. Mario and Luigi, on the other hand, hold a standard difficulty level for more experienced players. The levels are challenging but fun and since there isn't a meaty storyline, you can jump into any section and replay it whenever you want to. It's the perfect go-to game for any game night. -Rebecca Spear
Best mobile game
Phones have evolved and changed since 2010. Due to that, gaming on smartphones has also come a long way. Here are the best Nintendo mobile games from the last 10 years.
1. Fire Emblem Heroes
Up until recently, Fire Emblem strategy games were a somewhat niche area for Nintendo players. What's crazy about that is that at the time of writing this, Fire Emblem Heroes, is the seventh highest-grossing mobile app on the Google Play store and it has a 4.8 rating on the App Store with over 85,900 user reviews. It offers tie-ins from several Fire Emblem games, including the popular Switch game Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I love that I can summon my favorite characters from across the years, train them up, and employ them in strategic battles. It's just fun seeing them all together.
I think what makes this app so amazing, is that the turn-based gameplay is really good for being on your phone, not to mention challenging. There are currently over 800 story stages to play and, like in the non-mobile games, each character type has its own movement options and attacks. Something to note is that it's free-to-play, but also offers in-app purchases. As the numbers show, many players seem to think spending real-world money is worth it, though I've never spent any on it myself. -Rebecca Spear
2. Dr. Mario World
This is a truly addicting mobile game. The visuals are super fun and the map in-between levels are reminiscent of a traditional Super Mario game. Earning stars and coins is super rewarding and satisfying. The Tetris-like puzzles themselves start easy enough, but gradually grow more challenging as you continue. There are plenty of new elements including multi-colored bombs that help you destroy blocks to pair your pills with the various viruses you're trying to get rid of. There's a simple plot involving Bowser and his minions as well as Princess Peach and the Toads of Mushroom Kingdom, which adds more depth to the game.
Since the courses don't take very long, you can easily pick it up when you want to entertain yourself and stop when you need to. Ironically, I've played this game when I'm in a waiting room for a dentist or a doctor's appointment or when I'm just trying to kill time. Most importantly, it doesn't require you to spend real-world money to enjoy it. -Rebecca Spear
3. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Animal Crossing is no stranger to handheld gaming, but Pocket Camp brought it to Mobile. Available on both Android and iOS devices, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a free-to-play simulator game that follows the typical franchise formula, but with more social aspects. Players customize their living space and communities, trade items, and befriend their animal neighbors. While most of the details are similar, this game dives deeper into your relationship with inhabitants in your village. The more you interact with them, the more likely you are to earn unique rewards to help you customize your space. Sounds fun, right? Well, it is a mobile game, so get ready for microtransactions in the form of Leaf Tickets. You can buy these to reduce in-game timers or to fill in missing raw materials when you want to build something. You don't have to do that, however. You can enjoy everything this free-to-play game has to offer, like special events, crafting, and character customization! -Sara Gitkos
4. Mario Kart Tour
I know there have been a lot of mixed feelings about this game, considering how outrageous the in-app purchases prices are. However, speaking as someone who's never spent any money in the game, I've enjoyed it. The courses are a mix of new, cartoonized real-world locations and simpler versions of familiar tracks from previous games. Each race only has two rounds and doesn't take a lot of time, so you can start or stop playing easily. You earn rubies and coins by playing courses and can use these forms of currency to purchase new characters, karts, and gliders. You'll earn stars on each track depending on how well you scored. This makes it so you want to go back and try to beat your previous scores giving the game a decent amount of replay value. If that wasn't enough, a new tour comes through every couple of weeks so there's always new challenges and characters to discover. -Rebecca Spear
5. Super Mario Run
Super Mario Run was the first mobile app featuring the iconic plumber. It came out in 2016 and employed auto-running side scroller mechanics reminiscent of the popular Super Mario Bros. games. Levels are relatively short and there are plenty of challenges for you to complete giving the game loads of replay value despite having a fairly short storyline. This was the first game to officially include Mario on non-Nintendo hardware, which was big at the time. Considering that the Wii U hadn't sold very well, this allowed everyone to get their Mario fix as the Nintendo company's future seemed uncertain before the release of the highly popular Switch console. -Rebecca Spear
BONUS: Pokémon Go
We would have to be crazy not to mention Pokémon Go, though technically it doesn't belong on this list. While Pokémon RPGs are solely made for Nintendo, the Japanese gaming company didn't create the hit Pokémon Go app - Niantic did. As a matter of fact, Nintendo's shares skyrocketed shortly after the success of Pokémon Go in 2016 and then dropped sharply when investors realized that Nintendo wasn't actually behind it. Still, this game's popularity did a lot to refuel the hype for the franchise as well as pull in several unexpecting new fans. I don't know how many times I've gone to a park on Community Day and seen a huge range of players from little kids to people my parents' age hunting for Pokémon. It's fantastic.
It blew my mind when Pokémon Go took off because people who made fun of me in grade school for liking Pokémon were suddenly praising the game as a throwback to their childhood. All I can say is that Pokémon has a special way of bringing people together no matter your age. I don't know how many people I've met while doing a Max Raid Battle in the park or how many friends I have in the app. At any rate, it's fun to run into a random person who's also playing and be able to geek out about your favorite Pokémon or your latest shiny catch. It's a bonding experience for anyone who loves these adorable and awesome creatures. -Rebecca Spear
The Best Pokémon: Every Pokémon is someone's favorite
Hundreds of new Pokémon have been brought to the games in the last 10 years supplying us with over 800 Pokémon total. As the various online polls brought on by the news of "Dexit" showed, every Pokémon out there is someone's favorite. Since Pokémon holds such a special significance to each person, we decided we'd list some of our favorites and then explain why we like them so much. Here are some of our favorite Pokémon listed in alphabetical order:
The last decade of Pokémon has seen Game Freak forced to lean ever more deeply into weirder, unobvious ideas for monster designs as their total roster crept up to 1,000. I welcome this newfound chaos with open arms and would like to submit what I think to be the pinnacle of design nonsense as also one of the best ever: Appletun.
Appletun evolves from Applin, an aptly-named apple-looking thing that is in actuality just a small worm that has burrowed into an apple to hide from birds. It's an uncommon, but otherwise unaccomplished creature until exposed to checks notes a…second apple…whose flavor determines what kind of dragon it grows up into. If the apple is sweet, the worm merges with the apple and transforms into what amounts to a cross between a dragon and apple pie. Its Pokédex entry suggests that children eat its flesh.
This thing has no business existing in a game where, over a decade ago, all worms logically evolved into obvious bigger bug things. It is also one of my favorite Pokémon in the whole world and I am overjoyed Pokémon has existed long enough for this mishmash of ideas to exist. Long live Appletun. -Reb Valentine
Ever since Pokémon Red and Blue released, we had the pleasure of knowing this awe-inspiring dual fire-type and flying-type Pokémon. Whether you fell in love with it playing Pokémon Red or Blue, or it tugged on your heartstrings in the anime, Charizard earns its place on this list. I mean, especially if the holographic Pokémon card has anything to say about it. Strong, intimidating, and a force to be reckoned with, Charizard has always been a favorite among fans. Even its iconic showdown with Pikachu made it into the Detective Pikachu movie. You can't deny the popularity of this powerhouse; Charizard definitely deserves a spot on your roster. It's a bummer that it takes so long to get one in Pokémon Sword and Shield. -Sara Gitkos
Eevee is one of the best Pokémon ever created, and it's far better than the franchise mascot, Pikachu. Eevee is like an adorable little puppy or kitty, and it looks like something that you can have in real life as a pet. I mean, honestly, who can resist the adorableness of Eevee when it gives you love in the games? Plus, the coolest and best part about Eevee are all of the possible evolutions that it can take. To me, it's like watching a person grow and become their own, depending on their circumstances. With eight possible evolutions, you have most of your bases covered. I mean, you have Fire, Water, Electric, Dark, Psychic, Grass, Ice, and Fairy — you can have a solid team of Eeveelutions and be covered for most situations! The versatility of Eevee is ridiculously good. And with so many different possibilities, I'm sure there's at least one Eeveelution that everyone loves above the rest. For me, I adore Jolteon, Vaporeon, Umbreon, and Sylveon. -Christine Romero-Chan
My favorite Pokémon is Eevee: Eevee is the pinnacle of what Pokémon is all about. With the potential to evolve into eight different types or just continue to be its own, Normal-type awesome self, Eevee has it all. You can have an entire team of Eevee and Eeveelutions and still not have them all. While Gen VIII didn't give us a new type, it did give us a Gigantimax Eevee, finally proving that even without evolving Eevee is amazing. On top of all that, with its dog-like appearance and so much fluff, it's also one of the cutest Pokémon out there. -Casian Holly
Gengar has been my best boi for a couple of decades. On the original Pokémon Red/Blue, your first encounter with Gengar's evolutionary line is in Lavender Town, which houses a graveyard tower filled to the brim with ghostly Pokémon. Lavender Town made a lasting impression on me as a kid, with Gengar's Hypnosis/Dream Eater combo carrying me to victory against tons of friends at school.
Gengar is a popular Pokémon in general, making its way across various titles, complete with a huge array of merchandise and alternative Mega and Gigantamax forms. As the games progress, Gengar's Pokédex description gets darker. G-Max Gengar transforms into a gaping portal, which, according to the Pokédex, is a literal gateway to the afterlife. Standing in front of Gengar's mouth will allow you to hear the cries of your deceased loved ones. Few Pokémon are as creepy as they are cute.
I have to give an honorable mention to Sword/Shield's Polteageist, which combines the best of my love of Ghost Pokémon and my love of tea. -Jez Corden
I think we can all relate to Gyarados. There are times we feel that we're powerless and weak, just a floundering fish at the mercy of others. But then we evolve: we can burst out of our shell and grow, becoming more powerful than anybody could've imagined. We start off as Magikarps and turn into Gyarados. It may be cheesy, but I think this is why Gyarados resonates with so many. It's such a huge departure from its previous form that it's surprising. It's also satisfying, especially because Gyarados is so powerful. -Carli Velocci
Ninetales is a truly beautiful Pokémon to look at. She is the picture of grace paired with power, and I can't help but love beautiful yet dangerous creatures. The variety in types of moves she can learn offers a good mix you can build up for a well-rounded Pokémon, from fire, to psychic, to ghost, and fire. She even has grass, ground, and dark moves you can teach her with the right TM. I love that you can tell that she is an intelligent creature, very true to her fox nature. If you're good to her, she is good to you. Plus, who wouldn't love this awesome Pokédex entry in Pokémon Sword?: "It is said to live 1,000 years, and each of its tails is loaded with supernatural powers." -Alex Huebner
It's really hard for me to choose a favorite Pokémon because I like several of them for very different reasons. However, one of my absolute favorites is Noivern. I've always loved bats and dragons and this awesome guy is a mix of the two. On top of that, I love his coloring with the purple, green, and black getting broken up by the white fur. Whenever possible I always put him in my party. If Pokémon were real and I got to travel around with this guy, that'd be freaking awesome! I also love that his shiny variant is one of the ones that looks very different from his original coloring. It makes it far more exciting to find one and show it off. -Rebecca Spear
Adorable, sweet, and electric power, Pikachu is a Pokémon icon. This little mouse Pokémon's popularity exploded thanks to a fun anime and Pokémon Yellow. Tiny, agile, and cute, Pikachu is a huge fan favorite. In fact, this electric-type critter has a few games where it's featured as the main protagonist, like Detective Pikachu and PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure. Detective Pikachu was even made into a movie (where he was voiced by Ryan Reynolds, no less). Pikachu is synonymous with Pokémon! Plus, just look at it! It's not the strongest Pokémon, by any means, but he is the most recognizable. I can't make a party without one. Who doesn't need a quick, hyper-charged rodent on their squad? -Sara Gitkos
I've never played a Pokémon game before for any meaningful amount of time. So when I picked up Pokémon Sword, there were no pre-conceived biases of type or ability. I picked because the idea of water is calming, so I went with the water-type starter: Sobble. Sobble then proved himself worthy of being picked, as his water cannon ability was ridiculously overpowered. Pokémon several levels ahead, several in a row all fell, one by one. Different trainers, the braggadocios and calculating experts alike, all fell to the power of the water cannon. Sobble earned his place, and even after his evolution into Drizzile and later Intelleon, I will remember the little Sobster with fire in his heart and water at the ready. -Samuel Tolbert
Leave it to the Pokémon Company to make a small sack of garbage with arms adorable. Trubbish is hands down one of the greatest Pokémon of all time from a design standpoint, but also a subtle political perspective as well. As an embodiment of our wasteful tendencies as a society, this cute little creature is a constant reminder that just because something is thrown away, doesn't mean its gone. Our waste has consequences and just like our little pet Trubbish, we need to do a better job taking care of it. -Miles Dompier
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