The Nintendo Switch is such a unique and interesting console with its ability to double as both a console and a handheld. There’s never been anything quite like it and I’m so excited to see all the games that come to it because I know that I’ll be able to play them anytime and anywhere. Another thing I’m really excited about with this new and portable functionality are the many games that will be available on the Nintendo Switch’s Virtual Console service. Nintendo hasn’t announced when they’re going to launch but I already know what games I want to be able to experience in HD both on the go and on the TV.
10. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the first games I ever played. I love everything about this game. Those warm feelings people get when they think about Super Mario World and Super Mario 64, that’s how I feel whenever I think about or play this game. Don’t get me wrong–there isn’t a Mario game I don’t like. I just love this one the most. The platforming just feels so tight. The controls feel like they had a eternity’s worth of work put into them. The levels are imaginative and filled with just wonder. I never knew what level would come next. The difficulty is perfect too. The first few worlds are easy. After that the difficulty starts to ramp up more. I like this because more casual players are going to quit playing after the first few words anyway. This provides a nice investment into the player’s dedication as they get closer and closer to the end. This game is a great example of Nintendo’s ability to communicate through game design and without the need for long tutorials. You can put your pitchforks down. I know they have more of a reputation for that now. I’m just pointing out that they were probably the first developer to master that relationship. If Breath of the Wild is any indication then they may be getting back to this which is just thrilling in my opinion. Anyway–this game is a masterpiece and one of the greatest games ever made. I make sure that I replay this game to completion every single year and I’ve done so for at least the last eight years. I usually end up playing through the first four or so worlds once a year in addition to beating the game on another occasion.
I know this game will likely only cost five dollars when it inevitably releases on the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console but truth be told, I’d pay twice that without even hesitating. This game is a template for great game design and everyone needs to be able to experience. The thought of being able to play this on the Switch screen on the go is just too much for me to even imagine. I enjoy beating this on my 3DS but that screen doesn’t even come close to the comfort and screen size of the Switch. Nintendo, if you’re listening, please launch the Virtual Console with this game. I love this game. It pops off the screen. The music is unforgettable. The platforming mechanics are absolutely flawless. The length is perfect. This game is an achievement in game design.
9. Link’s Awakening DX (Game Boy Color)
I’m just gonna say it. This is one of my favorite games in The Legend of Zelda franchise. Obviously my actual favorite is a tie between Wind Waker (HD) and Breath of the Wild, followed closely by Ocarina of Time (3D) but this is right up there. Look, it’d be impossible ranking the series. We’d be be here for all day when really we should be replaying every game in the series instead. They’re all great games. This game however, is so incredibly deep and interesting and definitely one of the more offbeat titles in the franchise. The development started off as a project to port A Link to the Past to Game Boy. This was obviously incredibly difficult and it wasn’t long before it ended up shifting into its own special project. This project wasn’t officially happening for a while. It was just developers having fun messing with a Game Boy development kit. That kind of sentiment can probably be said about anything that gets made by a Nintendo development team but this was such a special and warm example. This game is so much different than other games in the franchise. It takes place on an island rather than Hyrule and there’s no Zelda or collecting the different pieces of the Triforce. There are even cameos from the Super Mario Bros. series, like a chain chomp right in the main village!
Link’s Awakening DX is great game built on passion and genuine love for video games. There was a definite love for Zelda style gameplay but all those involved with the development didn’t let the constraints of the series box them into a specific story or story tropes. Being brave and bold enough to break free from previously established formulas and the setting of previous games is what helped make this game so great. The gameplay is as much like Zelda as any of the other games, with a few changes and additions. Roaming around this 2D world and slashing enemies while progressing through the story is as entertaining and as it is enthralling. Link’s Awakening DX is my preferred 2D Zelda game, over A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds. Being able to throw a few bucks at Nintendo and experience this game anywhere and on the big and bright display of the Nintendo Switch would be a dream come true for me. This is already one of favorite eShop games on my 3DS and I’d love an excuse to replay it.
8. Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
Donkey Kong Country is an absolute classic. The graphics even have a warm charm about them, despite having aged a bit over the years. Think about the first time you played this game. I guarantee you can find some early memories from this game and if you can’t because you haven’t played it, then are you in for a treat. This is one of my favorite games. It’s an incredible achievement in the platforming genre. Rare was at the top of their game when they were with Nintendo and this is one of many examples that shows what they capable of. Donkey Kong Country was fearless in what it set out to do. It went out with the mission to be a badass 2D (with pseudo-3D elements) while the genre was on its way out the door. Now, we may embrace 2D and retro-style games now (Thank God!) but as the industry shifted towards 3D, it was considered silly to put a bunch of money into a 2D style game. Luckily there were games like Donkey Kong Country and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to show that there would still be some demand for 2D games.
The platforming in Donkey Kong Country is as brilliant as it is difficult. It starts off easy enough and progresses at a steady rate it’s at about a third of the way through when it’s much more difficult than the beginning of the game. Once you’re in the middle of the game, you’re going to die a lot. The snow levels are incredibly difficult. My brother-in-law and a friend of ours actually decided to make a drinking game out of Donkey Kong Country. Every time you died, you had to take a big swig of booze and pass the controller over to someone else. When we get to the snow world though, we realized we were in trouble. Our reflexes were being greatly hindered and we decided to suspend drinking until we got off that world–or we would die ourselves. Not really … but the next morning was a nightmare. This game is great, though. From the music to the lushly detailed environments to the responsive controls … it’s all here. This game absolutely needs to be on the Nintendo Switch. Not only so another generation of gamers can experience it while older games replay it for the hundredth time, but also so we can finally have a flawless portable version of the game. The GBC and GBA versions aren’t bad but they don’t come close to the original. Okay, well, the GBC version is pretty bad. This was eight bucks on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console but I’d gladly pay twice that to experience it both on the TV and on the go.
7. Luigi’s Mansion (Gamecube)
Luigi’s Mansion might not seem as crazy or weird now but at the Gamecube’s launch, it confused a lot of people. It ended up being a great game. It was just out of nowhere and was also unlike Nintendo to launch a system without their flagship plumber. His brother brought his best though in this entertaining and at times scary ghost hunting game. I love this game and would love to be able to replay it on an HD display and on the go. Luigi’s Mansions 2: Dark Moon is a great game in its own right and I’d like to see more sequels but in the meantime, this would be a great to help launch the Virtual Console. If it doesn’t happen on launch, I hope it at least happens at some point. This game is too great not to brought into the modern age. Physical copies go for about thirty bucks or so too so it’d be nice to see this for around fifteen or twenty bucks. As much as I love Dark Moon, it’d also be nice to have this as a portable game instead. This one isn’t as segmented and is a bit longer. With some save states, this could be a great portable game.
6. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (SNES)
I didn’t play this on the Super Nintendo when it originally came out. I didn’t have a Super Nintendo. I had a Sega Genesis and then a Playstation. It wasn’t until I got a Game Boy Advance from my parents and Grandma that I was able to play this game. It ended up being one of my favorite games and remains pretty far up my list more than a decade later. Many of us just call this Yoshi’s Island because the title is quite silly and lengthy. Nintendo’s marketing probably just decided to throw the Super Mario World at the beginning so they could ride of the name recognition and so people would know it was a platformer. This was the first platformer where you got to control Yoshi exclusively after all. This game couldn’t be any more different than Super Mario World. The colors are even more bright and vivid than Super Mario World … somehow. They graphics look draw and just pop off the screen. The sound effects are bouncy and happy–except baby Mario when he cries. That’ll drive you up the wall but it does have its intended effect I suppose.
This is a very tightly designed platformer with plenty of great ideas that were implemented well. The length is perfect too with plenty of levels and some wild and unique bosses as well. This was released on the Wii U Virtual Console (the GBA version of it) and I’d love to throw Nintendo a few more bucks to have this on the Switch as well. Being able to play the original version on the go would be pretty great too. This needs to be included with the first batch of SNES titles to help launch the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console. If it’s not I’ll just cry and scream like baby Mario until Nintendo gives in to my demands. I’ll also stop if Yoshi picks me up because that’d probably be even cooler than playing this game. Who wouldn’t love to ride a Yoshi?
5. Golden Sun (Game Boy Advance)
Golden Sun is one of my all-time favorite RPGs. This game is magical, creative, and filled with the wonder that we need from both JRPGs and RPGs. It’s a lovely game with a story filled with great characters. I love this game. The sequel is incredible too by the way. I’m just trying to keep this list down to ten games. This game did release on the Wii U Virtual Console so I fully expect it to come to the Nintendo Switch. I’m just hoping it’s one of the first games to launch the Virtual Console on the Switch. I love everything about this game. Random encounter battles are an absolute delight. Yeah, you read that right. They’re fast. They’re fluid. The sound effects make you feel like an absolute badass when you’re unleashing a frenzy of fury with some of the more powerful attacks. And listen, this music will tug at your emotions like few other games can even attempt to do. I love this music. The only problem with the music is it was trapped in the speakers of a Game Boy Advance. I can’t wait to have this flow from the surround sound that our Nintendo Switch is hooked up to like it truly deserves.
I can’t praise this game enough. I’ll do a retro review on it at some point but full disclosure: I love this game. It’s one of the games that continued my love for video games. If you don’t love JRPGs then it won’t change your mind but if it’s something you’re into then it will absolutely reaffirm your love for them by carrying the torch for the genre in a way that few other games could. Hiroyuki Takahashi and Shugo Takahashi originally brought us Shining Force III so they know how to make a damn good JRPG and I would personally say that this and its sequel represent the best of what they’re capable of. Well executed environmental puzzles mixed with addictive but deep combat combined with great characters and an interesting story that are brought to life through beautiful graphics and an incredible soundtrack. This game is a classic that doesn’t deserve to sleep with the Game Boy Advance or the Wii U. This needs to be experienced in HD on the TV and on the go with the Nintendo Switch.
4. Metroid Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance)
There was a day a while back at an old job where I was extremely bored and spent about an hour writing out my favorite games of all time in no particular order. I probably wrote out over a hundred games. I then narrowed that down to my top fifty games in no particular order. Then I narrowed that down to my top twenty games ranked. Metroid Zero Mission was in my top five. It was only behind BioShock and Super Mario Bros. 3. I love this game. In my opinion, this is the greatest game in the entire Metroid franchise and one of the best games ever made. You see, there was never an issue with the original Metroid. It was held back by a few things that would later make their way into amazing sequels. It was missing a map and the ability to shoot and attack better and in more directions. The addition of extra content, more realized music, better controls (from the extra buttons!), and the added detail in graphics only help make the case for this being one of the greatest games ever made. Now, I’m a video game critic. I’m not the voice of reason for the entire industry. This is just my opinion. But this game is incredible! The exploration is at its peak for this series despite this being a remake of the first entry in the series. The story is mysterious but still there. The gameplay is polished and there. This game is a must play for everyone. Come and see why us Metroid fans are so pissed off at the lack of a real Metroid game. The only downside is you’ll fall in love with this game and then be playing the waiting game with the rest of us. It’s still worth it though. This game is that good. This game would be incredible to experience both on the TV and on the go on the Nintendo Switch. Don’t tell Nintendo but I’d gladly pay as much as forty bucks for this on Virtual Console just to own it on the Nintendo Switch and to show Nintendo how much I love this game and the series.
3. Starfox 64 3D (Reworked) (3DS)
Okay so here’s where we’re changing the game and I mean that quite literally. I don’t expect the 3DS version of Starfox 64 to be ported entirely. I know they’d need to remove the dual screen and touch screen mechanics. I don’t care. Remove those chunks of the game while keeping the great multiplayer, graphics, and (optional) gyroscope controls. This game was amazing on the Nintendo 64 and the 3DS improved on it in every single possible way. This game is too great to be left on a portable system. It needs to be experienced on the TV. I wouldn’t even mind paying an extra premium for it. I don’t want to say this too loudly but I’d pay full retail price to have on the Nintendo Switch but so we can all get on the same page, let’s at least agree on $19.99. Trust me–this game is both beautiful and fun. It’s a great game and I can guarantee you’ll spend hours playing through the campaign numerous times. The gyroscope controls are thankfully optional; sometimes I like these controls but at other times I just want to play through it with a regular old controller. This game desperately needs to be on the Switch and I think it could help be a part of a 3DS-on-Switch offering of titles. Perhaps games that Nintendo has already made all the money they’ll make on them on 3DS could be a part of this program. If it ever happens (when flying pigs soar through a frozen hell) please buy it to show Nintendo we want 3DS games on Nintendo Switch retooled to work seamlessly on their new system. Hell, I’ll even pay for it so you can enjoy this great game.
2. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (Gamecube)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is almost my favorite Mario Kart title. It’s second only to Mario Kart 8 and can you blame me? I’ll be buying that on the Nintendo Switch day one by the way and we will have a full review but in the meantime, dream with me. Double Dash!! is a wonderful game. I think it’s the first truly perfect Mario Kart title. Super Mario Kart helped introduce the concept. Mario Kart 64 helped define the concept more deeply but couldn’t quite fully realize it. Double Dash!! showed what Mario Kart could truly be with enough room to stretch its arm.s this game is beautiful and its art style would benefit so much from being able to show off in full HD. I’d love to able to toss Nintendo a $20 bill and experience this lovely game whenever I want, in HD or on our TV. This game is great. There’s really not much to say other than this the first fully realized Mario Kart that didn’t really experience any major technological limitations, other than HD and of course the graphics. The multiplayer aspect of playing two-player in the same kart was a lot of fun but more importantly, its tracks were bigger, better, and more detailed and the art style was still beautiful despite not being optimized for HD. Let’s bring this into modern times with a fair price tag and the added benefit of being able to experience it both on the go and at home with online multiplayer support. We’ll have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe but having kart racer would be an absolute blast to play when we want to take a little break from it and play something a little more retro.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Reworked) (3DS)
Ocarina of Time has more perfect review scores than any other game. Everything that needs to be said has already said about this magical and wonder-filled game. If you don’t love this game then you haven’t played it. If you still don’t love it then I guess greatness just isn’t your jam. However, the 3DS version is ABSOLUTELY the superior version. If you disagree with me then you obviously have a love for the retro goodness of the original classic. I can respect that but graphics based off the concept art, tweaked gameplay mechanics, and improved controls can make any great game better. This is the best version and while I love playing it on the 3DS, I would replay this version every single year without fail. Let’s tweak so the touch screen mechanics are removed while the rest of the game gets dropped onto the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console for the fair price of $19.99. This version is too damn good to be left on a single system. Together the N64 original classic and the 3DS remake should travel through the future as an example of near-perfect game design and entertainment. Join me in emailing Nintendo and telling them it’s a crime against all of humanity to not drop this onto the Nintendo Switch in downloadable form!
Hey, these are just the games that I love and hold close to my heart from Nintendo systems. What games do you want on the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @Mrjoshnichols. I’ll join you in emailing Nintendo. I love good old games and the more that are made accessible and in modern format, the happier I am. Thanks for reading! And by the way, if you haven’t played any of these I can assure you these are great games and deserve your attention and time. If you end up playing any of these for the first time (or even if you just end up replaying them) let me know what your thoughts are on Twitter!