The best Nintendo games have been blockbusters. Nintendo has had a number of hits that have set gaming records on a variety of consoles dating back to the '80s. As such, Nintendo has a collection of hit games that could make Sony and its PlayStation weep!
One of Nintendo's early breakthroughs came with Donkey Kong in the early '80s. The game starred a podgy plumber called Mario and a cuddly monkey known as Donkey Kong. It was an early platform game released for the arcades that was one of Nintendo's first game hits. In the game, Mario needed to jump barrels and reach Donkey Kong to save Princess Peach. The game had numerous sequels, but perhaps more notable was Mario who would become Nintendo's mascot and a gaming icon.
Nintendo Hits on the NES and GAME Boy
Super Mario Bros, released with the Nintendo Entertainment System, was Mario's first console game. This was a platform game that starred the plumber Mario who once again had to save Princess Peach, this time from Bowser. Bundled with the NES, the game set new records with multiple million sales (about 40 million copies) and launched the Mario series.
Super Mario Bros 3 was the third instalment of the Mario series in America. Once again, the plucky plumber could seemingly do little wrong as the game stormed to the top of the charts. Is it a bird, is it a plane, no it's Super Mario! For in this game, Mario could fly like a bird (or a plane perhaps) for the first time and had a wide variety of items to select from. Mario Bros 3 also introduced a minimap element to the series. However, the plot remained typically unoriginal as Mario set out to rescue Princess Peach, who makes a habit of going missing!
Nintendo's Game Boy was a portable console that eclipsed alternative handhelds such as the Game Gear and Atari Lynx. This was largely due to Nintendo games such as Super Mario Land released in the late '80s. Super Mario Land on the Game Boy was similar to Mario Bros, but there was no Bowser and Princess Peach was actually Princess Daisy. It was Nintendo's best-selling Game Boy game.
Mario aside, Nintendo's biggest hits also include Zelda games. The original Legend of Zelda on the NES established a new role-play series starring Link and Princess Zelda. In the game, Link needed to collect a number of weapons and items to progress through the numerous dungeons where he collected segments of the Triforce to defeat Gannon. Overall, this Zelda game is regarded as one of Nintendo's finest.
Mario and Zelda Series Embrace 3D
On more advanced game consoles, Nintendo added an entirely new dimension to the Mario and Zelda games. This was most apparent on the Nintendo 64, for which Nintendo released Mario 64. For the first time, Mazza was in 3D with a thrilling new perspective. The game was set in Princess Peach's Castle, where the princess had of course been captured by Bowser. To progress, Mario had to collect a number of coins located in the various levels. Mario 64 was the console's biggest hit and laid down a benchmark for 3D platform gaming.
Zelda Ocarina of Time was also released on the Nintendo 64 (and later the 3DS). The game took Zelda into 3D with some great graphical effects. As in previous Zelda games, Link had to collect segments of the Triforce through various dungeons. Some new and exciting game features included a number of Ocarinas that Link could play and collect to progress through the game. Ocarina outstripped the original Legend of Zelda commercially, and many rate it the best Zelda game overall.
Nintendo HITS on the DS
However, handheld consoles remained two-dimensional despite the rise of 3D games. So Nintendo reverted to the more traditional 2D format for New Super Mario Bros on the DS. This was primarily a colourful 2D platform game with some 3D effects included for good measure.
Despite the title, 'New Super Mario Bros' actually included many of the more traditional game features and power-ups from earlier versions, such as the super mushroom, fire flower and stars alongside more original ones such as the BIG mushroom for giant Mario. This Mario game also had better physics than previous titles in the series with trees that fall over, ropes to swing from and wires that bend or stretch under Mario. New Super Mario Bros gained a number of awards such as the Golden Joystick. It is the highest grossing Mario game behind Super Mario Bros.
Many love pets, and dogs especially. However, for those who do not have pets, Nintendogs on the Nintendo DS became the next best thing to having a dog chewing up your living room rug! Nintendo's very original Nintendogs brought cute dogs and puppies to the DS in a great pet game. The game included a number of contests such as agility trial and disc competition for dogs. With such innovation, Nintendo had another hit that would eventually outstrip a number of Mario's best games. It emerged as the top title on the DS ahead of Mario's masterpiece.
Nintendo Wins Back the Fans with Wii Sports and Mario Galaxy
The Wii reasserted Nintendo's hardware and games. With its Wii Remote, the console showcased an exciting new generation of Nintendo games. Among the most prominent of those was Wii Sports, which was a launch title for the console. Wii Sports includes a collection of sport games, such as tennis, bowling, golf, baseball and boxing, that are a great compliment to the console. Sports showed that gaming could be both active and energetic. Wii Sports has since become Nintendo's biggest game hit to date having shifted about 82 million copies.
Wii Sports launched the Wii, but it was Mario Galaxy that shot the console into the stratosphere. For many fans, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 are among the greatest games ever. Mario in outer space added a whole new dimension to the games' gameplay with gravity mechanics that sucked Mario into planets. The Mario Galaxy games were a joy to play, and collectively they shifted about 20 million copies.
So from the NES games of the '80s through to the Wii, Nintendo has had a number of the game industry's biggest hits. Games such as Mario Bros and Legned of Zelda, alongside more recent titles including Nintendogs and Super Mario Galaxy, propelled Nintendo consoles to the forefront of the industry. Nintendo has a golden touch for games that Sony and co cannot match.