When you’ve been around as long as Nintendo has, there are bound to have been some pretty darn intense highs and lows in your business career. From their humble beginnings as Hanafuda card makers 129 years ago, they’ve risen to become one of the big three; a force to be reckoned with in the gaming industry.
Well, I suppose opinions will differ on that one. Often, their reputation for fearless innovation is equally seen as their being out of touch with the competition. Eschewing conventional gaming trends for gimmickry. Sometimes, this way of thinking pays dividends, as in the case of the Wii and DS, and other times… well, a Virtual Boy or Wii U is spawned from the depths of Satan’s clogged underworld toilet instead.
As of right now, though, things are looking pretty darn good for Nintendo. Their latest system, the hybrid handheld that is the Switch, is performing pretty darn well. This year has been a little sparse compared to 2017, release-wise, but the system’s likely to finish it on a high note with the likes of Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate hitting stores.
It’s always a bit of a mixed bag in this industry. Gamers have long memories, and an ability to be both super dedicated and super snarky. One person’s incredible is another person’s incredibly overrated, after all.
On that note, strap yourselves in and let’s check out some Nintendo titles from both sides of that argument. Detective Pikachu, Super Mario Party, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido… there’s something for everyone right here.
30 WAY OVERRATED: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
I hear you, friends. I definitely do. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an excellent game, and a welcome evolution for the series to have taken. It’s a title you can sink many hundreds of hours into, and while there are some legitimate qualms to be had (why does EVERYTHING degrade and break), it’s a super impressive and enjoyable title.
The most liberating Zelda title we’ve ever had? Absolutely, in my eyes. Impressive as open world titles go? Probably not. As we see more and more vast, ambitious titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 arriving, we see how the whole exploration and survival thing in Link’s adventure pales in comparison.
29 UNDERRATED GEM: Detective Pikachu
That’s right. Many of us were largely unaware of the existence of Detective Pikachu, until the movie trailer hit the internet in a vicious wave of realistic Pokémon that we were completely unprepared to handle. What the heckola is up with that Mr. Mime? Do the makers of this movie not care if anyone who saw that ever sleeps again?
We’re getting a little off topic, though. The important thing is that Detective Pikachu is also a 3DS game from earlier this year, a point-and-click sort of adventure starring a gravely-voiced Pikachu.
Does that sound like an offer you can’t refuse? That’s because it is.
28 WAY OVERRATED: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Again, don’t go running away with the false impression that I’m just throwing needless shade here. I’m a huge fan of the Smash Bros. franchise, and there’s no doubt that I’m going to be all over this one on its arrival. From everything we’ve seen so far, it’s going to be vast package; perhaps the biggest game Switch will see in its lifespan.
Even so, though, we’ve been completely saturated with Smash-related content. Recent Nintendo Directs (including the E3 extravaganza) have been dedicated to the game, with other upcoming Nintendo titles thrown in as a bit of an afterthought. Let’s just calm ourselves down a little.
27 UNDERRATED GEM: Sushi Striker — The Way Of Sushido
For all that Nintendo Switch has achieved so far in its lifespan, there’s one thing the most ardent of supporters can’t deny: it sure as heckles took its sweet time building up a head of steam. The big-ticket item on launch was Breath of the Wild, which wasn’t exclusive to the system, and it wasn’t until Super Mario Odyssey arrived that things really took off.
In the wake of all of that, there were some quirky titles that didn’t get the attention they maybe should have.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is a bright, brash and addictive puzzler, in which players engage in ‘sushi battles’ by matching colored plates and throwing them at their opponents.
There are some light RPG elements to it, and it’s all very addictive and enjoyable, but the game was let down by its premium (that is to say, full retail) price tag.
26 WAY OVERRATED: Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee
I’ve got to admit, I was a little conflicted here. Depending on your viewpoint, Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee would fit snuggly on either side of the overrated/underrated argument, but I’m going to go with the latter.
Why? Because the mere mention of the Pokémon name carries such weight. Let’s Go is definitely a placeholder until the much-ballyhooed ‘Real Pokémon’ game arrives next year (more on that later), but it’s still being hyped to within an inch of its life by Nintendo. It’s one of their big holiday 2018 releases, for better or worse, and it’s being treated as such.
25 UNDERRATED GEM: Grim Fandango
Ah, yes. Grim Fandango. Here’s another game that has only recently become available on Nintendo systems (the remaster is available on the eShop right now), and it’s another that you won’t want to miss out on any longer if it’s passed you by so far.
The point and click adventure may be a genre that’s fallen by the wayside of late, but the story of Manny the Underworld travel agent is one that you must experience. The journey is unforgettable, as are the characters you’ll meet along the way. The puzzles can be a little obtuse, but this title deserved all of its critical acclaim and none of its woeful sales record.
24 WAY OVERRATED: Kid Icarus: Uprising
This one’s going to be a little controversial too. After all, Kid Icarus: Uprising isn’t a straight-up bad game by any stretch. It was a welcome return from a long-forgotten series, was packed with content and one of the most visually impressive titles in the 3DS’s repertoire.
A TPS/rail shooter was not what I was expecting from Uprising, either, so that was a bold move too. The issue was making all of this work on the 3DS, which required a complex control scheme that made it really darn difficult to play. So much so, the game was bundled with a stand to make it a little easier. For left-handed players like myself in particular, it was not a good time.
23 UNDERRATED GEM: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Speaking of insubstantial party games, this is probably what a lot of us were expecting on hearing of the Mario/Rabbids collaboration that was coming to the Switch.
The game that finally resulted, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, proved many of those naysayers wrong. Those that opted to give it a chance, anyway.
It’s a brilliantly ridiculous game, there’s no doubt about that. However, it’s also much deeper than you’d expect. It’s a turn-based strategy game akin to X-COM, and there’s a good amount of content here for fans of such. It’s not without challenge, either, with some deceptively fiendish stages on offer.
22 WAY OVERRATED: Starlink- Battle For Atlas
With the Switch’s second anniversary coming up in a few months (it launched in March 2017), you’d probably expect that a lot of Nintendo’s biggest IPs would have found their way on to the system now. Or, at least, have been announced as in development. You’d be totally right on that score, with Pokémon, Super Mario, Zelda, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Smash Bros., Fire Emblem, Metroid Prime and a whole lot more already available or on the way.
One franchise we haven’t seen get a game of its own is Starfox, but it does feature in the Switch edition of Ubisoft’s Starlink: Battle for Atlas. It’s an interesting open-world space exploration affair, that sees you traveling the star system to make and develop your crew. The USP is the toys-to-life element, which sees you piloting the craft you yourself have built.
On Switch, you have exclusive access to an Arwing, Fox McCloud and several themed missions. Reviews have been mixed, though, and this isn’t Starfox Switch.
21 UNDERRATED GEM: Luigi’s Mansion 3DS
Living as we do in the age of the port, remake, HD remaster and all of those shenanigans, it’s no longer surprising that a decade-old title can become current again super darn fast.
Luigi’s Mansion is, technically, a seventeen-year-old game, but here it is freshly released for the 3DS.
While Luigi’s My First Resident Evil title was darn fun and a cult favorite, it wasn’t exactly what you’d call essential purchase material on the GameCube’s launch. It was entirely unlike anything Nintendo had really done before, though, and it’s great to see the original return for 3DS. Not to mention its sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, and the upcoming third in the series for the Switch.
20 WAY OVERRATED: Super Mario Party
Before Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee arrived, as I say, 2018 has been quite quiet for big, hype-heavy Switch releases. Particularly from Nintendo themselves. Before the Kanto adventure, the last one was Super Mario Party, which launched early in October.
It’s another AAA Switch title that feelings have been decidedly mixed about. In terms of overall content, it’s tough to say where it stands in the Mario Party pantheon. Side modes such as River Survival and Partner Party made their debut, but there’s some debate as to whether they’re worth the lack of boards in the main mode, Mario Party itself.
19 UNDERRATED GEM: The World Ends With You
Here we are again, heading back off to the world of the brand-new-except-not port. The World Ends With You is an action RPG from Square Enix and Jupiter, which first arrived on the DS back in 2007. It became something of a cult favorite for its visuals and soundtrack, but never really made the impact it deserved.
Last month, it was released on the Switch as The World Ends With You: Final Remix, an enhanced port that surely tempted many of the game’s fans into double dipping. If you’ve never played before, this is an excellent opportunity to get on board as well.
18 WAY OVERRATED: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Now, I can appreciate Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Don’t go thinking that I can’t, friends, because you’d be way off. Mario Kart is one of my very favorite series from Nintendo. Spontaneously deciding that a random stranger in an online race is your ‘rival’ after something they did to you, then trying to pay them back in kind for the rest of the session, is one of the greatest pleasures I find in online gaming.
Mario Kart 8 is a great game, yes, and the enhanced port is one of the most popular games on the system. Again, though, we’ve seen it all already for the most part.
17 UNDERRATED GEM: Wandersong
Another string to the Switch’s ow is its vast repertoire of indie titles. If that’s the sort of thing you’re into, you can enjoy acclaimed indie games on the go, and that’s a huge draw for some. Big-ticket items like Darkest Dungeon and Hollow Knight are right there, on the go or on your TV as you please.
Another gem you may not be so familiar with is Wandersong, a puzzly/action title starring a bard. They travel the land solving problems and puzzles by singing, flipping through a song wheel to use each composition’s special effect.
It’s a whimsical and surprisingly affecting game, and one that you shouldn’t miss out on.
16 WAY OVERRATED: Dark Souls Remastered
As we all know, Nintendo may have a reputation for creativity and innovation, but they’re also known for something else: being totally lacking in their responses to third-parties. As a result of this (and the lack of raw tech specs of their systems), many multi-platform games have passed Nintendo’s systems by.
In a lot of ways, then, the Switch is left trying to play catch up. This leaves Nintendo fans to enthuse about something that many other gamers have been playing for some time, as with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Doom. Dark Souls: Remastered is another example, long delayed on Switch and lacking in performance when compared to other systems when it did arrive.
15 UNDERRATED GEM: WarioWare Gold
For a lot of Nintendo fans just now, it’s all about the Switch. This makes perfect sense, as the system is the flavor of the month and all, but the 3DS is gradually fading away, for the most part.
It’s understandable, sure (the handheld has been doing the rounds since 2011), but it’s always sad to see the releases get more and more sporadic. One 3DS gem you may have missed this summer was WarioWare Gold, a sort of compilation entry in the unhinged series. Anyone with an appreciation of the microgame formula should definitely check it out.
14 WAY OVERRATED: Fortnite: What’s The Best Way To Play?
Steady on there, friends. I’m not here to comment on Fortnite itself (which isn’t my personal cup of tea, but is clearly a worldwide phenomenon for a reason), but rather the port as a whole.
It’s always great to see a popular title or series make its way over to Nintendo for the first time, but it’s often inevitable that concessions will have to be made to do so.
Fortnite isn’t the most taxing title for a system to handle, but nor is this the greatest and most impressive take on it. The biggest deal here is the playing-on-the-toilet functionality, which is quite a challenge with a desktop. Performance is an issue, though.
13 UNDERRATED GEM: Ōkami
Ōkami is one of those games that just needed another chance to get a fair shake. Freshly released for the Nintendo Switch in its remastered form, it’s one that fans of quirky action adventures and unique aesthetics should definitely look into.
It originally released twelve years ago for the PlayStation 2, before making its way to the Wii in 2008. Not achieving the sales success it deserved on either platform, it resurfaced again as Ōkami HD in the years that followed.
It casts the player as the Sun God Amaterasu in wolf form, as she platforms, puzzles, and battles (Zelda-style), in a beautiful cel-shaded and Japanese-culture-infused world.
12 WAY OVERRATED: Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Now, true enough, it’s tough to label an entry in the Paper Mario series as overrated. These games have never really been rated in the first place, not to the extent that the Super Mario games themselves are.
They’re still a big deal, though, which is why Paper Mario: Sticker Star is considered such a controversial one. This 3DS title got the worst reception of any of these snarky 2d games, as it implemented a number of odd decisions (backtracking and the like) that went against the grain of Paper Mario as we know it. There was quite a lot riding on this, for series fans.
11 UNDERRATED GEMS: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
Most long-running franchises have a string of spin-offs to their name. We know it, we’ve made our peace with it, it kind of comes with the territory. RPG legend Final Fantasy is no different, and one of the more intriguing side-entries was Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and its sequel, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call.
The latter was released for the 3DS in 2014, and expanded on the original’s curious premise (a rhythm game with RPG elements, exclusively featuring music from the series and starring its characters).
Unfortunately, this completely new Final Fantasy experience was not for everybody, and some who enjoyed the first didn’t know there was a sequel.
10 WAY OVERRATED: 1-2-Switch
As everybody who owned a Wii (which is to say, most of the darn world) knows, the system came packaged with a neat little title known as Wii Sports. This was no content-rich, hundreds-of-hours-of-content RPG sort of a prospect, nor was it intended to be. It was a selection of quick minigames, that would be fun for everybody and introduce the then-alien concept of motion-controlled gaming.
Many new Switch owners surely saw 1-2-Switch and expected it to be a similar package. Which it was, and that’s the problem. It’s a more substantial title than free pack-in Wii Sports, certainly, and is fun as a throwaway party game. It just doesn’t do enough to warrant being full price.
9 UNDERRATED GEM: ARMS
I’m a little conflicted on ARMS, too. It’s a difficult one to characterize as underrated, as it sold well and was one of the quirky, exclusive highlights of the system’s early launch. At the same time, though, after the bigger first-party exclusives started to fill in the blanks, ARMS has fallen away.
In this peculiar fighter, combatants are ARMed with extendable limbs equipped with different gloves with various properties (some have electric properties and will briefly stun opponents, for instance). Watching early footage, it would have been easy to dismiss the title as a silly, throwaway affair, but it’s deceptively deep and worthy of a sequel and enduring competitive scene (all of which remains to be seen).
8 OVERRATED: Pokémon 2019 (Calm Down, Everyone)
I know, I know. I’m a long-term Pokémon fan and I should not be tempting fate in this way, but I really do think we should be wary about the upcoming main series title we’ve been promised for next year.
As we learned more and more about how Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee would be simplifying the formula, increasing stock was being put in the next true Pokémon game, which we know precisely zero about as of right now. Will generation 8 arrive and right all of Let’s Go’s ill in one fell, glorious swoop? While that’s totally possible, we should be careful about going overboard here.
7 UNDERRATED GEM: Child Of Light
As a huge fan of 2D games and the artistry with which they can be made, I’ve always enjoyed UbiArt’s work. Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, in particular, look wonderful to me, as does Ubisoft’s underrated Child of Light.
Another gem that has recently come to Switch, this RPG with platforming elements sees our heroine, a young girl named Aurora, transported to the strange storybook realm of Lemuria.
To return home, she must gather the sun, moon, and stars, which have been stolen by the Queen of the Night.
It’s an incredibly charming and emotional little game, and its length is just right. Perfect for those who can’t often stomach a super-long RPG, but still substantial enough.
6 WAY OVERRATED: New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
Once again, we’ve got another port on our hands. It makes sense that this is the case, considering the fact that about seven people owned a Wii U, but charging a premium price for them just smacks of… well, ask the comment sections of the internet. They’ll tell you in no uncertain terms. We've all played this already, and good as it may be, it needs to come at a discount.
Yep, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is another Wii U title being given the Switch release treatment. This one hits on January 11, 2019, and Nintendo have proudly released a promotional trailer. The thing about that is, the New Super Mario Bros. games are just a little derivative in and of themselves at this point.
5 UNDERRATED GEM: Final Fantasy Explorers
So, yes. We’ve already taken a look at Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, that RPG/rhythm game mash-up based on the much-beloved franchise. Here’s another curious Final Fantasy blending on 3DS.
Final Fantasy Explorers is a hunting game with RPG elements, that sees you doing battle with towering beasts from the series. You pick a class (read: job) which determines your role (straight-up damage dealer, supporter and such), hop in with your team and start hunting.
The game released in 2016, and garnered some attention but didn’t really have the staying power of a Monster Hunter. It’s a shame, as it’s certainly worth sinking some time into.
4 WAY OVERRATED: Fire Emblem Warriors
As we’ve already established, the Switch took some time to start building that sales momentum. This is largely due to the fact that there wasn’t really a big-hitting exclusive to jump straight on board with (a common problem this console generation).
It was a placeholder sort of period, which explains the release of Fire Emblem Warriors (which is also available on the New 3DS). It was a spin-off, of course, not a main-series entry, but its simplistic hack and slash combat is a world away from the tactical turn-based stylings of the series proper. There are some performance issues when the action gets hectic on screen, too, and that’s all the darn time.
3 UNDERRATED GEM: Fantasy Life
There are some people in this world who can dedicate a little of their time every day to a game like Animal Crossing. They dig the unfocused nature of it all, and love whiling time away perfecting their home and towns. Others need a little more direction than that.
For those who lie in between these two areas, Fantasy Life may be exactly what you’re looking for.
This 2014 3DS game is similar to Stardew Valley, in that you’re free to spend your days in as leisurely a fashion as you please but you also have better-defined jobs and goals, as determined by the class system. Your occupation, such as angler, mercenary or woodcutter, gives you more direction.
2 WAY OVERRATED: Kirby Star Allies
2018 has been quite a slow year for the Switch, there’s no denying. This year has seen some top releases, with the likes of Octopath Traveller and such, but several of the top-billed Switch titles have disappointed. Mario Tennis Aces boasts great mechanics but is very barebones in terms of modes, and Kirby’s system debut was a disappointment too.
Kirby Star Allies launched in March this year, and was a sales success. Critical reception was rather muted, though, with some reporting that the game took easy to a whole new level. Game Informer’s Kyle Hilliard went as far as to say that Kirby Star Allies “demands so little from the player that I sometimes felt like I was barely involved at all.”
1 UNDERRATED GEM: Ikaruga
I have a real love/hate relationship with shoot ‘em ups. I’m a huge fan of the genre, and I’m also pretty darn bad at the genre. It’s a tough combination when you’re being taunted by those online leaderboards, but that’s the way it is.
As any genre veteran will tell you, Ikaruga is one of the best and most creative shoot ‘em ups around. Its USP is brilliant, but so simple: your ship (and so your bullets) can phase between black and white polarities. The enemies will also be one or the other. Bullets of your current color will not harm you (and will charge your power meter), and those of the opposite color will destroy you on contact.
There’s much more to the polarity system and the game, but suffice it to say that Ikaruga first hit the West in 2003 on the GameCube, and became a cult classic that was very difficult (and expensive) to come by. Now that it’s available on the Switch eShop, I recommend that anyone with an interest in the genre snaps it up.