Nintendo’s games have never been big on creating insanely-produced, grand stories that involve tons of voice acting, a lot of bombastic developments, and a massive cast of characters that all play a part in saving the world. They simply don’t make games like The Last of Us or Batman: Arkham Asylum.
That said, there is plenty of charm and narrative in their games for players to get invested. Seeing Mario soar through space in Super Mario Galaxy to stop Bowser and save Peach or Kirby trying to save his planet from a mechanized invasion in Kirby: Planet Robobot are both unique and well-crafted enough to give a reason for players to keep marching on.
While they might not be big on creating deep stories, Nintendo does know how to craft a good ending. A combination of a final boss that puts all of the player’s skills to the test and the resolution of the entire game is critical, as it leaves the last impression a player will have of a game. Because of this, Nintendo has created some legendary endings that many gamers still remember today.
Unfortunately, not all of their endings are given the same treatment, and there are many that end up falling flat and tarnishing otherwise fantastic games. Hey, at least the journey was enjoyable.
Explore the final act of some of Nintendo’s best games as we discuss 15 of the best Nintendo game endings and 15 disappointing ones that ruined otherwise fantastic titles.
30 Best: The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker
After sailing the seven seas and going to various islands, the finale of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker takes you back to the Hyrule of olden days. It’s there that Ganon has erected his tower and taken Princess Zelda. After fighting your way through Ganon’s structure, you face him in a one-on-one duel where it ends with you stabbing him through the head and the old Hyrule getting flooded. It’s a great way of giving some finality to the ancient times and feels both satisfying yet sad.
29 Worst: Kirby’s Return To Dreamland
After traveling to Halcandra with Magolor, Kirby and his friends suddenly realize that they were duped by the interdimensional creature. Taking the all-powerful crown for himself, Magolor turns into a rip-off of Marx and tries to rid the world of Kirby. After defeating him, Kirby and his friends make their way back to Dreamland. However, the Lor Starcutter, Magolor’s ship, appears in Dreamland for some reason and everyone is happy about it. In Kirby’s Dream Collection, it’s revealed that Magolor ends up becoming an ally, undermining the ending of the previous game.
28 Best: Super Mario Odyssey
Mario and Cappy are whisked away to several worlds, hunting for moons and trying to stop Bowser’s wedding plans. It all ends on the actual moon, where Mario crashes the wedding, fights Bowser, then has to take control of him to save the day. It’s a fantastic ending that brings together all of the pieces of Mario’s adventure thus far. Topping it all off is the fact that Peach and Tiara decide that they don’t want anything to do with men and began visiting the rest of the worlds on their own terms, which was a nice change of pace.
27 Worst: ARMS
What makes the ending of ARMS so bad is that it’s not really an ending at all. If you fight in the Grand Prix mode, you take on most of the fighters and end it with a duel against Max Brass and/or Dr. Cobra depending on the difficulty. After you defeat those bosses, then you are rewarded as the ARMS champion. Your character gets a moment up on the platform with screaming fans all around, but that’s all there is to it.
26 Best: Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is a game that rewards completion. If you find all of the Crystal Shards, you find that the Dark Matter has possessed one of Ribbon’s fellow fairies. The matter comes out of the fairy and manifests itself as the horrifying monstrosity known as 02. Not only is this the culmination of the entire game, but a full trilogy of Kirby taking on the Dark Matter. It’s an epic finale that leads to a satisfying conclusion and Kirby getting a well-deserved kiss on the cheek.
25 Worst: Mario Kart
Why Mario Kart has never had a proper story mode is anyone’s guess. If you’re playing by yourself, you just have to go through the Grand Prix mode. As you complete each cup, you’re only rewarded by getting a nice trophy and standing on a platform. In Mario Kart 8, there’s not even a cutscene that properly shows who won. You’re just taken to a screen and shown a trophy alongside the leaderboards. An adventure mode might be a great new direction for the franchise.
24 Best: Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime is a game filled with crazy enemies and insightful exploration. After taking on all sorts of larger-than-life monsters, you come face to face with the Metroid Prime. After using all of your beams to defeat it, it begins to explode, forcing Samus to escape. The game ends after that fight, with Samus heading to her ship and removing her helmet, letting an entirely new generation know that they’ve been playing as a woman the entire time. Still a great finale.
23 Worst: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
Despite being one of the great Zelda games of all time, Breath of the Wild has a fairly weak ending. After traveling through the entirety of Hyrule, Link makes his way to Hyrule Castle (amazing setpiece, by the way). He then fights with Calamity Ganon as a spider before it goes out into Hyrule as a massive boar. Link is forced to use Light Arrows on horseback to bring him down. Unfortunately, that boss fight is unimaginative and extremely easy. It also ends with Zelda seemingly not aged after 100 years, which makes no sense.
22 Best: Splatoon
The Great Zapfish has gone missing, and it’s your job as an agent in Splatoon to bring it back to Inkopolis. After defeating Octarians and getting some of the Zapfish back, you come face to face with DJ Octavio. Not only is this one of the best boss fights ever created, you’re also rewarded with the Great Zapfish being placed at the top of Inkopolis Tower, serving as a constant reminder that you were the hero of the Inklings. It’s a satisfying reward for a satisfying game.
21 Worst: Mario Tennis Aces
Unfortunately, Mario Tennis Aces is a game that doesn’t have the benefit of a great story. Essentially ripping off Avengers: Infinity War, it involves a powerful racket that is used with the help of various stones. After Luigi is taken by the racket, Mario has to embark on an adventure to get him back. The game ends with a lackluster boss fight against Bowser. Then you’re given a small text cutscene with Luigi being saved and the credits roll. That’s all the reward you get for beating the game.
20 Best: Luigi’s Mansion
Luigi’s Mansion was a unique game. Starring Luigi instead of Mario, he had to go in a creepy mansion and get rid of all kinds of ghosts. Mario was kidnapped by King Boo after all. The finale sees Luigi finally getting to his brother and having to take on King Boo and suck him up in the Poltergust. After the dust settles, Luigi is ecstatic to see his brother. The nightmare now over, we get a heartwarming moment where Luigi says his brother’s name.
19 Worst: Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze is a phenomenal game with an ending that leaves us feeling confused. After defeating the evil walrus, Donkey Kong takes the villain’s horn, which suddenly shrinks down to fit DK’s size, and blows on it. The horn instantly shoots out a series of flowers that float down DK Island, with all of the Kongs riding on them. The flowers also take away the ice and restore the island to its former glory just like that.
18 Best: The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
Traveling through Hyrule in two different time periods was always a great time, but it was made even better with the finale. Adult Link has to go to fight Ganon in a one-on-one sword duel. After this fantastic boss battle is over, Link escapes the tower with Zelda at his side. Once everything is over, Link is reverted back to his child form so that he can relive his youth properly. Not only does it serve as a great ending, but it leaves the door open for more adventures.
17 Worst: Star Fox Adventures
Star Fox Adventures was a radical departure for the series. Fox has to find all of the Krozoa Spirits on Dinosaur Planet in order to save Crystal and restore the planet to its natural state. In the end, though, it’s revealed that the villain behind it all was Andross, somehow. At that point, the game proceeds like a standard Star Fox game, which is fine, but considering how different the rest of the journey was, it just seems lazy by comparison. Falco shows up too.
16 Best: Super Mario Galaxy
Mario was whisked away on a different type of adventure in Super Mario Galaxy. At the end of it all, he has to face Bowser in an epic battle. When it ends, instead of everything going back to the way it was, a black hole is created that threatens to suck Mario into it forever. However, it’s the Lumas that come to save the day, willingly sacrificing themselves so that Mario can see his beloved Peach once more. It’s a brilliant ending to a brilliant game.
15 Worst: Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine is already a divisive game among the community, but there’s no defending the ending. We’re not referring to the final boss fight, but more so that cutscene that happens afterwards. Because the game was fully voice acted, we get a voiced interaction between Bowser and Bowser Jr. Yes, it’s every bit as awful as you would expect (complete with some “revelations” about Peach). It’s no wonder that the King of Koopas hasn’t been given a real voice since.
14 Best: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue Rescue Team
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue Rescue Team sees the player character suddenly become a Pokémon. While spending a lot of time figuring out how to return to normal, the player eventually learns to accept this new body. However, after a grueling battle with Rayquaza, the player’s task is done and is sent back to his human form, while his trusty partner and all of the Pokémon he helped are around him saying their tearful goodbyes. Just a shot of them looking in the distance as the player leaves is heartbreaking enough.
13 Worst: Pikmin 3
The Pikmin series has been consistently good, and Pikmin 3 on the Wii U is no exception. This game combines fantastic level design with gorgeous graphics and interesting creatures to tackle. After you beat the final level, though, the reward is underwhelming. The problem is that it’s nothing more than a wall of text that is read to the player. While it can change depending on which ending you get, it tells rather than shows what happens, and it’s boring to sit through.
12 Best: Earthbound
Earthbound is a wacky journey. Ness and his party of friends have to go through the land and even to some horrifying dimensions to fight being like Giygas. It’s an insane premise that gets darker as the story progresses. However, once you save the world, the game simmers down significantly. We get to see everyone travel home, with Ness being the focal point. You say your farewells to other characters and you just go back to your house. It’s a somber ending, but definitely leaves the door open for more.
11 Worst: The Legend Of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda was a fantastic adventure. From the start, players are allowed to go wherever they want to fight whichever enemies they want. As you tackle all sorts of monsters and demons, you are eventually met face to face with the Demon King himself, Ganon. After defeating him and saving Princess Zelda, though, all you’re really given is a “Thank You” screen before the game ends. Yes, that’s all you’re given and you’re supposed to just accept it.
10 Best: Xenoblade Chronicles
Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the best RPG games ever created. Featuring a world dripping with details and things to do, there’s plenty to keep players invested. One of its strong suits, though, is its story. Told from the eyes of an understandable character, we get to see the war through his eyes. However, the ending is where the game flips everything on its head with some powerful twists and some hints as to how the game fits in with the rest of the universe.
9 Worst: Super Smash Bros For Wii U
Super Smash Bros for Wii U was a step down from the Subspace Emissary seen in Super Smash Bros Brawl. Instead, players were only given a classic mode where they could tackle the unfairly difficult Master Fortress. At the end of it, they have to defeat the core just by smacking it enough times. Then, the mode ends and the player is rewarded with a trophy of the character they’re using. Nothing else happens and you’re just encouraged to play the entire mode again.
8 Best: Pokémon X And Y
Pokémon X and Y aren’t fantastic games by any means in the story department. However, the ending provides a moment that really strikes a chord with us. The Kalos Region is celebrating the victory of the player character and the giant, AZ, is there as well. This character once had a Floette that left him due to all of the destruction he caused to bring it back to life. However, after he helped save Kalos, Floette comes back down to be with AZ once more. We see him get so overwhelmed with emotion that he drops to his knees, holding his beloved Pokémon.
7 Worst: Pokémon Ruby And Sapphire
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire are fairly generic Pokémon games when it comes to the story. Yes, there are two teams instead of just one, but it doesn’t have a lot of bearing over how you proceed. At the end of the game, you face the Champion, Steven, who has been helping you throughout your journey (surprise surprise). After that, you are made the Champion of the Hoenn Region and the credits roll. There’s nothing different about Ruby and Sapphire, and they’re not as memorable because of it.
6 Best: Yoshi’s Island
Yoshi’s Island is one of the best games on the SNES, and it’s made even better with a fantastic ending. After trying to save Mario, Baby Bowser comes into the picture. Jumping into the background, he grows in size so that he’s essentially covering the entire screen. After Yoshi ends up defeating this nightmarish monster, he is pleased to see that Baby Mario is now safe. All of his hard work with the rest of the Yoshis wasn’t in vain.
5 Worst: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
If you are brave enough to collect all of the items in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, then you’re treated to a seemingly interesting ending that goes nowhere. Samus leaves in her ship and travels across the stars when she notices the ship of Sylux: a hunter that appeared in Metroid Prime: Hunters. While this sounded cool at first, it’s dampened by the fact that this tease went nowhere and just created a cliffhanger that would never be resolved. The next game would be Metroid: Other M and we all know how that went.
4 Best: Super Metroid
Super Metroid takes Samus back down a familiar route at its end. It’s there that she has to fight Mother Brain once again. However, this time, Mother Brain is prepared. After being defeated in her class cage, Mother Brain suddenly gains a monstrous new form. After defeating that, Samus has to evacuate the facility and leave in her ship before she gets caught in the destruction. Then, she soars the cosmos, looking for her next mission. It’s way cooler than it sounds on paper.
3 Worst: New Super Mario Bros
The New Super Mario Bros games are fun for what they are, but if you’ve played one of them, you’ve played all of them. They all end with you taking the fight to Bowser. Sometimes, he fights you as Dry Bowser. Other times, he grows large and chases you off the side of the screen. They all end just as predictably as you’d expect, with Peach being the one that always gets stolen. At least you save her at the end of the adventure.
2 Best: The Wonderful 101
While not a Nintendo game, The Wonderful 101 was a Wii U title that became another great work from Platinum Games. The reason it’s on this list is just because of how great its ending is. Not only does it bring together all of the superheroes in a giant robot suit in space, but it has one of the best button prompts ever put into a game. It’s a bombastic, over-the-top finale that is perfect for a game as understandably ridiculous as the The Wonderful 101.
1 Worst: Kirby: Star Allies
While the fight against Void Eternal is exciting and cinematic, the finale to Kirby: Star Allies just sort of happens without any buildup (at least Kirby’s Return to Dreamland felt more earned). At the end of the fight, Kirby finds himself drifting through space, then is suddenly saved by his three allies and a random Warp Star that take them all back to Planet Popstar. It ends like most Kirby games, but we can’t help but feel that they didn’t try too hard.