The Best Nintendo Exclusives We’re Still Playing

Each month the Cinelinx staff will write a handful of articles covering a specified gaming-related topic, similar to our Movielinx series on the film side of things. These articles will be notified by the Gamerlinx banner. Gamerlinx is an exploration and discussion of our personal connections with video games.  This month, we’re putting the focus solely on Nintendo’s gaming consoles, and exploring the best exclusive titles (throughout all generations both handheld and home console) to be released on their platforms. Join us in our discussion all month long, and share your thoughts with us!



It feels like there are too many great Nintendo exclusives to count and being a big retro gamer, there are plenty that I still play (especially thanks to the Wii U Virtual Console).  First of all, I have to mention Earthbound.  It’s one of my favorite RPGs of all time and remains a game that I continue to hold other RPGs up to for standards.  

I can’t leave out Super Mario World.  While it’s predecessors are also a lot of fun, I have to give this SNES title the edge, in that it opened up so many possibilities.  With secrets in almost every level, the game remains nearly endlessly playable.  Smart level design, great power-ups, and the slick overworld map make this a Mario title that I still compare the new entries to.  Other great Nintendo exclusives I enjoy popping in are: 

Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
The Legacy of Goku Series (still one of the best DBZ games)
Super Mario Galaxy
Advance Wars 
The Pokemon Franchise

Frankly, there are so many Nintendo games out that I continue to play, it’s hard to remember them all.  Seems like every week Nintendo adds something to their Virtual Console that I have to buy and play.  It’s an amazing feat for a gaming company and I hope that their new games will have the same longevity as some of these.  

 Super Mario Bros. 3 coverart

Mike Petty

My favorite Nintendo games have always been any on the original NES Mario Bros. games, and any Zelda games, both classic and Wii based. I really miss my Nintendo systems as I sold all of my consoles and now only have a Gameboy Advance SP to play my old Gameboy games and REALLY want a new 3DS! Make this happen Nintendo, pretty please.


Nick Vollmer

There are an incredible amount of original NES games that I still love to play and remember fondly: Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, The Adventures of Link, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Astyanax, StarTropics, Mega Man, Contra, Castlevania, and Little Nemo come almost immediately to mind as games that ate up countless hours of my childhood.  With re-releases on newer systems and in the virtual console, many of these are games I still play and would recommend to anyone.  

That said, there are three games I’ve found myself going back to more frequently over the years than others.  They’re the games that I sat down to play with a friend and didn’t stop again until the day was over, and they’re still amazing in their pick-up-and-play ability.

TMNT 2: The Arcade Game (1989) – Whether it was in the arcade or on my NES at home, I played this game until my fingers bled.  As a kid, it was awesome because it featured my favorite heroes in a halfshell.  As a teenager, it was awesome because it posed a great and often hilarious challenge for me and my best friend.  As an adult, it’s awesome because the gameplay mechanics are so simple and yet so fun.  There are few games out there that I would recommend more highly than this one.

Double Dragon 2: The Revenge (1990) – Like TMNT, this game was just incredibly fun to play with a friend.  It makes you feel cool, and it seemed custom designed to let you work together.  Even today it makes me feel like I’m playing in some of my favorite action movies.

Chip N’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers – Allowing you to throw one another was just a great idea for a co-op game, and it made for countless laughs with friends throughout my life.  With cool level designs, non-linear progression, and tricky bosses, Chip N’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers is still a game I greatly enjoy.

As for other Nintendo consoles, I definitely have to give shoutouts to Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World, Fire Emblem, Viewtiful Joe, Majora’s Mask, Mario Kart, and Advance Wars as games that I still love today and happily play whenever I get the chance.


Jarod Warren

Having had the profound fortune of receiving an NES when I was 5 years old, the fond memories have accumulated almost as quickly as the hours lost in every grueling journey and victory through each cartridge that passed through my fingers.  I couldn’t get enough.  Many now collect dust, trophies of both stunning conquest and sometimes utter defeat.

There are a few titles, however, that I go back to consistently, hungrily revisiting those long distant moments of child-borne illumination and wonder.

The Legend of Zelda – NES 1986 (That gold cartridge still brings back the feeling that I was holding something really special, a treasure begging to be unlocked.  Octoroks, Dodongos, Keese, and Ganon, all fell to my trusty sword and bombs.  Using the name Zelda as my save name resulted in years of self-punishment.)

Super Mario World – SNES 1990 (Seeing Mario atop his trusty steed Yoshi for the first time, I knew this would be the best Mario game ever made.  Everything about the game was complete perfection.  And, admittedly being a slacker, it wasn’t until nearly twenty years later did I get that 99% save file to 100%.)

Mace: The Dark Age – N64 1997 (I dumped a ridiculous amount of quarters into Mace when it hit the local arcade at the bowling alley and when I heard there was a port for my N64, it was near proof there was a higher authority in the universe.  With that my days of dumping hundreds of quarters into a box ended, and The Executioner (or maybe even the Janitor) and I could mix up opponents all day for free – minus the cost of the cartridge, of course.)

Custom Robo – GC 2004 (Frenetic gameplay and multiplay, an awesome storyline, unlockable weapons and armor, challenging AI, and customizable robots?  Who wouldn’t want to play this game over and over.  The music, graphics, and controls were sweet, gorgeous, and tight.  For a quick sci-fi fix, this is it for me.)

Super Mario Galaxy – Wii 2007 (While some say SMG 2 is better, I always come back to the experience when Mario hit the Wii and he hit it running.  SMG took platforming into another spectrum and while many titles sought to mimic this trend, only Miyamoto could have done it so beautifully.)

Honorable Mentions: 

Friday the 13th NES 1989 – Broke several controllers over this one.
Ghostbusters NES 1988 – Game made no damn sense.
Ghosts n’ Goblins NES 1986 – Broke a TV over this entry.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES 1989 – The one and only NES game I never beat.

 Super Smash Bros. - North American Boxart


My favorite Nintendo title has to be Super Smash Bros. That is the ultimate game I am always jealous of when I don’t own the latest Nintendo console. It is what sells Nintendo consoles to me! Yes I got super excited for PlayStation All-Stars only to be let down. I love the N64 version because it’s been emulated to everything, and I still find ways to play it on PC. 

Another title I’m always playing is Super Mario Bros. Again, it’s emulated and released on everything. It’s such a simple game that you get so engaged in it and you don’t even realize it. Nothing too special about it other than it being awesome! This game honestly never left my GameBoy Color unless Pokemon was in it! Yeah, I rather relate to Gameboy Color, anything older makes me feel…old…eww! (only kidding) 

super metroid screen 

Olly Bennett

Terranigma – SNES

One of the best JRPGs ever made in my opinion. It has a very clever and mature story, which is a welcome exception from the ‘find the five elemental staffs to stop the evil empire destroying the world’ narratives that were the intelligence-insulting and bland standard for many other JRPGs at the time. The fact the graphics, gameplay and soundtrack were all exceptional too, makes this one grace my SNES at least once every few years.

Super Metroid – SNES

As close as one can get to a perfect game. A story without a story, progressive gameplay without abstractions or indicators of progression, a difficulty curve without linearity or overt level structuring, music and visuals beautiful and thick with atmosphere, a vast and diverse gameworld, and deep immersion – though only using the SNES’s restrictive graphics, sound chip, and a 2D side-on perspective. No platformer has, nor probably ever will, rival the perfection of Super Metroid.

(I concur on Link to the Past and Super Mario World)

Nintendo has given gamers a lot of amazing adventures over the last few decades, but these are only a handful of the ones that have stuck with our team the most in our lifetimes.  With so many more options out there, we want to hear from you guys.  You’ve seen out list so let’s see yours: what Nintendo exclusives are your favorites that you continue to play even today?