Top 20 Nintendo Games to Play in 2015 & Beyond

Den of Geek picks the Nintendo games you should play this year just in time for Cyber Monday!

Cyber Monday has arrived, which means TONS of gaming deals. It’s the perfect time to catch up on the Nintendo games you missed this year. 

One of the great things about Nintendo is that it makes something for everyone. Not only is it the foremost prestige video game companies active today, but it continues to find innovative ways to add fun twists to classic franchises like Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda. And 2015 has been a great example of what Nintendo is still doing to keep its experiences fresh. Games like Super Mario Maker, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Yoshi’s Woolly World, and The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes show why Nintendo’s games have stood the test of time. 

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Best of all, Nintendo titles have always been gateways for first-time gamers and those with a soft spot for nostalgia alike. There’s nothing quite like jumping into a Nintendo game, full of history and new experiences at the same time. And like we said, there’s something for everyone. 

Not sure what Nintendo games you should be playing this holiday? Den of Geek has your back! We’ve amassed a list of the biggest titles and our personal picks. And if you like any of the games on this list, we’ve made it even easier for you: click on the ORANGE links to go directly to the Amazon store and purchase the game! 

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THE BACKLOG

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

Feb. 13 | Grezzo & Nintendo | 3DS

We don’t have to tell you that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a classic and that it’s by far one of the weirdest Zelda games ever made. You could almost call it a Link fever dream. It’s definitely the darkest installment in the series. And now you can play this N64 gem on your 3DS with a bunch of new content!

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Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Feb. 20 | HAL Laboratory | Wii U

This adorable Kirby adventure is a can’t-miss if you love the little pink hero or adore when Nintendo goes into cute-ness overload. There’s plenty of that in this claymation-style platformer, which gives us a whole new way to play. Nintendo knows how to refresh its tried and true formula, and it’s very evident in Kirby’s latest.

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Splatoon

May 29 | Nintendo | Wii U

Splatoon is the definition of sleeper hit. While some fans might have shrugged Nintendo’s latest foray into the shooter genre, its massive success is undeniable. And for good reason: it’s an addicting multiplayer game that’s all about having fun. Not ruthlessly blowing people up. That’s rare and unique in the multiplayer shooter genre. 

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Super Mario Maker

Sept. 11 | Nintendo | Wii U

We probably don’t really need to sell this game all that much. Super Mario Maker lets you make your own Mario levels and challenges, play through them, and then dare others to get through your death traps unscathed. If that isn’t the Mario experience in a robust sentence, we don’t know what is. Taking a note from platformers like Little Big PlanetSuper Mario Maker is basically an endless Mario platformer in which you’ll never play the same level twice. It’s glorious and a must-have for Nintendo fans. 

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Yoshi’s Woolly World

Oct. 16 | Good-Feel | Wii U

The Big N is released one of the cutest little sequels we’ve ever seen: Yoshi’s Woolly World is the little green dinosaur’s own take on 2010’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Our painfully adorable hero must traverse a world of yarn and cloth to save his little woolly friends from the evil wizard Kamek. If you need anymore convincing, just watch the trailer above. And bring the cuddly teddy bear you’ve been hiding under your bed this whole time. 

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The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

Oct. 23 | Nintendo & Grezzo | 3DS

While we have to say we were a little stumped by this little handheld game, and more than underwhelmed when it took the place of its much bigger and upcoming Wii U counterpart, we’ve been converted by its gameplay. You and two friends play online to explore dungeons, defeat massive bosses, and solve puzzles. This is the definition of a team-based cooperative video game and in one of the best universes in gaming. All for one and one for all!

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FUTURE EXCLUSIVES

Xenoblade Chronicles X

Dec. 4 | Monolith Soft | Wii U

The sci-fi/fantasty successor to the Wii’s Xenoblade Chronicles finally makes it to the Wii U this year and brings with it an improved battle system as well as more mechs and aliens to fight. You won’t be getting Final Fantasy XV this year, so may we suggest this excellent JRPG instead.

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Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

Jan. 22 | AlphaDream | 3DS

This is the latest installment in the Mario & Luigi RPG series, and this time, it’s crossing over with another popular series: Paper Mario. Play as Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario to defeat the evil forces of Bowser and Paper Bowser! 

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Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow for 3DS

Feb. 27 | Nintendo | 3DS

Wow, we should have expected this, especially since Nintendo has been re-releasing some of its classics of late, but we were still every surprised when the Big N announced that it was bringing back the Pokemon games that started it all. Red, Blue, and Yellow are back for the ultimate Pokemon nostalgia trip. And at $10 per download, catching ’em all will be easier than ever. Oh, and there’s a wi-fi trading and battle system, too, so no more pesky link cables!

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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

March 4 | Nintendo | Wii U

In the past few years, Nintendo has remastered many of its Zelda games, including Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask. But since 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the franchise, we’re getting at least three Zelda games! Starting with a remastered version of Twilight Princess, a modern Zelda classic. Can you defeat Ganondorf once more?

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Hyrule Warriors Legends

March 25 | Koei Tecmo | 3DS

Hyrule Warriors Legends, a port of the popular Zelda hack-and-slash game for the Wii, is coming to 3DS. And it includes a brand new character, a female version of Link named Linkle. She has two crossbows and looks badass in her new reveal trailer. The game will also add Toon Link, The King of Hyrule, Tetra, and Skull Kid to the mix.

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Star Fox Zero

April 22 | Nintendo & PlatinumGames | Wii U

Star Fox also returns for a whole new space adventure in Star Fox Zero. As the first original title in the series in nine years, Star Fox Zero takes everything you loved about Star Fox 64 and adds the Wii U GamePad for more intuitive controls. The beloved Arwing also gets a bit of an upgrade, with new shape-shifting capabilities that allow it to turn into a bipedal war machine, a tank, and drone-like chopper.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTeUJTUfwpk

Pokken Tournament

Spring 2016 | Bandai Namco | Wii U

This is a big of a strange one, but could it be Nintendo’s sleeper hit of 2016? A Pokemon fighting game does kind of make sense, and it is being developed by the people behind the Tekken games (hence the name), so we’re keeping our eyes on this one. 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcYXX4TUK4I

The Legend of Zelda Wii U

2016 | Nintendo | Wii U

Ah, where to start with this one? It is undoubtedly the most highly-anticipated game currently in development from Nintendo. Boasting a real open-world experience, enhanced graphics, and a whole new story, The Legend of Zelda Wii U (we doubt this is the final title for the game) could easily make or break the Wii U once it finally arrives. After all, it is arriving at the end of the Wii U’s lifespan, as Nintendo makes its transition to a new console in 2017. This new Zelda game will define the Wii U era.

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Metroid Prime: Federation Force

2016 | Next Level Games | 3DS

This game caused a Nintendo fan-equivalent of a street riot when it was first announced at E3 2015. Fans have been asking for a new Metroid game for years, especially one taking place in the Prime universe, and Nintendo has tried to satisfy that need with a game that couldn’t be farther from the originals. Still, it looks like fun to us. And on top of all the multiplayer gameplay, there’s even a single-player campaign now. Thanks to those riots…

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Bravely Second: End Layer

2016 | Silicon Studio & Square Enix | 3DS

What started as a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy has become a JRPG classic in its own right. And the latest installment brings us more of the great stories and battle system that made its predecessors so special. If you’re looking for a new JRPG to play on your 3DS next year, this is the one!

CROSS-PLATFORM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alhQ3cmIGT8

Mighty No. 9

Feb. 9 | Comcept | Wii U, 3DS

From Keiji Inafune, the creator of the Mega Man series, comes a spiritual successor to the Blue Bomber’s early platforming adventures. Mighty No. 9 has gone from highly-successful Kickstarter campaign to anticipated indie retro-platformer, and we can’t wait to finally get our hands on it!

Miitomo

March 2016 | DeNA | Mobile

While we’re still not quite sure what this game really is, it’s an important one: Miitomo marks the first time Nintendo is releasing a game on a mobile device. And it’s only the first in five Nintendo mobile games set to launch by 2017. Miitomo takes the Mii avatars you love so much from Nintendo’s other platforms and gives them their own mobile communication game. New Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said on Wednesday in Tokyo that in the free-to-play game, users will create a Mii character, which will communicate with your friends’ Miis. The game is meant to facilitate conversation between friends about things they wouldn’t have brought up on their own.

Yooka-Laylee

October 2016 | Playtonic Games | Wii U

A year ago, the need for Yooka-Laylee would have been dire. With Rare, makers ofBanjo-Kazooie, a bit sidelined at Microsoft Studios, this cartoonish platformer was the return of a long-lost genre. After this year’s Rare ReplayYooka-Laylee is the cherry on top. Playtonic has created a proper successor to Banjo-Kazooie. Look forward to this one!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eII-Df8rzYQ

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Dec. 4 | Monolight Soft | Wii U

This game made headlines when it became the biggest Kickstarter of all-time, making millions of dollars in the process. Koji Igarashi, designer of many of the bestCastlevania games, makes his return to the gothic horror side-scroller with a new vision. And it’s just in time. With Konami’s lessened interests in console games,Bloodstained might be the closest thing to Castlevania that you get for a while. 

John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek US. Find more of his work on his website. Or just follow him on Twitter.