10 Best Nintendo Games Of The 2000s

There are many prolific developers who have helped shape the industry through their creative contributions and Nintendo remains one of the biggest names when it comes to video games.

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Nintendo follows its own path and caters to different gaming trends than what Sony and Microsoft prioritize. The 2000s were an important decade for Nintendo that included the tail-end of the Nintendo 64’s run as well as the entire Gamecube library plus the Wii’s golden years. However, there are certain Nintendo titles from the 2000s that are a significant cut above the rest.

10 Super Mario Sunshine Reinvents The Platforming Formula & Is A Proper Challenge

Nintendo has a lot of coveted franchises, but few have the acclaimed track of their Super Mario series. Most Mario games represent the best offerings on their respective consoles, but the Gamecube’s Super Mario 64 successor, Super Mario Sunshine, was met with a more mixed reception.

The pivot towards Mario’s new FLUDD water mechanics have a bit of a steep learning curve, but those who don’t abandon the game will experience a rich, unique platformer. The reputation of Super Mario Sunshine has improved over time and many recognize the risks that it takes. It’s one of the more challenging mainline Mario games.

9 The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker Is The Perfect Synthesis Between Style & Substance

The Legend of Zelda has become another one of Nintendo’s most consistent performers. There are some especially satisfying Zelda games from the 2000s and titles like Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess are classics of their respective consoles. However, the Gamecube’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has emerged as one of the best games in the series and a standout of the decade.

The sea travel mechanics in Wind Walker are smooth, but the game’s striking cel-shaded aesthetic makes it an even more memorable experience. The iconic look of Wind Walker has helped it become more of a timeless classic.

8 The Metroid Prime Trilogy Remains A Superior Nintendo Shooter

Metroid is an atmospheric science fiction action-adventure series that’s been around since the original Nintendo Entertainment System. The Metroid Games have stuck to their roots, but there have also been some creative pivots that combine the series’ characters and lore with different genres.

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The Metroid Prime trilogy seamlessly transforms Metroid into a first-person shooter and they’re collectively some of the best shooters to ever be on a Nintendo console. Each Metroid Prime The game stands on its own, but since the entire trilogy was released during the 2000s, it’s a series of games that feels emblematic of Nintendo’s changing attitudes of the decade.

7 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Isn’t Out Of Control Yet & Introduces A Stunning Story Mode

Nintendo stumbled into one of their biggest franchises of all-time back when Super Smash Bros. was released on the Nintendo 64. Now, new entries in the crossover fighting series mark each new Nintendo console and they’ve become some of the genre’s most celebrated fighting games. The series only continues to grow bigger, which hasn’t always been the right move for the series and its bloated roster of nearly 100 characters.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the Wii’s entry, finds the right amount of excess. It’s a solid improvement over the Gamecube’s Melee, But the addition of the game’s single-player story mode, the Subspace Emissary, is the game’s secret weapon.

6 Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver Recapture The Magic Of The Originals In Better Packages

There’s no end in sight for Nintendo’s Pokémon series, which has successfully migrated over from handhelds to home consoles. The series’ collection of spin-offs, anime series, and feature films only grow more expansive.

Each generation of the core series pushes Pokémon forward, but there’s a lot of love for Generation II’s Gold and Silver games for the Game Boy Color. These iconic handheld RPGs received robust remakes for their ten-year anniversaries. The Nintendo DS’ Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver are satisfying updates of the original games and as well as a sterling encapsulation of why Pokémon has endured for so long.

5 Pikmin & Its Successor Penetrate The Real-Time Strategy Genre With Joy & Passion

Nintendo has a strong track record for taking certain gaming genres that can be polarizing for some audiences and finding ways to make them more accessible and appealing to younger demographics. The Picmin games are Shigeru Miyamoto’s playful take on the real-time strategy genre, but it immerses itself in bright alien worlds with a shrunken perspective.

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Both Picmin and its first sequel were some of the Gamecube’s biggest releases during the 2000s. There was a lengthy period of dormancy for picmin, but it’s recently come back in a big way, which speaks to the legacy that the original games have left behind.

4 Eternal Darkness Is A Creepy Survival Horror Game That Knows How To Get Under The Player’s Skin

Nintendo has a reputation for being a more family-friendly game developer, but they’ve still turned out some revelatory titles with mature ratings that only stand out more as a result. Nintendo benefitted from a number of once-exclusive Gamecube survival horror titles during the 2000s. This included some pivotal Resident Evil games, but there’s also Eternal Darkness, a title that’s faded into obscurity because it’s never been re-released after the Gamecube’s demise.

Eternal Darkness goes above and beyond with an anthology-like narrative that’s heavily influenced by the works of HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe. The game’s disturbing “sanity effects” are still praised for their ingenuity decades later.

3 Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Gets Extremely Playful With Its Genre Experiments

The silly Paper Mario RPG series has slowly accumulated more than six releases and it continues to represent a more playful side of Super Mario. The later games in the franchise have slowly moved away from traditional RPG elements in favor of gameplay gimmicks, but there’s still an enjoyable voice that’s present in these games.

The Gamecube’s Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door finds big success with its unconventional structure. Each of Mario’s major missions indulges in different gaming genres that highlight the franchise’s versatility. It’s one of the most accessible Mario games as a result.

2 Mother 3 Is A Masterpiece Of Storytelling & RPG Gameplay

The Earthbound series, known as Mother in Japan, has struggled to find a mainstream audience due to its quirky tone and anachronistic approach to RPG staples. Mother is an NES classic and its sequel made waves on the Super Nintendo.

Mother 3 is a Game Boy Advance release that’s a staggering evolution of the franchise’s contemplative themes. A large roster of characters connect together to tell a moving story and the theatrics around the game’s final boss are still a testament to what video games can achieve as an art form.


1 Super Mario Galaxy & Its Sequel Push The Platforming Series To Galactic Heights

The 2000s is a pivotal decade for Nintendo’s Super Mario series. The entries in the series return to the franchise’s basics for some releases, but there are also huge deviations from the norm that are a result of the Wii’s emphasis on motion controls.

Super Mario Galaxy is proof that motion controls aren’t always annoying and they compliment Mario’s actions in intuitive ways. Super Mario Galaxy 2 feels more like an expansion to the original than a full-fledged sequel, but collectively the Galaxy games represent the height of ingenuity for Super Mario.

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