We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

NWR 15th Birthday: The Best Game of the Past 15 Years

Round 1 - Planet Zebes Region Part 1

by Neal Ronaghan - March 11, 2014, 8:39 pm EDT

Metroid Prime and Super Smash Bros. Melee are the favorites in this region.

Now that we’re done the Wild Card Round, it’s time to get to the fun stuff. Round 1, aka the Round of 64, features a ridiculous 32 match-ups between 64 deserving games. We’ve split them all into four regions, led by the highest-rated games (according to Nintendo World Report and MetaCritic) of the entire batch: Metroid Prime, Super Mario Galaxy, The Wind Waker, and Resident Evil 4. Go ahead and vote for these match-ups and show your colors in the discussion. What’s your Cinderella game?

Voting ends on March 15 at around 1 a.m. ET. On March 16, we'll have Round 2, with 32 games and 16 match-ups, ready to go...

Pokemon Gold/Silver (16) vs. Metroid Prime (1)


Pokemon Gold/Silver: The 2000 sequel to Pokemon Red/Blue added so many things—Berries, a day/night cycle (which has not been duplicated, even in the remakes), Dark and Steel types, 150 new Pokemon, and a hidden “happiness” stat that encouraged you to give your Eevee a haircut. Your trip through Johto is highlighted by many things: exploring the mysterious Ruins of Alph, meeting Ho-Oh or Lugia at the Bell Tower, and stopping Team Rocket’s plot at Goldenrod City’s Radio Tower. After defeating the Elite Four, you can actually go back through Kanto (from Red/Blue), challenging more powerful versions of that region’s Gym Leaders. The game is just enormous and amazing, and laid the foundation for modern Pokemon games.


Metroid Prime: Among the many honors heaped upon the beloved 2002 GameCube game Metroid Prime, one stands out: it was NWR’s Game of the Decade. It is a deserving title, too, successfully translating an essentially Super Metroid world map into not just 3D but first-person to boot. While the GameCube control scheme took some getting used it, once it clicked, Metroid Prime was unlike any other experience. The Wii’s Metroid Prime Trilogy improves on perfection with the excellent control of Metroid Prime 3. Samus’ first 3D adventure is the one to watch—the real critical darling—in this tournament.

Vote here!

New Super Mario Bros. (9) vs. WarioWare: Twisted! (8)


New Super Mario Bros.: The game features an ironic title considering how little is done to change the Mario formula, but it remains a classic and is a must play on the Nintendo DS. Released in 2006, it diverges from the now-normal 3D gameplay of Mario platformers and shifts back to the 2D gameplay found in the original Super Mario Bros. Some of the new power ups include the big mushroom item that has you destroying everything in your sight, as well as the mini mushroom that will allow you to access small pathways that normally you couldn’t reach. Although it feels strikingly familiar, New Super Mario Bros. brought the classic gameplay of past Mario games and brought it to the Nintendo DS in fine fashion.


WarioWare: Twisted!: The 2005 release of the GBA game WarioWare: Twisted! might have come to America after the DS (and a DS WarioWare game!), but Twisted might be the best game in the series. Using a special cartridge that used gyro controls similar to the Wii, players messed around with a variety of unique and fun microgames that might been more prescient than we ever could have thought. Either way, Twisted is a fantastic game that deserves some love, which might translate into a win or two here, maybe.

Vote here!

Kid Icarus: Uprising (12) vs. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (5)


Kid Icarus: Uprising: This 2012 3DS game has everything you could ever want and more. It has angels, devils, swords, arrows, bombs, a flawless flight mode, a stellar land-based combat mode, online versus mode, an incredible story mode, and the list goes on and on. The Masahiro Sakurai-directed game received rave reviews from both players and critics. Not only was the first play through a great time, but the replayablity of the game is second to none. Different difficulties, secret weapons, weapon upgrades and new bits of backstory were scattered through each playthrough making each time you play better than the last.


The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: The 2013 return to Link to the Past’s Hyrule has everything – an adventure starring a time-tested classic character, fantastic new gameplay mechanics that give the game a whole new feel, and some awesome combat and puzzles. This game has it all. You want items? We got all your items right from the beginning. You want bombs? We have a bomb salesman that RAPS AT YOU. How’s that for a funky fresh game?

Vote here!

Mario Kart Wii (13) vs. Super Smash Bros. Melee (4)


Mario Kart Wii: This 2008 Wii game happens to be the best-selling racing game of all time. Being the sixth installment in the series, it was bundled with the Wii Wheel, a dubious honor. It was designed to take advantage of the system’s motion sensing capabilities to lay a fresh layer of awesome on the continuing franchise. And, as always, it supplied the world with that Mario Kart fun that everyone is so fond of.


Super Smash Bros. Melee: Everyone’s heard about the Super Smash Bros. games. Chances are most people have played them at one point, too. The 2001 GameCube game Super Smash Bros. Melee was not only the second installment of this legendary franchise, but some would call it the best in the franchise so far. This game is home to tournaments of champions, would-be heroes, and friends just hanging out on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Super Smash Bros. Melee helped define the franchise and solidify its hearts in everyone’s hearts and minds. Plus, you can watch your favorite characters beat the snot out of everyone else.

Vote here!


AdrockMarch 07, 2014

It's a toss up between Metroid Prime and Resident Evil 4 for me though I'm leaner towards the former.

NeifirstMarch 07, 2014

Paper Mario: TTYD is only a wild card!  I hope it gets the votes it deserves - by far my favorite of the Paper series.

ejamerMarch 07, 2014

Fun idea. Is this the first time that Video Game March Madness happened?

Zebes regional: Wow, you guys made me root for the meteor in the 16-1 matchup. Well played. Also, if the wild card doesn't crush in the 1st round here, there is no justice on this planet.

Umbrella regional: I think the wild card can make it out of R1 if it's Pap... Xenoblade's a 4 seed? mrgrgr...

Mushroom regional: Fire Emblem can make the sweet 16, and it'll give Galaxy a run for its money there.

Hyrule regional: Two typos there: You spelled Platinum "Diamond/Pearl" and Rouge Squadron 2 should have "11" next to it.

Then again, if I was booking, we'd have the Reyn/Final Destination/Comet/Malamar divisions, so take my words with as much NaCl as you need.

Hey folks: should we tighten up the voting time periods? Right now, each round is 5 days. Do you think 3 days would be fine?

Wild Card round will still go until next Wednesday because we're still putting together the write-ups and content for the round featuring 60 new games, but do y'all think a 3-day window for each successive round would be enough time?

Leo13March 07, 2014

Yes, tighten up the voting time period.

How is 3D World a Wild Card and New Super Mario Bro U is in? Didn't you mean to flip those 2? I've never talked to a single person that thought U was better than 3D World

Quote from: Leo13

How is 3D World a Wild Card and New Super Mario Bro U is in? Didn't you mean to flip those 2? I've never talked to a single person that thought U was better than 3D World

Read the explanation! We picked 4 games from each year from 1999 to 2013. NSMBU and 3D World came out in different years. We have the wild cards to make up a little bit for years with tons of great games.

ejamerMarch 07, 2014

I agree about tightening the voting period if possible. 5 days per round is going to drag on for a long time.

CericMarch 07, 2014

3 Day window probably be better.  Also the ability to do all the votes on the page be cool but I get why we can't.

Mop it upMarch 07, 2014

Hm, this could be an interesting series of polls, and just in time for March Madness to boot.

I think I would have to choose Perfect Dark as my fave game from the past 15 years. The only other contenders would be Super Smash Brothers Melee and Mario Kart Wii, I've certainly played all three games the most. But those two are less "unique" than Perfect Dark. It sucks that those two games are going against each other though; no idea what I'll pick there!

PhilPhillip Stortzum, March 07, 2014

I like this more than March Madness. This tournament doesn't make The Late Show enter reruns for several weeks. :)

Round 1 is underway. I'll be posting the pages over the next few hours, but feel free to vote on everything now in the March Madness subboard.

Leo13March 12, 2014

In the planet Zebes region, my favorite is A Link Between Worlds...and there isn't a close second (at least not to me I'm sure there are many people that will opine differently)

Leo13March 12, 2014

Let me specify. The above statement is only true for part 1 of the planet Zebes region.

Leo13March 12, 2014

In Planet Zebes 2 my favorite is Donkey Kong Country Returns with Mario 3D world a very close second.

Leo13March 12, 2014

In the Umbrella Corporation Region Part 1 I feel compelled to discuss 2 of the matchups, I loved Rhythm Heaven and I hate Epic Yarn. Yes I realize most people loved Epic Yarn for the visuals which really were cool and creative, but after about 40 minutes of being in awe of the visuals I realized it's an incredibly boring game.

The other one is Ogre Battle 64 is such a cool game; however, Xenoblade is my favorite game of all time. I didn't learn about it until it was going for $100 on ebay. I GameFlyed it (can you say Game Flyed for rented from Game Fly) I signed up for a Game Fly account for 1 month to try Xenoblade and decided it was worth the $100 people were paying for it. Now I'd tell you it's worth even more. I'm hoping enough people played this one for it to go all the way to the Championship (I've yet to hear someone that played it and didn't love it)

Leo13March 12, 2014

I have 1 thing to say about Umbrella Corporation Region Part 2:
Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is one of the most underrated games I'm familiar with. It was super fun and most people don't even know it exists. I'm very happy to see that the sages as Nintendo World Report had the wisdom to include it even though it probably won't survive the first round.
My wife and I played this one together and really enjoyed it. I'd love to see an HD remake of this on Wii U integrated with 3DS I'm sure the Wifi connection would be fast enough to do it that would be so AWESOME!

Fiendlord_TimmayMarch 15, 2014

Majora's Mask and Ghost Trick both out after the first round?! God what is wrong with you people?

You hurt me, NWR community. You really do. :(

marvel_moviefan_2012March 15, 2014

Good to see actually Majoras Mask is overrated

Leo13March 21, 2014

Hey these links are taking me to the results page of the last round! In other words we can't vote on these new matchups

MythtendoMarch 21, 2014

I'm glad Majora's Mask was quickly eliminated, I always thought that game was too over-rated.

Hmm, yeah the Elite 8 links just go to results from the previous round.

InvaderRENMarch 21, 2014

Voting not working for me either :(  I'll check back later to see if link fixed.

Quote from: InvaderREN

Voting not working for me either :(  I'll check back later to see if link fixed.

Sorry about that. I didn't update the links. It's fixed now!

lwrightMarch 21, 2014

Now, I'm curious. This round determines the winner of each of the 4 brackets, but which 2 brackets will face which 2 brackets in the final four?
Is it possible to have a Galaxy 1 vs Galaxy 2 semi or could that only happen in the final?

Quote from: lwright

Now, I'm curious. This round determines the winner of each of the 4 brackets, but which 2 brackets will face which 2 brackets in the final four?
Is it possible to have a Galaxy 1 vs Galaxy 2 semi or could that only happen in the final?

Zebes faces Umbrella and Hyrule faces Mushroom Kingdom.

So, winner of Prime/3D World plays Xeno/TP
Winner of Galaxy/Sunshine plays Wind Waker/Galaxy 2

That means, yes, if the Galaxies win this round, it's Galaxy-on-Galaxy action.

Retro DeckadesMarch 27, 2014

Not to take anything away from these two great games, but this is a rather boring and predictable final.

KhushrenadaMarch 27, 2014

Well, if more people had followed my advice of voting for all the 16 placed ranked games in the beginning, it would have knocked all the number 1 games out at the start and created a huge change in how this all played out. Unfortunately, too many people took this seriously to do that and I gave up on any real upsets occuring. (Side note: I am shocked though at how many people really like Super Mario Galaxy. I didn't think it would be the final game going up against Metroid Prime.)

Really? I think this was easily the most likely final matchup. We didn't really get many upsets, as opposed to the real March Madness bracket.

Retro DeckadesMarch 27, 2014

At the very least, I am very happy to have seen both Xenoblade Chronicles and Twilight Princess go as far as they did.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, March 27, 2014

Happy 15th birthday, NWR! You may be getting older, but that doesn't mean you're an adult yet. You need to continue working hard at school, mind your manners, brush your teeth, don't do drugs or alcohol, and make your parents proud!

GaviinApril 13, 2014

Did you guys ever finish this feature?  I only see the "finals" post, but no final results.  Did you forget about it or something??

The original winner failed a drug test.

CericApril 14, 2014

Quote from: Shaymin

The original winner failed a drug test.

I think the final winner was take out back by Boom Blox and "removed from competition."

Got a news tip? Send it in!