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

Round 1 - Mushroom Kingdom Region Part 1

by Neal Ronaghan - March 11, 2014, 10:47 pm EDT

Super Mario Galaxy is probably going to dominate here.

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 Snap (16) vs. Super Mario Galaxy (1)


Pokemon Snap: Take pictures of Pokémon. That is all there is to this 1999 Nintendo 64 game. The concept seems okay at best, the game is very short after the first go, they don’t even include all 150 original Pokémon, and it sells for, at best, ten bucks at a used game store. So why does everyone still play it if they have an N64 and why does everyone still want a remake/sequel? Because it’s fantastic, that’s why. Pokémon Snap is designed as a level-by-level progression through a fantasy island of Pokémon, ripe for picture taking. It’s not very complex and it doesn’t have a lot of bonus content to it, but it’s the simplicity that makes it shine.


Super Mario Galaxy: Super Mario Galaxy is Mario’s first foray on the Wii back in 2007, and not only is it considered one of the best games on the Wii, it might just be Mario’s best adventure yet! Here’s a refreshing story: Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach. This time, he takes Princess Peach’s castle and lifts it into outer space. Mario takes it to the sky, collecting power stars along the way in search of Bowser and Peach. The game makes great use of the Wii controls, using the nunchuk to move and the controller itself to preform actions. With intuitive controls, engaging worlds and a incredible orchestrated soundtrack, Super Mario Galaxy can be considered one of the best games of the last generation on any system.

Vote here!

Pokemon Black/White (9) vs. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (8)


Pokemon Black/White: The 2011 DS releases, Pokemon Black/White did a lot of things differently that makes it stand out from the rest of the Poke pack. Most notably, it introduced a ton of new Pokémon and required you to use only them during your initial playthrough. You’ll go from your home town to the Elite Four without ever seeing a Pikachu. The game has an arguably good story (a first) involving the morality of keeping a living creature trapped in a small orb. The postgame content is extensive (and difficult) and the online features are amazingly fleshed out and central to the experience. Pokémon Black/White may not be the system’s BEST Pokémon game, but it’s certainly the most daring.


Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story: This little number is the third entry in the series, and developed by AlphaDream. Its plot is unrelated to its predecessors, but the role-playing style remains the same, and keeps the comedic aspect close at heart. The setting oddly takes place in Bowser’s innards after the bros. were shrunken and inhaled by the villain, which makes for a great story. In the end, this DS title went on to sell millions, reassuring that the series still had something to give. Also, Fawful.

Vote here!

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (12) vs. Eternal Darkness (5)


The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: This 2007 DS game brought the Zelda series into an entirely new control scheme based on the DS touch screen. With unique and interesting takes on classic Zelda series weapons and items, Phantom Hourglass was an engaging adventure that took the spot of being a sequel to the classic Wind Waker. It was followed up by a sequel, Spirit Tracks, that went even further down the touch screen rabbit hole.


Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem: This 2002 GameCube game is a centuries-spanning love letter to H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. An interesting magic system and unique limb-chopping combat are great, but Eternal Darkness’ greatest strength lies in its sanity effects—the farther your character’s sanity meter drops, the more surreal the effects become. You might hear people screaming and weeping, the camera might begin filming at odd angles, or your character’s head might pop off. Oh, and there’s that great one where the game deletes your entire memory card. See, the sanity effects don’t just affect your on-screen character, but you too, as the player. They’re brilliant, and one of highlights of the game.

Vote here!

Animal Crossing (13) vs. Fire Emblem: Awakening (4)


Animal Crossing: Making it's North American debut in 2002, Animal Crossing can be considered one of Nintendo's earliest foray into social networking games. As a traveller coming to settle in a new town, you start off with a small house that you must pay off to one Mr. Tom Nook, who runs the local shop. The more you pay off Nook, the more additions you can add to your house. The more you buy off Nook, the bigger the store he ends up managing. One of the coolest features was buying NES games that you can store in your house- sort of like a precursor to the Virtual Console the Wii would end up implementing. Meeting interesting neighbors, looking for fossils, fishing, bug catching, paying off your house...there's tons to do in Animal Crossing, and the fun never ends.


Fire Emblem: Awakening: The 2013 3DS release Fire Emblem: Awakening took nearly every convention from the older titles that fans knew and loved and simply made it better. Support mechanics in battle went from cumbersome to a strategy that made you nearly unbeatable. Innate character abilities actually showed up in battle, unlike they used to, and added a whole level of meticulous planning to support levels just so everyone could get Galeforce. The class system even expanded to include some of the best classes that have ever existed. Healer with an axe? Yes please. Not only is this title at the pinnacle of Fire Emblem games, but it was one of the best games of 2013, with some pretty stiff competition.

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."

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