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

Round 1 - Hyrule Region Part 1

by Neal Ronaghan - March 11, 2014, 10:53 pm EDT

Wind Waker and Brawl are the two top dogs in this area.

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...

Wii Sports (16) vs. Zelda: The Wind Waker (1)


Wii Sports: The second you played Wii Sports, you became a true believer. Don't deny it - we all did. Your parents played Wii Sports. Your grandparents probably played Wii Sports. People who'd never picked up a video game controller in their lives went to Wal-Mart and bought a Wii after seeing it on Oprah and playing Wii Baseball with their kids. Love it or hate it, Wii Sports defined the entire console, and it was magical. From the Mii avatars to the elevator music to the incredibly simple controls, everything about Wii Sports worked. It truly was a system seller--not just because it came with the system, but because it convinced people to go out and buy a Wii.


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Can there be any doubt that this is among the top contenders in this bracket? It’s a game so nice they sold it twice. Wind Waker is certainly one of the prettiest games in recent memory, with a cel-shaded, colorful art style that remains consistent and wonderful music that expresses whimsy (the pirate theme) and epic-ness (the ocean theme). The Great Sea feels like a living world, and there’s no shortage of things to do and treasure to uncover. Wind Waker is filled with moments you’ll never forget your first trip to Hyrule Castle, Princess Zelda’s reveal, and Link’s final blow to Ganondorf. As always, I expect great things from Toon Link in this tournament.

Vote here!

New Super Mario Bros. U (9) vs. Star Wars: Rogue Leader (8)


New Super Mario Bros. U: Series fatigue seemed to be setting in for the 2012 release of New Super Mario Bros. U. Those who didn’t become jaded were blessed with a fantastic game from start to finish. New Super Mario Bros. U took the ideas from the New Super Mario Bros. series and made them even better. With the new squirrel suit, the addictive challenge mode, and the stellar level design, this was one heck of a launch title for the Wii U. It might not have made the Wii U the dominant system in the industry, but it certainly made it fun for anyone who owned one.


Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader Co-developed by Factor 5 and LucasArts, this GameCube exclusive is the second of three games released in the Rogue Squadron series. This fast-paced flighty fighter debuted in 2001, and included 10 levels with missions, such as search and destroy or protection. At the time, the game delivered beautiful graphics and sound, and the presentation blew people away. With its hefty lasting appeal, it was considered by some a must buy for GameCube owners, and hell, even Wii owners, as even now that it is more than a decade old, Rogue Leader still looks good.

Vote here!

Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat (12) vs. Punch-Out Wii (5)


Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat: It’s the classic DK platformer we all know and love, but it controls like no other. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, from the beloved team at EAD Tokyo, was released for the GameCube in the US and Europe in 2005 and was playable with the DK Bongos from Donkey Konga, the previous rhythm game. Beating the bongos to beat the baddies and pave DK’s way through the jungle proved for pure joy and a unique way to play. It’s a beautiful game with an elegant rhythm-heavy platforming mechanic that makes it unique and fantastic.


Punch-Out!!: The Punch-Out series was dormant for a long time before Next Level Games crafted the stellar 2009 Wii release. It was faithful to the original, including a lot of the same characters and ideas, but it expanded upon in interesting ways, with more modes and lavish and comical animations. This game bursts with personality and challenge. We might not ever see another brand new Punch-Out game, but this Wii rendition is essentially the ultimate classic Punch-Out game. And now Little Mac’s in Smash Bros., so the world is really a fair and just place.

Vote here!

Professor Layton and the Curious Village (13) vs. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (4)


Professor Layton and the Curious Village: In this 2008 DS hit, brain-busters meet adventure as Professor Layton and his apprentice, Luke, investigate St. Mystere. Word on the street is that the Baron hid a “Golden Apple” somewhere in the village before he passed away, promising his fortune to the one who finds it. Now everyone in the town is armed with puzzles to try to destroy Professor Layton’s mind. Or they just have puzzles because, well, they just like puzzles. Is that a problem? Puzzles are fun. With its many addicting puzzles and overwhelming quality, Level-5 had a smash--and the start of something great.


Super Smash Bros. Brawl: The sequel to the acclaimed Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is an even bigger serving of fan service to Nintendo fans than either of the first two games combined. It boasts an array of awesome collectables, as well as a new story mode that connects all of the playable fighters together in a quest to stop the Subspace Army. Speaking of characters, there’s more than ever before, with Diddy Kong, Pit, Pokemon Trainer, and Sonic the Hedgehog joining the roster as well as a number of other new characters. To top it all off, Brawl also introduced the Final Smash, which allows the player to finish off their opponent with a huge, final attack that sends the opponent reeling. Smash Bros. Brawl has a limitless amount of content that makes it one of the Wii’s top games.

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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