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

Sweet Sixteen Zebes/Umbrella Corp Regions

by Neal Ronaghan - March 18, 2014, 6:29 am EDT

Can Metroid Prime and Resident Evil 4 take out their competitors?

We're down to 16 games, and now it's going to get really crazy. Marios fighting Donkey Kongs and Zeldas fighting Marios. Bedlam! Remember: We’ve split all these games 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. Almost all of the top eight games are all still alive, but will they all make it to the next round? Go ahead and vote for these match-ups and show your colors in the discussion.

Voting ends around 11:30 p.m. ET on March 20. Later that day, we'll have Round 4, with 8 games and 4 match-ups, ready to go...

Metroid Prime (1) vs. Super Smash Bros. Melee (4)


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 to, 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.

Games Defeated: New Super Mario Bros. (9), Pokemon Gold/Silver (16)


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.

Games Defeated: Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (5), Mario Kart Wii (13)

Vote here!

Super Mario 3D World (WC) vs. Donkey Kong Country Returns (7)


Super Mario 3D World: After making it through the Wild Card Round, the beloved 2013 game Super Mario 3D World seeks to further its win streak. It was Mario's big 3D foray into HD graphics on the Wii U. Featuring the adorable cat suit and tons of content, this game brought four-player mayhem to a new style of Mario, ruining friendships all the while. If this game loses in this round, there is a chance that it invalidates this entire voting process, and the NWR staffers who decided this wasn't one of the four best games of 2013 might have to stand trial.

Games Defeated: Metroid Prime 3 (6), The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (3), Luigi's Mansion (WC)


Donkey Kong Country Returns: The Donkey Kong Country came back in a big, bad way with this 2010 Wii release. Retro Studios’ first foray into 2D platforming might just be one of the best of its kind on the Wii or maybe even any system ever. Returns features a wide variety of inventive levels that will challenge you to your core. Outside of some iffy motion controls, there isn’t much to complain about this instant classic.

Games Defeated: Perfect Dark (2), Ghost Trick (10)

Vote here!

Resident Evil 4 (1) vs. Xenoblade Chronicles (4)


Resident Evil 4: Here’s a game that was great on GameCube in 2005 but even better as a remake (on Wii). Resident Evil 4 found a fine balance between action and suspense that the series has never matched, and Leon S. Kennedy’s often-setback rescue of the President’s daughter proved an engaging plot that didn’t require knowledge of the series’ complex backstory. There are always more secrets to find, and repeat playthroughs are greatly encouraged through new, powerful weaponry. The game also features some nail-biting boss fights and a great, subdued musical score. Can Leon, Ashley, and Luis clinch the victory?

Games Defeated: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (9), Mario Golf GBC (16)


Xenoblade Chronicles: Nintendo’s purchase of Monolith Soft was leading up to this. The long-delayed launch of Xenoblade Chronicles introduced players to an expansive world that stretches across the body of two frozen titans. Expansive vistas offer fleeting views of the two giants, locked in eternal combat. Monolith Soft, seemingly unphased by the constraints of the Wii hardware, produced more than just a stunning visual show, they also innovated innumerable ways to streamline the chore-like tasks that encumber the JRPG genre. While the Wii lacked a deep library of JRPGs, Xenoblade Chronicles could convincingly stake a claim to being the best of its generation.

Games Defeated: Kirby's Epic Yarn (5), Ogre Battle 64 (13)

Vote here!

Paper Mario: TTYD (WC) vs. Zelda: Twilight Princess (2)


Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door: The sequel to the Nintendo 64 original, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is not just a fun game to play, it’s also one of the funniest games you’ll find on the GameCube. Mario ventures forth on an adventure to find Princess Peach, who has gone missing, in a search for the Thousand-Year Door, which apparently leads to riches for whoever opens it. Using the same system as the previous Paper Mario game, Mario partners with one of his various allies throughout the game to solve puzzles as well as battle using the timed hit system from Super Mario RPG. It doesn’t stray from the original’s formula too much, but Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door delivers in terms of a fun, humor filled adventure that’s full of charm.

Games Defeated: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (6), Soul Calibur II (3), Viewtiful Joe (WC)


The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Many fans of the Zelda series were not satisfied with the Wind Waker art style (at least at the time), and at the very end of the GameCube’s life those fans got their wish of a “realistic” Gamecube Zelda with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Being so late in the GameCube’s life, Twilight Princes was also developed for the Nintendo Wii as a launch title. What makes Twilight Princess stand out is its unique take on the Zelda “legend,” including a wolf form of Link, the best partner Link ever has in a Zelda game in Midna, as well as the antagonist Zant and the twilight realm. Even with the unique elements, Twilight Princess still delivers an experience of a genuine Zelda game.

Games Defeated: Elite Beat Agents (7), Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies (15)

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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