The 37 best Nintendo video games of all time, according to critics

The 37 best Nintendo video games of all time, according to critics
Zelda Breath of the Wild
"The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild."Nintendo
  • Insider turned to review-aggregation site Metacritic's to determine the best games on Nintendo.

  • The games didn't have to be Nintendo exclusives; the critic scores are for the Nintendo versions.

  • But we didn't include repeats — if the same game was on Metacritic's list for multiple Nintendo systems, we included the one with the highest score.

37. "NFL 2K3" (2002) — GameCube

nfl 2k3
Sega

Metacritic score: 92

"NFL 2K3 has not only narrowed the gap between it and Madden — it might have surpassed it." — GameSpy

36. "Paper Mario" (2001) — Nintendo 64

paper mario
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 93

"No matter what your tastes are, after just an hour in Mario's new world, we can guarantee that you?ll not want to move from your chair. Ever." — GamesRadar

35. "Super Smash Bro. Ultimate" (2018) — Switch

super smash bros ultimate
In "Super Smash Bros.," you can fight other players, or a CPU pretending to be a real player.William Antonelli/Insider

Metacritic score: 93

"An inconsistent online mode and situational downers don't stop Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from shining as a flexible multiplayer game that can be as freewheeling or as firm as you want it to be." — GameSpot

34. "Viewtiful Joe" (2003) — GameCube

viewtiful joe
Capcom

Metacritic score: 93

"It's a timeless piece of quality gaming that, with the exception of its visual element, would probably work on any format, past or present." — Eurogamer

33. "Mario Kart: Super Circuit" (2001) — Game Boy Advance

mario kart super circuit
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 93

"Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined it to be so damn addictive!" — Yahoo!

32. "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword" (2011) — Wii

zelda skyward sword
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 93

"No, Skyward Sword isn't better than Ocarina Of Time. But of all the Zeldas to be released over the last 13 years, it comes closest. The game's greatest achievement is that it never stops aspiring to be more than it is. It never stops reaching for emotional moments, going full-tilt for players' hearts." — The AV Club

31. "SoulCalibur II" (2003) — GameCube

soulcalibur 2
Namco

Metacritic score: 93

"For the vast majority of the gaming world, this is quite easily the best 3D beat 'em up ever made." — Eurogamer

30. "Undertale" (2018) — Switch

undertale game
Toby Fox

Metacritic score: 93

"The game is every bit as charming, challenging, and harrowing as it was the first time around." — GameSpot

29. "Super Mario 3D World" (2013) — Wii U

super mario 3d world
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 93

"It really is a fantastic game. That thrill of hitting the top of the flagpole is still there after all these years, Mario and co leap about at the top of their game, it's colourful, friendly, joyful, and the most fun I've had with a platform game since Super Mario Galaxy 2." — Talegraph

28. "Ori and the Will of Wisps" (2020) — Switch

Ori and the Will of Wisps
Microsoft

Metacritic score: 93

"Ori and the Will of the Wisps is not just a great sequel; in many ways, it outdoes its predecessor. The addition of more customization options, a greater focus on combat and a better-developed story — all in a game that's running at 60 frames per second — allows the sequel to comprehensively outshine the original." — Nintendo Life

27. "Divinity: Original Sin II — Definitive Edition" (2019) — Switch

divinity game
Larian Studios

Metacritic score: 93

"From lonely farmhouses through pitched battles with gods in far-flung dimensions, Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the most captivating role-playing games ever made in both its original and Definitive incarnations, with the latter proving that even the most complicated role-players can be ported successfully to gamepad-limited consoles." — GameSpot

26. "Hades" (2020) — Switch

Hades (game)
Supergiant Games

Metacritic score: 93

"Hades is an exhilarating experience that meshes its various systems together in a way that's truly special. Zagreus' journey to escape from his father's kingdom is a memorable one full of brilliant moments, and this game is a must-have for fans of roguelikes or action games with brutal difficulty like the Dark Souls series." — Screen Rant

25. "Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars" (2009) — Nintendo DS

chinatown wars grand theft auto
Rockstar

Metacritic score: 93

"Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is a triumph, not just in terms of bringing a difficult game to a new platform intact, but because it actually improves it in the process, and demonstrates a mastery of DS form and function." — Eurogamer

24. "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" (2008) — Wii

super smash bros brawl
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 93

"From the digital-crack gameplay to the ocean-deep customization to the enjoyable Subspace Emissary, it's completely jam-packed with Nintendo love. The sights, the sounds, everything is an unfiltered pat on the back and incessant in-joke for longtime fans. For everyone else, it's a dependably solid fighter that destroys its predecessor in every way." — GamesRadar

23. "Super Mario 64" (1996) — Nintendo 64

super mario 64
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 94

"The sheer scale of the achievement, in originality, variety and technological muscle earns it a 'Best Game Ever' acclamation through sheer muscle, almost regardless of its undoubted and typically Nintendo artistry." — TotalGames.net

22. "Madden NFL 2004" (2003) — GameCube

madden nfl 2004
EA

Metacritic score: 94

"Adding a mind-boggling level of depth is the Owner Mode, which lets you negotiate salaries, build a stadium, and — for the detail obsessed — even set prices at the concession stands." — Entertainment Weekly

21. "Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3" (2003) — Game Boy Advance

super mario advance 4
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 94

"Its timeless design holds up well into its 15th anniversary. But the fact that players can continue the experience with brand new level designs is phenomenal and just opens up a whole new dimension for replayability." — IGN

20. "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D" (2011) — 3DS

ocarina of time 3ds
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 94

"My new favorite way to play one of my top 10 games of all time. Its updated visuals look great in 3D, the touch-screen streamlines inventory issues, and aiming with the gyroscope feels like much more than a gimmick." — Game Informer

19. "World of Goo" (2008) — Wii

World of Goo
2D Boy

Metacritic score: 94

"Though the game's downbeat point of view doesn't quite jibe with the gameplay, the puzzle setups are irresistible, and the physics impeccable." — The AV Club

18. "Tetris Effect: Connected" (2021) — Switch

tetris connected
Sony

Metacritic score: 94

"Tetris Effect remains the best version of Tetris on the market, and the Nintendo Switch port is hardly compromised, successfully retaining what made the game stunning in the first place." — Digital Spy

17. "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2" (2001) — Game Boy Advance

pro skater 2
Activision

Metacritic score: 95

"A technical marvel, providing the first true polygonal game on the system — and it's only the system's first year out of the gate!" — IGN

16. "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask" (2005) — Nintendo 64

zelda majora's mask
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 95

"Some will appreciate the game's differences, while others will find the game's focus on minigames and side quests tedious and slightly out of place." — GameSpot

15. "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past" (2003) — Game Boy Advance

zelda a link to the past
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 95

"An indispensable game, combining arguably the finest RPG/adventure the 16-bit era ever produced (even compared to the likes of Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy VI) with an expertly realised multiplayer rendition of Zelda." — Eurogamer

14. "The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition" (2003) — GameCube

zelda collector's edition
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 95

"As a pack-in bonus, it's excellent — we really can't think of a pack-in game in recent history that has this much pure playability, albeit from games that are now somewhat aged." — GameSpot

13. "Portal Companion Collection" (2022) — Switch

portal companion collection
Valve

Metacritic score: 96

"It's hard to overstate our satisfaction with Portal: Companion Collection. Portal and Portal 2 felt incredibly fresh when they first released, and the years since have not diminished their immense impact." — Nintendo Life

12. "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker" (2003) — GameCube

zelda wind waker
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 96

"It's Zelda's unrivaled design, balanced and varied, and its polished play mechanics and control that ultimately set the game apart from just about every other competitor on the market." — IGN

11. "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" (2006) — GameCube

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 96

"I can certainly understand why purists might want to stick with the more conventional controls of the GCN build and as far as a traditional setup goes, Twilight Princess is definitely as good as it gets." — IGN

10. "The House in Fata Morgana — Dreams of the Revenants Edition" (2021) — Switch

house in fata morgana game
Novect

Metacritic score: 96

"The House in Fata Morgana is over 40 hours long, and in those 40 hours, you'll maybe get to make about three decisions. It is a visual novel in the strictest sense of the word, and you must be prepared for that going in. But with a fantastic, original, slow-burn story about love, loss, hurt, forgiveness, and recovery, it's one of the best visual novels out there — and your patience will be paid off in the end." — Nintendo Life

9. "Resident Evil 4" (2005) — GameCube

resident evil 4
Capcom

Metacritic score: 96

"There are no flaws in Resident Evil 4. It is the greatest horror game to date. I never thought that a game, or a movie for that matter, could deliver pulse-pounding action in such an awe-inspiring way." — Game Informer

8. "GoldenEye 007" (1997) — Nintendo 64

"GoldenEye 007"
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 96

"We can say with a clear conscience that Goldeneye 007 is the best single-player first-person game on any system." — IGN

7. "Super Mario Odyssey" (2017) — Switch

super mario odyssey
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 97

"Each kingdom is absolutely packed with charm, clever objectives, gorgeous visuals, a stellar soundtrack, and a huge variety of ways to have fun." — Giant Bomb

6. "Metroid Prime" (2002) — GameCube

metroid prime
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 97

"From the amazingly polished gameplay design to the gorgeous visuals and atmospheric soundtrack, Metroid Prime is unquestionably a must-have masterpiece and a show horse that all forthcoming adventure titles will be judged by." — IGN

5. "Perfect Dark" (2000) — Nintendo 64

Perfect Dark
Perfect Dark/Nintendo

Metacritic score: 97

"It's still by far the finest crafted game of its ilk on the N64 and it positively oozes class from every pore." — GamesRadar

4. "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" (2017) — Switch

zelda breath of the wild
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 97

"I guess, in the end, it's not just that Breath of the Wild signals that Zelda has finally evolved and moved beyond the structure it's leaned on for so long. It's that the evolution in question has required Nintendo to finally treat its audience like intelligent people. That newfound respect has led to something big, and different, and exciting." — Polygon

3. "Super Mario Galaxy 2" (2010) — Wii

super mario galaxy 2
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 97

"Simultaneously more and less than its predecessor. It expands and elaborates on the gameplay in unpredictable ways, but the last one felt like a bigger, more complete adventure. That said, better core gameplay with less window dressing is infinitely preferable to the reverse." — Wired

2. "Super Mario Galaxy" (2007) — Wii

super mario galaxy
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 97

"Once that nostalgic music rings out and Mario leaps into the air, all your complaints instantly vanish. This is, in my opinion, the best Mario game since the NES classic, Super Mario Bros. It innovates in a genre that we had thought we had seen everything from, and in doing so delivers some of the most entertaining gameplay to date." — Game Informer

1. "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" (1998) — Nintendo 64

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (UE4)
Nintendo

Metacritic score: 99

"Call us crazy, but when the final version of Zelda 64 arrived in the IGN64 offices, we stopped working, locked ourselves into a room with a big-screen TV and a surround system and played 17 hours straight. After only a few hours of sleep, we were back for more and we couldn't stop until we finished the game. Then, we started over again to find all the secrets." — IGN

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