Sixteen Big Nintendo Anniversaries in 2016
Last year we saw some huge franchises and consoles see a big anniversary milestone. This was all thanks to the years 1985, 1995, 2005, these years saw some of the biggest changes and improvements to happen to video games. Now just one year later and the same situation has been replicated.
While not everything on the list below is from 1986, 1996 or 2006 a majority of them are and some might even consider those years even bigger that set before that.
Let’s get started with possibly the biggest, well at least the oldest.
There’s franchises that Nintendo have ignored in almost decades, some of Nintendo’s oldest characters and worlds have been left in the 1980s or 1990s but not Donkey Kong. From the rebirth of the series on the Super Nintendo thanks to the folk at Rareware to the more recent Retro Studios titles, Donkey Kong has been dragged over three decades and always remained relevant.
Donkey Kong has also been the subject of various experiments over his 35 years. He’s been placed into the musical world of Donkey Konga, Nintendo then used the bongo controllers to bring us Jungle Beat and he’s never forgotten his roots being the bad guy again in Mario vs. Donkey Kong.
Aside from Mario, Donkey Kong is probably Nintendo’s most recognisable character. He’s was there when games were playing smoke filled arcades, in your lounge room with your radical haircuts in the 90s, you’ve smashed bongos to make him jump in the 2000s and we’ve had two amazing platforming titles from Retro in recent history (not forgetting the amazing 3DS port).
Where to for DK next?
Written by Daniel Vuckovic
Nintendo went kind of crazy for the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, an anniversary which still feels like yesterday. The entire year was filled with The Legend of Zelda events, worldwide orchestrated concerts and of course Skyward Sword. So just five years later what can we really expect?
Well for starters we know we’re getting The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in glorious HD on the Wii U, there’s a special amiibo to go alongside the game too. The real question we should all be asking ourselves is will we be getting the the ‘Wii U’ version of The Legend of Zelda this year – it would be nice wouldn’t it?
The 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda should be huge, we just hope Nintendo didn’t blow all its A-game on the 25th.
Written by Daniel Vuckovic
Hoo boy, Metroid. The 25th anniversary of Samus’ first adventure has come and gone, with none of the fanfare garnered by Mario or Kirby’s similar anniversaries. The last major Metroid game, Metroid: Other M, was an experiment that had some glaring problems for longtime series fans (We even made an entire podcast about it, if you want to listen to three guys groan about Other M for an hour or so) and we’ve gone through the life-so-far of the Wii U with nary a new Metroid title in sight. We have had an announcement of Metroid Prime: Federation Force last year and while it might be a fantastic game in the end, it is a spin-off, a Metroid Prime: Pinball for a new generation.
Who knows if we’ll ever see a new Metroid game again. After re-playing Metroid Zero Mission and Fusion recently, I would absolutely love to see a new game in that 2D style. Or maybe, imagine a 3D Metroid where Samus is on the run after the events of Metroid Fusion, travelling the galaxy while avoiding detection from the Galactic Federation.
It’s hard to tell whether the core Metroid games have a future at this point, but by golly I hope we see a new Metroid game for the 30th anniversary.
Written by Steven Impson
The 20th anniversary of Pokémon is almost here, and it has been quite a ride. From 151 Pokémon to 721 to date, the series has expanded amazingly. Looking back at Red & Blue recently, I was actually stunned at how different they are. Sure, the basics are all there but there are so many things that we consider standard today that just didn’t exist back then and it is absolutely astonishing how far the series has come, not just in terms of in-game content, but in reach.
The anime recently hit its 900th episode, the movies are continuing annually and the TCG is still so popular. It really is incredible to see how Pokémon has been embraced. You just need to go to a Pokémon event to see that.
As for what’s to come in this anniversary year? That’s hard to guess. We know there’s stuff coming due to the Zygarde forms revealed last year, plus Pokémon Go and the Virtual Console releases of the original games. There’s also loads of merchandise being released for it, but I highly doubt that this will be all that they have for it.
Contributed by Serebii, webmaster of Serebii.net
I’m turning 30 in a couple of months and to be the Nintendo 64 being twenty years old isn’t that crazy. Sure twenty years sounds like a long time but I’m finally old enough that is actually feels that long ago. Sorry for the extensional crisis but the Nintendo 64 has meant a lot to me.
The Nintendo 64 may not be the best the Nintendo system but it did have some amazing games and it’s funny how those games are still entertaining people now all these years later. The majority of games on Rare Replay are N64 games, Nintendo is has remade both N64 Zelda titles and the prices of Nintendo 64 games at garage sales and on eBay is at an all time high.
The N64 has been the black sheep of the Virtual Console since its inception, lets hope for the 20th we get something more than sporadic releases and a proper celebration of this great console. Where are the shirts and merchandise with the N64 controller on it, not everyone was raised on the NES!
Written by Daniel Vuckovic
We felt this one should be separate from the Nintendo 64 because the this game and its legacy have outlived the console it was born on.
It’s hard to put into words just how much Super Mario 64 changed the gaming world. While mascot platformers aren’t really that popular these days the rest of the video game industry took the next decade trying to make as good of a game as this one.
Super Mario 64 wasn’t the first 3D game, it wasn’t even the first 3D platformer but it was the first one that made 3D control work. The physics of Super Mario Bros were translated into 3D almost like magic, the same momentum and speed Mario has in 2D he had in 3D and you could move him in any direction in big and open worlds.
Like the 3D control of Mario, the game’s progression also moved in more than one direction. Instead of just progressing left to right you could go anywhere, your goals could be in any direction including up in the sky and underwater. There were less Goombas and and Koopas to jump on Super Mario 64 because they weren’t the enemy – the world was. The goals of the level too could be completed in any order, some goals were triggered by others but the majority of goals were open ended. Couldn’t finish one world? Check out another and try and get the stars from that world instead.
There’s things about Super Mario 64 that we take for granted now but in 1996 a cold ‘explore and learn’ opening, secrets hidden by perspective and even Lakitu in the mirror are all things that set the game apart. As old as it makes me sound or as cliche as it does – you had to be there.
This doesn’t diminish the game at all, the game although ‘aged’ isn’t any worse than it was. It’s just as easy to get into and just as hard to master. It can still be enjoyed by everyone.
Nintendo re-released and updated Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo DS in 2005, it was a good port but the Nintendo DS just wasn’t suited to the game. The D-Pad and even the touch screen ‘nub’ controls will never compare to a controller that was designed solely for the game.
Maybe now, 20 years later its time for Super Mario 64 to be reborn.
Written by Daniel Vuckovic
Boy, where do I begin with Game Boy Advance. While Game Boy and Game Boy Color brought many great titles to the system including Tetris, Kirby, and of course Pokemon, it was the GBA that system that made handheld gaming what it is today. While its launch may have been a little short on the major Nintendo releases (Super Mario Advance and F-Zero Maximum Velocity), a lot of Nintendo IPs started on here and are still being released, and re-released today.
The elephant in the room is Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald, and the eventual Re-release of Generation 1 for Fire Red & Leaf Green. Generation 3 went on to become a large majority of Pokemon fan’s favourite generation, and only hyped up with the re-release on 3DS. Wario Ware got its debut on the GBA, which has released on every system since (Well not the 3DS, but heck even the DSi got one). Mario & Luigi teamed up finally into an RPG in the Beanbean Kingdom, another series that would ascend lifespan of the GBA with the recent release of Paper Jam Bros.
Fire Emblem may have started technically on the NES, but for the western world, GBA was another start to a niche franchise that eventually would gain popularity with the 3DS’ release of Awakening, and upcoming release of Fates. Golden Sun and Advance Wars would also appear on the system, and while spawning a few sequels unfortunately haven’t been heard from in a while.
The Legend of Zelda got Four Swords, again a predecessor to the release of Triforce Heroes, and Minish Cap, a predecessor to, well the Zelda Timeline, but that’s a whole other story. With the addition of the link cable to the Gamecube, Four Swords Adventures started asymmetrical gaming experience in the living room, or if you wanted to, a good way to store your Pokemon in Pokemon Box (Wii U and Pokemon Bank anyone?)
Even Sonic got some amazing games on the GBA with the Advance Series, while its console counterparts were slowly going downhill. Over in Japan those lucky players got the first instances of Ace Attorney and Rhythm Heaven, both games the western world would miss out until the DS. Mother 3 of course, well…No, I’m not crying.
Written by Daniel P
This year brings with it the promise of many excellent video games, maybe even excellent Nintendo games, and possibly a new console with the NX. But I wonder if Nintendo will take the time to look back at its history.
Because it often doesn’t.
Mario or Zelda? You can rest assured Nintendo will make a fuss. Even Luigi got his own year. But Metroid anniversaries have been ignored. The rule — if there is a rule — seems to be this: major mainstream successes are to be celebrated, but the birthdays of niche, core efforts go unheralded.
Take the GameCube for example.
It’s hard to believe — terrifying even — but this year is the 15th anniversary of the GameCube. It’s hard to imagine Nintendo wanting to celebrate the release of arguably its least successful console. The GameCube represented something of a turning point for Nintendo — partly as a result of its failure.
But for many — some of you reading at home I’ll bet — the GameCube was a spectacular reminder that it’s often the loser that gets the most interesting video games.
The GameCube didn’t have the same impact as the market-consuming PlayStation 2. It couldn’t even outsell the original Xbox, but it did feature one of the most interesting back catalogues of any Nintendo console ever made. It also represented a Nintendo that experimented, perhaps not with its hardware, but with its prized franchises. Will we ever see another Mario game like Mario Sunshine? Or another Zelda game like Wind Waker? I suspect not. Will we ever play a better game than Metroid Prime?
It’s been over 13 years now. I’m still waiting.
I love the GameCube but more importantly I miss the Nintendo that made it. Somewhere at HQ I suspect that spirit is alive and well. You can see it in games like Splatoon and Super Mario Maker. Hopefully someone at Nintendo will see fit to celebrate that spirit. Hopefully they’ll see fit to remember it.
Contributed by Mark Serrels, Kotaku AU
Animal Crossing is one of those Nintendo franchises thats been around for a while but only recently exploded into mass appeal just recently. The first game on the Nintendo 64 did alright in Japan, then we got that same game (with tweaks) on the GameCube with some enhancements in the west. It wasn’t until the game went portable and landed on the Nintendo DS that the game truly exploded and became as good as it could be.
After the success of the DS version the game landed on the Wii but you never quite felt at ‘home’ until you’re playing the game again on a portable. In 2015 the Animal Crossing series went ‘spin-off’ and like Joanie Loves Chachi, Joey and The Cleveland show they turned out quite crap.
Maybe this year we’ll see another Animal Crossing game, but I’m almost hope we don’t until we see what the NX is. The series is crying out for innovation and a brand new system with a brand new member account and online world might be able to do that.
Written by Daniel Vuckovic
Out of all the anniversaries listed here this one is the hardest for me to accept. The Nintendo 64 feels 20 years ago, Pokemon feels the same but the Wii, why that feels just like it was yesterday.
There’s no point repeating too much what we know about the Wii, it sold an amazing amount, it had some amazing Nintendo games and for the first time since the Super Nintendo we saw a bunch of original and crazy ideas come out of third parties as they worked around the new Wii Remote. Old franchises were reborn on the Wii for a new audience and for a time it was good.
It wasn’t to last, eventually it felt like Nintendo put the system on cruise control, third parties gave up trying to do anything special with the console and being the most popular console of the generation ended up with a shit load of shovelware.
The Wii has a weird place in my heart, being a Nintendo fan and running a Nintendo site I’ve always felt like the underdog. You see, I was too young to see Nintendo at its peak in the 80s and 90s, or at least too young to understand it. Instead I decided to focus on Nintendo during the death of the Nintendo 64 and GameCube, everything then was Xbox this and PlayStation that.
The Wii though (and the DS really) turned things back around. Sure the system SD, yeah we didn’t get Assassin’s Creed or the latest blockbuster annual title from whoever but the Wii, Nintendo felt good. We got original games, we got revived franchises and we started to see the fruits of Nintendo’s online services. Shit, Nintendo online – finally!
It felt good to be on the ‘winning’ team for a while, the 15 year old in me loved to see Nintendo doing well. I only hope the fans who came in on the Wii-train get to see that again.
Written by Daniel Vuckovic
You know we asked many people to contribute to this article, but honestly no one wanted to write about Kid Icarus. (I’m doing this with a gun to my head send help).
Despite Pit having a popularity resurgence thanks to his inclusion in Super Smash Bros. there just doesn’t seem to be much love for an actual Kid Icarus game. The last game we got Uprising, I heard it was alright – but being left handed I could never get to play it properly. I’ll just have to take your word for it.
It seems like there are some fans for the series out there though. One of the Capcom Five GameCube games, Dead Phoenix was rumoured to be a Kid Icarus game at one point, we never got that game because Capcom turned out to be fat traitors. We’ve also learned thanks to Unseen64 that Kid Icarus was a project in prototype stage at Factor 5 at some point but that never got off the ground. Clearly someone loves it if they keep trying to make games about it.
So we’re left with the NES and GB Kid Icarus title, they’re not terrible but they are old. The only thing Pit has done for us lately has made me spend $17.95 on a Dark version amiibo of him.
Prove me wrong Kid Icarus fans and Nintendo, show us why we should love it.
Written by Daniel Vuckovic
New Super Mario Bros was a breath of fresh air when it released on the Nintendo DS, then on the Wii it was great too and then again on the DS and then on the Wii U… and yeah it’s not new anymore.
We’re not going belittle just how good the New Super Mario Bros. games are but at just 10 years old we’re ready to see something New from a 2D Mario platformer and here’s why.
You can make your own New Super Mario Bros. game in Super Mario Maker.
There’s no way now that Nintendo can use the same engine in it’s own 2D Mario Platformer because within a day people will simply just remake it in Super Mario Maker. Maybe that’s the plan after all, Nintendo’s taken the New engine and design as far as it can go and given it to the people.
Whatever’s next will really have to be new.
Written by Daniel Vuckovic
Who knew that two dimensions could contain so much ridiculousness. Paper Mario has always felt like the developers just letting their hair down and having fun, with all bets off and the constraints lifted from their shoulders. Already, we’ve seen the series’ mechanics revamped with every installment, showing a pretty unique willingness to play with a main moneymaker like Mario. Whilst the mechanics are often a little hit and miss, the absolute solid writing makes the series, and the willingness for strong female and gender-fluid characters in a positive light has always impressed me. (Letting Peach save herself is a nice touch that should be done more often. Take note here).
The crossover with the Mario & Luigi series last year preceded the anniversary in a somewhat mixed fashion, but here’s hoping that we see some new and innovative games crossing the consoles in the future. Whilst Paper Mario never really left our consoles over it’s lifespan, it feels like the right time for the series to stop trying new things and return to its roots. I’d love to see the rest of the games released on the various stores and Virtual Consoles. Let’s hope Nintendo takes advantage of the milestone!
Written by Lachlan
The original Advance Wars released in the US on September 20, 2001, for the Game Boy Advance. This was the West’s first taste of a series that had actually been going a lot longer than that in Japan. Each instalment was named after the platform it released on, starting in 1988 with Famicom Wars. What’s funny though, is that this series that began as a Japanese exclusive eventually morphed into a new subseries that was practically exclusive to the West – what we know now as Advance Wars. The first Advance Wars game didn’t release in Japan until 2004, as part of a combo pack with the second game. The most recent game was even cancelled in Japan – it wasn’t until 2013, five years after its Western release, that it was made available to download as a Club Nintendo reward.
The first three games in the series were a colourful and fun take on the turn-based strategy genre. Up to four armies competed against each other, and would be eliminated if their HQ was taken, or they lost the ability to produce troops. Certain campaign missions would add other loss conditions, like a certain number of turns passing, or a specific troop being defeated. Players took on the role as Commanding Officer of the army, who issued orders to the troops on the field. They could pick a variety of characters to play as, each with their own special traits as well as a special CO Power that could be triggered in order to turn the tide of battle.
I loved playing these games with friends – we’d compare scores in the campaign (which brought out a real competitive side in all of us) and then we’d battle against each other in our own custom maps. I ruined the first game for myself, because I was a kid who found a glitch that let me use the level-editing tools on campaign maps, and I struggled with the new elements that the second game introduced. A fifth army who appeared briefly at the end of the first game was now the dominant antagonist, and they brought with them all sorts of crazy new technology – super tanks, death rays, you name it. One of my friends made it all the way through the campaign on Hard Mode, and I remember the excitement on his face when he realised he was emerging on top in the final mission.
I did, however, play all the way through the third game multiple times (legitimately!). This game wasn’t released for the Game Boy Advance, but the DS. Like with a lot of DS games it had a dual-screen gimmick – you now sometimes played as two COs, who would either take turns on a single screen, or each be assigned their own battle (with one on each screen). Each CO would have their own traits active while in use, which meant that you could, for example, play as Colin (a CO who could build units at a lower price in exchange for less firepower) to build a large army of cheap units and then switch to Kanbei (a CO who conversely paid a higher price for stronger troops) in order to now make these cheap units into powerful ones. If both COs filled their CO Power gauges completely, they could activate a Tag Power, which would have both of their CO Powers active at once and allowed you to take two turns back-to-back. It also introduced a heap of fun, gimmicky units, like a blob that could only move one space per turn but instantly devoured any unit in its path.
Then we get to the fourth game, known as Dark Conflict here and in Europe (and Days of Ruin in the US) which is the last Advance Wars game to be released so far. This is the one that wasn’t originally released in Japan. Just a look at the cover would make it pretty clear why. It was effectively a series reboot, with all the colour and charm replaced with a dreary post-apocalyptic wasteland. This made for a very divisive reception amongst the fanbase, as a lot of people didn’t take to the changes. I’ll admit that I was turned off by the shift in tone, and only just bought the game for cheap about a year ago and have yet to play it. The first two games have been released on the Wii U’s Virtual Console, but we’ve yet to see a new game in the series since Dark Conflict in 2008. Could this change for the 15th Anniversary?
Here’s what I think we’ll see this year for the 15th Anniversary of Advance Wars:
- Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest
- Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright
- Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation
- Smash Bros DLC featuring the protagonist of Fire Emblem Fates
Can you tell I’m a little salty? Unfortunately it seems the Advance Wars series is all but killed off, with Intelligent Systems focusing on Fire Emblem after its resurgence with Awakening (Fire Emblem being more popular in Japan probably played a big part in it too). It’s probably for the best though, as if we were to get a new game now it would probably focus more on shipping Jake and Rachel together than anything else. For now we’ll have to settle with the Virtual Console releases of the originals, and the knowledge that somewhere out there lies an alternate universe where Andy and Sami were in Smash Bros. Melee instead of Roy and Marth, and a successful line of Advance Wars releases continued to this very day.
Written by Josh Whittington
Back when the Gamecube was in its infancy, Capcom announced an exclusivity agreement with Nintendo like no other. The system was struggling in securing third party support and needed a boost in hardware sales. Capcom announced five games – one of these was Resident Evil 4. On top of this, Capcom also announced a remake of the first Resident Evil game and that the previous Nintendo 64 exclusive, Resident Evil Zero, would also be developed for the Gamecube. That’s three Resident Evil titles promised to Gamecube players of which two are arguably the most important and relevant to the franchise – Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil Remake to this day remains one of the greatest examples on how to do a “remaster” of sorts. Not only were the visuals dramatically improved, new scenarios were written and implemented to further flesh out the story. Similarly, the critical path through the entire game was completely rewritten so that it was a new game for both long term fans of the series and newcomers. It was a true remake in every sense of the word and up until recently remained on the Gamecube for many years to come.
Resident Evil 4 was the game that completely reinvented the franchise to the point where many would claim that it influenced the evolution of both survival horror and third person shooter games. Lauded for its immaculate pacing, tight gameplay mechanics and all around presentation.
While it could be considered a runaway success, Capcom announced a more complete Playstation 2 version of the game months before the game released undercutting the game’s success. We’re sure fans are still a little bit bitter about such a poor sense of timing on Capcom’s part, but this did nothing to sour the critical reception to the game which has achieved universal acclaim.
Resident Evil is a franchise that has since dipped in and out of Nintendo platforms – Resident Evil Revelations is the latest title to grace Nintendo systems. But the fact that it’s two most important instalments – one a gold standard for a remake and the other one of the most influential games of the 2000s – means it’s presence on Nintendo consoles cannot be ignored.
Sonic sure has had some ups and downs over his 25 years. His games rose from strength to strength in the Mega Drive era, but since going into 3D the Sonic series hasn’t had quite the same universal acclaim. In recent years we’ve had some wonderful Sonic games among the chaff. Sonic Rush and Sonic Colours on the Nintendo DS expanded on the 2D Sonic formula with tricks and 3D elements, and Sonic Colours on Wii proved that 3D Sonic didn’t have to be garbage. While Sonic Lost World and Sonic Boom have had a lackluster reception by critics, they both have their fans.
My hope for Sonic’s 25th Anniversary covers a couple of things.
Of course, I’d love a brand new Sonic game this year as well, but I’m less optimistic about that given Sega’s recent track record with Sonic. I’ll be over the moon if it happens, but I’m not holding my breath.
As well, we already have fantastic remasters of Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on the 3DS, but it would totally make my day to see Sonic 3 & Knuckles get the Sega 3D Classics treatment. Having that game run in the 3DS’s native resolution, with the depth of options and 3D that M2 have given the other 3D Classics could make for the absolute best way to play Sonic 3.
Written by Steven Impson
Is there a big anniversary we missed, do you think Nintendo will do anything bigger (or less) than what we predicted? We’ll take a look at this article in exactly one year and see what Nintendo, Capcom and even Sega managed to do.