For the past two weeks, I spent a reasonable amount of time compiling two lists that consisted of the best JRPGs according to GameRankings scores. (The website, gamerankings.com, has sadly been defunct for years now and the company staff merged with Metacritic.) GameRankings is particularly useful as it lists older games that Metacritic does not, and pulled from some different review sources (critics) than Metacritic does. Today, I am ranking the very best games (all genres) according to its pool of critics. Yeah, I know, Nintendo is king.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Game Rankings Score: 97.33
Breath of the Wild marked the second time that a The Legend of Zelda entry served as a cross generation launch game for a new Nintendo system. Just like Twilight Princess launched the Wii into an era of unprecedented success, so did Breath of the Wild helped to make the Nintendo Switch the hot item to get right out of the gates in 2017.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild marked a huge evolution of the “Zelda Formula” by ditching themed dungeons, but introducing the Shrine system in their place and expanding Hyrule into a massive (and I stress MASSIVE) open-world.
Unlike previous Zelda games, Breath of the Wild could be tackled in different ways, at the player’s leisure. Progression was only hindered by your skill, understanding of the awesome physics system, lack of hearts and proper equipment, and lastly, the game’s stamina bar. While Breath of the Wild will not win any storytelling contest, it is the biggest and most (commercially) successful Zelda game ever.
4. Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Game Rankings Score: 97.35
While I prefer Super Mario 64…to any Mario game ever made, most critics chose the pair of Galaxies (and Odyssey) as the superior Marios. I don’t agree, but I can see why this is the case.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the same game as Super Mario Galaxy, but it is bigger, looks a tad prettier, and it has Yoshi. It didn’t’ fare as well as its predecessor with critics (on this list) mainly because it wasn’t as mind blowing as Galaxy had been 3 years earlier.
This didn’t stop critics from praising it as the greatest Platformer ever made, and Mario’s best entry ever upon release. The Wii wasn’t necessarily known as a hardcore gamer’s console, but it certainly was the home of some the greatest games ever made.
3. Super Mario Odyssey – Game Rankings Score: 97.42
I have to confess that Super Mario Odyssey is as close as I got to reliving Super Mario 64’s magic within a Mario game since Nintendo’s famous plumber defined how 3-D games were going to be made going forwards back in 1996. It was actually the second physical cartridge (after Breath of the Wild) that I bought for my Nintendo Switch.
Super Mario Odyssey was worth all of that hefty $59.99 tag, and then some more. It is a Mario game filled with easter eggs, and challenges. Odyssey also looks surprisingly good in Switch’s Docked mode, which is something that doesn’t happen often on the system. Some of its levels made me marvel at both, the power of Nintendo’s portable machine, and the ingenuity of Nintendo EAD when squeezing every drop of performance out of the system.
Not many games look as good as Odyssey does at 900p and 60 frames per second. The game is a Nintendo Switch “masterclass”.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Game Rankings Score: 97.54
This is the greatest game of all time according to Metacritic, and more importantly…me. That said, Gamerankings’ tally of reviews say that Ocarina is no better than the second best game of all time (my heart hurts), which I guess is not that big of a deal (I must get over this disappointment) in the grand scope of things.
If you have read my Ocarina of Time rants on a consistent basis you would know that Ocarina is the most revolutionary game of its time, and that it pioneered many features that are still being used today in open world games. Ocarina of Time is also one of the most significant titles, in terms of storyline, within the entire The Legend of Zelda series, and the game has aged like fine wine.
All that is left is for Nintendo to deliver a proper remaster of Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo Switch, and I can live the rest of my days in joyful (and ecstatic) bliss.
1. Super Mario Galaxy – Game Rankings Score: 97.64
With Super Mario Sunshine, many Super Mario fans were left feeling empty, and cold (despite that game’s tropical setting). Sunshine didn’t feel like Super Mario 64’s proper sequel. It took a new console, and about 5 years (from Sunshine’s release) for Nintendo to deliver a true worthy successor to Super Mario 64.
Galaxy cleverly used the Wii’s motion controls, and hardware, to deliver the best Mario experience in a decade. A critical darling, and maybe the best game of all time (according to this listing), Super Mario Galaxy integrated an amazing outer space setting combined with fitting gravitational challenges into Mario’s winning 3-D formula. There isn’t a more polished and challenging platforming experience on the Wii (save for Galaxy 2, maybe).
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