Top 10 Miyamoto Games

Zelda: Ocarina of Time didn't make the list (gasp!)

With the impending launch of Wii Fit, Shigeru Miyamoto's latest game-changing creation, we celebrate the Nintendo designer's 10 greatest games... and Zelda: Ocarina of Time didn't make the list (gasp!).

It's difficult to imagine where video games would be today without Shigeru Miyamoto. Would Grand Theft Auto IV exist without the three-dimensional world pioneered by Super Mario 64 in 1996? More importantly, how well would 3D games play without Miyamoto's innovations? Would there be item upgrades to unlock new areas of a game as popularised by Zelda in 1987? Would there be side-scrollers? Would there be action-adventure games? Would the platform genre exist at all?

Would we use "1-up" to reference an extra life as opposed to its original meaning of "player one's turn"? Would there be analogue sticks? Would there be motion-controls? Would video games have rebounded from the 1983 crash? Would there be Nintendo?

Some younger gamers may grow tired of the continual industry praise and glowing respect given to Miyamoto, but his far-reaching influence is ever present, whether you play his games or not. To pay homage to his numerous contributions, here are his 10 greatest games by today's standards, taking into consideration his entire 84 game library either as a designer, director, or watchful producer.

10. Donkey Kong (Arcade, 1981)

Donkey Kong

Not only has Miyamoto enjoyed the home console and handheld spotlight for three decades, but his first popular creation dominated arcades as well in the early Eighties. The game was an addictive horizontal platformer called Donkey Kong, which quickly became the third most popular arcade game ever. In addition to introducing gamers to an Italian plumber named Mario (then known as Jumpman), Donkey Kong sound effects now regularly serve as generic video game sounds in film and television.

9. Star Fox (SNES, 1993)

Star Fox

Despite its goofy use of characters more fitting for toddlers than teenagers, Star Fox was both a technical accomplishment and one heck of an enjoyable game upon release in 1993. It was the first Nintendo title to feature 3D graphics (well before 3D was the norm) thanks to fancy technology called the Super FX Chip. As a result, many have referred to Star Fox as an early influencer of three-dimensional console graphics. Plus, Starfox let players perform barrel rolls on demand, which never got old.

8. Metroid Prime (GameCube, 2002)

Star Fox

After an eight-year hiatus, Metroid heroine Samas Aran made a triumphant return to Nintendo hardware in 2002 after skipping the N64 generation due to what Miyamoto called a lack of "concrete ideas." After outsourcing development to Texas-based developer Retro Studios, Miyamoto remained as producer of Prime to ensure the series made the justifiable jump to first-person 3D (and later, first-person shooter). And it worked. Not only did the game revitalize the franchise, it currently stands as the seventh highest-rated game of all time, according to Game Rankings.

7. Nintendogs (Nintendo DS, 2005)

Nintendogs

Nintendo DS was an encouraging little system upon release in 2004. But it wasn't until Miyamoto released Nintendogs in the fall of 2005 that other developers truly realized what was possible on the touch-screen portable. This real-time dog simulation is nothing more than a glorified version of Tamagotchi, that's for sure, but try and play digital Frisbee with your little puppy without smiling — I dare you! Snicker at this inclusion all you want, but Nintendogs is a delightful experience, and the second best-selling non-bundled game of all time, just behind Pok?mon Red, Blue, and Green, and ahead of both Super Mario Bros. 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

6. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, 2007)

Super Mario Galaxy

Just when you think Mario has worn out his 25-year welcome, Miyamoto mans the designer reigns once more to reinvent and surprise gamers with one of the most refreshing games released in the last decade, Super Mario Galaxy. In reality, the title is more Super Mario 64 evolved than true revolution, but the varied level design (both in 2.5D and 3D perspectives) was clearly inspired by the gaming gods and is a pleasure to play again and again.

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5. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube, 2003)

 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

It was a tough call, but if we could only play one Zelda game on our fancy HDTVs, we would choose The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker over Ocarina of Time. Though Ocarina's gameplay was more pioneering, Wind Waker borrows heavily from it, feels more refined, and has aged better thanks to its darling, cartoon-inspired, enhanced-definition graphics. When the game was first unveiled in 2001, gamers freaked upon seeing the cel-shaded, kid-friendly style. But it wouldn't matter — Wind Waker plays like a dream, confirming Miyamoto's wise foresight.

4. Wii Sports (Wii, 2006)

Wii Sports

Though Wii Sports comes up short in terms of gaming perfection, it's easily one of the most revolutionary and memorable console games ever released, as evidenced by its widespread popularity, its engaging motion controls, and its ability to arouse certain players to the point of self-injury and/or the breaking of really expensive TVs. When Wii Sports 2 is inevitably announced, the mainstream world is likely to explode with joy. Until that time, the original Wii Sports is still a good time in short doses.

3. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996)

Super Mario 64

What is there to say about Super Mario 64 that hasn't been said already? As stated above, it was the first game to optimize and popularise the freedom of non-linear gameplay. It introduced the now-standard analogue stick for player movement, which added subtleties such as variable movement speed based on how hard you pressed the stick. It was also one of the first games to feature a free-roaming camera for players to better gauge their surroundings. Sound familiar? They should — these features are found in virtually every 3D game that's been released since Mario 64.

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, 1992)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Make no mistake: the original Legend of Zelda created by Miyamoto is what started it all for the action-adventure genre. The first game was also the spiritual predecessor for console RPGs and popularized large-scale game maps. But if you only play one 2D Zelda game, make it A Link to the Past. It's bigger, better, and easily stands the test of time. It's two-dimensional Zelda bliss and represents some of Miyamoto's finest production work.

1. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES, 1990)

Super Mario Bros. 3

Not unlike the first Zelda game, the original Super Mario Bros. was more influential than the third game in the series. But if you only play one 2D Mario game, play this one, Super Mario Bros. 3. Upon doing so, you'll quickly realize why this is the third best-selling game of all time. The levels are diverse beyond compare, the controls are spot-on, and surprises abound in what is still an imaginative-looking game. Play it again for the nostalgia factor before remembering how truly great of a game it was — and still is. Super Mario Bros. 3 is Miyamoto's ultimate opus.