The Top 7… Nintendo games not made by Nintendo

5. F-Zero GX/AX – Sega/Amusement Vison

How it came about: Once Sega dropped out of the console race in 2001, it quickly began publishing titles for all the other platforms, including Super Monkey Ball, a launch title for the Gamecube. Soon enough SMB developer Amusement Vision was tapped by Nintendo to make a new F-Zero title not only for the Cube but the new Gamecube-based Triforce arcade board co-developed by Sega, Nintendo and Namco. While Namco made an adequate Star Fox title, Sega and Amusement Vision made one of the best racing games of last generation.

Why it was great: F-Zero GX/AX boasted impressive graphics that even today put most Wii games to shame. It had some of the most intricate, well-designed courses in racing history and we recently named it the second fastest game of all time. And let’s not even get into the lovably cheesy soundtrack. It didn’t hold your hand either, as GX was notorious for some really punishing courses, an incredibly steep learning curve and one of the most punishing story modes around.

Those that mastered the game hold it in high esteem and F-Zero GX is remembered very well. However, turns out Nintendo, and Shigeru Miyamoto in particular, weren’t fans of game, which may explain why we’ve yet to see a sequel. In 2006 Miyamoto said in an Entertainment Weekly interview, “In the past we've worked with some outside development houses on titles like F-Zero and Star Fox — and let me just say that we were disappointed with the results.” Seriously? What’s the matter, not enough blue koopa shells?

4. Donkey Kong Country – Rare

How it came about: Founded in the early ‘80s, Rare had been a very productive developer during the NES days, making Battletoads, Snake Rattle and Roll, and more licensed games than you can shake a money stick at. In the early ‘90s, as fancy CG graphics were becoming all the rage, the British company found a way to create 3D, polygonal, pre-rendered characters on the SNES, something many thought wouldn’t be possible on a home system until the next console cycle. Nintendo was impressed and gave Rare the keys to their oldest franchise, and we ended up with Donkey Kong Country.

Why it was great: Some may call us graphics whores now, but if you weren’t there at the time, you’ve no idea how great this looked. As game magazines showed off what the Saturn and PlayStation might be able to pull off, here was a SNES game in 1994 that was already doing it. As players took Donkey and Diddy Kong through the lovely yet dangerous jungles, players were treated to tons of visual flourishes, be it in mine cart levels, animal assists, or just listening to old Cranky Kong talk about the good old days.

That’s not to say it was all looks, as DKC had its own spectacularly fun style of platforming action, as well as some funny dialogue and a truly memorable soundtrack. It may not have been the easiest game, but that didn’t stop it from being one of the best-selling titles of all time, shifting more than 8 million copies total. Donkey Kong Counrty and its two sequels kept the SNES relevant until its end, despite newer, more powerful challengers. It’s no wonder that Nintendo quickly became part owners of Rare, which they had a stake in until selling it to Microsoft in 2002.

3. Super Smash Bros – HAL

How it came about: Developer Hal Laboratory barely counts as a third party these days. It’s made games exclusively for Nintendo systems for decades now, and created franchise superstar Kirby. And their former President, Satoru Iwata, now runs Nintendo. Despite all this, when HAL employee and Kirby co-creator Masahiro Sakurai wanted to make a four-player fighting game for the N64, there was some doubt it would be popular. Even once the devs were given permission by Nintendo to have the fighter include nearly every major Nintendo star, some doubted that game’s chance for success outside Japan. How wrong they were.

Why it was great: The original Super Smash Bros seems like such an obvious idea, it’s amazing that nothing like it had really happened before. Until that point Nintendo’s many franchises had been pretty separate, but SSB brought them all together in a one incredibly frantic brawler. Dream matches like Mario vs Link, or Pikachu vs Samus were played out over and over in levels slathered in Nintendo love and nostalgia.

Fighting game purists may complain that SSB is a cheap, shallow affair that has no right being called a fighter, but the fans know better. The cheapness, the insanity, the unbalanced nature of the fights, all of it adds to the total chaotic pleasure of the whole thing. SSB has become one of Nintendo’s most successful franchises, and thankfully they haven’t milked it to death like Mario Party. Of the two sequels released in  the last decade, both added tons more of what Nintendo fanboys love, making Super Smash Bros fans some of the most dedicated in the world.


Nintendo Top 7


  • Fireninjastar - October 16, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    SEGA made a better Nintendo game than Nintendo did. Huh. Maybe the F-Zero series should be sold off to them. Also, "PC master race", if you want Nintendo on PC, they're probably not going to trust anyone after the amazing masterpiece that was "Mario teaches typing".
  • GameManiac - September 3, 2010 3:31 a.m.

    I'm so proud to be a Pokemon fan. No wonder Nintendo is so protective of their franchises, after seeing that CD-I crap.
  • ViolentLee - September 1, 2010 10:59 p.m.

    Those Capcom Zelda games were awesome! I wouldn't say they were better than the Nintendo-made ones, but they definitely held their own -- which is really saying something in that franchise. I was a total completest with Minish Cap, getting every single item one could snag.
  • gazer89 - September 1, 2010 6:41 p.m.

    No Metroid Prime made by RETRO STUDIOS, arguably the greatest risk out of all of them to oversee the Metroid revamp, and it panned out better than all of them, bare Pokemon. As much as I love all of the games on this list, Prime's omission makes it irrelevant.
  • CaptCOMMANDO - September 1, 2010 4:42 a.m.

    I fucking played the shit out of Oracle of Seasons. My brother had Oracle of Ages. So spent so many hours just passing codes back and forth and figuring shit out. I honestly thought those games weren't recognized enough.
  • wrpen99 - September 1, 2010 4:17 a.m.

    i say you should have added Hal's Pokemon Snap as a different game
  • defiance0fchaos - September 1, 2010 3:51 a.m.

    I swear Miyamoto is smoking some pot or something. F Zero was awesome.
  • shyfonzie - September 1, 2010 2:41 a.m.

    Heck yeah Pokemanz
  • Nodoudt - August 31, 2010 6:36 p.m.

  • flare149 - August 31, 2010 4:25 p.m.

    Personally I think the Zelda games made by Capcom are better than the ones actually made by Nintendo, so I'm really glad they got included.
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  • IThoughtIHadToShitistaButInsteadIGaveBirthToChrisAntista - August 31, 2010 2:36 p.m.

    This is how you do a "Top ___" list... take note other sites, *cough* NowGamer *cough*.
  • Theundead89 - August 31, 2010 1:41 p.m.

    Is not that i like wand of gamelon (in fact i have never played it, and every gaming post that says that it sucks just shows the cutscenes, so i dont have idead how you play it) but, it is unfair to sat that the game sucked based only in the cutscenes, at least show some crappy gameplay
  • kachigop - August 31, 2010 12:51 p.m.

    Bahahaha CDi blows. "I hope she makes lots of spaghetti!"
  • philipshaw - August 31, 2010 11:16 a.m.

    How was Retro studios not in the list, I would have them at number 1. Also how is Pokemon at number 1 if the developer is owned by Nintendo. It's like saying Naughty Dog are the best outside Sony studio but they are owned by Sony
  • Shinramen - August 31, 2010 7:29 a.m.

    Philips is spelled with one L, not two.
  • d3v - August 31, 2010 7:14 a.m.

    Prime should count since Nintendo also bought Rare.
  • Spybreak8 - August 31, 2010 7:11 a.m.

    Oh yeah I love me some Minish Cap. Only wish there was more replayability, played that and beat it like ages ago. Haven't played the F-Zero GX game because well I didn't want to own a purple box that collected duet. I collected a black box that collected dust, dust can't be stopped lol (I still played games on the ol' xbox).
  • elpurplemonkey - August 31, 2010 7:06 a.m.

    Great Top 7, brought back some nice memories.
  • jmcgrotty - August 31, 2010 6:42 a.m.

    The real reason Metroid: Prime isn't on the list: It actually kinda sucked. Metroid peaked with the very first game. And though you were a bit vague in your article, I would never consider Kirby a Nintendo game (the way you are calling nintendo games). It's a HAL game only.

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