25 years is a long time for video game consoles– especially when you add handheld machines into the mix. That also means hundreds of puzzle games to choose from on all the systems. Aaron takes on the epic task of selecting the best puzzle game per Nintendo machine, starting with NES.
This isn’t the most iconic version of Tetris, but there’s no question that the game is a untarnished classic. What’s even more interesting about the 8-bit version is that there are actually two. Yup, the Tengen version of Tetris was released without Nintendo’s permission, or, apparently, ELORG’s, before Nintendo snapped up the rights for itself in the late 1980s.
Honorable Mention: Dr. Mario, Qix, Wrecking Crew
Game Boy: Tetris
This is possibly the most important version of Tetris ever made and certainly the best example of a pack-in game selling a system. Tetris is simple enough that the Game Boy’s technical limits weren’t really a hindrance for the game itself, and it even featured two-player competition, something the official NES version lacked. People are still playing this twenty-odd years later.
Honorable Mention: Kwirk, Wario Blast!, Mario’s Picross
Super NES: Tetris Attack
While it had a Tetris makeover to disguise it, this was really Panel de Pon without all that goofy Japanese art and story that we fat Americans hate — or so was the popular thought amongst the American arms of Japanese publishers at the time. Still, the game at its heart was solid, so Westerners grew to love Panel de Pon in all its forms — and there would be many over the years.
Honorable Mention: Wario’s Woods, Tetris Blast, Kirby’s Avalanche
Virtual Boy: Mario Clash
Calling this a puzzle game is something of a stretch, but it’s probably as good as any of the Virtual Boy lineup for the top honors. Mario has to time his throws and angle them carefully in the 3D space. Unfortunately, there really isn’t enough of a library to afford an Honorable Mention category for this system.
N64: Dr. Mario 64
Dr. Mario was fun, but adding in four-player combat and a Wario-based story made a good thing even better. This was a major entry in a somewhat puzzle-starved N64 lineup, happened to be one of the last few first party releases for the system, and was surprisingly not released in Japan.
Honorable Mention: Tetrisphere, Wetrix, Bust-A-Move ’99
Game Boy Advance: Chu Chu Rocket!
This delightfully quirky game featured little meeces (plural for “mice”) running around, trying to avoid deadly kitty-cats and get into their rocket ships. Actually, the meeces and kitties were really aliens, but that’s beside the point. Chu Chu Rocket was only on two systems: the GBA and Dreamcast, and the portable version was every bit as fully-featured as the console original, save for some control issues due to the GBA’s lack of dual-analog and relative shortage of buttons. Still nothing to sneeze at.
Honorable Mention: Super Puzzle Fighter II, Puyo Pop Fever, Dr. Mario/Puzzle League
GameCube: Nintendo Puzzle Collection
Some of the best GameCube puzzlers never made it across the Pacific Ocean, much like this fantastic disc, which includes a version of Dr. Mario 64 (unreleased on the Japanese N64), Yoshi’s Cookie and Panel de Pon, all with updated visuals for the GameCube hardware. If you had a Game Boy Advance Link Cable (and a GBA), you could download any of the three games for portable play.
Honorable Mention: Mr. Driller: Drill Land, Puyo Pop Fever, Bust-A-Move 3000
Nintendo DS: Meteos
Meteos was one of the earlier original puzzles games on the DS, and is certainly the most iconic in a number of ways. The touch mechanic is integral to gameplay — although it has been released on other, non-touch-compatible systems — and the outer space planetary setting also afforded for reasons for differing rules — like gravity, which made the Meteos fall faster or slower. Tetris DS was disqualified, unfortunately, due to Tetris dominating the upper portion of this list.
Honorable Mention: Polarium, Picross DS, Planet Puzzle League
Wii: World of Goo
Simply fantastic and one of the best downloadable games of all time, World of Goo also can be quite a stumper at times, even with cryptic hints littering the landscape. Like a lot of great puzzle games, World of Goo also features a singular sense of style and motion, with dynamic settings and a masterful soundtrack. The best Wii puzzle game doesn’t require a disc, but does necessitate an internet connection.
Honorable Mention: Boom Blox, Roogoo: Twisted Towers, Mercury Meltdown Revolution