The Top 20 Games of 2006-2011

As we round out the week, here comes our final Top 20 Games!

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 05/04/2012 13:00 5 Comments     ShareThis

10. Brain Age (2006)

Brain Age box art

While the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS may have been of a vaguely similar design in terms of design, power and even controls if you don’t include that game-changing touch screen, it was the kind of games that lead the respective charge that differed greatly. While the Advance sought to bring AAA experiences to the smaller screen (your Minish Caps, your Super Mario Advances etc) the DS came with games of a very different ilk. Few better reflect this change in perspective than Brain Age a franchise that spawned as many copycats as there as clevercloggs in MENSA.

The premise of the game; to improve your mental agility through number and word games and brain teasers while a giant floating, pixelized head (which remind me of this to be quite honest) helped chart your progress and got very sad if you missed a few days playing. Teaming simple, challenging games with a system that allowed you to see your successes proved to be a mainstream winner for Nintendo; with the cyber-facsimile of Dr. Kawashima proving to be rather charismatic.

Why Mel Turnquist loves Brain Age

As someone who likes to keep their brain as sharp as they can and likes challenges, Brain Age is the perfect way to go about it. I like that it’s not just for kids or not just for adults. It’s educational, which may be a turnoff to many folks, but it really does help out with the sharpening of the brain. Whether it was actually scientific or not doesn’t matter because the puzzles are still just as addicting. This is also one of the most notable examples of “once a day play” in which you don’t play in long marathons but instead just commit to it once a day for at least 5-10 minutes or so.

9. Pokémon Black and White (2011)

Pokémon Black box art

It’s a secret that we don’t like mentioning among Pokémaniac circles but, for many, Pokémon was beginning to grow stale. The wonder and magic that Red, Blue, Yellow and Gold and Silver held for early fans for the franchise had long dissipated by the time Platinum came around and the notion of yet another cookie-cutter adventure with the same mix of old-and-new must have seemed distinctly unpalatable to even the greatest of Pokémon master. Luckily that didn’t happen as Pokémon Black and White proved to be just the shake-up needed to make catching-’em-all feel truly fresh again.

A suprisingly powerful narrative, a flurry of streamlined mechanics embellished with new ones and a dramatic restructuring of the game’s difficulty curve all coalesced expertly with the brand new collection of Pokémon on offer throughout these games. No Zubat, Pikachu or Jigglypuff here. And Game Freak aren’t done with the big changes quite yet, the surprise announcement of the direct-sequels, Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, due for release in Japan at the end of June shocked fans of the series yet again. Time to dust off those Pokédexes one more time.

Why Eileen Cullen loves Pokémon Black and White

Pokémon certainly has come a long way since the days of the original 151. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every game in the series, my favorite pair of games is Pokémon Black and White. These games came the closest to recreating the same kind of experience that I had during Red and Blue in that every Pokémon that I saw while making my way to the Pokémon League was new, and some of those introduced in Generation V are among my favorites. Snivy may rival Squirtle as my favorite starter, and Serperior is DEFINITELY my favorite Grass-type. Pokémon such as Golurk, Zoroark, Braviary, Haxorus, Reuniclus, and Hydreigon (just to name a few) certainly shouldn’t be scoffed at because they’re new. Team Plasma is also the most thought provoking team thus far, as they question the morality of battling with Pokémon, rather than just seeking power. Pokémon Black and White show the Pokémon World at its best, and I can’t wait to return to Unova in Black 2 and White 2.

8. Professor Layton and the Curious Village (2008)

Professor Layton and the Curious Village box art

DS gave us a variety of adventure games that were different from what PC game adventure game fans might have been used to. Professor Layton and the Curious Village is another example of a novel take on the genre. Recognizing the mania sparked by Nintendo’s Brain Training games, Level-5 decided to take the concept of brain teasers in a video game and wrap an engaging story around them. Mixing basic puzzles with a thoroughly compelling cast of characters (Professor Layton has his own movie and it’s jolly good as well!) the Professor Layton franchise is one of the breakout successes of the DS generation and the redeveloping puzzle genre.

Why M. Noah Ward loves The Curious Village

In my initial hours of The Curious Village, it did feel weird that every villager I met (each with fantastically varied design and even speech patterns) wanted to challenge me with a brain teaser, sometimes completely out of context with whatever I was doing at the moment. But even though these number, sliding panel, line tracing and matchstick arrangement puzzles reminded me of kindergarten activity books from when I was a child, they had just enough beautiful artwork and novel story snippets of their own to make me feel I could solve just one more… and just one more… and just one more.

Next thing I knew, I was not only compulsively looking for every puzzle I could solve, but I was completely sucked into the multiple mysteries of the game’s twisting and at times emotional story. Even better, the etiquette-obsessed Professor Layton and his precocious apprentice Luke were truly charming fellows I wanted to accompany on their journey. Aesthetically and aurally, the game was also very unique, sporting a Euro-Miyazaki visual design wrapped within an accordion-and-violin heavy soundtrack that never seems to bore.

With over a hundred puzzles to find in the main storyline, there’s surprisingly little repetition in the types of brain teasers Layton and Luke find, and the swath of bonus, post-game content and free downloadable puzzles available after their adventure lets you keep getting more and more from the game– something few other adventure games offer. The Brain Training games may have made learning a little more fun than usual, but Professor Layton and the Curious Village turned the act of fine-tuning your brain into an emotional artwork worth returning to.

7. Xenoblade Chronicles (2011)

Xenoblade is a game that hardly needs introduction after the events of the past twelve months. After a successful launch in Japan, Nintendo announced no plans to bring the game to American shores despite the veritable drought of quality games in the Western pipeline. One organised social movement, a tireless letter-writing campaign and a painfully teasing European release later and Operation Rainfall succeeded where Earthbound fans have failed time and again as Nintendo shockingly U-turned to announce the US release of Xenoblade Chronicles at the start of this year. Did the game live up to the hype after months of fan-support and anticipation? Just ask our resident Xeno-expert, Katharine.

Why Katharine Byrne loves Xenoblade Chronicles

How do I love thee Xenoblade? Let me count the ways. I love your long and enthralling story, I love not knowing what’s coming next and I love the way you keep surprising me. I love your combat and the rhythm you instil in every fight, large or small. I love how everything has its place, creatures and Homs alike, and I love the way they live and fight and struggle alongside each other as they just try to survive. I love stumbling across all your hidden paths and secret locations, and I love how you reward us for being so curious. I love how everything you see is within your grasp, no matter how impossible or far away it seems. I love the towering majesty of Gaur Plain, the quiet beauty of Valak Mountain, and I can’t even begin to describe how I felt when I first laid eyes on the glorious Makna Falls and then realised I could swim right up to those roaring cascades foaming away in the distance. You give everything a purpose, use everything to the full, and you make us want to care by giving us the reasons why. Few games accomplish what you have achieved, and that is why you deserve a place in this Top 100.

6. Wii Sports Resort (2009)

Wii Sports Resort box art

While Wii as a concept may have been the game changer (if you’ll pardon the pun) in gaming, it was one game that served as the casual catalyst for this paradigm shift: Wii Sports. Three years later and Nintendo sought to repeat magic but unveiling a sequel that had perhaps even a more challenging task: to sweeten the bitter pill that was Wii MotionPlus. While core gamers may have grumbled over having to shell out serious cash for extra tech that should have come built into the Wii Remote as standard, revamped favourites and new events such as the flying, rowing, sky diving and fencing made Wii Sports Resort a fantastic gaming package and the perfect way to show off Wii MotionPlus at the same time.

Why Mel Turnquist loves Wii Sports Resort

Wii Sports Resort took the formula of Wii Sports, which implemented the motion controls to a fun and revolutionary concept and expanded it to far more than just the five sports it originally had (baseball, boxing, tennis, bowling, golf) and expanded it to include far more varieties, complete with a brand new Wii MotionPlus, which added extra oomph to the controls, making those pinpoint shots when necessary. While they ditched the baseball and boxing, they kept the others in some way. What makes this game better than Wii Sports is not just the variety but also the fun factor. You could spend an entire afternoon with a friend playing almost all of the games. From the 3 point shootout contests to archery to (my personal favorite) sword fighting, the sheer enjoyment of the games more than made up for the sore arms that would creep up by the next day.

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