Updated: Mar 17
Welcome back from the weekend! I hope yours was more restful than mine. Let's get back into it.
70. Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure
I love Dr. Mario. Even though Tetris will have more representation on this list and is the series with the better games overall, Dr. Mario is the puzzle series that is a bit more closer to my heart. Frankly, I'm better at it, which helps.
As far as entries in the Dr. Mario series goes, Miracle Cure is probably the best. First of all, it's downloadable for 3DS, and puzzle games get a massive boost from being portable. The ability to pull it out, get a few rounds in, and put it away makes it friendly for any kind of commute or other sort of downtime. Even if it weren't for that big bonus, this is probably the most mechanically satisfying iteration of Dr. Mario out there, which is saying something for a game that has always felt great right from the start. If you have a 3DS and haven't picked this up, there's really no reason not to.
69. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
This game is so slept on, y'all. Yeah, you're meant to use the bongo controllers, which is a bit weird, but it's all part of the charm. If the bongos keep you from playing the game, you are missing out on a phenomenally well designed platformer. Once you get a feel for the unique control scheme, it feels so much better than you ever would have thought at first. The great feel is made to feel even better by the combo system, which makes each game hugely replayable. I think it's impossible to play Jungle Beat without getting hooked on improving your runs and increasing your point total on each level.
Did this game get a subconscious bump up simply because I want to evangelize it a little bit? Maybe. But I'm happy it's here, and you should be, too.
68. Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Project M
Hopefully Nintendo stopped reading this list after I brought up AM2R last time. Their copyright ninjas are en route to my house currently, but I should be able to finish writing before they get here.
I've jokingly called SSB Brawl "the best boot disk of all time," but that's not entirely fair. Brawl is probably the best casual game in the series, even if it has its failings in the competitive sphere. I have some awesome memories of playing Brawl in high school, both in my dorm room and in the student commons on the big screen.
I'll defend Brawl all day long, but I'd be lying if I I didn't say the real reason it makes the list is because of PM. I am a big fan of competitive Smash, although I don't compete or follow the scene as closely as I used to. I participated in the Melee and PM scenes in Minnesota and Wisconsin for a solid three-year stretch and had a great time in those communities. While I think I like Melee more on its own, the PM community is something special and deserves so much recognition for their perseverance.
As far as the game itself, there is a lot to love. Practically every character is competitively viable, which is something Nintendo has never really been able to do in the official games. Unfortunately, sometimes the way that characters become viable is through overcentralizing gimmick designs, but...it's Smash, so that's just the norm. I love that the design philosophy of the PM team isn't "nerf the good characters," but rather "buff the bad characters." Everyone is good and feels good. What more could you ask for?
Someone once described PM as "The Smash game for [Melee] Falco mains who want to play other characters." I think it was meant as an insult. I think it's a compliment.
67. Super Mario Galaxy
I've gone on record as saying that I think Galaxy and (especially) Galaxy 2 are overrated. But! That by no means makes them bad games. They still hold to the well established Mario standard of quality and bring that undeniable charm. Galaxy 1 deserves a lot of love for being 3D Mario's return to mechanical purity, focusing more on how Mario moves through spaces rather than how you'll interact with the world when you have a jetpack on. (Sunshine is a great game, but I don't think it's necessarily a great Mario game.) The gravity stuff is fun and implemented well. There's something innately satisfying about long jumping yourself into orbit. Of course, the music alone cranks this game up a few notches. The soundtrack isn't exactly listenable front-to-back (lots of the boss music is just very annoying out of the context of the game), but the tracks that hit, hit extremely hard.
66. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle
Sonic is a great series because no matter what your opinion is, the community unanimously agrees that you are categorically wrong.
65. Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen
FireRed and LeafGreen are sort of a fascinating case study. These games were released in 2004, which is only 8 years after the original release of Red/Green and only 6 years after the stateside release of Red/Blue. When I was a kid, it seemed like an eternity between the originals and the remakes, but in retrospect, it actually happened ridiculously fast. It makes me wonder--what if GameFreak had waited a few more years and started the remake train in, say, Gen 5? It's a fruitless exercise to think about it for too long, since it, you know, didn't happen; but I think waiting a few more years to cash in on the nostalgia train could have been a better long-term move for the series. That said, I love Gen 3, and I love Gen 1, so combining the two is something I can't really complain about.
The main impetus for these remakes was because there was no way to transfer your Pokemon from the GBC to the GBA or beyond. The designers of Pokemon have since admitted that this was a grave mistake. As it stands right now, you can get a Pokemon from your Game Boy Advance cartridge of Sapphire all the way up to your Nintendo Switch copy of Sword; but you still can't move your very first Charizard you raised when you were 6 years old in 1998. Thankfully, though, FRLG exist so you can still have access to those Pokemon in their original environments. Since then, there have been Virtual Console releases of Gen 1 and 2 that allow you to transfer Pokemon ahead to Pokemon Bank, but you still can't do the full-generation daisy chain, which is regrettable.