Biggest Surprise Moments in Nintendo History - Prima Games

Biggest Surprise Moments in Nintendo History

by Christopher Buffa

Nintendo will reveal new details about its upcoming console, the Switch, this evening at 11:00PM ET; find out where to watch the Nintendo Switch presentation. We don’t know exactly what the company will announce, but there’s a good chance there will be some Nintendo magic sprinkled throughout the live stream. This magic is a big reason why Nintendo is unique. They continue to find ways to delight the gaming community, be it genre-defining video games or innovative hardware. With this in mind, below are some of the biggest surprises in Nintendo history. 

Mario Enters the Third Dimension

Our jaws dropped the moment we went to Toys R Us to play Super Mario 64 back in 1996. It was the perfect game to launch alongside the N64, built from the ground up to take advantage of the powerful next-gen hardware and its revolutionary controller’s analog stick.  We spent so much time exploring Princess Peach’s Castle and doing silly things like climbing up trees. Then we donned the Wing Cap so Mario could take flight. Unforgettable moment. 

Super Mario 64 is more than a classic game. It helped usher in the 3D revolution on consoles, and is a must play for every Nintendo fan. Speaking of 3D games…

Metroid Goes First Person

Nintendo isn’t afraid to take its beloved franchises in bold directions. Perfect example, Metroid Prime for the GameCube. Instead of creating a 2D adventure similar to Super Metroid on the SNES, Nintendo and developer Retro Studios capitalized on the 3D craze to transform bounty hunter Samus Aran’s GameCube debut into an incredible first person shooter that spawned two sequels. The best part? Fans also received that 2D game, Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance, which debuted on the same day as Metroid Prime, November 17, 2002. Best of both virtual worlds.

Nintendo Embraces Dual Screen Gaming

Hundreds of people packed into Nintendo’s 2004 E3 press conference to catch a glimpse of the company’s Game Boy Advance successor. None of us knew what to expect, so when President Reggie Fils-Aime calmly pulled the DS from his coat pocket… mind blown! Two screens? Initially, we were worried that it would be too difficult to pay attention to both the top and bottom screen at the same time, but then we got our hands on the system and this concern was quickly laid to rest. Touch screen gameplay had arrived, and is still huge today with the 3DS.

Zelda and Link Get a New Look 

Nintendo’s decision to forego a “mature” Zelda game for something that looks more like a Disney film is still talked about to this day. After showing off gorgeous footage of Link battling Ganondorf in 2000, with an art style that mimicked the beloved Ocarina of Time, the company went in a vastly different direction with cell shaded graphics and a character overhaul of series hero, Link.  But The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is more than a unique-looking video game. Instead of riding a horse across Hyrule Field, Nintendo invited players to sail the ocean in a talking boat. What!?

There was plenty of criticism, but Nintendo stood firm. The result? The Wind Waker is a must have for the GameCube, and is easily one of our favorite video games of all time.  Meanwhile, Toon Link became a fixture in Nintendo’s character lineup, and went on to star in such games as the acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. He even has his own amiibo! 

Nintendo Unveils the Wii Remote

Hands down, the Wii Remote is the biggest surprise in Nintendo history.  Whereas the N64 and GameCube controllers felt like an evolution of previous Nintendo gamepads, the Wii Remote was unlike anything the world had seen. How, exactly, would we play video games with a TV remote?  

Of course, Nintendo made everything clear leading up to the Wii system launch, and skeptical consumers embraced the controller the second they played Wii Sports and the rest of the console’s incredible lineup of games, which includes Super Mario Galaxy, Boom Blox, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and countless other titles that merged familiar A and B buttons with motion controls.