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Feature: A Guide to the Best Nintendo Gifts For the Holiday Season

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Wii U Games

This has been attracting a lot of buzz online, with critical acclaim following in healthy doses. It's tight, wonderful Mario platforming in single player and anarchic fun with others, with playable characters that also shake up play styles. It's brilliant, and earned 10/10 in our review

It was a re-master that prompted delight when announced, and has given Wii U owners a first taste of a HD Zelda adventure. What was once a divisive art style seems to be embraced more readily today, and we were pleased to award it 9/10 in our review.

We imagine that if you asked Shigeru Miyamoto which Wii U title gave him the most pride in 2013, the answer may well be Pikmin 3. It took many years to arrive, but this third entry in the series finally landed and turned out to be a delight; we gave it 9/10.

This is a game that could be very useful over the Holiday season, as it's fun and accessible in typical Nintendo style. There are plenty of mini-games and boards to take on, and amused us enough to merit an 8/10 score.

Also available as part of a Wii U hardware bundle, this saw TT Fusion bring another popular LEGO franchise into the video game world for the first time; it's a Wii U exclusive and includes an impressive open world along with some excellent humour. We gave it 8/10.

Although an extended version of the popular Wii title, this shouldn't be dismissed as a lazy upscale. It has a lot of new monsters, quests and content to enjoy, along with excellent GamePad use and local / online multiplayer; we gave it 9/10 in our review.

We may have expressed frustration when announced as another ageing port coming to the Wii U — which has since also arrived on PS3 and Xbox 360 — but, ultimately, this is arguably the definitive version of an excellent game. Quality counts, and this is certainly worth strong consideration, earning a 9/10 in our review.

This Wii U launch title had disappointing sales, yet deserved better. For those that didn't take the plunge it can now be found heavily discounted in stores and on the Wii U eShop, and serves up a delicious survival horror experience that utilises the GamePad in creative ways — we gave it 8/10.

A title that evolved from launch window exclusive to delayed multi-platform game, but whatever its route to market it's still a standout experience of 2013. Gorgeous visuals align with wonderful controls and creative design to make this a compelling option, especially as — like ZombiU[/url] — it can be found for a reduced price at retail and on the eShop; we awarded it 9/10.

Another title that goes back to day one of the Wii U, and is included in some of the bundles mentioned before. We certainly feel that this is the best 2D Mario title in many years, and was the must-have Wii U launch game. It's still must-have, too, and we dished out a 9/10 score.


3DS Games

Of all the releases on Nintendo systems this year, this was quite possibly the most hyped of them all. A new generation of Pokémon always causes an excited frenzy, and the first on 3DS was no different. It's an excellent début on the portable too, earning a 9/10 from us.

The announcement of this title has an amusing anecdote within Nintendo Life HQ, as an unnamed member of the team quite literally lost their minds as it was revealed in a Nintendo Direct, losing the ability to type coherently for 60 entertaining seconds. That's the power of the franchise, and this bold new entry shakes up the formula and delights at every turn, so much so we gave it full marks with a 10.

One of the biggest hits for Nintendo on the 3DS, and a title still delivering consistently good sales. It's so laid back yet so addictive, and it's lured in all types of gamers; close to perfection with 9/10 in our review.

In future years this may be the game where it's said that Next Level Games came of age, taking on the young series and kicking off the Year of Luigi in style. Humorous, charming and a visual treat, this will be perfect for those long, dark Winter nights; we gave it 9/10.

We're going a little further back now to Masahiro Sakurai's epic shooter hybrid, with air and land battles keeping players on their toes. The controls can be divisive, but this is a big favourite within the Nintendo Life community; we're big fans too, giving it an almost angelic 9.

One of the titles that some feel helped save the 3DS in Winter 2011, the arrival of this one's sequel on the Wii U can't come soon enough. This is still a favourite for 3DS gamers and online races are easy to come by; it's just good fun. If you or your loved ones don't have this already, read our review and then remedy the situation.

This was the first in this sub-series that attempts a hybrid of 2D and 3D into an accessible, fun package. It can actually be rather divisive, but for our money is still a 3DS standout to this day, with impressive visuals and excellent gameplay — we awarded 9/10 in our review.

This is a fantastic, lengthy and funny RPG, with all of the wacky touches you'd expect from AlphaDream, and yet it seemed to pass without a great deal of media attention. We certainly hope sales have been reasonable as we feel this is a must-have for fans of the genre, with the whopping big adventure giving you lots of bang for your buck; we gave it a dreamy 9.

This has now arrived on home consoles in HD form, but if given the choice we'd still opt for this portable original. The environments suit the smaller screen perfectly, and a Circle Pad Pro / XL makes it handle like a dream. The plot can be slapstick, but the scary vibes, entertaining set pieces and solid online play impressed us enough to justify a 9/10 score.

This is the 3DS equivalent to the Wii U title already listed above, which has all of the great content aside from online multiplayer. Local multiplayer with Wii U gamers is novel and works well, and this is certainly a great option if you're a MH fan without the HD system — we awarded 8/10.


Click over to the next page as we outline some key accessories and fun extras.

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User Comments (40)

Expa0

#2

Expa0 said:

Bravely Default for real play, Super Mario 3D World for party fun and Disgaea D2 for additional spice. My xmas should be awesome.

I'm currently preparing by playing a really bad game (Sonic 06) just so that I can truly apreciate these good games.

Gioku

#3

Gioku said:

I'll take the 2DS!

I really want it as my second 3DS system! Especially since it's the cheapest model! :)

Mahe

#4

Mahe said:

Just Dance is a must-buy. Either Just Dance 4 which can be had for cheap now or Just Dance 2014, the latest one.

But nobody should buy the Basic console pack in any situation, ever. Not even if it comes bundled with Wii Party U and a Wiimote. It's better to buy the Wii Party U and Wiimote bundle separately with a Premium version of Wii U.

ueI

#6

ueI said:

I'm surprised you didn't include Nintendoland or Wonderful 101.

rjejr

#7

rjejr said:

No love for the Wii Mini? ;-)

I was in TRU this morning looking for a 1 day sale on Skylanders Adventure packs for $9.99 (picked up Pirate Adventure) and I noticed a bunch f the red Wii Minis in the display case. There were also a couple of Zelda bundles and Mario bundles but nt Nintnedoland bundles that I could see. They also had a SKylanders bundle but as somebody above said, its the 8Gb so I'ld be leery. Though I think it is on sale somewhere Friday for $250 which might be tempting for someone looking for both a Wii U and Swap Force.

Gorlokk

#8

Gorlokk said:

I uh...
It's just...
Well, I mean...
No Wonderful 101? You gave that a 9/10, so I think it's pretty worthy, especially when you include titles like... Wii Party U.

TheItalianBaptist

#9

TheItalianBaptist said:

Target has the sega genesis classic game console for $40. It's got 40 genesis games and 40 throwaway games (including a shameless bomberman ripoff), but it also TAKES GENESIS CARTRIDGES!!! No need to worry about not being legit with that :)

LegendaryQ

#10

LegendaryQ said:

Just an FYI, you may want to look at the image for Animal Crossing New Leaf. It's not exactly correct.

JaxonH

#11

JaxonH said:

Already own every console and game on this list. As for the gamepad batteries, I ordered 2 of them from an eBay seller in the UK back in October since they are exclusive to that region (and AmazonUK in particular if I'm not mistaken, which won't ship to the US). Unfortunately, my shipment has been stuck at ISC Chicago in customs for nearly a month now. I'm hoping I'll get those bad boys before the year ends.

JonnyKong

#13

JonnyKong said:

I put up a comment about how much I wanted the Bowser plush because I have a small collection of Nintendo plush toys, but then I started to ponder whether or not a 29 year old male should be buying plush toys and then I came to the conclusion that's why I'm still single.

ThomasBW84Admin

#15

ThomasBW84 said:

@Gorlokk Yeah, that's fair enough. I was going for different brands, genres etc, and also some that are often reduced price nowadays. I think Wii Party U needs to be there because of its family focus, but in hindsight Wonderful 101 could have taken the place of Deus Ex or ZombiU.

Vriess

#16

Vriess said:

I'm all set. I got the Wii U with Wind Waker and the Golden 3DS XL with ALBW...aaaaw yeah! :P

ThumperUK

#17

ThumperUK said:

@JaxonH (plus anyone outside UK/Europe wanting to get hold of the Gamepad battery).

There are strict rules for what can be sent international post, and the International Civil Aviation Organization has deemed batteries to be dangerous items when not integrated into a device (therefore you could send a Gamepad abroad, but not the battery on its own). It may well be if you order a battery from another country you won't receive it,.

There are other rules which may restrict posting within your own country, and you should check them out. For the rules for posting from the UK, a link to Royal Mail is:- http://www.royalmail.com/personal/help-and-support/Tell-me-about-Prohibited-Goods

I hope this is of help to anyone thinking of ordering a battery from another country.

PorllM

#18

PorllM said:

All of these bundles are incredible and I can wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who isn't sure. As a 3DS Xl and Wii U owner, however, I was hoping this list would contain stuff outside of consoles like cool Nintendo merchandise, keyrings, statues and other baddonkey gifts. I know you can get Zelda piece of heart soap on Etsy which is awesome.
Please watch the profanity — TBD

AJWolfTill

#19

AJWolfTill said:

@JonnyKong
My partner keeps wanting me to buy plushes, including Nintendo one, so I think you just need to find the right person : )
(No you can't have mine :P)

Shambo

#20

Shambo said:

I f anyone were looking for an expensive gift for a random stranger -being me- I'm looking for a Panasoniq Q, that Japan-only, DVD-playing, mirror-shiny Gamecube.

Kirk

#21

Kirk said:

There's some nice bundles there. The one with the extra copy of Super Mario 3D World is by far the best deal though.

Nintenjoe64

#22

Nintenjoe64 said:

I definitely got my money's worth of fun out of year one but it is slightly annoying that I could have got a Wiimote+, Mario Hat, Luigi U, NSMBU, SM3DW for the price of my Nintendoland Bundle if I had waited.

Amazon are doing a £199 premium with NSMBU bundle, possibly with with some other cool stuff.

SpookyMeths

#25

SpookyMeths said:

I got a flyer in the mail yesterday from Microplay (French-Canadian retailer). It had a pretty good spread for Wii U, a full page (same as PS4 and XBone), and the most featured game across the 3 platforms was Super Mario 3D World.

Looks like some retailers are pretty enthusiastic about the machine.

unrandomsam

#26

unrandomsam said:

Everybody I have seen commenting on this site about 3D World seems to have finished it already. (10/10 should mean perfect i.e a good level of challenge for everybody - but from reading this site you get the impression it is a good level of challenge for nobody).

Dazran303

#27

Dazran303 said:

Finally! Got my login details right! Been so long! >.<
I already have a 3DS & WiiU, but I want to buy all these! They look so nice!

Byron-3D

#28

Byron-3D said:

I'm holding of till the sales next year to hopefully pick up the NSMBU bundle cheaper, after that il be getting my mitts on Super Mario 3D World and Wind Waker HD.

Ferg

#30

Ferg said:

Want...it...ALL! (well, except for the consoles, already have them :)

Gamer83

#32

Gamer83 said:

That Zelda 3DS XL is awesome. I imagine there will be a large number of happy Nintendo fans receiving one this holiday season.

rjejr

#33

rjejr said:

If this was posted Wed and it's now Fri why does it still read "1 day ago"?

For that matter why is it still #1 on the page w/ only 32 comments?

Best hardware deals that SHOULD be on the list - perhaps US only?

Skylanders Swap Force Wii U bundle for $299. It's only 8GB but if you're a parent buying Swapfroce and a Wii U separately for your kid(s) than it sitll might be worth it. On sale someplace for $250ish today.

That 3DS XL Dream Team bundle for $199 at Target. Very tempting.

Anclation

#34

Anclation said:

Shame on you for ignoring The Wonderful 101, while including Wii U Party and a late port. Such a high quality third party exclusive deserves way better..

mostro328

#35

mostro328 said:

I just witness a toys r us employee tell a women who was going to buy a wiiu that she should get the wiimini because it does all the samethings and its cheaper, i wanted to scream, of course the mom went with the mini

Prime

#38

Prime said:

And now for not alerting her some kid's x mas is gonna be ruined........triple facepalm

Buzzthebatgirl

#39

Buzzthebatgirl said:

No Wonderful 101? That's confusing knowing you guys gave it a great review a few months ago and it is simply amazing...

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