Great games mean great holidays. These three years prove that.
#3 - 2013
Notable Home Console: Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Wii Party U, NES Remix
Notable Handheld: Pokémon X/Y, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Total Nintendo Games: 11
Mario and Zelda were on full display in 2013 thanks to Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. When you can trot out an EAD Tokyo game, a remake of a quality Zelda title, and a sequel to A Link to the Past in a three-month span, you’re doing pretty okay. Also throw in a brand new Pokémon game in X and Y, sprinkle in an underselling cult favorite like The Wonderful 101, a surprise eShop release like NES Remix, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic holiday season. 2013’s weak spots aren’t even that bad, with Mario Party: Island Tour likely being the worst game launched. Even the new Wii series games have their bright spots, as Wii Sports Club has underrated online play, Wii Fit U was free-ish to start, and Wii Party U has that awesome baseball mini-game.
#2 - 2011
Notable Home Console: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, Fortune Street
Notable Handheld: Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Star Fox 64 3D
Total Nintendo Games: 14
I’ll admit: if someone else makes this list, 2011 might be lower on the totem pole. However, that isn’t the case, and I unabashedly love the hell out of potentially less loved games like Skyward Sword, Star Fox 64 3D, and Fortune Street. As a gamer (and a reviewer), the month-long span where I went from Super Mario 3D Land to Skyward Sword might be one of my favorite months of gaming, as both games surprised me and easily crawled up the list of my favorites on each system. Outside of that pair, Mario Kart 7, Pushmo, and Star Fox 64 3D combined for a killer 3DS lineup at a time where the 3DS desperately needed a killer lineup. On Wii, it was starting to become thin, but Kirby’s Return to Dream Land and Fortune Street are both great compliments to a new Zelda.
#1 - 2014
Notable Home Console: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Hyrule Warriors
Notable Handheld: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, Fantasy Life
Total Nintendo Games: 10
On the grounds of Super Smash Bros. on Wii U and 3DS alone, 2014 is a great year (see what I said about Super Mario Galaxy). Add in arguably the best action game of all time with Bayonetta 2, the loving fan service of Hyrule Warriors, the cleverness of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and you, no question, have the best Wii U holiday lineup to date. Hell, Amiibo even debuted this holiday. Recency bias might be somewhat at play here, but like, for real, all those Wii U games are fantastic. 3DS was no slouch either, with Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire riding the remake train and Fantasy Life riding the Level-5-game-that-Nintendo-brought-to-America train. 2014 wasn’t jam-packed with an overwhelming quantity of games (it’s actually the third-lowest amount of Nintendo-published games on this list), but nearly all of the games were winners, with maybe Pokémon Art Academy being the worst.