Let's face it. Nintendo has had some problems with third-party developers in the past. Their controversial decision to use cartidges for the N64 caused many developers to back off. Their choice to use the 8 cm optical discs for the Nintendo Gamecube made it difficult to port the games over from other systems. What the developers will decide to do for the Nintendo Wii is uncertain, or Nintendo has yet to reveal their plans. However, there have still been loyal second parties that have shelled out great, exclusive games for the Nintendo systems. Note that some of these parties (such as Rareware) are no longer connected with Nintendo, though they were at the time.

Developed by Camelot Software Planning, Mario Tennis was probably the first Nintendo 64 tennis game to get it right: easy control and mechanics, addicting gameplay, and a great multiplayer title. The Mario license didn't seem to be used much here; there were no special power-ups and the characters weren't wildly diverse. However, the Mario license isn't the point. Beneath it, it's simple tennis. And, realistically, it doesn't take much to make a tennis game great fun. Camelot saw that and took advantage of the simple tennis formula, making it into a terrific multiplayer experience

Developed by Rareware (affiliated with Nintendo at the time, but now affiliated with Microsoft), Perfect Dark was simply a sequel to GoldenEye is disguise. But where GoldenEye wrong (in oh-so-very-few places), Perfect Dark corrected. The outcome? An incredible first-person experience for both single player and multiplayer. With a brilliantly balanced weapons system, cooperative play, extensive customizable multiplayer matches, and the addition of "challenges" for the single player to go up against, Perfect Dark stands as one of the most addicting FPS ever created. It even managed to work with the N64's awkward control scheme, something that made FPS on the system difficult.

Developed by AlphaDream, Mario & Luigi was a take off of the ever popular Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario video games. It managed to take the platforming and role-playing elements of the Mario RPG games and shrink them down into the small screen. The terrific humor included with the game, along with the new twist of controlling two characters at a time, made the game one that all could enjoy. As for battling, Mario & Luigi did what they knew it could do best: stick to the formula. And as a result, this is simply another Mario game that doesn't dissapoint.

Developed by Rareware (affiliated with Nintendo at the time, but now affiliated with Microsoft), Banjo-Kazooie took the platforming elements of Super Mario 64 that gamers fell in love with, and re-created with their own touch. Banjo-Kazooie was one of those games that people just had to smile at. It's incredibly massive enironments, large arsenal of moves, and 1000+ items to collect made Banjo-Kazooie one of the best platform adventure games ever made.

Developed by Squaresoft in cooperation with Nintendo, Super Mario RPG was one of the top games for the Super Nintendo. Featuring the classic Mario charm we've all come to love, along with the combination of Square's incredible talent with RPG games, Super Mario RPG stood out. While it was indeed a step away from the rest of the series, Super Mario RPG has spawned a successful franchise of its own (though the sequels no longer involve Square). The game was a wild success, and met with great critical acclaim, and is a top pick by many for best SNES games of all time.

Developed by Rareware (affiliated with Nintendo at the time, but now affiliated with Microsoft), Jet Force Gemini was one of those gems; a brilliant game that somehow managed to simply connect. A third-person shooter/adventure game, with massive environments, incredible level design, and gameplay elements bursting with creativity. The game gained a massive cult following, but was overlooked by the casual gamers. Dissapointing, really, as this massive adventure was arguably Rare at the top of their game.

Developed by Game Freak, Pokemon Red was the very first Pokemon game to be released (beating Pokemon Green by in Japan by eight months). The game introduced a massive twist on RPG games; instead of character based fighting, a player would capture and raise the 150 creatures, or Pokemon, in the games, and pit them against other Pokemon. The result was an incredibly addictive game, and the beginning of a franchise that never seems to dissapoint in terms of gameplay. Pokemon Red and Blue continue to entertain players today, and is considered by many to be the best of the bunch. Since the games, the color creatures have earned a name in television, film, cards, and many, many spin-offs.

Developed by Ape, Inc. (now known as Creatures, Inc.), Earthbound was a traditional RPG that developed a large following. While the game does follow mostly all of the things traditional to an RPG, introducing nothinig new to the genre, the western humor, cast of colorful characters, and addictive gameplay make it one of the best games to hit the Super Nintendo system. Earthbound also attempted to "modernize" the RPG world; American money is used, phones are present, you can even use ATM machines. This attempt was successful, and the result is a terrific RPG, full of charming characters with a modernized twist. Don't miss out on it.

Developed by Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) for the Super Nintendo, Final Fantasy II (titled Final Fantasy IV in Japan) was the Final Fantasy game that introduced many staples into the series, such as the Active Time Battle system, the intense character-based plots, and the rich, animated battles. The game also features one of the best musical scores in any video game, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, a long-time composer of the Final Fantasy series. The game is considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time due to the fantastic graphics, wonderful score, and unique battle system that had never been seen before.

Developed by Camelot Software Planning, this massive Final Fantasy take off was a massive step in the right direction for the Game Boy Advance. Combining the turn-based format RPG gamers have come to love, as well as a complex story, incredible graphics, and its own unique additions to the battle system, Golden Sun was a game that charmed. After getting off on a slow foot, the player is launched into an incredible fantasy world, where every which way you turn there is something to explore. The game sold 1.5 million copies, and left fans wanting more, which was given when a sequel was released two years later.

While some companies stood out more than others (Rare and Squaresoft were the shining beacon for Nintendo systems), it doesn't change the fact that Nintendo has always made good choices when it comes to investing in companies. These are but ten of the many great second party games that have been created (those not listed including Conker's Bad Fur Day, the Game Boy Camera accessory, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, and Mario Golf). Second-party developers usually have to shell out one great game after another to stick with a company, and companies such as the ones listed below have always lived up to that expectation.

List by me frog (07/24/2006)

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