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The 12 best Nintendo alternatives on iOS - who needs Mario, Link, and Samus anyway?

By , on January 8, 2015

It's a well known fact that Nintendo aren't likely to publish their titles on platforms that aren't their own any time soon.

Sure, we may get minigame advertisements of their larger counterparts, or even companion apps for console games, but don't hold your breath for an official release of Pokemon on your iPhone.

Don't despair though, as the App Store does contain some pretty decent alternatives to most of what Nintendo has to offer. Perhaps they won't ever match the feel of a fully fledged Nintendo title but, in their own way, they more than make up for the company's lack of presence on the platform.

Here then are AppSpy's top 12 best Nintendo alternatives on the App Store.

1. Super Mario Bros. = Bean Dreams - Let's start with Nintendo's moustached mascot himself, Mario. There is an abundance of decent 2D platformers on iOS, such as: Mikey Shorts, Rayman Jungle Run, and Castle of Illusion but we're giving the Nintendo alternative crown to Bean Dreams. It has all of the creativitiy that the original Mario brought to the table and a delightful Nintendo-style aesthetic to both the music and the visuals. Nintendo games very much lift your mood while playing (with the possible exception of Majora's Mask) and Bean Dreams is no exception.

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2. The Legend of Zelda = Oceanhorn - An incredibly easy one, Oceanhorn is The Legend of Zelda in all but name. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker to be precise. It has the same cartoony visuals (minus the cel shading - for shame!) and a similar ocean-themed adventure tale. Though it does have its flaws, it does a great job of not only replicating Zelda but also being a very good game in its own right.

 

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3. Pokemon = Micromon - Though the crown of 'Best iOS Pokemon Alternative' could be taken by Moonrise, which is due out later this year, the best current Pokemon-mimicker is Micromon. It's just so Pokemon. Cartoon visuals? Check. Running around grassy environments looking for monsters to fight? Double check. Collecting a bunch of cute little monsters to fight with? Check check check.

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4. Mario Kart = Beach Buggy Racing - I'm going to open this one with a disclaimer: Beach Buggy Racing does not currently have multiplayer. However, it does do a good job of replicating Mario Kart's charms. You have weapons to totally mess up your opponents run, a nice variety of upgradable buggys (which are almost like karts, right?), and a cool cast of characters. It's free-to-play so if you're a Mario Kart diehard you really have no excuse not to check it out.

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5. Animal Crossing = Seabeard - Much like OceanhornSeabeard borrows heavily from the Animal Crossing franchise with a virtually identical visual aesthetic and plot, which revolves around you rebuilding a pirate town. Unfortunately, this is an example of free-to-play mechanics done badly, which is a shame because it's clear to see that Seabeard has a lot of potential. It looks and plays brilliantly and has all of the charm of Animal Crossing. The paywalls are just very difficult to climb over.

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6. Starfox = Arc Squadron - Though it doesn't feature a bipedal fox as its main character, Arc Squadron is very much Starfox. It's got all the barrel-rolling, space shootiness of Nintendo's game and it has excellent visuals. 

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7. Metroid = Waking Mars - The comparison to Metroid doesn't end with just the space setting in Waking Mars, a space exploration game in which you take control of a scientist who's tasked with cultivating an ecosystem on Mars. You have to unlock different equipment and abilities that will allow you to explore previously inaccessible areas, much like any good Metroid game.

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8. WarioWare, Inc = Dumb Ways to Die - If you break down WarioWare, it's essentially just a collection of fun minigames you play quickly. That's exactly what Dumb Ways to Die offers, with a really cute visual appeal. It was made to educate the peoples of Melbourne on train travel safety as well, which is a pretty awesome backstory.

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9. F-Zero = AG Drive F-Zero is fast. Very fast. It's also sci-fi-themed. That's exactly what AG Drive is as well. Suffice to say, F-Zero fans will not be disappointed by this still-in-soft-launch racer.

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10. Super Smash Bros. - Muffin Knight - Though Muffin Knight doesn't have the competitive multiplayer madness of Super Smash Bros., it does have a really cool cast of playable characters, each with their own special moves. It's a bunch of fun, and you can cooperate with your friends to complete the many, often brutally difficult, levels.

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11. Fire Emblem = Record of Agarest War Record of Agarest War isn't trying to clone anyone. It's a unique JRPG with a whopping length of over 100 hours. It does have a very similar tactical battle system to Fire Emblem though, and you should prepare to get invested into the lives of each of your soldiers.

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12. Advance Wars = Great Little War Game - The final game in our list shares a very similar visual style to Advance Wars and contains the same turn-based warfare of Nintendo's classic. Fans of Nintendo's premier strategy game are in for a real treat, I assure you.

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There we have it, AppSpy's top 12 Nintendo alternatives on the App Store. Have we missed a favourite alternative of yours? Do you have another to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments section below.


Comments

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Chesco 2 years, 5 months ago

I cannot believe you didn't have Sonic Racing Transformed as your #1 choice for the cart racer?!? Its one of the most slept-on games of all-time!

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Chesco 2 years, 5 months ago

An excellent post Glenn! Tnx for creating it!

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karmaloob 3 years, 8 months ago

Great

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curtneedsaride 3 years, 9 months ago

I'd also like to throw in a few that I've enjoyed over the years:

1. Super Mario Bros. = Pizza Boy - Really cute, easy comparison. And playing both make me want to eat a pizza! Also, they've created their own 3D Gamepad Case which is pretty awesome. thingiverse.com/thing:315754

2. Zelda = Zenonia (series) - Weird, though. Looking on the App Store, it looks like the full versions on Zenonia 1-3 aren't there right now. However, you can get Zenonia 1 Lite as well as 4 and 5. Definitely not as good as Oceanhorn, though. Bit Dungeon and Bit Dungeon II also have a strong Zelda look. If Zelda II is more your thing, I enjoy Goblin Sword as a substitute. However, it lacks that large overworld. Final Fantasy III also has a Zelda II vibe with Ocarina of Time like 3D graphics.

4. Mario Kart = Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing (and the sequel) - Hit the nail on the head for me.

5. Animal Crossing = Castaway Paradise (as well as Seabeard) - For me, though, neither really did it for me. Too much freemium implementation for me to enjoy my time with them. Astro Ranch was my Animal Crossing go-to for a while, and then Happy Street came along but it was also too freemium for my taste. Honestly, until someone makes another premium game like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, my devices won't have any of these on them.

6. Starfox = Ace Ferrara and the Dino Menace (just to name another space combat game) - There are a ton of good space combat games, some with good stories, some not. This is a funnier one. Galaxy on Fire and the sequel are also gorgeous space combat games.

7. Metroid = Space Expedition: Classic Adventure - Just a great indie adventure. Great visuals and audio experience. Since Dark Void Zero was taken off the App Store, I've been waiting for a game like this one to come along. Way more mellow than DVZ, which is a good thing! If you like both Metroid and Indiana Jones, I'd also recommend Traps 'N Gemstones, which is a great take on both. If you prefer Metroid Prime to the classics, then the NOVA series and Neon Shadow might be good choices. Both are a little heavy on gunning and less on exploration, though. I'd love to find one that embodies more of the exploration and mystery like in Waking Mars, but with 3D visuals.

Anyway, those are just a few more that I thought would be worth mentioning. Great article, as always! ;)

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xeroxeroxero 3 years, 9 months ago

This is a brilliant list, I'll have to check out Ace Ferrara again!

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Philipp_S 3 years, 9 months ago

Hey! "Ace Ferrara"'s author here.

My publisher and I recently ended our deal, and I had to re-release the game as a new app. I did set it free for a few days, so that previous players could grab it without buying it again, but if you missed that window and owned the previous version, then feel free to send me an e-mail, and I'll send you a gift code for the current version of the game! :)

philipp at aceferrara dot com.

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Chesco 2 years, 5 months ago

nice suggestions!!

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kidchar 3 years, 9 months ago

I would suggest Miss Claire Garden as the alternative to Super Mario Bros., actually. Really cool little platformer that lets you pick up enemies and throw them.

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curtneedsaride 3 years, 9 months ago

Sweet! Just like Super Mario Bros. 2 on NES. Loved picking up enemies and tossing them around.