2017 was a heck of a year for Nintendo games, and we’ve already honored the lot in our Game of the Year coverage. But there were particular moments in our adventures that stuck out in our minds, resonated to such a level that they remain permanently etched in our memories, even after all this time. These are some of our favorite gaming moments of 2017.

Caution: While we attempt to hide away from heavy spoilers, given that we’re talking about specific moments from these titles we may end up treading on territory you don’t want divulged. So tread lightly!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – My Own Story 

Written by Logan Plant

I think we all have that one moment from Breath of the Wild that sticks out to us from our early days of playing. It’s difficult to write about this game, because Breath of the Wild is one of the most personal gaming journeys any of us have ever experienced. But, to me, that’s what’s so cool about it. Everyone has their own path, their own tale to tell from the Shrine of Resurrection all the way to the final fight with Ganon. So, I’ll just tell one of my stories.

After completing the Great Plateau, I journeyed to the southwest corner of the map to the desert. My friend happened to be watching at the time, and we came upon a circle of tall statues in the middle of the desert. I immediately started searching for clues to solve the puzzle. I handed the controller to my friend and watched as he struggled to collect all the orbs and put them in front of the proper statue. After he finished the puzzle, a shrine popped out of the ground. In it, a blessing: a flamespear. It was the most powerful weapon I had come across in my few hours of adventuring, and I used it on everything.

For the next few days we told all our gamer friends about how glorious our new flame spear was, and how hard we had worked to earn it. When a group of friends came over to watch us play, our great flame spear broke against our first enemy. It was devastating, funny and, most of all, downright memorable. Our friends all made fun of us as my journey partner and I mourned the loss of our favorite tool. Now, that story may not sound like much to you, but I know everyone reading this has some small, seemingly insignificant story of their own because of Zelda. And it is all of these moments compiled together that made Breath of the Wild the best game of last year.

Super Mario Odyssey: Capturing Our Hearts

Written by Jennifer Burch

The moment that Mario caught his trademark hat during the Nintendo Switch presentation on January 12th, 2017, my eyes matched his newfound friend, Cappy.

He was nameless at the time and the next words out of my mouth were akin to “Oh no…” and “I hope Nintendo knows what they’re doing.”

For all the fans of Super Mario Odyssey, don’t jump at me just yet. That moment of fear was due to the unknown and Nintendo altering a significant piece of Mario’s identity. Sure, that red “M” wasn’t around during Mario’s original foray into his long gaming history, but it was when I first played Super Mario World. This was the Mario I knew and those eyes had me worried.

Luckily, E3 quelled those fears.

The closing trailer of Super Mario Odyssey was able to show me why Mario had eyes on his famous cap, that Cappy would be his BFF in this adventure. Waiting in line at E3 to play the game for the first time was something else. Venturing into New Donk City, everything felt right: the controls, mechanics, motion controls, etc.

At first, the idea of Cappy made me balk, but in the end, him and his sister, Tiara, have found a special place in my fangirl heart.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: The Diary

Written by Ben Fruzzetti

The cast of Xenoblade 2 ended up being quite stellar for the most part, but one of the game’s strongest characters was its primary antagonist, Jin. The aloof masked swordsman gets a substantial amount of screentime and backstory as the game progresses, slowly revealing his goals, motivations and character to expose a tragic and misguided figure.

No moment encapsulates this better than near the end of the game, as we flashback to a scene when Jin reads a diary written by someone he knows all too well. In context, it serves to drive home many of the game’s overarching themes: the cyclical nature of conflict, the conflation of life with one’s memory and how the world Jin inhabits is simply cruel. More than anything, it manages to establish a rare emotional bond with the villain, as the player understands that while Jin’s goals may be wrong, they understand why he’s taken the path he’s chosen.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Alm and Celica’s Reunion

Written by Ben Fruzzetti

Fire Emblem Echoes’ plot had its share of hiccups towards the end, but it also had some expertly crafted moments. Case in point — the end of Act II, as Alm and Celica reunite for the first time in years, serving as the conclusion for the game’s first two acts, and providing perhaps the most interesting moment within the game’s entire narrative as the two quickly become bitter and estranged.

fire emblem echoes

The scene is effective not only because seeing the two’s first meeting in a long time is heartwarming, but because of how quickly it turns sour. Through some expert dramatic irony, the audience is left to witness how the two unwittingly insult each other — Celica by questioning Alm’s capability to lead based on his birthright (the same question hurled at him by the pompous, antagonistic aristocracy), and Alm by retorting that the royalty of Zofia is dead, gone, and unable to lead the nation (unaware that he is speaking to a lost princess). Watching the two embrace, only to split apart again minutes later, is a grim reminder that even those with the best intentions can leave wounds.

Metroid: Samus Returns: Return of the Hunter

Written by Jennifer Burch

All it took was the flip of a switch.

No, not the Nintendo Switch. An on switch, the “power button” of old. Nestled inside my Game Boy box were the standard paperwork and some advertisements. Of all the things to get was a promo foldout poster of Metroid II: Return of Samus. I was only five years old when I first got the system and it would be 23 years later that I’d be flipping another switch, of the 3D variety, on the Game Boy’s successor playing a game of old.

Metroid: Samus Returns’ existence was a surprise. Combined with Metroid Prime 4, it caused a fantastic fan chaos of emotion to pour out as screams, tears, GIFs, memes and more during E3 2017. It wasn’t until August, at a Best Buy for the Nintendo World Championships 2017 qualifier, and then September that the “dust” settled. Finally, it was time to go Metroid hunting — that didn’t include a federation force or a blast ball.

metroid samus returns

One might say that a certain ending that made it through this reimagined adventure would be memorable. True, it is, especially for fans who have played Metroid II: Return of Samus. For me though, it was the very beginning of the game. Trying out the 3D capabilities for the first time made SR388 a world I wanted to explore, down every nook and cranny. Just that one feature elevated the game and made each shot, death and discovery special. In fact, the implementation still wows me. Despite that, my first 15 minutes with the game is what sticks out in my mind. Touching down on SR388, failing to get the melee counter right from the start, and reading those missed words of “Morph Ball acquired.” appear on screen.

Sometimes just sitting down, playing a game you’d thought would never happen makes the entire experience memorable.

Sonic Mania: The Mean Bean Machine

Written by Logan Plant

Sonic Mania is a love letter to the Genesis-era of Sonic, what almost all consider to be his golden age of gameplay. The game is constantly nodding to its predecessors, while never fearing to try something new, or to innovate an already existing idea.

My favorite innovation in Sonic Mania is the use of Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, the drop-’em puzzle game from the early days of Sonic. At the end of the tried and true Chemical Plant Zone, Sonic is dropped into a game of Mean Bean Machine against Eggman! It was a shocking and satisfying moment that stood out from the entire Sonic Mania experience. You can even unlock the game as a bonus item!

Golf Story: Tidy Park

Written by Logan Plant

Golf Story makes it clear at almost every turn that it’s not your traditional sports RPG. Apart from hitting nine holes on the course, we also battled wizards, defeated zombies and mowed lawns. But none of these quirky side adventures stuck out as much than the one at Tidy Park, where Golf Story turns full murder-mystery.

There’s a werewolf on the loose at the club, and the owners won’t let anyone leave the mansion until the threat is taken care of. It’s up to the player to investigate and interrogate every possible option for who the culprit could be. Not only is the mystery intriguing, but it reveals hilarious personality traits from many of the characters at the course. The quirky ending to the tale puts a nice bow on one of the longer breaks from actual golfing in Golf Story.

Shovel Knight: Proving the Switch’s Potential

Written by Matthew Weidner

Believe it or not, Breath of the Wild wasn’t the first game I booted up on my shiny new portable system come Switchmas morning back in March. That honor fell on the gallant shoulders of Shovel Knight’s third campaign, Specter of Torment. Having played the original to death on my 3DS during its heyday I was positively itching for some scything, despite the calamitous shroud of evil fogging up Hyrule.

Outside proving platforming perfection, the macabre misadventures of The Order’s founding member served my personal proof of concept to the Switch’s unique appeal. In the span of a single day I managed to out-science the manic Plague Knight in a potion-peppered frenzy on the big screen, usurp the pompous King Knight from the comforts of my own porcelain throne and brush aside the icy breeze of Polar Knight while on a snow capped commute to work. The seamless way in which the Nintendo Switch allows me to take my gaming experiences with me wherever I need to be, no matter how big or small, continues to astound me to this day. Bonus points for being a sleek and sexy system to boot — especially when compared to the Wii U’s toy-like look and feel.

ARMS: Switch Tour Smackdown

Written by Jennifer Burch

Perhaps the arm slinging boxing game didn’t make it in your Switch library this year. The colorful cast of fighters — which happened to be composed of a diva, pop star, candy maker, ramen royalty, a very good boy and more — hopefully, made an impact on you though. A brand new IP that channeled Splatoon, Punch Out!, with a dash of Overwatch was a great entry to the Nintendo Switch’s library during its first year. I’ll argue that Nintendo dropped the ball a bit when it came to delivering the game, but its lore that’s been teased on Twitter might make up for the loss in-game. Most importantly, the extension of the game into the outside world raises my hype for the graphic novel/comics adaptation that it’s receiving this year.

I have a soft spot for the title.

On the day that the Nintendo Switch was released, my youngest brother and I headed down to a rented out studio to play the system. Los Angeles was the last leg in the Nintendo Switch tour, and due to timing, we’d be playing the system just as it was made available to the public. Still, the promise of being able to play various unreleased games was nice. ARMS was at the top of my brother’s list and his goal was to thrash me as Master Mummy.

What a surprise: I ended up taking him to the graveyard thanks to Mechanica.

At the time, the roster was at five fighters, so we were juggling around and seeing how each character faired. It wasn’t until I got to Ribbon Girl that I decided to let my brother win as he picked Spring Man. Just like Mechanica with me, Spring Man was the man that my brother could take to the Grand Prix. That “letting him win” was replaced with me struggling to get a KO in.

With ARMS receiving no new content, just updates in the forms of tweaking competitive fighting and Party Crash competitions, I hope that the series can blossom and come back to the ring with some new tweaks and with plenty of fighting.

Splatoon 2: Salmon Run

Written by Jennifer Burch

The ink warfare, splat ’em up game that played to my nostalgia of ’90s Nickelodeon and being an artist quickly stole my heart (and time) during the Wii U era. When the baton pass to the Nintendo Switch was imminent, I was thrilled to learn that Splatoon was coming along for the ride — yet my excitement didn’t go through the roof until a cheesy mock-infomercial rounded out the end of the ARMS Direct in May 2017. Suddenly, July 21st couldn’t come fast enough, all thanks to a new mode, Salmon Run.

I’m not a huge Ranked Mode fan, so most of my time in the original Splatoon was slinging ink in Turf War, especially whenever a Splatfest rolled around. My favorite part of the game would make it to the sequel, but the idea of Salmon Run had me intrigued. It was new and all I could wonder was how well the mode would work.

Fumbling around with a handheld Switch unit at San Diego Comic-Con had me hooked. In the coming days, I’d bemoan whenever Grizzco’s doors were closed. A mode that got me out of my comfort zone and Super Sea Snail shell was instantly my favorite thing to sink time in in the world of Splatoon 2.

Playing rounds with fellow Nintendo Wire writers or venturing into the waters of online-matchmaking with strangers, beautiful and terrifying things could happen. Wins by a split second could occur, same with losses. Getting ganged up on by three Steelhead Salmonid attacking in synchronized movements would cause maniacal laughter and sheer glee if I could survive the round. The mode that Bill Trinen teased fans about with salmon themed tweets in the weeks leading up to its announcement was now my go-to spot for a good time.

Since Grizzco opened its doors, there’s been positive changes for Salmon Run. Yes, there are still gaps where the mode is unavailable, but its stints are longer than 12 hours. My usual rush in level grinding has been affected as I continue to sink more time selling my fishy, “profreshional” squid soul to Mr. Grizz and his fine company.

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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.

Amelia Fruzzetti