As we enter the holiday season, it’s a time for food and decorations, gatherings with friends and family, and of course—presents. And whether your traditions involve extensive gift-giving or not, what better time to look back on some of the best gifts we’ve received in Nintendo games.
In fact, scenes where your character receives a gift, have made for some of the most iconic moments in video game history. Here are ten of the best, and feel free to use these to guide your holiday shopping, too. (Not sure what to get Grandpa this year? Have you considered giving him a sword, building him a house, or offering him free airfare to anywhere he’s ever been before in his life?)
10/10 Treasure Map – Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Mario’s best paper outing starts when Peach sends him a mysterious map and invites him to join her on a treasure hunt. Experiences make for great gifts, and who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt?
Unfortunately, Peach gets kidnapped, and Mario must use the map to locate seven Crystal Stars and reveal what lies behind the legendary Thousand-Year Door. It’s a hilarious, endlessly creative journey, but having only been released for the GameCube, tracking down a copy of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door can be a bit of a treasure hunt itself.
9/10 Kirby’s House – Kirby And The Forgotten Land
A big part of Kirby and the Forgotten Land is rescuing captured Waddle Dees. And as Kirby frees them, they quickly get to work building a new town for themselves, complete with a restaurant and even a cinema.
But they haven’t forgotten Kirby, and they also build him a house that closely resembles the one he had back in Dream Land. So if you really want to show a loved one you care this season, consider building them a replica of their own home in some faraway location.
This is probably easier if, like Kirby, their home contains nothing but a cozy fireplace, a huge bed, and a photo album. But even if they’ve got excess amenities, like a kitchen or a bathroom, we’re sure you could still make it work.
8/10 Poltergust 3000 – Luigi’s Mansion
Dr. E. Gadd’s Poltergust 3000 is the perfect gift for Luigi when he wins a mysterious haunted mansion in a contest he didn’t even enter. This special vacuum cleaner not only sucks up ghosts, but it can also solve puzzles, reveal hidden items, and employ other features as Luigi receives upgraded models throughout the Luigi’s Mansion series.
What really makes the Poltergust special, however, is how it gives Luigi something that is uniquely his own, that separates his abilities and toolkit from Mario. This year, you too, should give someone a gift that says you see them as an individual. That you value their unique life and perspective. That you want them to create gooey replicas of themselves and destroy furniture with plungers.
7/10 Funky’s Flights – Donkey Kong Country
There’s no better way to fly than Funky’s Flights in Donkey Kong Country, where his “bodacious Jumbo Barrel” lets DK and Diddy travel to any previous level they’ve been to. And the best part—it’s totally free.
Perhaps Funky realized this was no way to run a business, as by DKC 2, he starts charging you. Traveling by barrel may not exactly be first class, but at least it beats <insert your own joke and airline here>.
6/10 Swords From Meta Knight – Kirby Series
Meta Knight is all about fair fights, so usually, when you encounter him in a Kirby game, he’ll give Kirby a sword. This means you’ll seldom have to fight him without a copy ability, and it gives his boss battles—especially the early ones—the real feeling of a duel.
Even better, Meta Knight has sometimes lent Kirby the use of his sword Galaxia as well. He throws it to Kirby for the final battle in Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, and references to it appear in Kirby’s varying sword abilities throughout other games.
5/10 A Real Gift From A Real Friend – Animal Crossing
It’s swell to receive gifts from fictional characters in games, but what about getting something from a real friend you know in real life? Some of the best moments in Animal Crossing come when another player you know sends you a gift in the mail.
These gifts can really impact your game, especially when it comes to collecting lucrative foreign fruit. Start an orchard, and one simple gift can have you swimming in bells.
4/10 An Item For The Player Predicted To Win – Mario Party
There are just five turns left. It’s anyone’s game. And then suddenly some random koopa or sea urchin or whoever predicts that your little brother, who’s currently in third place, is going to win the whole thing and rewards them with a game-changing item, like a Boo Bell or a Golden Pipe.
Is it fair? Not really. But part of the fun of Mario Party has always been the way the rules favor luck and chaos as much as they do skill. And nothing can empower you for that final stretch like hearing that koopa believes in you—and wants to bless you with an amazing item—just when you need it most.
3/10 Your First Ocarina – The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
Many, many games have told the story of a young man leaving his small town to pursue his destiny and save the world. But few tell it as well as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
When Link must finally leave the forest he has grown up in, his childhood friend Saria gives him the Fairy Ocarina to remember her by. Playing the ocarina, of course, is a central mechanic of the game and a classic Nintendo 64 experience. Introducing it with this emotional scene not only foreshadowed the vast musical journey to come, but also showcased what 64-bit games could accomplish in terms of cinematic storytelling.
2/10 The Sword – The Legend Of Zelda
“It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” Spoken by the old man offering you your first sword in the original Legend of Zelda, it’s one of the most famous video game quotes of all time. It’s repeated often, heavily meme-ified, and likely familiar to you even if you didn’t know where the quote originated.
But what makes this gift special isn’t just its place in video game culture but how it kicks off an adventure unlike anything players in 1986 had encountered before. With this gift, it doesn’t feel like just being handed a sword. It feels like Shigeru Miyamoto handing you the keys to the whole Zelda franchise and decades of unforgettable memories.
1/10 Your First Pokemon – Pokemon Red/Blue
Who knew in 1996 that when Professor Oak gave your character his choice of one of three mysterious creatures called Pokemon, it would become one of the most famous decisions in video game history?
It was a treat to receive your Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur, and millions of players will always remember their formative moments with their first-ever Pokemon. But looking back on it now, this gift was also Game Freak inviting millions of children and adults to more than 25 years of magical Poke-memories across video games, TV, movies, and beyond.
Today the original Pokemon games are the best-selling RPGs of all time, and Pokemon is one of the highest-valued brands in the world. When it comes to Nintendo gifts, not much could top that!
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