Nintendo’s 15 Best Consoles

Nintendo’s 15 Best Consoles

Nintendo has one of the most interesting resumes in the gaming industry. The company was originally founded in 1889 and originally produced playing cards. One thing led to another and Nintendo gained international recognition with the release of Donkey Kong in 1981. You could argue that this title ignited the industry as we know it and now over 40 years later, Nintendo has achieved legendary status. Nintendo’s success can be attributed to its incredible repertoire of games and consoles. Here are Nintendo’s 15 best consoles.

15. Game Boy Micro

©A beat-up Game Boy Micro, the last hardware version of the Game Boy Advance. – Original / License

  • Release Date — September 19, 2005
  • Units Shipped — 2.4 million

Starting this list we have one of the most underrated Nintendo consoles, the Game Boy Micro. This console was the product of Nintendo trying to increase the portability of an already portable console. The company was curious just how small they could make the original Game Boy Advance and thus the Micro was born. The console is compatible only with Game Boy Advance titles and it wasn’t regionally locked allowing consumers to play games from any region. The Micro also had a backlit screen which was better than the original Game Boy Advance SP model.

14. Wii Mini

©A Wii Mini that is shown with its included Wii remote controller. – Original / License

  • Release Date — November 17, 2013
  • Units Shipped — 2.1 million

Originally a Canada-exclusive console, the Wii Mini is another example of Nintendo allowing their consumers to trim the fat of their console. The mini removes GameCube support, Wi-Fi and online support, SD card port, and support for 480p. These features were removed so that the price of the console could come down. This version of the Wii was popular so it made its way to the rest of the world even though it probably isn’t the optimal way to enjoy the Wii library. However, if you were only interested in the vast single/local multiplayer library of the Wii this was a steal for the price of 99 dollars.

13. Nintendo DS Lite

©A black Nintendo DS Lite, shown open. – Original / License

  • Release Date — June 11, 2006
  • Units Shipped — 94 million

If it isn’t obvious by now, Nintendo loves to iterate on their consoles. The Nintendo DS lite is the second iteration of the Nintendo DS. It offered a slimmer, brighter, and more lightweight console and it was very successful. It was so successful that when it was released in Japan they had to raise the price of the console because of lack of supply and excessive demand.

12. Nintendo Gamecube

©A purple Nintendo GameCube console shown with a Memory Card 251 and standard controller. – Original / License

  • Release Date — November 18, 2001
  • Units Shipped — 21.7 million

This was Nintendo’s underrated masterpiece. Unfortunately, the reception of the Nintendo Gamecube was mixed upon release. Yes, the console was released with a great lineup of games and it was relatively inexpensive. However, it was compared to toys instead of being an actual piece of cutting-edge hardware. While the console was released with a great lineup of games it didn’t have much variety in its launch titles, unlike its competition. That being said, the console only got better as time went on and in retrospect, a lot of Nintendo heavy hitter franchises started on Nintendo Gamecube such as Pikmin, Luigi’s Mansion, and Metroid Prime.

11. Nintendo Wii U

© More details Wii U Console and Gamepad transparent background – Original / License

  • Release Date — November 18, 2012
  • Units Shipped — 13.6 million

The Nintendo Wii U is Nintendo’s very first HD gaming console. It was an awkward release with its bulky controller and half-baked portability. However, I like to compare the Wii U to that awkward middle phase of an animorph transformation. A lot of the Wii U’s DNA is present in the more successful Switch console and it’s obvious Nintendo learned a lot from this release. Like most of Nintendo’s consoles, the game was praised for its launch titles even though it had a limited number compared to its competition. The Nintendo Wii U was also quite behind in raw power compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

10. Nintendo 64

©A Nintendo 64 video game console shown with gray controller. This is the JPG version. – Original / License

  • Release Date — September 29, 1996
  • Units Shipped — 33 million

The Nintendo 64 was pretty much unanimously loved by all who owned one around its time of release. The console was praised for its hardware and even though it has one of the most unique controllers of all time it was surprisingly comfortable in your hands. The Nintendo 64’s library hosts some of the most influential titles of all time such as Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Goldeneye007. Today the Nintendo 64 is one of the most loved systems of all time.

9. Game Boy Color

©The Game Boy Color, a handheld gaming console released by Nintendo in 1998. – Original / License

  • Release Date — November 18, 1998
  • Units Shipped — 118.7 million

The original Game Boy and Game Boy Color were both commercially successful, especially with the success of Pokemon Gold/Silver and Pokemon Crystal. The Color specifically was positive with critics loving the colorful picture and clarity in the display. The Game Boy Color elevated the original Game Boy titles and was a nice iteration on an already great console. In retrospect, this console left behind a small but solid legacy.

8. Nintendo 3DS

© More details A Nintendo 3DS in Aqua Blue, photo taken during the 3DS launch event in NYC. – Original / License

  • Release Date — March 27, 2011
  • Units Shipped — 76 million

The Nintendo 3DS is the final iteration of the Nintendo DS and was known for being able to display 3D images without 3D glasses. It was a bit gimmicky but at least it also offered the ability to turn this 3D functionality off. The console was well received on launch, and Nintendo achieved the pinnacle of portable consoles with the release of the 3DS. The larger models took the success to new heights and Nintendo even provided a console version that removed the 3D functionality entirely.

7. Super Nintendo Entertainment System

©A Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES or Super NES) video game console, shown with standard controller. – Original / License

  • Release Date — August 23, 1991
  • Units Shipped — 49 million

The king of the 1990s. Funnily enough, this console was met with the same praises and criticisms of modern Nintendo consoles. Its quality wasn’t noted until nostalgia set in. The console was criticized for feeling dated compared to its competition and lack of launch titles. However, now people consider it one of, if not the best consoles of all time.

6. Nintendo Entertainment System

©Nintendo Entertainment System with controller – Original / License

  • Release Date — October 18, 1985
  • Units Shipped — 62 million

Many things can be considered as the reason for the success of this console. The cartridges were larger than all home computer software. It could compete with the computer game market. It was released after the video game crash of 1983. This console completely paved the way for Nintendo to be a heavy hitter in the gaming industry. Looking back on this console, it was the original home for the most prolific game franchises known to man. Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest all started on this piece of hardware.

5. Nintendo Switch

©The Nintendo Switch, a hybrid portable/home console released by Nintendo in 2017. – Original / License

  • Release Date — March 3, 2018
  • Units Shipped — 139 million

This arguably could be considered the number one Nintendo console now that we’re nearing the end of its life cycle. However, on launch, this console was polarizing. Many consumers were drawn to the potential of the Nintendo Switch. But just like the consoles that came before it, it suffered from a lack of launch titles. Granted, it did launch alongside one of the best modern titles of all time. However, most people would prefer a choice of many decent games instead of one great game.

4. Game Boy Advance

©Nintendo-Game-Boy-Advance-Purple-FL – Original / License

  • Release Date — June 11, 2001
  • Units Shipped — 82 million

While this console was released at a pretty steep price point, you cannot deny the greatness of the Game Boy Advance. It wasn’t a perfect console by any means, its button layout was a bit awkward, and its lack of a backlight made playing games in certain environments impossible. This console was 100 percent carried by its phenomenal library of games. There is a reason why Game Boy Advance emulators are one of the most popular ways to game in modern times.

3. Nintendo Wii

© More details The Wii console by Nintendo. Featured with the Wiimote. – Original / License

  • Release Date — November 19, 2006
  • Units Shipped — 101 million

Honestly, the top 3 spots on this list are all interchangeable. The Nintendo Wii is the best Nintendo hardware in terms of innovation. To this day, the Nintendo Wii-mote is the only motion control controller that feels responsive in my opinion. The controller was consistent and worked wonders with MOST of the titles in the Wii’s library. Wii Sports is one of the best games of all time and it bridged the gap between hardcore and casual gamers flawlessly.

2. Game Boy

© More details The Nintendo Game Boy, a handheld gaming console released in 1989. – Original

  • Release Date — July 31, 1989
  • Units Shipped — 118.7 million

The Nintendo Game Boy popularized handheld gaming and I couldn’t imagine a world without it. It might not have been as advanced as Sega’s Game Gear but if you think that was ever on Nintendo’s mind then you haven’t been paying attention. Nintendo’s Game Boy was cheaper and offered longer battery life making it much more successful. The console even appealed to women with Nintendo announcing 46% of Game Boy players were female. This console felt like it was for everyone.

1. Nintendo DS

©An original Nintendo DS “Fat” in blue. – Original

  • Release Date — November 21, 2004
  • Units Shipped — 154 million

The best Nintendo console is the Nintendo DS. This console not only introduced touchscreen controls and wireless online gaming to a new audience. Owners had a wide library to choose from. The Nintendo DS library is phenomenal and being able to play GBA and GBC titles made this console a true marvel. Today, gamers are begging for companies to preserve their old titles, and ever since this console it just feels as if backward compatibility is a dying design choice. It could just be my nostalgia talking but as I said any of the top 3 could be considered the best Nintendo console. Honestly, Nintendo has no bad consoles…well, except for the Virtual Boy.

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