Writer and member of the gaming fellowship. Loves games, movies and comics. Also loves talking in the third person
Nintendo has been a juggernaut in the gaming industry for decades. It’s a household name that’s become synonymous with video games. It has had many iconic consoles, from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Nintendo Switch. But the big question remains: Which Nintendo console is the most sold console? Here’s a list of Nintendo’s best-selling consoles.
Nintendo has never shied away from standing out from the pack, but the GameCube is by far one of its most unique looking consoles. The iconic giant, purple box immediately stands out to the eye. But what’s even more impressive than the design is its success.
The GameCube was the follow-up to the Nintendo 64, and racked up an incredible 21 million units sold. The console was also one of the first Nintendo consoles to use a disc instead of a cartridge making it stand out even further.
Although the GameCube is at the bottom of this list of Nintendo consoles, it doesn’t take away from the greatness of the console or of its games. Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Mario Sunshine, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker are all fantastic games that still have legacies alive and well today. And of course, we can’t forget about my personal favorite, Super Mario Strikers.
Released in 1996, the Nintendo 64 is a console that’s near and dear to many people’s hearts, including my own. And it’s even more apparent how popular it was when you see the sales of the console.
Ranking up an impressive 32 million units sold, the Nintendo 64 impressed with its 64-bit processor and for its line-up of games. And it wouldn’t be right to talk about the Nintendo 64 without bringing up its iconic controller. Although it would hurt your hands, there’s no denying how great it looks; fashion is pain.
It seemed like the Nintendo 64 had an infinite amount of great games. Super Mario 64, GoldenEye 007, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Kart were all games you pulled out when you had company. Eventually, an argument would break out when someone chose the character Oddjob in 007, but that’s neither here nor there.
Before the Nintendo 64, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) wowed us with its games and its power. Released in Japan in 1990, the SNES had a 16-bit processor which far exceeded its predecessor. The SNES would go on to sell 49 million units during its lifetime, far outselling its competitors such as the Sega Genesis and the TurboGrafx-16.
The success of the SNES is not surprising when you look at the fantastic games that were offered. Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Star Fox, and Donkey Kong Country are just a few of the games that were available for the console. With this line-up, there’s no other console on Earth that could have stood a chance against the SNES.
Even before the SNES and all of these other consoles, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) reigned supreme. Although it was Nintendo’s second foray into the gaming console world, it’s usually mistaken as Nintendo’s first-ever console because of how much it overshadowed its predecessor.
The NES sold 61 million units and is the reason that every single person who knows nothing about gaming refers to every console as a “Nintendo”.
The Nintendo franchises that got their start on the NES include The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Super Mario Bros. Although technically the Mario franchise started years before, Super Mario Bros. is the earliest game in the franchise that resembles the juggernaut we know and love today. Other ageless games such as Duck Hunt and Tetris were available on the NES.
As previously stated, Nintendo likes to stand out from the pack, and what could make your console stand out more than making it 3D. The company deserves credit for wanting to change things up from the previous DS, but I haven’t met anybody who actually liked how the 3D looked.
It gave you headaches and hurt your eyes, so it was much better to turn it off. But besides that, the console was amazing. And I’m not the only one to think so considering that it sold 75 million units.
The Nintendo 3DS was backed up with incredible games such as Super Mario 3D Land, Pokemon X and Y, Super Smash Bros, and a myriad of great Zelda games. And those are just to name a few. Pokemon had quite a few more successful titles on the 3DS, and of course, all the Mario spin-offs that were offered on the console as well.
But years before the Nintendo 3DS was making waves, the Nintendo Game Boy Advance was doing the same thing. This handheld console had a 16-bit processor, compared to its predecessor’s 8-bit processor. So, not only did the Game Boy Advance play good, it looked good while doing it with its iconic colors, and it would go on to sell 82 million units.
The console had no limit to the number of good games it offered. The Super Mario Advance series, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, Mario Kart, and Donkey Kong Country remakes were just some of the fun games that were available on the Game Boy Advance.
Nintendo’s current console, the Nintendo Switch is a hybrid of a handheld console and a home one. Meaning that you could play it on your TV, or take it out and play it in handheld mode when you feel like it. Released in 2017, the Nintendo Switch is the youngest one on this list of Nintendo consoles which makes the number of units sold even more impressive; 85 million.
It’s a mystery how many more units will be sold until its eventual successor comes along, but we can imagine that Nintendo is pretty happy with the number already. When it’s all said and done, it could move up even higher on this list of Nintendo consoles.
The console has had many successful games that include Super Mario Odyssey, Pokemon Sword and Shield, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Both Zelda and Animal Crossing were incredibly popular; many people who never played these franchises gave them a chance, including myself. Animal Crossing itself sold 31 million units, making it the second most sold Nintendo Switch game of all time, only behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
It’s not surprising that the Nintendo Wii was so successful, it was nothing like we’ve seen before. Sure, there were consoles in the past that had motion control integrated, but Nintendo Wii was the first one that exploded in popularity.
It appealed to people who are into gaming, and even to people who had no interest in it. And it’s clear when you look at the number of units sold: 101 million.
The motion control integration allowed players to get more physical, and there were plenty of games that took advantage of that. The Just Dance and the Wii sports series were extremely popular because even if you didn’t enjoy video games much, you could still have fun with your friends moving around like a fool in your living room.
The Nintendo Game Boy is one of the oldest consoles created by Nintendo, being released in 1989. Nintendo had previously made a handheld console, the Game & Watch, but the Game Boy took things to another level. It had an 8-bit processor that was able to pack a punch and keep you entertained.
9 years later, the Game Boy Color was released allowing players to fully enjoy the colors the games offered. Combined together, the Nintendo Game Boy and Game Boy Color sold 118 million units. Making the Game Boy one of the most sold consoles of all time.
The Game Boy had plenty of great games, but it would be remiss if Pokemon wasn’t mentioned. The first two installments in the Pokemon franchise, Red and Blue, were released on the Game Boy. It would go on to be Japan’s best-selling video game, and one of the best selling games of all time; spawning the worldwide, billion dollar franchise we know now.
With 154 million units sold, the DS isn’t just the best selling handheld console, or the best selling Nintendo console; it’s the second best selling console of all time. It’s only behind the PlayStation 2 which is ahead by around one million units.
Nintendo switched things up once again by giving the Nintendo DS two screens, and making the bottom one a touchscreen. Another cool feature about the Nintendo DS was that it was backwards compatible with the Game Boy Advance.
The Nintendo DS wouldn’t be as successful as it was if it didn’t have great games. New Super Mario Bros, Animal Crossing: Wild World, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass are just a few of the awesome games. Plenty of consoles, both home and handheld alike, have come after the Nintendo DS, but none have come close to taking its second place spot.
When it comes to Nintendo, the Nintendo DS is the most sold console the company has ever had. Nintendo is a brand known worldwide, so it’s not surprising to see how many units they’ve sold, but it’s still hard to wrap your head around. With its most recent console, the Nintendo Switch selling 85 million units, the juggernaut of a company doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
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