For over 35 years Nintendo had stood tall as one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, with iconic characters and franchises including Super Mario, The Legend Of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Metroid. Without Nintendo, gaming very well could look completely different and not be as successful as it is. For this list, we are only focusing on traditional consoles, rather than their handheld line, but it will include the Switch as it is a hybrid, but won’t include the Virtual Boy, although I don’t think anyone will miss it.
Here is every Nintendo console ranked from worst to best.
7. Wii U
The Wii U was the victim of bad marketing which led to its downfall almost from day one. Following on from the hugely successful Nintendo Wii, which became one of the best-selling consoles of all time at 101 million units, Nintendo looked to capitalize on the name recognition with their next console. They decided to call it the Wii U, which ended up confusing a lot of potential buyers. Was it a new console? Or is it an optional add-on for the Wii? This led to many people not buying it, the console only sold 13 million units, only 12% of the sales of the Wii. Many developers chose to not focus on creating games for it, which led to a very small library of games that created a snowball effect. Developers didn’t create games for it due to low sales, which caused people to not buy it because there weren’t many good games to play, and the cycle repeats itself. The system did have some great games, including Mario Kart 8, but it wasn’t enough to bring players back and the console sadly never lived up to expectations.
The Nintendo GameCube was the first console from the company to use discs. Despite placing very low on this list, the GameCube was a fantastic console, featuring many great games such as Super Smash Bros Melee, Mario Kart Double Dash, Metroid Prime, and the Resident Evil 1 Remake. Like the Wii U, it did suffer from quite a small library of games, but what it did have was largely good. It just goes to show how good Nintendo can be when the second to last ranking console is remembered fondly.
It seemed like everyone owned a Nintendo Wii, even the Queen of England had one. Releasing in 2006, the Wii sold an impressive 101 million units, backed up by many family-friendly and party games such as Wii Sports and Mario Kart Wii. Although not as powerful as the competition, Nintendo made a console that anyone could enjoy. Motion controls aren’t for everyone though, and some games were let down by them. The Nintendo Wii had many great games, but it also had hundreds of shovelware titles that really diluted the library. The Wii will always be remembered fondly though and it was a great system for the time.
The Nintendo 64 had a very small library, as well a cartridge capacity of 64MB, which made many games couldn’t be ported to the system. But, it did feature some of the greatest games of all time including Ocarina Of Time, Mario Kart 64, and Goldeneye. The controller was a bit awkward for some people to use, but it really isn’t that difficult to get used to. Although the system did have some weak points in the library, it also features some of the greatest games so it deserves a higher place on this list.
3. Nintendo Switch
Nintendo’s current console, the Switch, has picked up right where the Wii left off and is what the Wii U should have been. The handheld/console hybrid is very accessible, a console people can enjoy both old and young alike. It also became the perfect entertainment source during the pandemic with games such as Animal Crossing keeping millions of people occupied and entertained. The Nintendo Switch does suffer a similar problem to the Wii in that there is a lot of shovelware, but it does boast a very strong overall library with games such as Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
2. Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo’s original console, the NES, helped shape the future of video games. Following the video game market crash in 1983, Nintendo rose from the ashes with titles such as Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, ushering in a new age of video games, with Nintendo’s seal of approval ensuring that no shovelware was on the system to increase buyer confidence. Without Nintendo and the NES, it is very possible that gaming wouldn’t be what it is today, so we all owe a lot to this system.
1. Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Following on from the NES, the Super Nintendo may be the perfect console. The 16-bit system brought with it one of the greatest libraries of all time, with titles such as Super Mario World, A Link To The Past, Donkey Kong Country, Chrono Trigger, and Super Metroid still influencing games today. Nintendo built on the foundations of the NES, taking everything that made the system good and amplifying it to create their greatest console of all time.