Ever since the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in 1985, Nintendo has led the gaming industry as one of the most innovative and revolutionary console manufacturers. While they are not exactly known for powerful consoles, each one has always managed to feel unique and special. That’s why in this all Nintendo consoles ranked article, we’ve taken on the near impossible task of ranking them worst to best! We will be going over each one of their major releases, discussing their pros and cons, and mentioning some of our favorite games for the console. Strap yourself in, there’s a lot that we have to cover.
Before we get into the ranking, let’s clarify a few things about how this listing will work. Firstly, we will be going over both regular consoles and handheld consoles. Second, we will be considering the DS and the DSi as separate consoles. While the two play (more-or-less) the same games, I feel that the DSi is different enough to warrant it being talked about on its own.
Every Nintendo Console, Ranked From Worst to Best
With all of that clarified, let’s dive right into the list of all Nintendo consoles, ranked from the very worst to the absolute best!
Kicking off our list is none other than the infamous Virtual Boy. If you know anything about this console, then it should not be a surprise to see it here. This was an attempt at a handheld, virtual reality device first released back in 1995. While it was an incredibly cool idea that was way ahead of its time, it sadly did not turn fair well due to several design problems.
For starters, due to budgeting restraints to make the Virtual Boy affordable, the console could not display any colors except for an aggravating shade of red. Additionally, the virtual display goggles were considered to be uncomfortable to wear by many users. The game did not sell well and only had a measly 22 games released in its short life. But hey, at least it had one of the best Wario Ware games.
The Game Boy was Nintendo’s first attempt at creating a portable handheld device, and boy did they not disappoint. Released back in 1989, the Game Boy quickly became an iconic part of the video gaming industry. It allowed gamers to play a variety of different games on the go. The console looked great and was compact enough to carry with you just about anywhere.
Due to hardware limitations, however, the original Game Boy lacked color, causing all games to be played in a yellowish-green tint. This didn’t stop it from being a blast to play on. It featured a lot of really great games such as Super Mario Land, Kirby’s Dream Land, Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow, and many many more. While the original Game Boy is obsolete now, it’s still a fantastic collector’s item.
Even though the Game Boy was a really fantastic console back in the day, there’s not much reason to get one today unless you are a collector. The Game Boy Advance is backwards compatible with Game Boy games, so it may be better to just get that one instead. This is one of the main reasons why it’s so low on this list. It’s still a GREAT console, don’t get me wrong, but there are better ones on the list.
Game Boy Color
The Game Boy Color had everything we loved about the original Game Boy, but now with the ability to display games in a variety of different colors. This greatly improved the handheld gaming experience, giving developers a lot more freedom with how they wanted to design and make their games.
This iteration of the Game Boy had a lower battery life than its predecessor (going to 10 hours instead of 30), but I’d say that the improved graphics made up for this issue. Some of the best games released for the GB Color include Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening DX, and Warioland II.
The Wii U is without a doubt one of the most underrated consoles of all time! The next generation of the Wii, the Wii U is a unique console that allows gamers to play with a special tablet controller. This touch screen tablet not only lets you play games in unique ways, but it made co-op with friends easier, allowing one of you to use the tablet’s screen while the other had the TV all to themselves. And it also gives them the ability to play games off the big screen and on a handheld device.
Sadly, despite these benefits, the Wii U did not sell well. Many people were confused by the name, believing it to be an add-on to the Wii instead of a new console. There were also not that many exclusives to play, and the few that it did have were quickly ported over to the Switch. This console did have the BEST library of virtual console games, however. And considering this was the first console to allow us to play Mario in HD, I think it deserves this spot on the list.
Ahh, the NES. The console that saved the gaming industry after the big crash of 1983. The Nintendo Entertainment System (or the Famicon in Japan) was Nintendo’s first attempt at creating a gaming console. After its North American release in 1986, the NES quickly became incredibly popular, allowing gamers to enjoy a wide variety of great games thanks to Nintendo’s emphasis on quality control.
The device offered improved graphics from older devices and an easy-to-pick-up and-play controller. Some of the most popular games for this system include Super Mario Bros, the original Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt, and many many more. I’m very grateful that this console was released, as without it the gaming industry would most likely look very different from how it is today.
Now for the Nintendo 64! This is a device that many people had as their first Nintendo console. Released during the year of 1996, the Nintendo 64 was incredibly innovative at the time of its release, being the very first console to have a 64-bit CPU. Because of this advanced piece of tech, the console was able to enable much better 3D environments for its games. The console also innovated with how users controlled games, being one of the earliest consoles to have an analog stick in its controller.
Speaking of its controller, it was certainly hit or miss for a lot of gamers. It featured a third handle down the middle which made it look like it was designed for someone with three hands. It was a bit awkward to control, but still, it got the job done. Some of the most famous titles released for this console was Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, and Star Fox 64.
Game Boy Advance
Here we have the Game Boy Advance, the final iteration in the Game Boy line of consoles. And what a way to send it off! The Game Boy Advance was much better than the previous Game Boy’s in several ways. The SP model of the GBA had a foldable screen, allowing it to be better protected from damage. It was also backwards compatible with both previous Game Boy Models, giving it’s owners access to the entire library of GB and GB Color games.
Both the SP and the original had much better hardware than previous Game Boys, allowing for much better graphics. These graphics still hold up well to this very day. The games on this platform have some of the BEST pixel art, some of it even rivaling games released today. Some games I recommend picking up for this platform are Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, and Advance Wars.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES for short) was Nintendo’s second attempt at creating a gaming console for your living room. This device was a BIG improvement over the original NES, with much better hardware, allowing for some really great graphics. Whats more is that certain SNES cartridges could even have 3D environments, which was really impressive at the time.
The SNES controller was also improved, adding two additional buttons and a more curvy and stylish design. Many people grew up with the SNES and remember it very fondly. The console had some really fantastic games released during its lifespan. This includes Super Mario RPG: Legend of The Seven Stars, Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past, and the first Super Mario Kart game.
Did you know that the ‘DS’ stands for duel-screen? Many people don’t know, surprisingly. The Nintendo DS was the next iteration of handheld Nintendo consoles following the conclusion of the Game Boy line. It featured two dual screens (as the title suggests), with the bottom one allowing for touchscreen controls! This led the way to a lot of really creative and unique games for the platform.
Additionally, the game allowed users to connect to each other and play wireless multiplayer without needing to connect to Wi-Fi. If all that wasn’t enough, the DS was even backward compatible with Game Boy Advance! If all that wasn’t enough, the DS has one of the largest libraries of games out of any other Nintendo console, including great titles like New Super Mario Bros, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Drawn to Life, and The World Ends With You.
The DSi is considered by many to be the same “console” as the DS, just a different model. But considering how many improvements the DSi brought to the table, I’d say this deserves its own spot on the list. Sporting better hardware and an overhauled operating system, the DSi was released at a time when internet-centered mobile devices (such as the iPhone) were becoming really popular.
The DSi was not only a way to play games, but a gateway into a variety of social networks and other ways to entertain yourself. You could take pictures and use a variety of wacky Photoshop-esq effects. You could record and distort sounds. This was also the first Nintendo device to allow you to connect to an online store and digitally download games (referred to as DSi Ware). This particular feature absolutely BLEW my ten-year-old mind upon using it for the first time.
Certain models even came pre-installed with Flipnote Studio, which allowed you to create animations and share them online! This was one of the most soulful consoles Nintendo ever released. It was a blast taking pictures of friends and editing them in humorous ways, making flip notes and sharing them online, and of course, playing some great DS titles over DS download play.
The Gamecube was released in 2001, as apart of the same generation of consoles as the PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox. While this machine sadly did not win the console wars, it did win the hearts of millions of Nintendo fans. It featured greatly improved graphics over the Nintendo 64 but did not do a whole lot else in the way of innovation (compared to past consoles, that is).
Its greatest improvement over past systems was its incredible controller. With two analog sticks, new buttons, and some of the best triggers there is, the Gamecube controller is still one of the best controllers of all time to this day. One thing I really like about this console is the GBA adapter, allowing you to play Gameboy Advance games on your TV! Some of the best games released for this system were Super Smash Bros. Melee, the first Paper Mario, and the first Pikman game.
In third place on this ranking for Every Nintendo Console, it’s the 3DS. This was the last iteration in the line of Nintendo DS consoles, and oh boy did it go out with a bang. The 3DS had much better hardware than the DSi, allowing games that were more similar to what could be released on consoles. The “New” model of the 3DS improved on this even further, giving us games like Xenoblade Chronicles and Minecraft.
Specs aside, the 3DS featured several other improvements. It had a circle pad (two on the “New” model), which made navigating in games much smoother and more similar to using a traditional controller. And let’s not forget the obvious: the 3DS could play games in 3D! While many people dismissed this as a tacky gimmick, I personally thought it was cool. Some of the best games for the 3DS are Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Luigi’s Mansion 2, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.
Coming in hot at number 2 on our Nintendo consoles ranked list, is the Wii. The Wii is without a doubt one of the BEST consoles of all time. Released in 2006, this is a console that ditched traditional controllers in place of motion-controlled remotes, allowing users to control the movement of their characters with their physical movements. This wasn’t the first example of motion control in gaming, but it was the one that really put it on the map.
Embracing motion controls was an excellent idea, as it allowed the Wii to stand out among the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, its two main competitors, leading it to become one of the highest-selling consoles of all time. It was so successful in fact that Microsoft and Sony soon released their own spins on motion controls not long after. Some great games for this console include Wii Sports Resort, Super Mario Galaxy, and Mario Kart Wii.
And finally, at spot number 1, the best Nintendo console on this list, we have the Nintendo Switch! It’s very fitting that after going through a ranking of both TV-based consoles and handheld consoles, we end off with something that manages to combine them both. After the disastrous launch of the Wii U, Nintendo needed to turn things around, and fast. Enter the Switch: a hybrid between a traditional TV console and a handheld.
This was a device that could be played either on the big screen or taken on the go in a handheld mode. Combine this with the motion controls and the fact you can swap out the joycons very easily and you have one of, if not the most versatile console ever made.
Combine this with the Switch’s massive library of games and you have without a doubt the best console Nintendo has ever made. Some of the best games for the system includes Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
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