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The Best Nintendo Systems

List Criteria: Home consoles and portables are both considered. No Game&Watches or redesigns though

Calling all Nintendo fans!

It's time to vote for which Nintendo systems are the greatest. Let your nostalgia run wild. Feel encouraged to take both hardware and software into account.

The Best Nintendo Systems Anything
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  1. 1
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    Nintendo 64

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    Apparently this system lost the sales battle against the PS1... which seems strange to me because back in 1997 or 1999 the N64 was THE place to be for four player gaming bliss. I mean, it had Mario Kart and Goldeneye and Smash Bros. and Mario Party and Star Fox and so on. Whatever. Nowadays its mostly remembered fondly for bringing us 3D gaming, and remembered not-so-fondly for its awkward, silly looking controller.

    + the glorious polygonal third dimension of Super Mario 64
    + Rareware
    + Ocarina of Time AND Majora's Mask
    + Four player local multiplayer

    - Awkward controllers
    - Cartridges were passe, turned off third party developers
    - Game quality in this brave new world was a mixed bag. Some franchises made the leap better than others. I mean, collecting things is fun... up to a point.

  2. 2
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    Nintendo Entertainment System

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    This system single-handedly saved videogame-dom and made all of our lives what they are today. It had a totally awesome controller. The soundtracks to its games sound amazing in a nostalgic sort of way. And on top of all that, it came packaged with a freakin' robot! And a gun!

    Okay so NES games aren't so much to look at and a lot of them are virtually unplayable. A lot of them are just HARD, and not in a good way... like a poorly designed way. It's great and all that Zelda and Metroid broke from the 'just run to the right' paradigm but DAMN those games are hard to navigate.

    But this is the system with Super Mario Bros. and that game is freaking perfect except that you have to blow into the cartridge to get it to work. What was up with that? Looking back on it now, it seems so strange, so foreign.

  3. 3
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    Super Nintendo Entertainment System

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    Nintendo's Golden Age. Everything 16 bit was a realization of what 8bit had promised... it was like 8bit but refined and pretty. All of the true classic 2d games stem from this system. Just thinking about my SNES gets me all misty-eyed.

    + Great controller. More buttons but not at all confusing. Rounder, easier to hold. Light. Perfect.
    + Launched with Super Mario World. Yoshi.
    + Absolutely gorgeous visuals. Great color palette. Sprites and artwork at their best.
    + Mario World is the best Mario game and Link to the Past is the best Zelda game. Also Super Metroid and Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart and Star Fox live on the SNES.
    + RPGS. Squaresoft. Final Fantasies. Secret of Mana. Chrono Trigger. Super Mario RPG.

    - Underpowered compared to its rivals (and yet Nintendo's games were much better)
    - less hardcore, less gory.
    - Third party games could still be as poorly designed and cheaply difficult as the NES games.
    - Not very multiplayer-friendly

  4. 4
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    Nintendo Gamecube

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    The Gamecube was the first Nintendo console to finish last in its generation's console war (unless you count the Dreamcast as part of that generation, but I don't think it's performance in that race counts as 'finishing'). And the gamecube wasn't even the relatively underpowered punching bag that the Wii was! But the system was seen as 'kiddy' which was a result of all of those gaming kids of the '90s growing up into 'mature' gamers in the '00s. They didn't want a purple system with cute little discs and big colorful buttons on their controllers... or something.

    + Great controller that got greater when it went wireless as the 'Wavebird'
    + No Mario game at launch... instead there was a little game called SUPER SMASH BROS. MELEE, the best Nintendo fanservice game that had ever been produced
    + Great, great games like Metroid Prime 1&2, Resident Evil 4, and Tales of Symphonia (yes it had rpgs)
    + Disc based... finally
    + Umm... it had a handle?

    - Needed to be fed memory cards too often
    - Not very online
    - Third party support problems
    - You can disagree with this I suppose, but I have to say that this console's Mario and Zelda games are weak entries in their respective franchises.

  5. 5
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    Game Boy

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    Looking back on it now this system seems bulky, primitive, and unappealing. Even so, it sold well enough, became a cultural touchstone, and Nintendo has dominated the handheld videogame market ever since (though we all know the times they are a-changin'). Over the years the system was redesigned into the 'Game Boy Pocket', probably because the original was too big to fit into pockets.

    + Portable video games! Like, on the road, in a waiting room, at school... wherever!
    + Tetris
    + Link's Awakening is a surprisingly robust title.
    + Long lifespan. This system existed for the entirety of the nineties (this was the decade before people had phones in their pockets).

    - Strange colored screen... like... neon vomit.
    - Big and heavy
    - Batteries. Too many batteries. Buying batteries to play video games is almost as bad as buying tokens in an arcade.
    - games without watches

  6. 6
    + 14
    - 7
    f t p @ X

    Ah, the Wii. A controversial console with a silly name released in 2006 to great fanfare and success. It ditched the classic controller design in favor of something that more resembled a television remote that could, get this, control games through an IR pointer and an accelometer. A new way to interact with the virtual world meant that new kinds of games were coming... and new kinds of gamers. The system was packaged with a title called 'Wii Sports' that gave users a chance to experiment with what motion controls could do. The system quickly drew in new demographics and turned the Wii into a local party system with the likes Guitar Hero/Rock Band and Just Dance. It would not only trounce its competitors in terms of sales, but also all of Nintendo's own legendary home consoles. It'll probably peak at somewhere over 100 million units sold.

    + New, fun controllers encouraged innovation, breathed life into the industry.
    + New consumer demographics and game genres. Music games, dance games, party games... WiiFit.
    + Launched with A NEW ZELDA GAME!?!
    + Great generation for Nintendo franchises: Metroid Prime Collection, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Super Mario Galaxy, Skyward Sword.
    + Was internet capable. Virtual Console and WiiWare services worked, even if they had clunky GUI. Games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Monster Hunter Tri were a blast online.
    + First backwards compatible home console from Nintendo.

    - Not up to spec with its competitors so it couldn't share many of their games.
    - Not hi-definition, a problem that grew as the hardware cycle dragged on longer than ever
    - Release schedule for games dried up years before WiiU was to be released.
    - Not as internet connected as its opponents.
    - Some people were attached to the old controller standard.
    - Third party support was mostly shovelware.
    - Some people did not appreciate the focus on 'casual' games

  7. 7
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    Everybody everywhere owns this system. Maybe even more than one iteration of it. Wikipedia says its sold 160 million units. That's a big number and a hell of a lot of money for Nintendo. Looking back now it seems ridiculous how cautious Nintendo was in releasing this. 'Third Pillar' they called it. 'Not replacing the Game Boy' they said. They were absolutely anxious that their strange dual screened, touch screen, microphoned... thing... would ruin their successful Game Boy brand if they gave it that monicker. But time makes fools of us all.

    'Touch! Generations' was the name of the new games. Big Brain Academy and Nintendogs were all the rage. Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney and Super Scribblenauts and Warioware and Elite Beat Agents were more refined, under appreciated demonstrations of new gaming vistas. Kirby was on a stylus track and Mario Kart was online and hell even 2D Super Mario Bros. was New again. Great times, great system.

    + Touch, stylus, duality, clamshell, innovations abounded in the hardware and software.
    + Redesigns making everything better
    + Extensive game library with lots of great games and plenty of genres, from shooters to rpgs to cooking games.
    + Online with a dsiware game shop
    + Backwards compatible

    - Ever escalating competition for pocket space and the rise of other portable gaming experiences.

  8. 8
    + 11
    - 7

    Game Boy Color

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    This handheld, released in 1998, was basically an updated gameboy... but its games were not usually backwards compatible so I'm counting it as a new system. Deal with it. Anyways it had been like nine years since the release of the first game boy so there had to have been some pretty significant improvements, right? Well... there were a couple.

    + In NA it was released alongside the GB games Pokemon Red and Blue, and it would eventually get its own Gold and Silver versions. The Pokemania years were great years to own a GBC.
    + "Deluxe" versions of great games like Tetris, Super Mario Bros. and Link's Awakening.
    + Could add different color palettes to GB games.
    + Smaller than a Gameboy, better than a Gameboy Pocket.
    + Pretty colors
    + Link cables and wireless data exchange.

    - AA batteries suck. At least it was an improvement over the original gameboy.
    - Screen was not lit
    - Games were mostly still very primitive 8bitish things

  9. 9
    + 10
    - 6
    f t p @ X

    A really new game boy was brought to market in the morning minutes of the new millennium. It was like a SNES that could fit in your pocket! It was a bastion of 2D sprite based platformers and jrpgs that could be enjoyed on the go! it was heaven wrapped in plastic! The system had virtually no competition in the portable world but it was still redesigned for some essential updates. The SP version finally ditched those horrid AA batteries in favor of something rechargeable and added a back (or front?) lit screen.

    As for games, it was all about Advance Wars. And Golden Sun. And Metroid Fusion. And Fire Emblem. And Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Oh who am I kidding, it was all about the SNES ports. Yoshi's Island forever!

    + landscape screen
    + Everything GBSP did
    + Great SNES+ quality games
    + backwards compatibility

    - Link Cables
    - AA batteries
    - Umm... Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire were kinda weak, a real demonstration of how this series would only slowly and grudgingly evolve out of its 8bit larval stage.
    - More of a return to past glory than anything truly innovative.

  10. 10
    + 3
    - 2

    Wii U

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    Well this just came into existence so it'll be really hard to compare it fairly, but hey... whatever.
    Nintendo games are now in high definition... which would be nice except that the new tablet controller has an  SD screen on it that attracts attention more often than not. The tablet is pretty sweet though. Works great for motion and sensor control even.
    Best thing about the system is Miiverse, though. A place for like-minded people to gather together in a virtual vacuum and share their thoughts and a whole lot of sweet artwork.
    The system is loaded with incidental features though, a lot of odds and ends of great ideas. It's a television remote and a program-guide, and a chatroom and it has a digital distribution service and a serviceable internet browser and video chat and other little things like that.

    Getting to the negatives then... well the whole package is disjointed, especially when it comes to control options. Seriously, three different kinds of controllers? And the system is lacking in memory for downloading stuff. And... well the virtual console has been walled off and doesn't work on the gamepad... yet.

  11. 11
    + 8
    - 8

    Nintendo 3DS

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    As this is the most recent entry it will be hard to compare this system to its more established brethren. Its sales history has been a roller coaster ride and I don't think anyone doubts that smartphones and iThings are getting ubiquitous and sophisticated enough to handle portable gaming. That said, this system does have a few exclusive features and games that recommend postponing the merger of phones/wristwatches/computers/mp3 players/portable gaming systems/swiss army knives for at least a few years.

    + 3D without friggin' glasses. Genuine depth can actually be a very useful dimension in video games.
    + A Great Leap Forward in Nintendo's interneting. Mario Kart 7 has great online multiplayer, and Nintendo has even distributed a patch to fix an unintended shortcut. Also the eshop works and looks good. Oh, and free game demos!
    + Streetpass and Spotpass are great, under-hyped features. An idle system can exchange data with strangers in a safe, impersonal way, with cute little Miis doing all the talking. Find Mii is a fun, too.
    + Augmented Reality is cool concept. I hope Pokemon takes advantage of this.
    + 3D camera
    + Great games: 3D remakes, Super Mario Land 3D, Resident Evil Revelations, Kid Icarus.
    + has access to huge NDS library (and it launched alongside Pokemon Black and White). also has everything that made the DS special: touch screen, dual screens, etc.

    - original price
    - lack of games at launch / first six months
    - battery life
    - lack of second circle pad, circle pad pro
    - already being redesigned suggesting this console was not so much 'thought-out' as it was 'we can make a NDS with 3D let's rush it to market while that is still a huge technological coup.'

  12. 12
    + 3
    - 15

    Virtual Boy

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    The Virtual Boy was launched in 1995 during the glory days of the Super Nintendo and only a short time before Nintendo moved into the fifth generation with their 'other kind of 3D' system, the N64. Strange timing to be sure. Was this thing supposed to be a new portable to replace the Game Boy? It hardly looks portable.
    The Virtual Boy was laughed off of the market like so many consoles before it, but unlike all of Nintendo's other offerings.

    + Wario Land and Mario's Tennis
    + 3d

    - only had red and black visuals
    - Only like twenty games ever made
    - released right before the N64
    - no marketing, no support, no love
    - cost many people their money, cost at least one man his job
    - clashes with all home settings that aren't the USS Enterprise
    - portable?!?

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