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Every Nintendo Console, Ranked Best To Worst

August 12, 2020 287 votes 40 voters13 items

List RulesMajor consoles only.

Ever since the first Nintendo hit the shelves in 1985, Nintendo has been synonymous with making great games. Known for constantly ideating and developing innovative ways to game, Nintendo is truly a one-of-a-kind developer, and while some systems have become classics, others, well, not so much. That's why we're looking back at all the Nintendo consoles released over the years, including all the handheld ones.

Remember when Nintendo decided to try their hand at virtual reality in the mid-90s? It didn't pan out so well. Still, the ill-fated Virtual Boy helped pave the way for systems like the 3DS, and it introduced a handful of new Nintendo franchises, including Mario Tennis

When ranking these consoles, it's important to factor in the games and legacy they created. While newer systems naturally have better graphics and, arguably, more robust games, the older generations are still classic in their own right. Can the Wii hold a candle to the SNES? And is the GameCube better than the N64? You tell us. From the NES to the Switch (and even the Virtual Boy), we've listed all 13 major Nintendo consoles throughout the years.

Vote up all your favorite Nintendo systems, and vote down all the do-dum duds.

  • 1


    Release: 1991

    Worldwide units sold: 49.10 million

    Generation: Fourth

    While the NES heralded a new era of gaming, the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) solidified Nintendo's reign as console king. Actively competing with the Sega Genesis, the new 16-bit system sold nearly 50 million copies in its 13-year lifespan (for comparison, the Sega sold roughly 30 million).

    In addition to a new controller packed with additional controls (and those awesome new top L and R buttons), the Super Nintendo was as flawless of a follow-up as any company could get. Some of the most popular SNES games include Super Mario WorldDonkey Kong Country, Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II.

    A classic?
  • Release: 1985

    Worldwide units sold: 61.91 million

    Generation: Third

    Upon its release, the Nintendo Entertainment system instantly transformed the world of gaming. Gone were the clunky joysticks and awkward graphics of the Atari days; with revolutionary 8-bit graphics, gamers could now play their favorite arcade games at home.

    Before the Nintendo, video games of this caliber could only be had at nearby video arcades. Having to pump quarter after quarter to advance was something of a chore, but with the NES in your living room, you could play for hours on end without ever having to cash a fiver. The NES gave rise to some of gaming's biggest franchises, including Mario, MetroidThe Legend of Zelda, and Final Fantasy. It's hard to find fault with a console that's given us all that (and more).  

    A classic?

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  • Nintendo Switch
    Photo: Nintendo

    Release: 2017

    Worldwide units sold: 61.44 (and counting)

    Generation: Eighth

    After the colossal flop of the Wii U, the Switch's ultimate success breathed new life into Nintendo's console market share. Built off the Wii's universal acclaim, the Switch is designed to be an everyday handheld console. And while it may not be able to sport the same graphics capabilities as the Xbox One S or PS4 Pro, its innovative functionality more than makes it up any graphical shortcomings.

    Nintendo exclusives like Mario Kart and Animal Crossing have dominated the console market, not to mention the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is currently one of the highest-rated games of all time.

    A classic?
  • Release: 1996

    Worldwide units sold: 32.93 million

    Generation: Fifth

    While Sega and Sony were already moving away from cartridges in favor of a dandy new disc drive, Nintendo stuck to its roots with the Nintendo 64. Boasting a powerful 64-bit CPU, the N64 was the most graphically advanced console of its time. In addition to introducing rumble controls, the N64 also came with four open controller ports, helping it become a multiplayer powerhouse.

    Nintendo made a huge leap from the SNES to the N64, and one of the biggest graphical changes featured brand-spanking-new 3D worlds. While the PlayStation could produce stunning cinematic scenes, the N64's increased graphics capabilities gave way to incredibly immersive new video game epics. Games like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time helped take the console to the next level.

    A classic?