For almost 40 years, Nintendo has been in the homes of hundreds of millions of gamers and is the creator of some of gaming’s most iconic franchises including Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid. It could be argued that Nintendo is the most important video game company of all time, but that doesn’t mean that the Japanese studio has hit home runs every time. Here is every Nintendo console generation ranked from worst to best.
7. Wii U (8th Generation)
The Wii U really did get the short end of the stick and was destined to fail from day one. The poor choice of name made the Wii U seem like an optional accessory for the Wii, similar to that of a Wii Fit board, rather than it being the next-generation Nintendo console. Couple that with the Wii U which was difficult to develop, it pushed many third-party developers away, the console was never going to find success and only sold just over 13 million units, making it one of the worst-selling major consoles of all time.
It is a shame because the Wii U has some fantastic games, but unless you’re a collector it’s not a system worth hunting down. You will run out of good games to play very quickly as it has a library size of just 206 physically released games across all regions. And now the eShop and online services have been shut down, and many of the 794 total games are inaccessible.
6. GameCube (6th Generation)
Just because the GameCube is in the second worst spot on this list it doesn’t mean it is a bad console, which is more of a testament to the high standard Nintendo holds itself to. But, like the Wii U, it does have a small library of great games but what it does have are some of the best games of its generation.
Releasing in the same generation as the PlayStation 2, and the addition of Microsoft entering the market with the Xbox was always going to stack the deck against the GameCube. But, Nintendo managed to secure some great deals that brought the likes of Resident Evil 1 Remake and Resident Evil 4 to the system, along with the usual cast of exclusives including Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, it is still a console that I highly recommend seeking out today.
It can be argued that the Nintendo Wii is the console that brought video games to the mainstream. While the PS2 started the journey to making video gaming part of millions of people’s daily lives, the Wii is a system even your Grandma played.
Thanks to its heavy focus on family-friendly non-traditional game titles, such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit, it seemed like no matter whose house you visited, they had a Nintendo Wii next to their TV, even Queen Elizabeth owned one. For the more serious gamer, the Wii had a stacked library of games from top franchises including Super Mario, Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Metroid, and Resident Evil.
4. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) (3rd Generation)
The Nintendo Entertainment System is the console that brought gaming back from the dead. Following the video game market crash in 1983, it seemed like gaming was set to be a distant memory and a footnote in history until Nintendo released the NES in 1985. Thanks to Super Mario Bros., and the addition of Nintendo’s Seal of Quality which meant no shovelware would be released, the console helped revive the gaming market through the mid-to-late 1980s.
It is difficult to imagine life without gaming, and I certainly wouldn’t be typing these words now, we all have Nintendo to thank for it.
Considering my criticisms of some consoles further down on this list, it might seem surprising that the Nintendo 64 is third on this list. Like the Wii U, the N64 has a small library of just 388 games across all regions, but it is also home to some of the greatest games ever released.
You may run out of great games to play fairly quickly, but the N64 is home to the likes of Super Mario 64, Goldeneye 007, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros., WWF No Mercy, and Mario Kart 64. With a library of games that include these titles, it is hard to put the N64 anywhere but high on this list.
2. Nintendo Switch (8th Generation)
At the time of writing the Nintendo Switch is still the latest console from Nintendo, and I still have my fingers crossed that it will eventually surpass the PS2 as the best-selling console of all time. Like the Wii, the Nintendo Switch has become a console that is in most households, thanks to it being very versatile with it being able to play handheld or as a home console.
Couple that with an incredible library of games including Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Nintendo is on a winner. I suspect Nintendo won’t be straying too far from the Switch with the next console, but hopefully, it won’t suffer the same fate the Wii U did.
1. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) (4th Generation)
In the number 1 spot is none other than the SNES. Building upon what the NES started, the SNES took Nintendo into the 16-bit era which allowed for much larger and better-looking games when compared to the NES. Despite being over 30 years old, Super Mario World still looks great today thanks to its use of bold colors, and games such as Donkey Kong Country pushed gaming to the limits at the time and still hold up very well today.
Overall, the library is stacked with incredible games and you will never be hard-pressed to find a new game to play, whether that is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, or Final Fantasy VI. This is Nintendo at its best and 2D gaming at its finest.
What do you think of our Nintendo Ranked list? Let us know in the comments below.