The best console cameos in Nintendo games

There’s a weird sense of excitement that comes with seeing an in-game reference to a real thing in a video game. You see it, and you think, “Haha! I know what it is. Sometimes it’s a tool you need to use in-game, sometimes it’s purely decorative, and sometimes you’re literally standing on it. It can be seen as companies giving themselves a party shot, but I still like to see it.

Nintendo in particular love to reference their own creations in their IPs and often find different ways to make these inclusions, whether direct interactive references to the consoles themselves or strongly implied likenesses. It made me think of my favorite console cameos.

animal crossing

Picture: Animal Crossing/Nintendo

the animal crossing the series is choc-a-bloc with console cameos to litter around your town or island, with the game shelf available in wild world with an adorable little Gamecube, as well as the ability to own the console you play on in the game.

One of my personal favorites has to be the NES consoles that you can get in Gamecube gaming, simply because you can actually play the NES titles available for in-game discovery. Definitely a very cool early example of multi-console emulation.

donkey kong

Image: Donkey Kong/Nintendo

The rumors are true: Donkey Kong is a gamer.

In The Return of Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Jelly, the Kong himself is seen sitting down and playing a game on a Nintendo DS (Return), a new Nintendo 3ds (tropical frost) or a Nintendo Switch (Tropical Freeze Switch Port) if you leave it idle.

In Return, you can hear the original donkey kong theme if you listen carefully, while in tropical jelly, you can hear him play one of four games: Mario Kart 7, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, 3D Super Mario Land and Donkey Kong Country returns in 3D.

However, in the Switch port of tropical frosthe literally plays tropical frost while existing in the world of Tropical jelly. My head hurts all of a sudden.

The Legend of Zelda

Image: Legend of Zelda/Nintendo.

the The Legend of Zelda the series is funnily everywhere with their console and accessory cameos.

The power glove in A link to the past is an item that makes Link (or in my reading of games, Binky) stronger, and is based on the NES accessory of the same name.

The stone of agony in Ocarina of time is a stone rendering of the Nintendo 64’s Rumble Pak and vibrates the controller when the player is near a secret cave.

In the bomb store Majora’s mask 3d, there’s a machine at the back of the store that looks a lot like a Gamecube.

In Windwaker, the absolute king himself, Tingle, gives you the Tingle Tracker, which is pretty much literally an in-game Game Boy Advance that gives you the ability to get a Tingle index on your Game Boy Advance if you connect it to your Gamecube.

In ghost hourglass… Isle of Dee Ess. It’s an island that’s a giant DS. I don’t know what else to say about this one.

In breath of the wild, your Sheikah Slate is a thematically correct rendition of your Wii U Gamepad/Switch. I say both because the Wii U Gamepad is essentially a conceptual predecessor to the Switch, so it really could be interpreted as one or the other.

Luigi’s mansion

Image: Luigi’s Mansion/Nintendo

I may be biased ’cause I’m a huge Luigi’s mansion fan, but these in-game cameos are seriously juicy.

In Luigi’s mansion on Gamecube, the Game Boy Horror is based on the Game Boy Color and is used for the map, Luigi’s stats, Portrait Ghost’s description, and as a radar for Boos.

In Luigi’s Mansion: Black Moon for the 3ds, it is replaced by the Dual Scream, based on the Nintendo DS.

In Luigi’s mansion 3 for the Nintendo Switch, it is replaced by the Virtual Boo, which is based on the Virtual Boy (and, like the Virtual Boy, only displays in red and black).

paper mario

Image: Paper Mario/Nintendo.

the paper mario The series makes an interesting mix of in-game use, semi-use, and decoration.

In Paper Mario and the Millennial Gate for the Gamecube, your messaging device is designed to look like a Game Boy SP, while the communicator in the pro-catch locker room is designed to look like a Game Boy Advance.

In Super Paper Mario for the Wii, there is a room in Fort Francis where you can view Francis’ collection of several Nintendo consoles. It’s, of course, because he’s a turbo-nerd.


Image: Pokemon/Game Freak/Nintendo.

I’d be here for a while if I covered every console referenced in the Pokemon series, but they do in every main game. The player’s room will still have the home console from the era the game was released in their room. It’s a nice consistent theme in the series that they’ve done with every game, which matches the overall consistency of the series in general.

Special Mentions

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Image: Conker’s Bad Fur Day/Rare/Nintendo.

In the pissed off of Rare Conker’s Bad Fur Day, one of Conker’s idle animations sees him playing killer instinct on a Gameboy. This refers to Nintendo games on a Nintendo platform, but also one of Rare’s own games to boot.

Kirby: Planet Robobot

Image: Kirby/HAL Lab/Nintendo.

In Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby, or Metaknight can use a remote that looks a lot like a Game Boy to control a Kirby robot in the background. The Kirby robot, just like the real Kirby, is always in the shape of a friend.


Image: Splatoon/Nintendo.

This has got to be one of my big favourites. In Splaton, you can find a sunken scroll that has an image of a fossilized human skeleton sitting next to a fossilized Wii U. This one felt a bit like a prophecy of how history would look at the Wii U.

Did we miss any of your favorite console cameos? Let us know!

Timothy C. Mayo