Top 10 best-selling Nintendo consoles

In its recent financial report, Nintendo revealed that the Nintendo Switch has achieved incredible milestones. Not only did the Switch surpass the lifetime sales of the Nintendo Wii, but it’s also the seventh video game console to cross 100 million units sold. It joins the illustrious group of the original PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo DS, and the aforementioned Nintendo Wii.

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As it approaches its fifth anniversary, the Switch’s monumental success is a reminder of Nintendo’s impact and reputation in the industry. For nearly 50 years, the company has been a leader in video gaming, and its consoles are mainstays in the lives of millions of gamers around the world.

ten GameCube – 21.74 million


A purple GameCube and controller are placed in front of the GameCube game cases

In 2001, Nintendo launched the GameCube in two of its biggest markets: Japan in September and North America in November. Selling for $199.99, the Gamecube faced stiff competition from Sony’s Playstation 2 and Microsoft’s first console, the Xbox. By the time Nintendo discontinued the console in 2007, the GameCube had been overtaken by its two competitors.

Despite finishing the generation in last place, the GameCube still holds a special place in gaming history due to quirks such as the use of miniDVDs and its carrying handle. Audiences were first introduced to franchises like pikmine and animal crossing but remarkable is the output of Super Smash Bros. Meleea game that spawned a competitive fighting scene and is still popular today.

9 Nintendo 64 – 32.93 million


Nintendo entered the third dimension in 1996 with the release of the $199.99 Nintendo 64. This generation, Nintendo has overtaken its old rival Sega, selling more than three times as many units as the Sega Saturn. However, neither company could match the popularity of the market newcomer, Sony’s PlayStation.

The Nintendo 64 is beloved by 90s kids everywhere because of its library of party games. Unlike its competitors, the ability to play four players has made instant classics of Mario Kart 64, Super Smash Bros., GoldenEye 007, and Perfect black. Besides that, games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the launch title Super Mario 64 stand as masterpieces whose influence is still felt in video games released today.


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8 SNES/Super Famicom – 49.1 million


Underrated Mario SNES Game

Released in Japan as the Super Famicom, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System brought Nintendo into the 16-bit generation. The SNES is best known for the fiery competitive spirit of its generation of games. This time around, Nintendo faced a tough challenger in the Sega Genesis. Sega fought a tough fight but in the end Nintendo emerged as the winner.

The SNES has refined the grandeur of its predecessor to create masterpieces. Titles like Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid are consistently touted as some of the greatest and most popular games ever made and are often cited for their influences on the platforming, top-down action-adventure, and Metroidvania genres, respectively.


7 NES/Famicom – 61.91 million


Nintendo Entertainment System

After making a name for itself in arcade games, Nintendo entered the home gaming market in 1983 with the Family Computer aka the Famicom. Two years later, the console was redesigned and renamed for its US launch as the Nintendo Entertainment System. After the video game crash of 1983, the NES saved the home video game console market in the United States.

By reintroducing the world to video games, the NES established many familiar faces that define the art form. Iconic unique pieces like ice climbers, and duck huntingto the first entries in the mario, Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out, and metroid franchises, the NES set the bar for Nintendo’s high-quality software.


6 Nintendo 3DS family – 75.94 million


Minecraft new edition 3DS gameplay

A hefty MSRP of $249.99 and the rise of mobile gaming gave the Nintendo 3DS a rocky launch. But after a price drop, the 3DS slowly built up to huge success. Stereoscopic 3D was initially Nintendo’s selling point, later releasing cheaper models without this feature. The 3DS family includes the 3DS XL, 2DS, New 3DS and New Nintendo 2DS XL.

RELATED: 10 Nintendo 3DS Games Everyone Should Try

The Nintendo 3DS has won the success of iterations on Nintendo’s most beloved franchises. Highlights include Mario Kart 7, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, remakes of the two N64s Zelda Games, four pairs of main lines Pokemon Games, and renewed interest in fire emblem with Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates.


5 Game Boy Advanced Family – 81.51 million


Iris, the unreleased successor to Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, leaks

The Game Boy Advanced evolved Nintendo’s handheld devices in 2001 by upgrading to a 32-bit system and switching to a landscape design. The console would receive two major redesigns. First, the Game Boy Advanced SP reverted to a portrait design and added a front-lit display and a flip-top. This was followed by the Game Boy Micro, a more compact version of the original GBA.

RELATED: 10 Best GameBoy Advance Games Everyone Should Play

The GBA has introduced many Nintendo sub-franchises to the world with WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgames!, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team, and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. Also note the ports of NES and SNES games with titles like Super Mario Advance and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.


4 Nintendo Wii – 101.63 million


As the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 upgraded video games to high definition, Nintendo marched to the beat of its own drum. In 2006, Nintendo introduced the world to motion gaming with the release of the Wii. With the flashy gimmick of motion controls and the cheaper price of $249.99, the Wii caused a stir like no other and eclipsed the success of its competitors.

The Nintendo Wii is best known for the phenomenon that is Sports Wii, the best-selling Nintendo game of all time. the Wii the casual game brand launched its own franchise, including Wii Sports Resort, Wii Play, Wii Party, and WifiFit. Both Mario and Zelda have received multiple mainline entries this generation and long-dormant franchises like Punch ! and donkey kong country have been restarted.




3 Nintendo Switch – 103.54 million


Cover Nintendo Switch OLED Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

After decades of dividing its resources and audience, Nintendo has finally merged its home and handheld markets with the Nintendo Switch. Released in 2017 and delivering on its promise of console-level gaming on the go, the console reignited cultural passion for Nintendo. The Switch’s Herculean achievements include overselling all Nintendo home consoles and spending thirty-five non-consecutive months as the best-selling console in the United States (per GameInformer).

Many of Switch’s best-selling games are ports or repackages of the largely ignored Wii U catalog: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, breath of the wild, New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe, and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Franchises reached new heights of popularity in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Super Mario Odyssey.


2 Game Boy Family – 118.69 million


Pokemon Gold intro screenshot with Game Boy Color

In 1989, Nintendo released its follow-up to the handheld market. Unlike the Game & Watch, which was limited to one game per device, the Nintendo Game Boy allowed players to switch between games through its game cartridges. The console would release numerous revisions, including the Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light and the Game Boy Color.

RELATED: 10 Game Boy Titles That Need To Come To The Switch

Game Boy owners can generally be categorized into two groups: those who were addicted to pack-in gaming Tetris in 1989, and those who were addicted to the first generation of pocket monsters in 1996 Pokemon Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow. Nintendo regulars received their first handheld iterations in Super Mario Land, Land of Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Kirby’s Dreamland.


1 Nintendo DS family – 154.02 million


Released in 2004, the Nintendo DS broke new ground on the handheld system by adding several features now taken for granted, including the ability to wirelessly connect to multiple systems, a built-in microphone, and play with others via Wi-Fi But the console is best known for its dual screens preserved by its clamshell design. With two screens, including bottom touch capabilities, gamers were treated to a host of unique gaming experiences.

Early in the DS life cycle, Nintendo focused on the casual market with titles like Nintendogs and Brain Age: Train your brain in minutes a day!and Big Brain Academy. The usual suspects are all here, including Mario Kart DS, Animal Crossing: Wild World, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, New Super Mario Bros., and four mainline sets Pokemon Games.

NEXT: The Best-Selling Switch Games of 2021

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About the Author

Timothy C. Mayo