The home and handheld consoles have been a staple of the Nintendo business model for many years. Indeed, Nintendo first started selling handheld gaming devices, called Game & Watch, way back in 1980. However, it was not until 1983 with the launch of the NES, that the consoles we recognise today, came to the forefront. Here we rank all the best-selling Nintendo Consoles ever.
Best-Selling Nintendo Consoles Ranked
Nintendo DS: Number One Best-Selling Nintendo Console
Smashing in at number 1 one on the list is the Nintendo DS. Launched in 2004 and discontinued in 2013, this handheld console sold an amazing 154.02 million units. At the time of its release, it was praised for its innovative dual screen and modern design. Analysts and insiders viewed this as a make-or-break product for Nintendo. However, there was some disappointment with the roster of launch games. Luckily for us, it was a huge success! The DS was the natural successor to the Game Boy Advance which had been released in 2001.
Coming in at number 2 is the very popular Nintendo Wii. The Wii was released in 2006 and went on to sell an incredible 101.63 million units. This release came on the back of the hugely popular Nintendo DS which surely helped sales. However, this console was also at the forefront of at home lifestyle gaming. It really launched the idea of a console as being a fun family activity that could also keep you active. This brought a whole new cohort of people into gaming. With the motion sensor controls, you could jump around your room whilst competing in games against your family and friends. Two of the gaming highlights of this console had to be Mario Kart, with the infuriating motion control, and Wii Sports which made you feel incredible at bowling.
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Game Boy Advance
Third on the list is the Game Boy Advance which was the predecessor to the best-selling Nintendo DS. Released in 2001, the Game Boy advance sold 81.51 million units during its lifespan. This handheld saw a couple of major shifts away from previous Game Boy models. Firstly, the screen was now in landscape form rather than the previous portrait form. This change also meant that the buttons were now to the side of the screen rather than below it. Additionally, the game cartridges were also reduced in size however they could also still play the older and larger versions.
At number 4 we have the latest Nintendo release – the Nintendo Switch. This console proved hugely popular in 2020 as people found themselves stuck at home needing something to do. Indeed, numerous titles on the Switch are the best-selling Nintendo games ever. No doubt we will see this handheld move further up the list in the coming years. It has so far sold 79.87 million units. The console has been widely praised for its big jump in graphics, particularly with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It has also proved popular due to the ability to play it as a traditional console on the TV or as a handheld. Additionally, it is the console that has brought as one of the best Mario Kart games yet.
Nintendo Game Boy
In at number 5 is the Game Boy. I am sure many readers will remember this as the first gaming unit that they ever owned. At One Chilled Gamer, we still remember our first ever game of Super Mario Land that we played on this classic handheld console. Released in 1989, it became an instant hit. With sales so good, several improved models were released. These included the Game Boy Pocket, the Game Boy Play it Loud and the Game Boy Light. It was also the console that introduced us to the hugely popular Pokemon series with its own interesting history. The Pokemon games on the Game Boy are also the best-selling Pokemon games in the series to date. When the Game Boy was eventually discontinued in 2003, the handheld had sold an incredible 77.41 million units.
Best-Selling Nintendo Consoles: The Complete List
Nintendo has had huge success with its consoles since they started releasing them. Below is the full list ranked by total sales. It is somewhat surprising that the N64 is as low as it is with 32.93 million units sold, especially considering its enduring popularity. What is not a surprise is the much-derided Virtual Boy, in last place, with 0.77 million sales. Let us know in the comments what your favourite Nintendo console is and if you are surprised by any of the rankings.