We recently asked you, our readers, to rank the best Nintendo systems of all time – a pretty tricky task, given that Nintendo has produced some of the most iconic pieces of gaming hardware the industry has ever seen.
Below, we present the results of this vote. It's worth noting that, outside of the SNES and Switch (which, combined, accounted for a whopping 55% of the total vote), it was very tight indeed between the other systems, so don't be too downhearted if your personal favourite appears to be lower than you expected. The places were separated in one case by a single vote!
So, without further ado, let's get down to business – which Nintendo system is the greatest of all time?
12. Virtual Boy
Seen by many as Nintendo's darkest hour, the Virtual Boy was the brainchild of Gunpei Yokoi, the same person who created the Game & Watch and Game Boy line of systems. Using a parallax effect to create the impression of 3D depth, it felt more like a tech demo than a fully-fledged platform, and was discontinued in 1996, a year after it launched. Only 22 games were ever released on the Virtual Boy. It's the console owned by Seinfeld's George Costanza, which seems to make perfect sense.
11. Nintendo Wii U
Following the astonishing success of the Wii was never going to be easy, but few could have predicted that the Wii U would turn out to be the commercial disaster it was. It sold just 13.56 million units worldwide (the Wii managed 101.63 million) and was cited by many as a clear indication that Nintendo had well and truly lost the plot and should just pack it all in and make smartphone games instead. Thankfully, the Nintendo Switch has proven to be a fantastic success and is now home to many of the Wii U's best games, including Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Super Mario 3D World. The Wii U might have been a disappointment in purely commercial terms, but that doesn't mean it wasn't home to some brilliant titles.
10. Game Boy Advance
Released in 2001, the 32-bit Game Boy Advance was Nintendo's next step in maintaining its dominance of the handheld arena – a dominance it had enjoyed since 1989, when it launched the original Game Boy. Blessed with a library of amazing titles (alongside more than little shovelware), the Game Boy Advance family – which also includes the clamshell GBA SP and Game Boy Micro – sold 81.51 million units during its lifespan.
9. Nintendo Wii
The Wii's motion-sensing controls were mind-blowing when it first launched – it really did feel like the future of video games. As the years passed and the shortcomings of the Wii Remote became a little more clear, that impression cooled somewhat – but there's no denying that the Wii remains a pivotal hardware release in Nintendo's history. It delivered gaming to the 'casual' masses, turning non-gamers onto the delights of Mario, Zelda and many more famous franchises. It was also home to some painfully bad video games, but then again, that's the fate of any platform which sells over 100 million units worldwide. The Wii's motion-sensing legacy lives on via the Switch's Joy-Con controllers.
8. Nintendo DS / DSi
Like the Wii, its home console companion, the Nintendo DS felt like a totally new way to play. Long before smartphones made touch control the norm, Nintendo spearheaded the approach with this clamshell system. Sure, it was technically weaker than its direct rival, the Sony PSP, but that ultimately mattered for little once players realised how the stylus and resistive touchscreen could change the way they play. The dual-screen gimmick wasn't perhaps used as well as it could have been during the console's lifespan, but the titles which leveraged it effectively delivered an experience that simply couldn't be replicated elsewhere – and that stands to this very day. The DSi hardware refresh introduced a generation of Nintendo fans to portable downloadable games, too.
7. Nintendo 3DS / New 3DS / 2DS
For its DS successor, Nintendo retained much of what made that machine so popular – the dual-screen setup and a touchscreen – but added in a special ingredient: glasses-free autostereoscopic visuals. Using parallax-barrier technology, the Nintendo 3DS was unlike any other system available at that point; the 3D effect was (and still is) striking, even if developers struggled to really make the most of it. Even Nintendo appeared to lose interest, releasing the 3D-less Nintendo 2DS soon afterwards. Still, even without that particular trick, the console plays host to some fantastic games and was backed up by a well-stocked digital storefront, too.
6. Nintendo Entertainment System / Famicom
The one that started it all – the NES (or Family Computer, to use its Japanese name) was Nintendo's first true success in the realm of domestic hardware and arguably laid down the foundations of the modern games industry. It's also where franchises such as Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Super Mario, Metroid and Castlevania started out, making it historically one of the most important pieces of gaming hardware ever made. A whole generation of gamers grew up thinking "Nintendo" meant "video games", and that impact is still keenly felt, even today. Granted, many NES titles don't stand up to scrutiny today, but the console has enough solid-gold classics to ensure its place in gaming legend.
5. Game Boy / Game Boy Color
The arrival of the Game Boy in 1989 effectively created an entirely new sector of the video game industry; while handheld systems had existed prior to this, they were crude, single-game devices with fixed-image LCD screens. Nintendo's system offered interchangeable cartridges and gameplay akin to that seen on the NES. Bundled with a portable conversion of Tetris, the Game Boy became the hottest piece of consumer tech on the planet, effortlessly pushing aside technically superior rivals such as the Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear. In 1998, Nintendo upgraded the Game Boy in the form of the Game Boy Color, which had its own titles but also maintained backwards compatibility with the older system.
4. Nintendo 64
With rivals like Nintendo, Sega and 3DO all choosing to adopt compact disc technology for their 32-bit systems, Nintendo stuck with expensive cartridges for its 64-bit machine – a move which many have cited as the reason for its somewhat dismal commercial performance (it sold 32.93 million units compared to the PlayStation's 102.49 million). Third-party publishers were turned off by the high cost of carts and the small amount of storage space compared to CDs, which left it up to Nintendo – and its close allies, like Rare – to prove what a fantastic platform the N64 was. Indeed, it hosts some of the best video games of the '90s – perhaps even some of the greatest games of all time.
3. Nintendo GameCube
The GameCube is perhaps the last time Nintendo really tried to go toe-to-toe with its rivals in terms of technical power; those who were around at the time will keenly remember seeing Rogue Leader running and picking their jaws up off the ground shortly afterwards. We'd guess that the GameCube's high place in this list has more to do with its fine library of titles, cute case design and the ability to run Game Boy Advance games using an optional accessory. While it wasn't quite popular enough to seriously challenge Sony's all-conquering PlayStation 2 in terms of raw sales, the GameCube is rightly regarded as one of Nintendo's best platforms.
2. Nintendo Switch / Switch Lite
It speaks volumes of how successful Nintendo's current console has been when you consider how highly it ranks on this list. After the misstep that was the Wii U, it was by no means a certainty that Nintendo's next platform would find any audience – but the Switch has outperformed the Wii in terms of sales (122.55 million and counting) and is home to one of the best libraries of any current-gen system. Add a huge digital library, some amazing Wii U ports and the bonus of Nintendo Switch Online's retro offerings, and it's little wonder that so many of you adore this console.
1. Super Nintendo / Super Famicom
When Nintendo began work on the successor to the NES, it had a lot to feel confident about. Its 8-bit system was the world's most popular console, and it was about to release the Game Boy, a portable system that would bring it even more success. By the time the SNES launched, however, Nintendo's stranglehold was under threat; the Genesis / Mega Drive was turning Nintendo fans into Sega stalwarts. Thankfully, the SNES proved to be more than up to the task; backed by truly stunning games and boasting the kind of third-party support that platform holders dream of, it is, according to your votes, the best Nintendo system of all time.