6. Wii U (2012)
Nintendo followed up the ridiculous success of the Wii with the Wii U, its ill-fated predecessor. The Wii U is kind of like the second coming of the GameCube, in that it performed poorly commercially but is well-loved by those who actually bought it.
And it's easy to see why when you take a glance at the list of exclusives – many of which have already been ported to Switch. You may have heard of the likes of Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, Splatoon, Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario Maker, Super Smash Bros., Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, ZombiU, and The Wonderful 101. During its lifespan, that was a list of exclusives. Madness!
The Wii U's problem was twofold: Nintendo failed to market it correctly, which led to consumer confusion over what it actually was. Was it another model of the Wii? Was the GamePad a peripheral? Those casual non-gamers that Nintendo drew in with the Wii never made the transition because they had no clue what it was.
The second problem was the GamePad, which was just lacklustre in every way imaginable. At 480p it was low resolution in a world that was now completely HD and developers couldn't figure out what to do with it – including Nintendo. When the best usage of your new system's core innovation is a third-party developer, you know something's going wrong.
Still, this system will live long in our hearts for that list of exclusives above.
5. Nintendo 3DS (2011)
The Nintendo 3DS demonstrated that Nintendo is very capable of turning around a sinking ship. The launch was pretty rocky due to a shortage of worthwhile games, lacklustre reaction to 3D, and the price. But Nintendo soon turned things around by dropping the price and flooding it with quality games.
Capitalising on the revival, Nintendo introduced the New Nintendo 3DS, which provided face tracking to improve the 3D imagery, performance upgrades, the Circle Pad, which served as a second analogue, and NFC support so you could use amiibo with 3DS.
Later, we'd get an entry level model in the 2DS, which is infamously shaped like a wedge, and the 2DS XL, which provided the enhancements of the New 3DS but without the 3D capabilities.
Though the Nintendo 3DS is on its way out as Nintendo increasingly supports the Switch, it's well worth grabbing one for that enormous library alone. It might just be the best of any Nintendo system yet.
4. Nintendo 64 (1996)
The Nintendo 64 was Nintendo's first foray into 3D gaming and, as such, it hasn't aged quite as well as its contemporaries. Nonetheless, the N64 is a landmark system, as it redefined a number of our favourite franchises and introduced a few of its own.
You might have heard of a few of its best games, like say The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, or Goldeneye 007? Right there you've got three games that introduced the world to 3D platforming, adventuring, and first person shooters.
The N64 also introduced us to some classic Nintendo franchises like Super Smash Bros., Paper Mario, Mario Party, and Wave Race. We also got 3D entries in Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, and Donkey Kong 64, and some excellent exclusives like the Banjo-Kazooie games, Perfect Dark, and Pokémon Stadium.
It's also notable for establishing the analogue joystick as part of a home games console package – something the PlayStation didn't have at launch – and for providing support for four controllers out of the box, making four-player multiplayer easier than ever before.
3. Nintendo GameCube (2001)
The Nintendo GameCube followed up the N64, dramatically improving on the 3D visuals of its predecessor. Sadly though, the GameCube was a bit of a commercial flop, despite remaining a favourite among Nintendo diehards. Again, this is down to some truly excellent exclusives like Metroid Prime, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Super Mario Sunshine, Resident Evil 4, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Luigi's Mansion, Eternal Darkness, F-Zero GX, Pikmin, and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance.
The GameCube's problem wasn't a lack of exclusives, then, but it did suffer from a general lack of third-party support. A huge part of the problem was Nintendo's push towards a family friendly demographic, which put off core gamers so third-party developers skipped out on it.
2. Super Nintendo (1990)
The SNES (or Super Famicom) cemented Nintendo as a video game-making powerhouse, perfecting 2D gameplay. It's library is a lost of stone-cold classics, including Super Mario World, Super Metroid, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario Kart, Secret of Mana, Donkey Kong Country, Street Fighter II, Earthbound, Final Fantasy III, Yoshi's Island, Super Castlevania IV, F-Zero, Star Fox, Mega Man X, Super Bomberman, and Super Punch-Out!!.
Just look at that library above and it's easy to see why the SNES sits so high on our list. The SNES likely has such sheer longevity down to the fact many of its games have stood the test of time even more so than many 3D Nintendo consoles – such is the strength of its art style. It also has an incredibly iconic controller, with its colourful buttons, triggers, and snazzy D-Pad.
1. Nintendo Switch (2017)
The Nintendo Switch had a heck of a job on its hands when it launched in 2017. Many in the industry predicted that this was Nintendo's last chance in the console market, following the catastrophic failure of the Wii U. It's a good thing, then, that it was an absolute smash hit – and then some.
Nintendo's latest system broke records left, right, and centre during its launch year, bringing us epic exclusives like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, Snipperclips, ARMS, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
Nintendo had succeeded, once again, in creating a video games system that appealed to absolutely everyone. At once home console and portable, it even allows for unplanned multiplayer sessions thanks to the detachable Joy-Con. Such is its success that high profile third party developers have got involved, releasing the likes of DOOM, Skyrim, Wolfenstein, FIFA 19, Diablo III, Dark Souls, Crash Bandicoot, Fortnite, and Stardew Valley.
And the only way is up for Nintendo. 2019 looks set to be another excellent year, with more amazing first and third-party titles, a hardware revision, and undoubtedly a bunch more surprises. Hopefully not another Labo, though.
Naturally, we all have our own opinions on which Nintendo console is the best and worst. How do you feel about our list? Does your favourite rank highly? Is the Switch the best in your book? Bare all in the comments section below!