Every Nintendo console ranked by innovation

For many video game enthusiasts, the first thing they think of when they hear the name “Nintendo” is innovation. Well, the first word that comes to mind is probably “Mario”, but you get the idea. The company is known for its innovation, and not just with its first-party games, but with its actual hardware as well.

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Nintendo consoles have often defied convention and blazed new trails for where video games can go. Which machines changed the game the most? They may not all be masterpieces, but they all deserve some level of admiration, even those not on this list – here you are looking, Virtual Boy.

ten GameBoy Advance

First released in 2001, the Game Boy Advance was a notable step up from what made the original Game Boy such a special console for many gamers. It put Nintendo games in the palm of your hand – but not that many original titles. The system boasted an ergonomic design perfect for head-butting during moments of frustration and featured a 32-bit processor, although many titles released on the platform were held back by other graphics limitations.

Future redesigns of the GBA, such as the GBA SP, gave the system some welcome quality of life features, but in the end, the GBA didn’t do anything particularly new. He just did it right.

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9 gamecube

Nintendo’s main home machine of the sixth generation of video game consoles was exactly what its name, the GameCube, implied. He was playing games and it was a cube. Some of those games were great. A few even used unique features, like the ability to connect and embed an in-game GBA.

Great games don’t make for an innovative console on their own, however, and the system didn’t do much to shake up the gaming world besides giving its controller a weird little node for a second analog stick. The console had a handle, however, so perhaps it could be considered Nintendo’s first portable-home hybrid console?


8 Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Like most Nintendo consoles, the SNES had plenty of great games, and with Nintendo’s naming conventions at that time – with titles like Super Mario, Super Metroid, Super Punch-Out!!, and more – it It was always super easy to identify them. Some of the best games of all time have been released for the system, and some of them didn’t even have a “Super” attached to the title; games like EarthBound, Final Fantasy VI and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

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That said, it wasn’t the most earth-shattering hardware of this generation. Although the console sold extremely well, the Sega Genesis gave it a hard time when it came to cultural impact.


7 game boy

With a price tag that could outpace its competition and a library of games that established franchises that are still incredibly popular today, the Game Boy remains for many a defining device in their history with video games.

It wasn’t the prettiest console, nor the most capable of stunning graphics – even its evolved form, the Game Boy Color, paled in comparison to other handhelds available at the time. However, being able to play video games under a blanket at night, on a flight, or even just outside under a shady tree, was a magical thing now often taken for granted. The Game Boy wasn’t the first handheld console to use interchangeable cartridges to play games, but it was the one that popularized the practice.


6 Nintendo Entertainment System

Image of Nintendo NES and Famicom systems

The original NES, also known as the Family Computer (or Famicom) in Japan, was a game changer when it came to home consoles. In the years immediately preceding the release of the NES, some thought cartridge-based game consoles might die out, especially after the financial collapse of the video game industry in 1983.

However, the resounding success of Nintendo’s first real foray into cartridge-based hardware proved the naysayers wrong. Beyond simple sales, Nintendo also began to incorporate third-party licensing into its business practices, which greatly expanded the console’s library and the impact of the NES in video game history.


5 Wii U

Innovation doesn’t have to mean success. Take the Wii U, for example. First released in 2012, the successor to the Wii featured the GamePad, a controller unlike anything its competitors did. Some games used the tablet-like controller as an additional device, while others let you play entirely in handheld mode.

One problem with the Wii U, however, was that it wasn’t clear that the GamePad wasn’t only a tablet to use with your Wii. Some people didn’t even know it was his own console. Confusing marketing, along with hardware specs that lagged far behind its competitors, led to the Wii U becoming a financial disappointment. Still, it was innovative.


4 nintendo64

For many video game enthusiasts, the Nintendo 64 presented the first 3D game they saw on a home console. That game was none other than Super Mario 64. The Nintendo 64 was a monumental moment in the history of video games, considering what it could do with 3D games, but the console also broke new ground in many ways. other respects.

Not only did the controller popularize the gamepad – despite apparently being designed for people with three hands – but the system also popularized having four controller ports, allowing for more and better multiplayer experiences.

3 Wii

With a focus on games that appealed to diverse demographics and the motion-sensing Wii Remote as the system’s primary controller, the Nintendo Wii boldly stated that the company wasn’t interested in doing what its peers were doing at Microsoft and Sony.

It was a gamble, but this one paid off. The Wii was a huge success despite not being the most impactful hardware out there. Who needs HD graphics when you can simulate bowling in Wii Sports?

2 nintendo switch

After decades in the handheld and home console markets, Nintendo merged the best of both worlds with the 2017 launch of the Nintendo Switch. Unlike its predecessor, the Wii U, everything on the Switch was simple.

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It could go from a portable system to a home console in a second. Its innovation was simple, but still game-changing in how it offered choice of how and where to play. Especially when it came without too many compromises in the actual experience of playing games.


1 Nintendo DS

After years and years of new iterations of the Game Boy, Nintendo probably could have continued what it was doing and maintained dominance in the handheld gaming market. However, sticking to the status quo, they did not. Instead, the Nintendo DS was released, offering more than better specs than the company’s previous handhelds. It offered two screens.

More importantly, one of them was a touchscreen, a hugely innovative feature, especially in mobile games. With later new models and iterations (from the DSi to the 3DS), the system had a lifespan of over a decade and continued to be a great device until Nintendo decided to shut down the eShop of the ecosystem.

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