For many, Nintendo is the first name that pops into their heads when they think of video games. The Japanese tech giant’s influence on gaming is vast and undeniable, and the sheer variety of different home and handheld consoles they’ve released over the years is staggering. Nintendo is a company that is always striving to innovate and even though they have made many questionable and irksome decisions over the years, their continued presence and influence in the industry is something to be applauded. When it comes to Nintendo’s actual hardware releases, there are some that are obviously better than others, but attempting to arrange them in any sort of ranking is a difficult task.
While our rankings are highly subjective, we tried to factor in each system’s historical impact on the industry, its overall library of games, and whether or not it holds up to modern enjoyment. We tried not to take into account certain features like backwards compatibility and avoided bringing up all the different hardware revisions released over the years (we’d be here all day otherwise). We also decided not to take Nintendo’s early products like the Color TV-Game and Game & Watch systems into account, as they don’t really qualify as traditional consoles. Check out our rankings below and even if you disagree with where certain systems rank, just remember that this was all done in the spirit of celebrating all things Nintendo and we didn’t go out of our way to try and put a particular system down.
13. Virtual Boy
The biggest problem with the Virtual Boy is that it was too ahead of its time. Virtual Reality has only become ready for prime time in the last few years (and even that’s debatable), whereas in 1995 it was largely a gimmick that the Virtual Boy simply wasn’t powerful enough to handle properly. From the hideous and unwieldy controller to its headache-inducing, monochromatic red graphics, the Virtual Boy is like a nightmare gallery of poor design and is positively unplayable in this day and age. Still, it’s hard not admire Nintendo’s ambition with the device, which in many ways was decades ahead of the curve.
Designed by the legendary Gunpei Yokoi, who was also the mastermind behind the Game & Watch and Game Boy, the Virtual Boy was the first handheld system to be able to display 3D graphics and even though it had few games and didn’t last very long, the impact of the system has been far-reaching and stands as a prime example of Nintendo’s enduring commitment to innovation.