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A Timeline of Nintendo Video Game Consoles

by: MatthewA ; edited by: Benjamin Sell ; updated: 10/21/2013 • Leave a comment

This Nintendo console timeline traces the history of Nintendo’s video game consoles from the ‘80s to the present day. As such, all of Nintendo’s non-handheld game consoles are covered here with dates provided.

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    Nintendo has had a number of video game consoles which date back to the 1980s. Since then, their consoles have not necessarily gotten better and better, although Nintendo has always delivered great games for their game consoles which is why they have millions of fans in Japan and beyond.

    Aside from their great game line-ups Nintendo game consoles have also been renowned for their innovation. Let’s go back to the beginning to the first home Nintendo game console.

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    1985 – The NES

    The NES was the first Nintendo game console and Nintendo’s biggest breakthrough. The beginning of the 1980s was a period of decline for game consoles, but the NES changed all that with its launch game Super Mario Bros. Mario made his debut in this platform game which did not just launch the NES, it sent into the stratosphere!

    Aside from Super Mario Bros the NES had plenty of other great games such as Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros 2 and Super Mario Bros 3 which emerged as the console’s top game title. The NES Zapper was a particularly good addition to the NES as it was one of the first home consoles to include a light gun for games such as Duck Hunt. Overall, the NES dominated the gaming scene during the 1980s.

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    1991 - The Super NES

    The Super Nes  

    After the NES came the Super NES in the early ‘90s. A 16-bit game console, the Super NES was a worthy successor to the NES. It was also fairly unique for it could do more than just 2D games thanks to the Super FX Chip. The first of these was Star Fox, a 3D sci-fi shooting game starring the space ship pilot Fox McCloud.

    Other notable games on the Super NES were the coin-up conversion of the hit arcade game Street Fighter 2, and Donkey Kong Country which had some fantastic pre-rendered 3D graphics although it remained essentially a 2D platform game. The Mario Kart series also began on the Super NES with the Super Mario Kart game that included eight motorists from the Mario game series, and a variety of Mario themed circuits.

    The Super NES was undoubtedly a big hit in Japan, although in the United States it did not have quite the same impact largely because of the Sega Genesis which remained well established.

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    1995 - Virtual Boy

    The Virtual Boy remains the Nintendo game console that is mostly forgotten, as the console never really took off and it was soon discontinued. As such, the console was something of a flop that was supposed to make-up for the delayed N64 console.

    The Virtual Boy was a 32-bit game console with a head-mounted display, and it was similar to the Game Boy in that its games only had limited color. Mario Tennis was one of the few games that emerged for Virtual Boy.

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    1996 – Nintendo 64

    The N64   This was the console Nintendo fans had really been waiting for. After a few delays, the Nintendo 64 was finally released in 1996. Most fans agreed that the 64-bit N64 game console was worth the wait as it delivered an exciting new generation of Nintendo games in full 3D for the first time. Mario 64 and Zelda Ocarina of Time were probably two of the console’s main highlights as Mario and Zelda games had a thrilling new perspective, but a number of other noteworthy Nintendo games also made it onto the console such as Pilotwings 64 and Mario Kart 64.

    However, compared with PlayStation, N64 lacked third-party support and there were fewer games for the console. Coupled with the fact that Nintendo stuck with game cartridges the PlayStation generally provided better value with its CD Roms, although the cartridges were faster and did not have the same sort of loading periods associated with some PlayStation games. The console also included a controller with a small analogue stick which was a great addition.

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    2001 – GameCube

    After the Nintendo 64 there came the GameCube which was a smaller and more compact cube shaped game console. It was the first Nintendo game console to move away from cartridges, and instead the GameCube had optical discs which were quicker than average CDs. While the PlayStation 2 and Xbox began to embrace a wider variety of multimedia options, Nintendo’s GameCube remained exclusively a game console just for games.

    Undoubtedly, it did have some good ones with Metroid Prime, Super Mario Sunshine, the Wind Waker and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader among the top game titles. However, despite this the GameCube did not quite have the same impact as previous Nintendo game consoles and was overshadowed by the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

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    2006 – The Wii

    The Wii  

    Nintendo put innovation first and delivered the Wii in 2006. Originally code-named the ‘Revolution’ by Nintendo, the Wii was indeed quite revolutionary for the Wii Remote that came included with the game console. The Wii Remote is a unique wireless controller and one of the more exciting console innovations for some time.

    A collection of great Wii games have since emerged on the game console including Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, WiiNew Super Mario Bros Wii   Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Mario Kart Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns and New Super Mario Bros Wii providing the console with an exciting library of games.

    Further, the inclusion of the Nintendo Virtual Console also provided a downloadable library of older classic Nintendo games from previous Nintendo game consoles such as the Super Nes and N64 so that you can play some of your old favorites as well. For all this, the Wii has revitalized Nintendo consoles.

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    The Wii is the most recent addition to this Nintendo console timeline. To date there have been six non-handheld Nintendo video game consoles, most of which have been very impressive game consoles that have continued Nintendo game series from the NES such as Mario and Zelda.

    The unveiling of the Wii U at recent E3 shows has confirmed that this will be the next addition to the Nintendo console timeline.


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