Nintendo is among the oldest console manufacturers in the market. The company is over 130 years old, and they have an avid history, from manufacturing cards in its initial years, to becoming a leading face in the video game industry today. Nintendo has been serving millions of gamers all across the globe with their hugely successful gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Switch. They sure are a favorite company of gamers from the early 1980’s.
After experimenting with several product segments in the 1960s, Nintendo launched their first home video-game console in 1977. It was called the Color TV game. Since then, Nintendo has made some of the most popular video games and consoles ever. The internationally recognized character of Mario was also introduced by Nintendo in Donkey Kong (1981).
The most successful consoles made by Nintendo include the Game Boy, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), the Nintendo Wii, and the Nintendo Switch.
Consoles Launched by Nintendo
Nintendo has launched a large number of consoles since 1977. All of the consoles are listed down below.
Home Video Game Consoles
|Color TV-Game series|
1. Color TV-Game 6
2. Color TV-Game 15
3. Color TV-Game Racing 112
4. Color TV-Game Block Breaker
5. Computer TV-Game
|Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)||1983|
|Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)||1990|
|Nintendo Wii U||2012|
Handheld Video Game Consoles
|Game & Watch Series||1980-81, 2020-21|
|Game Boy Color||1998|
|Game Boy Advance||2001|
|Nintendo Switch Lite||2019|
Latest Nintendo Consoles
Over the past 15 years, Nintendo has released three consoles. These include:
- The Nintendo Wii (2006)
- The Nintendo Wii U (2012)
- The Nintendo Switch (2017)
1. Nintendo Wii
The Nintendo Wii is a seventh-generation home video game console. It was launched in 2006, alongside the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. The Wii targeted a softer section of the market which had great potential. This included making casual games and titles targeted at a younger and newbie audience. This was an approach unlike that of the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 which focused on more serious titles. Almost every title released on those consoles requires the players to have a strong understanding of video game mechanics, and have a decent skill level. This bars a potentially huge audience from penetrating their market, thereby not making them universally acceptable. The Wii targeted this audience, and it became momentarily successful in it.
The Nintendo Wii was the weakest among all of the seventh-generation home video game consoles. It was based on the PowerPC architecture designed by IBM. The CPU was called Broadway and was based on a 90nm manufacturing process. The GPU was designed by Array Technology Inc. (ATI), and it was a System on a Chip (SoC). It was named Hollywood and it packs a paltry 3MB of texture memory.
When questioned about the hardware capabilities, Nintendo said that it wanted a system that cost around 200$ and could be owned by anybody. It is a shift of focus towards the products on the console, rather than the console itself. We have seen companies like Microsoft adopt such an approach lately with their Xbox line-up of consoles.
Two subsequent hardware revisions for the Nintendo Wii were released. These included:
- A slim-body redesign of the original console, which was targeted to a more budget-oriented market segment. This model was not accredicted any name. It brought down the price tag from $199.99 to $149.99
- The second revision removed significant features and was a complete redesign of the console with a top-loading disc drive. This new version was called the Wii Mini. It was priced at just $99.99.
Price and Sales
The Nintendo Wii was introduced at a price tag of $249.99 in North America and ¥25,000 in Japan. The console rose to critical acclaim, and it was praised for its simple-yet-revolutionary approach towards hardware design. It won several awards after its E3 2006 showcase.
Initial sales of the Nintendo Wii skyrocketed. It outsold the combined sales of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. It hit the 50 million mark by November 2009.
Nintendo reduced the price tag of the original console from $249.99 to $199.99 in September 2009.
2. Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo confused customers with the launch of its Wii U. Starting from its naming, to the products and peripherals offered, users could not find a reason as to why they should purchase the Wii U. The Wii U was an eighth-generation home video game console developed and marketed by Nintendo. It launched in 2012 and was discontinued the launch of the Switch in 2017.
Like its predecessor, the Nintendo Wii U was based on IBM PowerPC design. The Wii U was used a multi-chip module (MCM) design, which combined a Central Processing Unit (CPU), a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), and memory modules.
The CPU was called Espresso. It was a 32-bit processor and was based on a 45nm process. The GPU was called Latte and was based on the Radeon R600/R700 architecture designed by ATI. The Radeon R600 architecture powered the Radeon HD 2000 series of video cards, while the R700 architecture powered the Radeon HD 4000 series of video cards. The system was packed with 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, which was split between the Operating System (OS) and games.
The Wii U was launched with a Gamepad that had a 6.2-inch touchscreen. The touchscreen could complement gameplay, display additional information, or the user could play the game on the Gamepad itself, and not require an external display at all. Nintendo tried to push the idea of asymmetric gaming, and it did break conventions with this design. However, neither the hardware nor the technology was ripe enough to allow home console-quality gaming on the go. Nintendo took the progress it made with the Wii U and further improvised this technology in the Nintendo Switch, and it became a dramatic success.
Nintendo also sold a Wii U Pro controller for the console. It sported a rather conventional design with two thumbsticks, ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘A’, ‘B’ buttons like the Xbox controller, and thumb buttons that resemble the D-pad found on Xbox controllers.
Price and Sales
The Wii U packed several half-baked innovations like the Gamepad. It was criticized for its social connection features. The console was way weaker than the competition, especially the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Many critics did not consider the console as “truly eighth-gen” for its weak hardware.
The Wii U was a big flop coming from the original Wii. It sold a paltry 13.56 million units in its lifetime. In comparison, its predecessor, the Wii, sold over 100 million units, and its successor, the Switch, has sold almost 90 million units to date.
3. Nintendo Switch
The Switch is Nintendo’s iteration of an eighth-generation hybrid video game console. It is both a handheld and a home gaming device, which sets Nintendo apart from the crowd.
The Switch is revolutionary. It lets anyone switch from a TV experience to a handheld, smartphone-like experience, within minutes. Nintendo has succeeded in separating itself from the mainstream video gaming hype, which includes Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation, and the Xbox. The Switch is unique in its dimension, with its collection of great games, and a loyal following that values and respects Nintendo and its contribution to the video game industry.
Hardware for the Switch was designed by NVIDIA and is a strict departure from the multi-chip module (MCM) based architecture of the Wii consoles. The Switch is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1 System-on-chip.
The console packs two quad-core ARM Cortex CPUs, an NVIDIA Maxwell-based Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), which was capable of up to 393 GFlops/s of peak graphical computing power. The system also had 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory clocked at 1600 MHz.
The base model came with 32 GB of NAND flash memory. The revised 2021 OLED model packed 64 GB of NAND flash memory. An additional microSD/HC/XC memory module of up to 2TB can be added.
The Switch has seen successive hardware revisions, including a lighter Switch Lite which attached the Joy-Con controllers to the main body. A higher-end version of the switch launched in October 2021. It came with an OLED screen, support for up to 4K resolutions, and faster processors to make the 4K magic happen.
Price and Sales
The Nintendo Switch rose to critical acclaim for its out-of-the-box design and potential. However, the limited number of launch titles was criticized, and the operating system was bug-laden. Nintendo fixed these issues with updates and patches down the line.
Nintendo has already sold almost 90 million Switch units, including the original Switch, the Switch Lite, and the latest Switch OLED. The release of the Switch set Nintendo back up financially, as it was struggling for several years.
Nintendo is one of the oldest players out there, and they know how to play the game. They have made some of the greatest consoles in the entire video gaming history, and I am pretty sure they will make even better, more powerful, and yet more successful products in the future.