The legendary Nintendo Entertainment System. If you didn’t live through it, you may not realize just how important this little gray box was to the video game industry. When the NES hit US retail shops in 1986, the only major player, Atari, was circling the drain… More new Atari cartridges seemed to go to landfills than people’s homes. It was a dark time, and the NES singlehandedly turned it around.
Since then, Nintendo has continued to be a major player (if not THE major) in the video game market. These are the best-selling games ever released for Nintendo consoles and handhelds. And since so many games have been released on multiple Nintendo systems, we are counting all sales for that game (not just the original run).
So, without further ado, let’s get to the ranking!
10. Tetris – NES/GB – 35.84 million sales
Tetris is the definition of a timeless puzzle game, created in 1985 and published by several companies. It is available on over 65 platforms and set a Guinness world record for the most ported video game. Tetris established itself as one of the greatest video games ever made, and the Game Boy version alone is one of the best-selling games of all time.
Tetris challenges players to arrange falling blocks to create complete lines and clear the board. With Tetris’s simple rules, yet addictive gameplay, players of all ages have been captivated by its challenge and replay value since its debut on the NES and Game Boy.
9. Mario Kart Wii – 37.38 million sales
Mario Kart Wii is a kart racing game first introduced by Nintendo for the Wii in 2008. Every copy of the game came bundled with the Wii Wheel accessory to mimic a steering wheel, making use of the Wii Remote’s motion controls. It is the sixth installment in the Mario Kart series. It remains one of the best-selling titles on the Wii console.
With its intuitive motion controls and selection of 32 different racetracks, Mario Kart Wii delivers exhilarating racing action for players of all skill levels. It features iconic characters, thrilling multiplayer races, and a variety of game modes.
8. Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald – 37.88 million sales
Pokémon Ruby Version and Pokémon Sapphire Version role-playing video games (RPG), were released in 2002 by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. Pokémon Emerald was released in 2004. New features included new Pokémon abilities and contests, double battles, and 135 new Pokémon.
Players are transported to the Hoenn region, where they start with one Pokémon and can capture more using Poké Balls. The main goals are defeating the eight Gym Leaders, challenging the Elite Four, and becoming the new champion. A bigger goal is obtaining all of the possible 386 Pokémon by capturing, evolving, and trading with other gamers.
7. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum – 40.34 million sales
The Pokémon Diamond version and Pokémon Pearl version were released in 2006. The Pokémon Platinum version was released in 2008. These games added many new features, including Internet play over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There were also changes in Pokémon contests, the addition of 107 new Pokémon, and alterations to battle mechanics.
Like previous Pokémon, these follow the adventures of a young Pokémon trainer. Players train and battle Pokémon while fording the schemes of a criminal organization called Team Galactic.
6. Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal – 42.21 million sales
The Pokémon Gold version and the Pokémon Silver version were released in 1999. Pokémon Crystal was released in 2000 as an enhanced edition of the gold and silver titles. These combined titles became the best-selling game for the Game Boy Color and the third-best-selling game for the Game Boy.
Building upon the success of its predecessors, this second generation of the role-playing series introduced 100 new species of Pokémon. New features like day and night cycles, day of the week, and the ability to breed Pokémon garnered commercial success and critical acclaim.
5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 43.38 million sales
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a life simulation game released in 2024 Nintendo Switch, and the fifth in the Animal Crossing series. The game was a massive success. More than anything, the game offers an escape from reality while creating a sense of community among players.
While Animal Crossing: New Horizons is played in real-time, players can proceed in a nonlinear fashion. Players escape to a deserted island and create their own paradise. The relaxing gameplay is rich with charming characters. There are endless customization options with only small limitations that decrease over time.
4. Super Mario Bros. – 48.24 million sales
Successor to the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros made its debut for home systems in 1985. This classic platformer revolutionized the gaming industry, setting the standard for side-scrolling adventures. Its tight controls, memorable level design, and timeless charm solidified its place as one of the greatest games of all time.
Players guide Mario or his brother Luigi in the multiplayer mode through Mushroom Kingdom. You must navigate treacherous obstacles to rescue Princess Toadstool from King Koopa (later named Bowser). Players can get a boost through power-ups such as the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Starman.
3. Pokémon Red/Green/Blue/Yellow – 59.52 million sales
Pokémon Red version and Pokémon Blue version debuted as role-playing video games (RPG) in 1996. Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition (also called Pokémon Yellow) was released as an improved version in 1998. Then, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue combined Red/Green/Blue for release outside of Japan in 1999. They are considered among the greatest games ever made.
These games introduce players to the world of Pokémon, where they embark on a journey to become Pokémon trainers. These iconic RPGs use a third-person view and overhead perspective. There are three basic screens: an overworld; a side-view battle screen; and a menu interface. With memorable creatures and strategic battles, these games laid the foundation for one of the most beloved franchises in gaming history.
2. Mario Kart 8 – Wii U/Switch – 65.47 million sales
Using tracks from locales from the Super Mario series, Mario Kart 8, released in 2014 was a megahit right off the starting line. This racing card game sold 1.2 million copies in its first four days and 2.8 million within a month. To date, more than half of Wii U owners own a copy.
Available on both Wii U and Switch, Mario Kart 8 delivered even faster-paced racing action with vibrant graphics and an array of beloved Nintendo characters. The new, innovative anti-gravity mechanics allowed players to drive on walls and ceilings, and it remains a staple in the Mario Kart franchise.
1. Wii Sports – Wii – 82.90 million sales
Wii Sports is a groundbreaking sports simulation title that revolutionized gaming by utilizing the Wii’s motion controls. Released in 2006, Wii Sports offered five sports mini-games, including baseball, tennis, golf, boxing, and bowling. The game became a means of competition and social gathering for players of varying ages.
Wii Sports encouraged physical activity and social play in a brand new way. The game also simplified some rules to make it more accessible for new players. There were even training and fitness modes so players could track their progress. This unique gameplay made it a huge hit among gamers of all ages.
In fact, at the height of its popularity, Wii Sports was a regularly scheduled event in many retirement homes across the country. With these kinds of sales numbers, it may be the most multi-generationally successful game in history.
Read More: The Best Wii Games of All Time