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This Is Nintendo's Best-Selling Console In Its History

From popularizing portable gaming with the Game Boy to revolutionizing home gaming with the Switch, Nintendo has almost always focused on innovation above all else throughout its time as one of the world's leading video game companies.

While it's virtually impossible to quantify the joy brought to all those who have ever played a Nintendo system, it is, however, possible to determine which of the company's products have made them the most cold, hard cash.

In 2020, despite the advent of next generation gaming, the Switch ended up the best selling console of the holiday season, above the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. That said, even the Switch's surprise success didn't quite land it a spot on Decluttr's list of the top five best-selling video game consoles of all time.

First on that list is the PlayStation 2. Second on that list is a Nintendo console, but maybe not the one that most fans would expect. The best-selling Nintendo console, and second-best-selling console of all time, is the Nintendo DS.

Two screens means two times the money

At the time of its release, it's unlikely Nintendo expected the DS to achieve anything close to its ultimate level of success. Rather than have it supplant its predecessor in the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo originally intended for the DS to act as a sort of third "pillar" of its console lineup, the other two existing pillars being the Game Boy line and its home consoles.

Given that the DS could play Game Boy Advance games, Nintendo expecting the GBA to remain relevant (even when this newer handheld system was available) suggests that the company wasn't ready to rely too heavily on the DS from the get-go.

The success of the Nintendo DS was aided by two key factors: its unique technology and a strong games library. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, for example, required players to physically close their system so solve a puzzle. Meanehile Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, one of the best Castlevania games of all-time, used the lower screen to constantly display its map. This was a simple addition, but a major aid.

Market dominance

On the list of the top five best-selling video game consoles, the PlayStation 2 holds the first place spot with 155 million units sold. The Nintendo DS ultimately sold approximately 154.02 million units total. 

Nintendo also takes the third place, as its Game Boy and Game Boy Color systems sold a combined 118.69 million units. In fourth place is the original PlayStation, with 102.49 million units sold total. Finally, in fifth place is the Nintendo Wii, which sold 101.63 million units.

The Game Boy and Wii are both unique in that fans have remained interested in both systems to this day. The Game Boy library recently saw a resurgence as the primary inspiration for third-party systems like the Analogue Pocket, which can play games from a number of handhelds.

The Wii, meanwhile, remained popular enough for a 2020 edition of Just Dance to not only release on the Wii, but sell more than other versions of the game. These cases speak to Nintendo's ability to design products that transcend typical technological boundaries. It's no wonder the DS was so successful.