The 20 Best Selling Nintendo Games of All-Time

Have you ever wondered exactly how much money video game companies make off of the products they produce? Most people have at least thought about it a time or two, even if they’re not really into playing these games. After all, you can’t go to any store without passing the section that specializes in selling video games. On top of that, you even have the stores that specialize in this type of product. Think about the success of stores like GameStop. Even in smaller towns, these stores seem to do very well even though they cater to a relatively small group of the population. This is a testament to the popularity of these games. While there is always a new game on the horizon or even an entirely new gaming system that everyone is clamoring to get, this particular form of entertainment has managed to stick around for several decades now. If anything, it seems to be more popular now than it has ever been in the past.

A lot of its popularity can probably be attributed to the fact that video games have become more and more realistic as technology has allowed them to do so. When they first became popular, people that played them were accustomed to seeing a few squiggly lines on the screen and if they were really lucky, there might be some catchy tunes playing in the background. That was about it. At the time, everyone loved it because they didn’t think about the possibility of anything different or better coming along in the future. Today, video games are so realistic that they practically transport the player into a different realm of existence. The graphics and the soundtracks that go with it are incredibly realistic. The fact that gamers can play with other people online, even those who are halfway across the world, only adds to the level of realism, not to mention the popularity of a particular game itself.

When you stop and think about it, it’s interesting to see how these types of video games have progressed over the years. One of the more popular systems involves the Nintendo gaming system, along with several Nintendo games that have been developed over a period of several decades. The truth is, systems like Atari and Nintendo started the gaming craze. While they may not be the latest or most popular systems in it existence today, it’s fair to assume that the systems that are so popular today would likely not even exist if it weren’t for these systems and the way they were developed over the years.

Below is a list of some of the most popular Nintendo games that have ever been produced. In fact, the list is comprised of 20 Nintendo games that are considered to be among the best-selling titles of all time. When you discover the amount of money that has been made off of each particular game, you will undoubtedly be surprised. One thing is certain, video games are still a money-making endeavor, as the last game to make this list still made over one million dollars. If you really want to know more about the Nintendo games that have shaped the gaming world as you know it today, keep reading.

1. Super Mario Brothers, 1985 ($40 million)

Even people that don’t play video games have heard of this title. In fact, those that have never touched one of these systems in their entire life are at least familiar with the name of this particular game. It made such an impact that it wound up creating other forms of entertainment, and some of them were quite inventive, to say the least. Remember the cartoon of the same name? Before it was all said and done, this video game spawned a couple of sequels that also appear on this list, not to mention its own brand of cereal and various other items that catered to this game and this game alone. It’s important to keep in mind that the 40 million dollars discussed herein involves game sales alone. Imagine how much more money was invested in all of the products that were sold with this name on them. There’s no telling how much money was made off of this game when you add everything else that’s associated with it into the mix.

2. Tetris, 1988 ($22 million)

This is a game that most people remember, especially for anyone that grew up during the 1980s. Believe it or not, it’s still a popular game today. Thanks to advancing technology, you can now purchase an app that lets you play this game on your smartphone or your tablet. In reality, it’s easily one of the simplest concepts that was ever created for a video game, yet it was also one of the most popular. There is just something about trying to build those blocks on top of each other and racing against the game itself in order to do it. It was always a good way to pass the time and more often than not, it was something that allowed people to get lost in it, even to the point of spending hours upon hours sitting in front of a screen playing this game. You see, most people became so involved in playing it that they had no idea so much time had passed. Unfortunately, this is the case with most video games, even today.

3. Super Mario Brothers 2, 1988 ($18 million)

Nintendo made the decision to piggyback this one off of the success of the original Super Mario Brothers. Obviously, their decision worked. While it didn’t even come close to making as much as the original, it’s still made a staggering 18 million dollars. Granted, that is less than half of what the original was capable of bringing in, but it is still an enormous amount of money that completely eclipses the earnings of most games that are being sold today. Obviously, when the people at Nintendo made the decision to gamble on the success of the original, they certainly knew what they were doing.

4. The Legend of Zelda, 1986 ($10 million)

This particular game had a lot of good things going for it, not the least of which involved trying to figure out this enormous puzzle in order to make it to the end of the game. It was one of the first video games of its type, requiring the player to not only master the skill of playing the game itself, but to become something of a detective in order to figure out what was required in order to make it to the next level. It became something that was larger than life and as far as many people are concerned, it developed its own dedicated following. In fact, a lot of people that had never really been into playing video games in the past grew to love doing exactly that because of this game. Even today, so many years after it was initially released, it is still considered one of the most popular video games in existence.

5. Dr. Mario, 1990 ($6 million)

If you think you’re starting to see a trend, that’s because you are. Only five years after releasing the original Super Mario Brothers, the powers-that-be at Nintendo made the decision to create a new type of video game that was still based off a character of the same name. It’s easy to understand why such a decision was made in the first place. When you look at the amount of money that was made on behalf of the company when they released Super Mario Brothers and then turned around and released Super Mario Brothers 2 just three years later, it’s relatively easy to understand why they kept coming back to such a winning concept. If you compare the money made with this game to Super Mario Brothers 1 and 2, many people might not consider it a success. With that being said, it still managed to crack the top five of the most popular video games ever made by the company. Obviously, it was a success in its own right, even if it only made a fraction of the money that was brought in by its predecessors.

6. Super Mario Brothers 3, 1988 ($5.5 million)

Nintendo was so happy with the amount of money they made off of Super Mario Brothers 2 that they actually made the decision to release the sequel in the same year. A lot of people would have considered this something like career suicide, but they made the decision to do it anyway. Although this particular game was not nearly as popular as the first or second versions in the series, it still made a little over 5 million dollars. When you compare that with the 18 million dollars that was made by the second version of the game, Nintendo ended up making a little over 23 million dollars off of these two games alone. That is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

7. Excitebike, 1984 ($4.1 million)

This was one of the first games that started to focus on the craze that involved all things motorsport. Released in 1984, it was actually considered something of a gamble at the time. Obviously, it was one that paid off. Today, this game has made just over 4 million dollars for Nintendo. Although it is more than 30 years old, it is still considered by many to be one of the best video games released by the company and is now heralded as a classic. You might even go as far as saying that this was a game that created a pathway for all of the other dirt bike and race car games that came along later.

8. Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, 1987 ($4 million)

By 1987, Nintendo had already figured out that once they had a success, all they really needed to do in order to ensure further success was create a sequel to a game that had already proven to be a big seller. The Legend of Zelda was unquestionably one of the top selling games they ever created, so they eventually made the decision to create another game that would serve as a sequel to it. This game made a little less than half of the original, but it still did well enough to be in the top 10 when it comes to the most profitable games ever created. While not as popular as The Legend of Zelda, there are still a fair amount of individuals that enjoy playing this game. In fact, it is highly sought-after among individuals that still enjoy utilizing the original Nintendo gaming system and playing the games that come from this classic era.

9. Golf, 1984 ($4 million)

There is no doubt that a lot of people enjoy playing golf and some even enjoy watching the sport. As a result, Nintendo eventually figured out that they could create games based off traditional sports and sell them like hotcakes. One of the first ones of this type involved the game of golf, hence the title of the game itself. Obviously, Nintendo knew what their fans wanted. The game was considered a major success. In fact, it did so well the company eventually decided to release a number of other games based off traditional sports of other types, with many of them appearing on this list.

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1988 ($4 million)

Many people think of this particular game and the cartoon that was also very popular during the 1980s as going hand-in-hand. In fact, many of them will struggle to tell you which one actually came first. This was definitely one of the more popular games for Nintendo, raking in about 4 million dollars in total. While it never touched the popularity of games like Super Mario Brothers or even the Legend of Zelda, it certainly managed to make a name for itself in its own right.

11. Dragon Quest III, 1988 ($3.9 million)

Who doesn’t like playing a video game that involves dragons? Even people that don’t typically like to play video games can get interested in a game like this. Even though Nintendo had released two of these games of the same name previously and experienced only moderate success with them, they decided to make a few adjustments and release a third version. This was their most successful version of the Dragon Quest series, raking in just under 4 million dollars. Eventually, the company would decide that this game had become popular enough that they could make yet another one, which will also show up on this list a little later.

12. Kung Fu, 1985 ($3.5 million)

If you stop and think about it, there are a ton of games out there that cater to the martial arts. In fact, interest in the martial arts grew exponentially when a lot of these video games started coming out. In this particular case, there was already a lot of interest in things like Kung Fu, thanks in large part to the success of movies that centered around the subject of martial arts. Many of these movies were very popular during the early and mid 1980s. Nintendo decided to capitalize on this popularity by creating this game in 1985. At 3.5 million dollars, it’s easy to understand why they made the decision.

13. Baseball, 1983 ($3.2 million)

This was one of the company’s earlier releases and it also served as one of its more popular ones. Baseball has a lot of fans, so it only made sense that people that enjoy playing video games would also enjoy a video game that catered to the sport. People that were involved in the marketing department at Nintendo had enough foresight to put two and two together and create a game that turned out to rake in a little more than three million dollars for the company.

14. Dragon Quest IV, 1990 ($3.1 million)

As previously mentioned, Nintendo took a gamble on its Dragon Quest series when it released Dragon Quest III. That gamble turned out to be a very successful one. Just two years later, the company made the decision to go ahead and release a fourth version in this series. This one didn’t make quite as much as its predecessor, but it did come close. As a result, it was considered a phenomenal success. While many individuals will argue about which game in the Dragon Quest series is actually the best, almost everyone can agree that is either the third one or the fourth one. It really depends on personal preferences which one of these two is actually superior. With that being said, the third one is the one that holds the record in this series for the most sales.

15. World Class Track Meet, 1986 ($3 million)

Any time a game manages to make three million dollars, you have to imagine that it’s popular enough that you should at least pay attention to it. Some people loved this game and others didn’t really care for it. A lot of it probably has to do with your interest in things like track to begin with. Much like baseball and soccer, most of the people that were playing it were the ones that were interested in the actual sport itself. However, there were some individuals that never ran a race in their life, yet thoroughly enjoyed playing the game. If you’re lucky enough to find this game today, you might even discover that you still enjoy playing it.

16. Ice Hockey, 1988 ($2.4 million)

Hockey is a popular sport. It’s almost amazing that it took Nintendo as long as it did to create a game based on the sport of hockey in the first place. Once they finally made the decision to do it, they discovered that there were more than enough people that were interested in purchasing their own version of the game. This game wasn’t able to meet the level of success that a lot of other Nintendo games were capable of, but it made enough sales to be quite lucrative for the company in the long run.

17. Pro Wrestling, 1986 ($2.4 million)

During the 1980s, pro wrestling seemed to be one of the most popular things in existence. Almost everyone gathered around the television on Saturday nights to watch the matches and the people that were involved in professional wrestling were some of the most popular celebrities of the time. It only stands to reason that Nintendo would create something to piggyback off of that success. In 1986, they created their first pro wrestling game which netted them just over two million dollars.

18. Soccer, 1985 ($1.9 million)

Soccer is definitely more popular now than it was during the mid-1980s. With that being said, it was popular enough even then for the company to decide to release a game based on the sport. This game did well enough for the company, bringing in almost two million dollars. While the soccer game that was produced in 1985 is almost laughable by today’s gaming standards, it was very popular at the time. Today, you might find it in the hands of someone that collects vintage Nintendo games.

19. Pinball, 1984 ($1.8 million)

Pinball is one of those classic games that almost everybody loves. In fact, its popularity is such that you can still find versions of the game available for download as an app, at stores that cater to gaming enthusiasts, and even some old-style arcade games. The version that was created by Nintendo in 1984 was one of the most popular versions ever made. Today, it’s extremely difficult to find because it is highly sought-after by many individuals that collect these games. All in all, this title made a little under two million dollars for the company. If you can find one today, you can also make a decent amount of money for yourself if you know where to sell it.

20. Donkey Kong Classics, 1988 ($1.5 million)

The thing that surprises most people is that this game didn’t make more money. Make no mistake about it, 1.5 million is nothing to be ashamed of. However, most people that weren’t even born until well after these games faded into the sunset still know what Donkey Kong is all about. It was one of the most popular games of the 1980s, so it surprises most individuals that it doesn’t end up higher on the list.


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