5 most popular Nintendo franchises (and 5 that deserve more recognition)

Japanese publisher Nintendo is known for some of the most popular video game franchises. After all, they have a 40+ year history in the industry (although the company itself is much older). As such, they have amassed a variety of names that remain popular to this day.

Everyone’s heard of Mario and Pokemon, but Nintendo also has a number of interesting first-party IPs that should get more attention. This article takes a look at some of Nintendo’s bread-and-butter franchises and the reasons for their mainstream appeal. Conversely, it also lists franchises that are frankly underrated.


5 Nintendo franchises that are raking in all the fame and money

1) Super Mario

The beloved, mustachioed ex-plumber continues to bring smiles to fans of all ages, from teens to adults. The vibrant, family-friendly aesthetic attracts youngsters, while the addictive platform keeps even hardcore gamers hooked.

The Mario series has also been consistently polished and expertly designed, so it’s no surprise that it stands the test of time. Its mass appeal has allowed many equally popular spin-offs to thrive, such as Mario Kart and Mario Party. Notable lead entries include Super Mario Bros (NES), Super Mario 64 (N64), and Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch).


2) Pokemon

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The legendary monster taming series evolved from inventor Satoshi Tajiri’s adventures in Japan in the early 1990’s. Beginning with Pokemon Red and Blue on the Game Boy, the series has since grown into the most successful media franchise of all time.

The adorable and cool creatures appear in a manga, a TV series and several movies apart from the competitive Pokemon battle scene. All of this has made it the media giant it is today. Some of the most popular entries are Pokemon Crystal (GBC), Pokemon Emerald (GBA), and Pokemon X/Y (3DS).


3) Wii Sports

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Nintendo took a gamble with the Wii, and it paid off. A motion-controlled system that appeals to non-gamers and casual audiences is something many other console manufacturers wouldn’t even dream of. But Big N was successful and the Wii outsold the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Much of its popularity was due to the bundled Wii Sports software. As a tech demo, it presented a variety of sports mini-games such as badminton, bowling, and golf, which are easy for anyone to learn. Not only did it introduce new audiences to the wonders of gaming, but it was the ultimate party game – at least for a considerable amount of time. It has also seen a recent revival with Nintendo Switch Sports.


4) The Legend of Zelda

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Nintendo’s green-clad hero has been part of the family for over 30 years. His adventures continue to evolve over the years, although new additions have been added to the series. The Zelda saga is known for its masterfully crafted dungeons, a simple yet charming storyline, and its thirst for discovery.

The series is a textbook example of action-adventure gaming and has influenced many iconic multiplatform franchises such as Dark Souls and Darksiders. From the original NES title Zelda, through the innovative Ocarina of Time (N64) to the genre-defining Breath of the Wild (Wii U/Nintendo Switch), the series will be cherished for years to come.


5) Animal Crossing

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Given Big N’s focus on more relaxed games, Animal Crossing has to be at the forefront. The Serene Life simulation series originated on the Nintendo 64, with the latest entry being New Horizons for Nintendo Switch.

Players command a human who must build a community by mixing with anthropomorphic neighbors and designing their living quarters. There is no rush to do anything. Players can play the game at their own pace and will (at least for the most part) not face any threats. In fact, the series’ popularity soared in the 2020 pandemic era due to its ability to offer players a virtual escape.


5 Nintendo franchises that can’t get enough of the spotlight

1) Astral chain

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One of the latest Nintendo IPs is Platinum Games’ sci-fi action RPG Astral Chain. As part of the Neuron Police, players must protect citizens from the enemy Chimera.

Combat is the highlight, and the player must maneuver two characters simultaneously in fluid hack-and-slash combat. The game is said to be part of a trilogy, so players can expect sequels in the near future. Hopefully the franchise will get more exposure next time.


2) Xenoblade Chronicles

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The iconic JRPG franchise started on the Wii and has since received decent support from Nintendo, including four installments. Each is about exploring vast open worlds filled with larger-than-life monsters, complex combat, compelling stories, and charismatic characters.

However, the sci-fi/fantasy hybrid series still seems stuck between niche appeal and semi-popularity for some reason. Xenoblade 2, for example, has sold just over two million units, even though the Switch itself has sold over 100 million units.


3) F-zero

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Many fans have been clamoring for a new F-Zero game, but Big N always gives them the cold shoulder. The last entry was on the GameCube with F-Zero GX.

The series is known for adrenaline-pumping sci-fi racing and an equally bombastic soundtrack. However, producer Miyamoto-san has described a lack of innovation that is preventing the company from making new installments. It could easily stand alongside modern day racers from the publisher like Mario Kart. But for that to happen, they have to give F-Zero another chance.


4) Earthbound

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The cult-classic JRPG series known as Mother in Japan originated on the NES. Although it has experienced relatively little popularity, the situation surrounding Mother 3 has resulted in fans around the world demanding a localized version of the GBA entry.

The series follows a group of children in a modern setting as they face off against strange enemies in turn-based battles. With the rising popularity of Nintendo RPGs like Fire Emblem, Earthbound is set to make a comeback. Perhaps then it will see the success it deserves.


5) Rhythm heaven

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Mostly tied to handhelds, the underrated rhythm game series has seen a small but engaged audience. These games feature rhythm-based mini-games that often involve strange scenarios such as B. cutting hair from an onion face. It’s that wacky charm that makes these games special.

However, that also ensures that it will never reach the mainstream, especially as the rhythm game genre itself is quite a niche one. However, the game series is also too good to be forgotten.


Edited by Siddharth Satish

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