These franchises are known across many demographics (Images via Nintendo)

5 Most Popular Nintendo Franchises (And 5 That Deserve More Recognition)

Japanese publisher nintendo is renowned for some of the most beloved video game franchises. After all, they have a history in the industry that spans over 40 years (even though the company itself is much older). As such, they amassed a variety of names under their belt that remain popular to this day.

Everyone has heard of Mario and Pokemon, but Nintendo also has a number of interesting games. First party IPs that should receive more attention. This article will look at some of Nintendo’s bread and butter franchises and the reasons for their mainstream appeal. Conversely, it will also list frankly underestimated franchises.


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

1) Super Mario

The loved one, mustachioed ex-plumber continues to bring smiles to fans of all ages, from youngsters to adults. The vibrant, family-friendly aesthetic appeals to youngsters while the addictive platforming keeps even hardcore gamers hooked.

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


2) Pokemon

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The iconic monster taming series was born from creator Satoshi Tajiri’s captivating adventures in early 90s Japan. Starting with Pokemon Red and Blue on Game Boy, the series has since become the most successful media franchise to ever exist.

The lovable and cool creatures feature in manga, TV series and several movies, apart from the competition Pokemon fight scene. All of this has made it the media giant it is today. Some of the most popular entries include Pokemon Crystal (GBC), Pokemon Emerald (GBA), and Pokemon X/Y (3DS).


3) Wii Sports

Nintendo made a gamble with the Wii, and it paid off. A motion-controlled system that appeals to non-gamers and casual audiences alike is something many other console makers wouldn’t dream of. Still, the Big N succeeded, with the Wii outselling the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Much of its popularity was due to the bundled software, Wii Sports. Acting as a tech demo, it featured a variety of sports mini-games like badminton, bowling, and golf which are quite easy for everyone to understand. It not only brought a new audience to the wonders of gaming, but it was the ultimate board game – at least for a considerable period of time. It has also seen a recent revival with nintendo switch Sports.


4) The Legend of Zelda

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

The series is a classic example of action-adventure games and has influenced many iconic cross-platform franchises, like Dark Souls and Darksiders. From the original NES title Zelda to the groundbreaking Ocarina of Time (N64) and even the genre-defining Breath of the Wild (Wii U/Nintendo Switch), the series will be cherished for years to come.


5) Animal crossing

Since Big N is focused on more casual games, Animal Crossing has to be on top. The serene life simulation series appeared on the nintendo64the latest entry being New Horizons for Nintendo Switch.

Players command a human who must raise a community by mingling 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 won’t face any threats (at least for the most part). In fact, the pandemic era of 2020 has seen a surge in popularity for the series due to its ability to offer gamers a virtual escape.


5 Nintendo franchises that aren’t in the spotlight enough

1) Astral Chain

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

Combat is the highlight, and the player must maneuver two characters at once in fluid hack and slash fight. The game is supposed to be part of a trilogy, so players can expect sequels in the near future. Hopefully the franchise will get more attention next time around.


2) Chronicles of Xenoblade

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The iconic JRPG franchise started on the Wii and has since had decent support from Nintendo, including four installments. Each revolves around exploring massive open worlds with larger-than-life monsters, intricate combat, gripping 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, only sold just over two million copies, although the Switch itself sits at over 100 million units sold.


3) F-zero

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

The series is known for its adrenaline-pumping sci-fi races and equally explosive soundtrack. However, producer Miyamoto-san described a lack of innovation that prevents the company from making new installments. It could easily sit next to the publisher’s modern racers, like Mario Kart. But for that to happen, they have to give F-Zero another chance.


4) Earth

The cult classic JRPG series known as Mother in Japan was born on the NES. Although it enjoyed relatively low popularity, the situation surrounding Mother 3 saw fans around the world demanding a localized version of the GBA entry.

The series follows a group of children in a modern setting who engage in turn-based battles against strange enemies. Given the growing popularity of Nintendo RPGs like Fire Emblem, Earthbound is set to make a comeback. Maybe then he will get the success he deserves.


5) Rhythm Heaven

The underrated rhythm game series has mostly been handheld related and has seen a small but devoted following. These games feature rhythm-based mini-games, often engaging in odd scenarios like cutting an onion face’s hair. It’s this wacky charm that makes these games special.

However, this also ensures that it will never achieve mainstream appeal, especially because the rhythm game genre itself is quite niche. However, the game series is also too good to fade into obscurity.


Edited by Siddharth Satish


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