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The Future of Console Gaming
Addendum #1

Nintendo's hardware release record


If you happened to read my article in 1999/2000 about console gaming, you might recall a table I created that clearly resolved any argument about Nintendo releasing hardware based on external forces. I present an updated version of this table here that will be maintained as time permits.

As I mentioned in part two of the original article, regardless of other companies hardware releases, or the unlimited number of analysts/journalists that would like to claim that so-and-so's actions forced Nintendo to reconsider and release a new system, you should note that since the mid 1970's Nintendo has consistently released a new console system approximately every five years and a new portable every ten, and then, only when they have felt that they have both completely maximized the potential of the previous platform, and has been able to balance the cost of hardware component availability vs. expected software needs down to an absolute minimum. A general timeline of system releases (with comments) can be seen as follows:

Platform w/notes
Consoles 1977 Colour TV Game 6 (console developed with Mitsubishi Electric)
1983-1985 Nintendo Entertainment System aka NES (83' in Japan/85' in U.S.) at least three distinct versions
1990-1991 Super Nintendo Entertainment System aka SNES (90' in Japan/91' in U.S.) at least three distinct versions
1996 N64
2001 Game Cube
2006 Wii
2012 Wii U
2017 Switch
Portables 1980 "GAME & WATCH" wrist-watch based video games
1989 Game Boy
(1994) Super Game Boy (Game Boy variant modified to be a SNES expansion module that Nintendo used to encourage developers to start coding new 4-color palette defaults into all games.)
(1996) Game Boy Pocket (Game Boy variant modified for compact design)
(1998) Game Boy Color (Game Boy variant modified for color screen output, plays all Game Boy games, and utilizes the default 4-color palette selection in GB games introduced since 1994 so that without buying a single GBC specific game, both upgrade users and new users alike can be playing in color via a significantly large, pre-existing GB library)
2000 Game Boy Advanced (32-bit system)
(2003) Game Boy Player (GBA variant modified to be a Game Cube expansion module)
(2003) Game Boy Advanced SP (GBA variant modified for compact design with flip top and backlit screen)
(2005) Game Boy Advanced Micro (GBA variant modified for compact design and higher quality backlit screen)
In 2004, Nintendo introduced the DS as an experimental platform. In 2005 concurrent GBA/DS development continued, but by 2007 DS market penetration was so successful that Nintendo unofficially abandoned the GBA platform, standardized on the DS as their new portable and integrated it with their Wii platform vision.
2004 Nintendo DS (DS is short for Dual Screen)
(2005) Nintendo DS Lite (DS variant redesigned case and improved screen quality)
(2008-2009) Nintendo DSi (DS variant bigger screen, SD card support, digital camera, drop GBA support and improved audio)
(2009-2010) Nintendo DSi LL/XL (DS variant bigger screen, stylus and longer battery life)
2010-2011 Nintendo 3DS (DS variant 3-D top screen)
(2012) Nintendo 3DS LL/XL (3DS variant bigger screen and stylus)
(2014-2015) "New" Nintendo 3DS (all models) (3DS variant second analog stick, NFC reader, secondary shoulder buttons, improved view angle, auto brightness, CPU upgrade and other modifications)
Misc/Experimental 1994 Virtual Boy

(last updated October 20, 2016)