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The Best (And Worst) Selling Games Of Nintendo’s Biggest Franchises

Have you ever wondered what the best-selling Super Mario game is? How about the worst-selling Donkey Kong game? How many copies do you reckon a Fire Emblem game usually sells? And is Animal Crossing more popular than Metroid?

All of these questions and more are about to be answered, because we have the definitive rundown of the best-selling games of each of Nintendo’s mega-franchises, as well as the worst-selling games, just for comparison. And fun.

And that’s it! Enjoy the list, and be sure to let us know if anything takes you by surprise…

Best Donkey Kong - Donkey Kong CountryBest Donkey Kong - Donkey Kong Country

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Rare

Release Date: 21st Nov 1994 (USA) / 24th Nov 1994 (UK/EU)

Incredibly, Donkey Kong’s best-selling game is one of its oldest ones — which (spoilers) is a bit of an anomaly in this list. The only Switch Donkey Kong game, a port of the Wii U’s Tropical Freeze, only sold 2.93m copies, whereas the SNES DK Country sold a whopping 9.30. Perhaps it’s DK’s roots in the arcade that are to blame for his popularity peaking in 1994?

Worst Donkey Kong - DK: King of SwingWorst Donkey Kong - DK: King of Swing

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Paon

Release Date: 19th Sep 2005 (USA) / 4th Feb 2005 (UK/EU)

DK: King of Swing is a relatively forgettable Game Boy Advance offering for fans of the big ape, although apparently it’s pretty good. Taking on a more light-hearted cartoony style, this GBA platformer had you controlling DK’s mitts with the shoulder buttons, each one allowing you to grab and let go with the left or right hand. Evidently this break from DK’s norm wasn’t what people wanted, since it only sold 0.28m.

Best Fire Emblem - Fire Emblem: Three HousesBest Fire Emblem - Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Intelligent Systems

Release Date: 26th Jul 2019 (USA) / 26th Jul 2019 (UK/EU)

Three Houses came out in late 2019, and maybe it’s just us, but it felt like everyone was playing it, and talking about which one of the three protagonists they had chosen, or which of the many dateable characters they were wooing. Fire Emblem has always been a bit niche, so its best-selling game only just squeaked past 3 million (3.02m, to be exact-ish), but its mobile version, Fire Emblem Heroes, has apparently made $656m in revenue, making it Nintendo’s most successful non-Pokémon mobile title. Wow!

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Worst Fire Emblem - Fire Emblem: Radiant DawnWorst Fire Emblem - Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Intelligent Systems

Release Date: 5th Nov 2007 (USA) / 14th Mar 2008 (UK/EU)

Technically, the worst-selling Fire Emblems were the Japan-only ones, but since the FE series didn’t come to the West until 2003, we’re not counting anything released before then. That makes Radiant Dawn the worst-selling Fire Emblem game, which came out on the Wii in 2007. It’s apparently very hard, and perhaps that was the reason not many people bought it — or maybe it just came too soon after its Western debut for there to really be much hype around it. Who knows!

Best Kirby - Kirby's Dream LandBest Kirby - Kirby's Dream Land

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: HAL Laboratory

Release Date: 1st Aug 1992 (USA) / 3rd Aug 1992 (UK/EU)

“Hold on,” you say, “surely the best-selling Kirby game is the new one, Kirby and the Forgotten Land?” You are probably right, pal — but we don’t have the total sales figures for it yet. For now, the King of the Kirbies is the 1992 Game Boy game, Kirby’s Dream Land — a beloved debut for the pink puffball that spawned a candy-coloured empire, with 5.13m copies sold.

Worst Kirby - Kirby Battle RoyaleWorst Kirby - Kirby Battle Royale

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: HAL Laboratory

Release Date: 19th Jan 2018 (USA) / 3rd Nov 2017 (UK/EU)

The 3DS Kirby games, like Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, were some of Kirby’s best-sellers… but the multiplayer-focused Battle Royale showed that it’s not the platform that sells Kirby games, with a pitiful 0.33m copies sold. It didn’t help that the game was also pretty mediocre, repetitive, and perhaps worst of all, it came out in 2017, when people weren’t really playing 3DS much any more.

Best Super Mario - Super Mario Bros.Best Super Mario - Super Mario Bros.

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD

Release Date: 17th Nov 1985 (USA) / 15th May 1987 (UK/EU)

Why mess with a classic? Especially when that classic sold 40.24m copies! Super Mario Bros. has been massively successful over the last 35+ years, and of course it has — it is almost entirely responsible for Nintendo’s existence as a global video game company, plus helping the industry itself recover from the 1983 video game crash, and it’s a cultural icon in every way possible, from the soundtrack to the instantly-recognisable World 1-1. It’s also the second best-selling game on this entire list!

Worst Super Mario - New Super Luigi UWorst Super Mario - New Super Luigi U

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo

Release Date: 20th Jun 2013 (USA) / 20th Jun 2013 (UK/EU)

It’s kinda funny that the worst-selling Mario game is… a Luigi game. It’s a little bit sad that the brother in another colour can’t catch a break, but, well, it’s a bit of an odd one. Released as both a standalone game and as DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Luigi U is harder, faster, and more green than the game it sprung from. It only sold 3.07m copies as a result — although that’s still more than Fire Emblem’s best-selling game!

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