nintendo switch
Courtesy of Nintendo


Gaming’s master of extra lives

Nintendo has a made a habit out of resurrection. When a glut of consoles and bad video games threatened to kill America’s home gaming industry in the early 1980s, it was the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, that proved its savior. Skip ahead 35 years, and this time Nintendo is saving itself. Some industry watchers had predicted doom in the wake of Nintendo’s poorly received 2012 release, the Wii U, particularly as countless smartphone games compete for players’ attention. But then the Kyoto, Japan-based company responded last year with its Nintendo Switch, an innovative hybrid console/mobile system that lets owners play games at home on the big screen—or on the go. The Switch offers a far better mobile gaming experience than a smartphone, and thanks in part to well-received titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the new Mario Tennis Aces, sales are booming. Nintendo said earlier this year it’s now the fastest-selling console in history, dethroning the company’s original Wii by shipping 4.8 million units in its first 10 months. “People have clearly responded to our idea of a home system you can play together, anytime you like, anywhere you go,” says Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aimé. By succeeding despite the ubiquity of smartphones, Nintendo’s Switch proves there’s still an appetite for great mobile gaming systems. —Alex Fitzpatrick

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.