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Most Popular Retro Console by State [Map / Infographic]

Published by: Evan Stanfield on April 30, 2019

From the original Zelda games on the NES to GoldenEye 007 on the N64 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the PS2, we take a look at the consoles of choice for retro gamers across America.

You never forget the first time you completed Super Mario Bros. You never forget the first time you held the iconic Playstation 1 controllers. And you never forget when the best way to troubleshoot a game was to blow the cartridge.

Times have changed and new consoles have come and gone, but there's still something to be said about those iconic gaming systems that we were raised on. Their games have a unique charm that no amount of fancy graphics can make up for, which is why we turn to emulators and why original NES games still in their boxes go for thousands of dollars on eBay.

The infographic below shows the most popular retro consoles by state based on the number of games, controllers, and systems sold in each state from 1999 to 2019. More than 2.5 million retro games in all.

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Most Popular Consoles by State: Rankings

4. Game Boy Advance

State Won: South Dakota

Released in 2001, the Game Boy Advance (GBA) was touted as the natural successor to the Game Boy and the Game Boy Colour. It's hard to believe that it was released after the Playstation 2, which we'll take a closer look at in a minute.

Selling over 80 million units in its lifetime, the Game Boy Advance was eventually succeeded by the Nintendo DS. The DS is backwards compatible with GBA titles and that may be another reason for the device's enduring popularity. It's also the only handheld video games console on the list.

Popular Titles: Pokemon Ruby Sapphire, Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen, Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2

3. Nintendo 64

States Won: Connecticut, Hawaii, North Dakota

Released in 1996 in Japan and North America and 1997 in Europe and Australia, the Nintendo 64 was Nintendo's third console after the NES and the SNES. It sold over thirty million units in its six-year lifespan before eventually being phased out by the introduction of the GameCube.

For most of us, it's the iconic games and the next-generation graphics that we remember about the Nintendo 64. When it was first launched, it mostly competed with the Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn, and you'll find no shortage of Nintendo fans who think it's a better console than both of them put together.

Popular Titles: Super Mario 64, GoldenEye 007, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros.

2. NES

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) first hit the market in 1985 and went on to become one of the earliest iconic video game consoles, after perhaps the Commodore 64, which is technically a computer as opposed to a console. The NES also introduced us to many of the franchises that we still know and love today.

Most modern NES gamers say that they love the console for its retro feel and the simplicity of its games, though simplicity doesn't necessarily mean that they were easy. It took a real talent to play many of the old NES games, especially because not all of them allowed you to save your progress. The NES is particularly notable for the Super Mario Bros. games, which are credited with introducing side-scrolling games, and The Legend of Zelda, which helped to drive a switch to battery-powered saving mechanisms.

Popular Titles: Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Dr. Mario, Metroid

States Won: Alaska, California, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Washington

1.Playstation 2

What can we say about the Playstation 2 that hasn't been said elsewhere? There's a reason for the enduring popularity of the system. The quality and quantity of games, the pure strength of the system from a technical point of view and the fact that it's so sleek and aesthetically pleasing.

The Playstation 2 was introduced back in 2000 and holds the distinction of being the highest selling games console of all time, with over 155 million sales of the console and 1.5 billion sales of its 3800+ video games. It also had a 12-year lifespan, with production not stopping until January 2013, seven years after the introduction of the Playstation 3. Perhaps it's no wonder that it ended up at the top of our list.

Popular Titles: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Final Fantasy X, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

States Won: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming, West Virginia

The Most Popular Consoles by State: Analysis

It's pretty clear from a quick glance that the Playstation 2 comes out on top, but it does have to fight off some stiff competition from Nintendo machines including the NES, the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy Advance. In fact, in the North Central region, Nintendo wins as the top manufacturer thanks to the popularity of the NES.

South Dakota is the only state to prefer the Game Boy Advance.

The Playstation 2 also dominates the south, taking the top spot across all sixteen states as well as in the District of Columbia. The same is true in the west, at least in the Mountain region. In the Pacific region, the NES wins out, taking the top spot in Alaska, California and Washington. The Nintendo 64 came out on top in Hawaii, leaving Oregon as the only Pacific state to opt for the Playstation 2.

All in all, it's a pretty clean sweep for the Playstation 2, taking the top spot across 40 of the 50 states (80%). That's followed by the NES (12%), the Nintendo 64 (6%) and the Game Boy Advance (2%), which came out on top in just one state: South Dakota.

But we're not surprised that the Playstation 2 came out on top. After all, it's more powerful than many of the other consoles on our list and it also has the advantage of some of the most iconic titles of our time. Don't believe us? Just take a look at this list of the ten bestselling Playstation 2 games:

  1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: 17.33 million
  2. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec: 14.89 million
  3. Gran Turismo 4: 11.76 million
  4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: 9.61 million
  5. Final Fantasy X: 8 million
  6. Grand Theft Auto III: 8 million
  7. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: 7 million
  8. Final Fantasy XII: 6 million
  9. Tekken 5: 6 million
  10. Kingdom Hearts: 4.78 million

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