Huh? Nintendo has most certainly been competitive in Europe. Nintendo Wii was sold out across the continent for 2-3 years. Nintendo handhelds have always been huge in Europe as well. I remember people standing out in the snow for hours waiting to get a Wii. The reason the NES and SNES aren’t more highly represented are mostly because of bad distribution. NES didn’t really have proper availability until after the Mega Drive had already launched, until around the time of the SNES release. Many people were forced into importing software as well, most of my SNES library is imported. N64 didn’t do well because of pricing, games were usually 2-3 times more expensive than PSX games; also, no RPGs hurt N64, because that was the hot genre through Europe back then, and they have remained somewhat big. GameCube didn’t have anything wrong with it except for its weird controller and toxic “kiddie console” reputation.
I think Switch has a good shot at being bigger than the Wii overall. Particularly because of mass transit. Especially if more traditional style RPG battle games come out (like Pokemon), and more non-action simulation type games; it’s why Nintendo handhelds have been big. Stardew Valley is a good start. But the Wii has that party demographic, and I don’t mean “party” as in 3-5 nerds in a basement, but party with drinking/dancing and attractive/fun people. Switch is probably the first console that has a shot at that demographic, we’ll see.
I may have phrased it wrong. I should say that Nintendo isn't as competitive in Europe as they are in the US and Japan. Nintendo captured the US with the NES but, as you point out, Nintendo wasn't able to reach Europe. Part of this was legal trouble in the US over the rigths to Donkey Kong. I point out the iconography because in the US, the NES was a big deal. Mario Mania was a big deal. This is why New Super Mario Bros Wii did so well in the states and why most of Nintendo's successful systems sell the best in the US (the DS being the exception as it actually did worse in the US). The Switch has a similar issue. Breath of the Wild kick started the Switch here and Classic Zelda has been popular in the US since the NES days. Again, Europe didn't get the hayday of Zelda, so it's not the same. This is also why Horizon sold better than Zelda in some countries despite not doing that in Japan or the US.
I would say your assessment is correct. My point was that Nintendo will look weaker in Europe because it's historically been a harder region for them to reach. The NES and SNES weren't as big so Europeans don't have the same relation to Nintendo as us in the states do. When comparing the two, people often claim Sony is strong in Europe but ignore the fact that Nintendo had issues there before the Playstation was a thing (which you pointed out).
Visit my site for more
Known as Smashchu in a former life