Objectively speaking: Fiscal Year 2009
This applies to both handheld and home console.
This is also a sales data website. While a year for new releases can be a good thing. Another good year is one of community building and effectively marketing a library for brand new gamers. Also, getting a wide variety of new experiences on top of those killer games.
Fiscal year 2009 was one such year for Nintendo on both home console and handheld front, when Nintendo sold 26 million Wiis, and 31 million DSs - 57 million units of hardware in a year, the most successful any hardware company has been ever, and it’s not even close.
This is when Nintendo auctioned change in their media strategy adding the Nintendo Channel to the Wii which would host Nintendo Direct-like content, treehouse content (interviews and such), as well as most of the sort of media you see on Nintendo’s youtube channel today. This is the year many were introduced to niche titles on this channel such as Little King Story and a number of others across both platforms.
Nintendo released monster hitters like Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros Brawl, Pokémon Platinum. Some heavies like Animal crossing City Folk, Super Sluggers, and Kirby Super Star Ultra. Some of your usual niche suspects like Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, Castlevania, Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons, and SimCity.
But then a ton of really interesting niche titles: World of Goo, Rune Factory Frontier, Disaster Day if Crisis, Rhythm Heaven, Fossil Fighters, My Life as a King, they also began expanding to non-gaming applications with eBooks BEFORE they became a popular thing on other platforms, cooking guides, and various other useful things.
The Virtual Console went nuts on RPGs with a Street Gangs/River City Ransoms, Secret of Mana, Mario RPG, Ogre Battle, all the original Phantasy Star games and continued that to 2011. Sega Master System, Commodore 64, and Arcade were all added to VC.
On further review.
Fiscal Year 2009 is the clear winner for best year on a Nintendo console, mostly on the Wii, but DS ties heavily into this too as Nintendo began to really synergize its marketing strategy between the two.
Not to mention Nintendo consoles sold 205 million retail software units on Wii, and 197 million on DS for a total of over 400 million sales of retail software that year.
I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.