With all the rumors about the PlayStation NEO, the Nintendo NX, and an upgraded Xbox One, Game Rant takes a look back at some of gaming’s greatest consoles.
From pushing technological boundaries to advancing how games can be played, video game consoles have played a major part in influencing the gaming industry over the past 40 or so years. With all the recent rumors about a new upgraded PlayStation console, the upcoming Nintendo NX, and a new Xbox prototype, we thought we might take a trip down memory lane and take a look at some of gaming’s greatest consoles.
Seeing as how this is a topic that will provoke arguments from every corner of the Internet and personal preference can play a huge role, this is an unranked list, and these consoles are in no particular order.
The current console wars may be lead by the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, but 25 years ago, it was the Sega Genesis and the SNES going head-to-head for video game supremacy. For all the accolades that the SNES rightfully received – which will be touched upon later – the Sega Genesis was more than a worthy rival.
While it may not have had the graphical power of the SNES, the Genesis more than made up for it with an impressive library of games. From better sports games, superior ports of arcade titles such as Mortal Kombat, and its very own Mario-killer in Sonic the Hedgehog, the Genesis arguably offered a wider variety of gaming experiences. It also didn’t hurt that the Genesis was home to the six-button controller.
As the last ever cartridge-based home console, the Nintendo 64 is unique in that it offers a look at the past and future of gaming. While the old-school cartridge media format limited the Nintendo 64’s potential, the console also introduced a number of features that are still used today, such as the then-revolutionary joystick controls, cutting-edge 3D graphics, and vibrating controllers.
But the Nintendo 64’s biggest selling point was its library of games. While Sony had stronger third-party support at the time, the Nintendo 64 was home to Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Goldeneye 007, games that are now considered to be among the greatest of all-time.
On paper, the Game Boy should’ve failed on every measure. It was bulky, it needed four AA batteries to run, it lacked the grunt of its contemporaries, and the screen had the color and clarity of Shrek’s skin. However, the Game Boy made up for its shortcomings with a lower price point and relative simplicity.
By limiting the handheld to just a D-pad and four buttons, Nintendo the Game Boy easily accessible to a wider audience. The Game Boy’s simplicity also lent itself to some brilliant games, as landmark titles like Pokemon, Super Mario Land, and Tetris compensated for the lack of processing power with enjoyable gameplay.
On paper, the Nintendo DS seemed like a list of gimmicks. The touchscreen wasn’t in fashion yet, and having two screens seemed excessive. While the initial model of the DS wasn’t the prettiest thing to look at, the dual-screen design proved to be revolutionary.
Beyond adding a new dimension to how a game can be played, the touchscreen appealed to casual and hardcore gamers alike. Whether it was steering the Arwing in Star Fox Command, controlling Neku in The World Ends With You, or taking down notes in class, the DS and its touchscreen proved to be far more than just a gimmick.
The Xbox 360 didn’t have the processing power of the PlayStation 3, it lacked the mass appeal of the Nintendo Wii, and its software library didn’t really elevate it above its competitors. However, the 360 had one thing that its contemporaries didn’t have: Xbox Live. Microsoft revamped its Xbox Live service and turned the Xbox 360 into an all-encompassing media platform for video, audio, and of course, gaming.
Online multiplayer gaming was suddenly made easily accessible; movies, games, and songs could now be bought from the sofa; and Xbox Live’s extensive online-integration meant that Microsoft could continually offer Xbox owners improvements and additional features.
Sony came into the video game industry with a massive bang when it dropped the PlayStation right into the middle of the Nintendo-SEGA war. Not only did the PlayStation help usher in the era of 3D graphics, it helped transition the industry towards its current disc-based format. Unlike Nintendo’s approach of targeting casual gamers, the PlayStation was aimed at a mature audience, and this approach translated to a number of incredibly important and classic games. While Nintendo had Mario and Zelda, the PlayStation gave rise to more mature franchises like Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, and Grand Theft Auto.