We’ll always be nostalgic for our first video game console. We associate that initial liberating feeling of gaming with the machine that allowed us to play. However, in retrospect, we can now admit that some consoles were better than others. Here is our list of the best consoles of all time.
Nintendo Wii (2006)
If we were to base this list on sheer uniqueness, the Nintendo Wii would likely come out on top. Competing with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3, Nintendo knew it had to create something that truly stood out from its competitors.
Enter the Wii. The Wii was the first console to utilize motion control, its controller being a remote-like device with few buttons. It allowed players to become more immersed in the gaming experience, as more than just their thumbs were now controlling the actions of their characters.
Nintendo 64 (1996)
While many saw the Nintendo 64 as a disappointment due to its use of cartridges, it was innovative in many ways. Its most influential contribution to gaming was the incorporation of an ultra-sensitive analog joystick. While previous consoles—such as 1982’s Atari 5200—incorporated joysticks, that of N64 made character control smoother than it had ever been.
Of course, we also have to mention the N64’s still-classic games. Goldeneye 007 revolutionized first-person shooters. And Super Mario 64 remains perhaps the greatest Mario game to date.
Many gamers were skeptical when Microsoft released the Xbox in 2001. Firstly, this was the company’s first foray into console gaming. Secondly, its appearance certainly wasn’t as sleek as that of its main competitor the Playstation 2. However, much to the chagrin of elitists, the Xbox went on to change gaming forever.
Firstly, the Xbox-exclusive game Halo picked up where Goldeneye 007 left off in terms of revolutionizing the first-person shooter genre. Nearly every first-person shooter that followed Halo borrowed some elements of its control scheme.
Secondly, the Xbox Live feature ushered an entire culture of online gaming. While, yes, the Playstation 2 also allowed players to go online, the Xbox catered specifically to online gaming. As Hilary Goldstein of IGN, said in 2002, “Microsoft definitely has the better system. I’ve played Xbox Live a few times, and there’s no latency thanks to the dedicated servers and required broadband access.”
Sega Dreamcast (1999)
The Sega Dreamcast is notable for being the first console that allowed for online play. Sure, the networking lacked the polish of its successors (namely, the Xbox). But such a thing was revolutionary for its time. It also featured arguably better graphics than those of the PS2, released a year later.
Despite being a quality console, Sega removed the Dreamcast from shelves in 2001. Why did it fail? Well, there are many reasons, including poor marketing on Sega’s part, inability to compete with the PS2 and Xbox’s DVD playback features, and of course, its large, cumbersome controller.
The original Sony Playstation was the first console to market games towards both children and adults. Sure, there are plenty of kid-friendly classics that were exclusive to the console (Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon being the best). But this is also the console that hosted the original Grand Theft Auto, Silent Hill, and the plot-driven Final Fantasy VII.
Sony’s decision to release video games for people of all ages changed the world’s perception of gaming. Suddenly, being a gamer was no longer considered juvenile. It became a legitimate hobby.
Playstation 2 (2000)
The fact that the Playstation 2 is the best-selling console of all time says a lot about its quality. Its dual function as a gaming console and DVD player was a major contributing factor to the death of the VHS format. And as a console, it featured some of the best exclusive games of its generation. Think Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy X, and Silent Hill 2.
Other highlights of the PS2 include its backwards compatibility and impeccably designed controller. (The controller design was borrowed directly from the original Playstation, and we don’t think this is a bad thing. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”)
NES – Nintendo Entertainment System (1985)
Prior to the release of the NES, gamers already knew Nintendo as the developer of arcade classics like Donkey Kong. However, in 1985, the company changed the face of gaming forever.
Initially called the Famicon, the console saw a 1983 Japanese-only release. After a failed attempt to partner with Atari for an American release, Nintendo did the job themselves. The Famicon hardware was upgraded to be more palatable for Western audiences, and thus the NES was born.
From a marketing standpoint, the most brilliant thing about the NES was that it only featured games made by Nintendo. In doing this, the company not only ensured the high quality of games on its system, but it created an entire fictional universe, from which it still bases its games today.