If you know anything about the video game world you’ll know that we have gone through a long heritage of technology, namely consoles, to get where we are now. Some consoles are legendary, standing apart from the others and being held high as a prime example of how to do something right. Which doesn’t mean they were works of art necessarily. Perhaps they were just the right thing at the right time and struck it lucky?
Either way, we’ve rounded up the top video games consoles that are widely considered to be the greatest of all time. Take a look at our list and see if you agree.
Sega Genesis / Sega Mega Drive
Two decades ago we lived in very different times. You couldn’t just whip out your phone and enjoy instant access to a virtually endless list of Candy Crush clones and amazing real money casino games. Instead you had the 16-bit Sega Genesis, otherwise known as the Sega Mega Drive. Hold your horses if you’re screaming at us right now that we dare praise the Genesis over the SNES, we’ll get to Nintendo a bit later…
The Genesis initially released in 1988 in Japan, and a year later in North America. Then, in 1990 it was renamed as the Mega Drive for release in Europe and other parts of the world. To say the console saw staggering success is an understatement. It did not, technically, have the power of the SNES, but made up for this lack of graphical fidelity in other ways. Not in the least because it was the birthplace of Sonic the Hedgehog, the rival to Nintendo’s Mario, but also because it, arguably, simply had a wider variety of games and third party support. Let’s also not overlook that six-button controller.
Either way, the Genesis is nothing if not one of the pioneer consoles that brought us to where we are today.
The Nintendo 64 released in 1996 in Japan and a year later in other regions of the world, and is a truly mixed beast when it comes to the gaming world. The decision to make it cartridge-based limited it drastically in comparison to its rivals, with many features popular in games at that time, such as animated cut scenes, having to be entirely side lined.
But the Nintendo 64 more than made up for it by delivering some of the greatest, most influential games of all time. In fact, it is no understatement to say that it was this console that truly propelled us forward into the realm of 3D gaming. Super Mario 64 is unequivocally the birthplace of joystick based directional movement in a 3D space, while Zelda: Ocarina of Time demonstrated how an action platformer should be designed. There is, simply put, no other console that so clearly shaped the world of gaming as we know it today.
Released in 1989 in Japan and everywhere else a few months later, the Game Boy is truly one of the strangest devices in console history. Looking at it today may just make you let out a little chuckle, given how simplistic it seems. The display is laughable and the whole prospect of ‘gaming on the move’ made drastically more inconvenient by the fact that you needed 4 batteries. The screen also did not have backlighting, which meant that even seeing what you were doing was more than a challenge in any lighting conditions that were less than perfect.
But it was this simplicity that was key to the Game Boy’s runaway success. The cut features meant that it was surprisingly cheap, and the simplistic display meant that batteries lasted a great deal longer than rival devices. Nintendo, once again, proved that focusing on what matters most to gamers is the key to success.
As Sega and Nintendo were locked in an all out battle for video game supremacy, Sony sauntered in and dropped the PlayStation. It was a bold move, and one that many claimed was nothing but foolishness. How, after all, could Sony hope to suddenly upset the big names of the time, and succeed with a new console in an already saturated, highly competitive environment?
With the PlayStation, and its unique, mature approach to gaming, that’s how. Releasing in 1994 in Japan, and year later in other regions, the PlayStation took the gaming world by storm. Bringing titles like Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, and Grand Theft Auto to the table, Sony shrugged off the family friendly images of Mario and Sonic, and respected that gamers wanted to see titles firmly aimed at adults. It was also the PlayStation that made popular compact disk based storage, doing right where the Nintendo 64 may have made a misjudgement.
Needless to say the angle taken by Sony worked, and it wasn’t long before the video game wars dropped Sega, and Sony moved in to take their place.