Thursday, March 24, 2011
Any console fanboy with logos plastered to their game cases, cars, t-shirts or trapper keepers will spend roughly 90% of their free time telling the rest of the world why their video game platform is so much better than yours. (Actually, that's the definition of fanboy). But which consoles really were the best at the time? Which consoles were overlooked because they were caught inbetween "generations" of video game consoles? Ultimately, which console has withstood the test of time to be the very best (or worst)? Stealing an over-used journalism technique, let's make some lists! (I'm setting my fanboy phasers to "stun" for the rest of this column).
Consoles That Sucked
3. Sega CD, Sega Genesis Add-Ons, Sega Saturn
I'm just lumping all of Sega's epic fails into one spot. The Genesis alone was pretty sweet, and should have kept them in the running for a great nex-gen system at the time. But all of this crap came out in rapid succession, and each one of them was a miserable experience. In a time where video gaming was still in its infancy in mainstream America, to swing and miss on so many products is pretty much the death knell for a company. The wasted time, money, and effort on these projects ruined their already-floundering name in gaming hardware when you stand it up against what Nintendo did with its systems.
2. Nintendo Virtual Boy
The mighty Nintendo created something that makes even its most ardent fanboys cringe: the Virtual Boy. This is the sort of thing you cook up when you're trying to out-crap your competition, which at the time was as smelly as a waste treatment facility. Just think of the heartbreak some poor kid had that year, begging their parents for the next great Nintendo system just to get stuck with...this, and then, when asking for an N64 later on, getting told "No!" since they already HAVE a Virtual Boy. Won't someone think of the children?
1. TIE - Atari Jaguar and Apple Pippen
To be honest, the Apple Pippen never crossed my mind when forming this list since I never played it--and neither did anyone else, for that matter. However, I take pride in showing that big-vision companies like Apple can still make junk, and the Pippen fits, since it technically was a console and it definitely (by any standard) sucked. My personal #1 is the Atari Jaguar, a sputtering, impossible-to-figure-out clusterbomb of average graphics, worse gameplay, worser games and worsest controllers. If you haven't seen the controllers, just picture a giant sheet of flypaper covered in sweet tarts.
Best Handheld Consoles
3. Nintendo DS/Lite/DSi (and soon, 3DS)
Narrowly edging out the PSP, since the PSP has been bogged down with different versions and updates just like the current Nintendo handheld has. The DSi incorporated some of the basic functions of the PSP, and removed backwards capability to do so. The game selection on the Nintendo systems, however, is much better, and much more popular. I personally own a DS Lite so I can play Game Boy Advance games on it as well as DS games, so out of all the incarnations of the Nintendo DS handheld, that's my current favorite. However, the 3DS sounds promising. Ocarina of Time...in 3D...on a handheld.
2. Nintendo Game Boy
Built like a fireplace brick, the Game Boy was great for long bus rides, ditching chores and bludgeoning foes. If you ever owned one, it's not a stretch to say you spent at least 100 hours alone playing Tetris.
1. Smart Phones
What has happened in just two years is incredible. Gone are the old standbys like solitaire, coin flipper and minesweep. Now, phones will let you play just about any assortment of games you can imagine. The climate for games on smart phones is so good that a game based on hurling birds into poorly-constructed structures is part of pop culture lexicon. Plus, since you always have your phone on you, and there's always some downtime in a given day, it's a quick and convenient way to pass the time with a game or twenty.
Best Motion-Detection Console/Feature
3. Playstation Move
The motion detection is amazing, and while there aren't a lot of titles out for it yet, the ones available are ridiculously fun. In fact, let's just call it 'Wii HD'... except that...
2. Nintendo Wii
...is the innovater and still the best at wand-waving shenanigans. On top of that, the Virtual Console is full of fun games to play, and Nintendo's lineup of familiar faces is something anyone can enjoy. It's also the only video game my grandma has ever played, and she beat me in Wii Bowling. Grandson, I am disappoint.
1. Going Outside and Doing Something With Friends
Still the best way to play a motion-based game. Yeah, I'm a real stick in the mud.
10. Playstation 1
When your game worked, the graphics and gameplay were at the time unchallenged. It was the system to own for a short time. It also ushered in several new genres of games, from skateboarding to sandboxes.
9. Nintendo Game Boy
Because shut up. I'm nostalgic. (Smart phones should probably occupy this spot, but...ah, heck with it)
9. Smart Phones
Wait, you mean that thing takes pictures AND makes phone calls?
8. Microsoft XBox 360
The online experiences, while not for everyone, are pretty solid. A huge upgrade from the XBox, which was a frustating system to get used to when it came out. The red ring of death thing--ah, whatever. Just get a new one.
7. Sega Dreamcast
Vastly underrated. Great graphics, and super fun games. Pick one up and buy a few of the better titles (or a sports game). You won't be disappointed.
6. Sega Genesis
The graphics, the number of games to play, and a blue hedgehog made this a great system to own in the 1990's.
5. Nintendo 64
Despite the awful controllers, there were so many fun games, and the expansion pack made this system even more awesome. It bridged the gap between what made the PS1 and PS2 great--incorporating both great graphics and fun gameplay.
The indoctrination of many a current-day 20-something into video gaming started with a mustachioed plumber or a dog you'd let Michael Vick adopt, this was the foundation upon which the modern console gaming era was built.
3. Your Computer
I haven't forgotten you, CPUers. I just don't like playing games on the computer these days. However, it's short-sighted and stupid of me to not include it here--many games (Sim City, Doom, WoW, war sims) are simply better on the PC. RPGs (like Dragon Age or Mass Effect) as of late are completely different experiences here as well. I'm just too cheap to pony up the dough for a brand-new rig capable of running these great games. However, I did play a lot of the text-based adventures as a kid, and still play some football/baseball statistical simulations (like Baseball Mogul) when I dip into nostalgia. Moving on to the best (actual) video game consoles!
Hundreds of great titles. An easy-to-use controller. Replayability of games an entire generation later. One of the two most elite consoles in the history of video gaming. The graphics, playability, sound and depth of games improved almost every single week, and really brought video gaming into the mainstream. A strong competitor (Sega Genesis) pushed SNES games to greatness and beyond. I could name 50 favorite games and about a third of them were first played on the SNES. Some of my personal favorite games apparently are harder to find--from Chrono Trigger to Aerobiz--and added complexity to existing series, hastening the boon of franchise games.
1. Playstation 2
Finally, controversy! Much like the SNES, the PS2 features a bevy of titles, an easy-to-use controller, and graphics that, until the recent wave of nex-gen systems came out, were the cutting edge. Its longevity is unprecedented (as of this writing, they STILL make games for the system). Since it's a recent system, some my age will cry foul and hug a Super Nintendo. However, for my money, two PS2's have given me nearly a solid decade of video gaming fun, and the backwards compatibility with the PS1 makes it, quite simply, a must-own system. It's neck and neck, but this console was developed nearly a decade after the SNES, so the technological advances (more memory, better graphics, online gameplay) give it the edge. However, if you look strictly at what these consoles meant in the time they were the best in the market, it's 1A and 1B.
Finally, the best game you can play is still the one where you get off your butt, put the controller down and GO OUTSIDE. Seriously. There's a whole world out there. I know, since I saw it on Sim Earth (SNES).
Posted by 8-bit