Greatest Video Game Consoles of All Time

by George Herman 2 years ago in console

Despite their age, these greatest video game consoles serve as both reminders of our history in gaming and as small nodes in the entire industry of digital entertainment.

Greatest Video Game Consoles of All Time

In the past thirty years, many immersive, entertaining console platforms have been released, showcasing a remarkable period in technology and gaming. Especially after exploring the many years of design breakthroughs and varied productions, you'll begin to see how these simple playthings have pushed the envelope in terms of animated graphics development, internet connectivity, and a plentitude of other integrations. All of this would not have been possible if not for the relatively unheard-of Ralph H. Baer, whose 1951 idea, later called “The Brown Box” by 1966, was the code name for what we all have never heard of: the Magnavox Odyssey. Though it was released in 1972, not long after (by about 1977) such consoles became obsolete due to a dawn in the epic, revolutionary “Pong” console. Manufacturers quickly dropped out of the industry and the creation of microprocessor-based console platforms even dwindled dramatically.

Presently, however, consoles only evolve in more brazen and aesthetic ways. Sony's PlayStation alone has grown up in a variety of stages over the years. We also have watched as Nintendo manhandled the handheld industry in that same amount of time. While Sony’s graphics may be some of the most superb, Xbox players point out that their console's many different levels of entertainment and exclusivity designed by Microsoft has and continues to provide them with more options than gaming. As should be the case with any product, especially those based in technology, it matters little what console manufacturer you lean towards, as not one among them are an all-around and 100 percent machine for each and every player. But, to highlight some of the most iconic machines ever built for video gaming, the products listed below are known as the best video game consoles of all time.

Hands down, though most likely all hands will be busily button smashing, the PlayStation 2 is among (if not the) greatest video game consoles of all time. With an extensive list of amazing games, like Jak and Daxter, Shadow of Colossus, GTA: San Andreas, Kingdom Hearts, Prince of Persia, God of War, Tony Hawk Underground, Onimusha, Sly Cooper, and plenty more, the PlayStation 2 easily stole the console spotlight upon its release in 2000. It had breathtaking graphics, an above-par console conception (since the Sony controllers were, by far, ten times better than Xbox or Nintendo), in addition to features no other console at the time could boast.

The surprising true story of how the first PlayStation came to be proves that both the PlayStation console itself and Sony's production methods have had a long life in the gaming industry. The platform still continues to excite us with many new concepts, like Virtual Reality, marketplace consumerism, a fifth console installment (slated for release within the next few years), and a more intensified examination of Vue, with an eye on expanding the possibilities for television in the age of streaming online entertainment.

Nintendo upended the industry with its 16-bit reiteration of their classic console. Though the Super NES is far different and more advanced than its predecessor, the NES itself is remembered as one of the greatest consoles of all time for saving the console marketplace. The SNES holds true to this very same claim by way of then initializing a period of expansive content on this newly rendered platform. These treasured gaming titles include Earthbound, Super Mario World, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, and Donkey Kong Country.

But, while these are the more obvious video games associated with Nintendo, there are many others much less forgotten in this new age of gaming. With sub-par, rather standard digital graphics, and storage space that's less than conventional USBs (512 MB), it's safe to say this once prized gaming vehicle soon lost to machines with far more memory capacities. Even so, the Super NES is still an age-old child-developing classic of video game lore. If you're looking for a nostalgia bomb, Nintendo released the SNES Classic, a palm-sized version of the game console with 21 games pre-loaded on it.

Going way back, the Atari game system proved a number of things to the industry. First and foremost: consoles need better controllers. Aside from having some lackluster handling and an outdated graphics system to start, the Atari 2600 (numerically named after its internal component of CX2600) still makes history as one of the greatest video game consoles. Atari took our hearts away, debuting with its 1980 arcade re-adaption of Space Invaders for in-home play-ability.

Being one of the second generation video game consoles, the Atari system is obviously more than just a piece of gaming mechanics. The system has, more or less, become an icon of the 1980s, even when rival ColecoVision (among others) produced more advanced mechanics. However, Atari (and others, as well) are the ones to blame for what is called the "North American video game crash of 1983." In that time, a mind-blowing 97 percent drop in video game industry revenues saw to the end of individualistic platform production and the discontinuation of all other gaming consoles, besides Intellivision's, by 1984.

Dare to play with dreams? Sega Dreamcast was the first construct for the sixth generation of console platforms and was declared a smash hit, thanks to games like Crazy Taxi and Shenmue. Though it may have preceded the PlayStation 2, having been released all around the world by 1999, the Sega Dreamcast still contained mechanical errors, like limited third-party support, and other negatives that saw to its inevitable discontinuation as early as 2001.

Thus ended a monolith. Sega's 18 years in the industry is remembered to this day by way of one of the greatest video game consoles ever made. If it did so poorly, you may be asking, why is it among the best? Two words: online connectivity. Dreamcast consoles were the first machines on the market to employ modems for online play and internet support, a concept well before their time.

Probably fought for as the absolute best in the greatest video game consoles, the Nintendo GameCube changed how we viewed Nintendo. Succeeding the Nintendo 64 definitely wasn't an easy task for the rising console, but the GameCube pulled this off by delivering a whole slew of content that focused more on bringing their platform (and the industry) new insights on player connectivity with a variety of formats.

As Dreamcast sales dwindled and the PlayStation 2 rose into greatness, GameCube had allowed for Nintendo to remain in the running via a broadband or modem adapter, which allowed linking the platform with your handheld Game Boy Advanced. These concepts would become focal points for various consoles and technologies to come well in the future as both internet-based connections and possibilities were expanded. The invention of more handheld devices implemented better ways of playing both on the go and at home (ie, Nintendo's new Switch).

Maybe not revolutionary, or even that so far advanced as the rival PlayStation 3, but the release of the Xbox's 360 system promised to there on deliver more mature gaming, making it a console for much older audiences and more violent gamers. Managing to rise above its competitors with exclusive games and content, the Xbox 360 didn't need to revolutionize the industry. It revolutionized our image of Microsoft and Xbox, setting them apart from Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's more child-centric business.

This has been Microsoft's fabled mojo; they're for the older crowd, envied by other platform gamers for a vast list of titles, like Gears of War andHalo. The console's marketplace, which opened the door for a online gaming meshed with consumerism, was much more enhanced in more ways than one. It basically bypassed the need for brick and mortar video game stores. Additionally, Xbox Live content simply made players feel more connected with the console than other market products, making it one of greatest video game consoles for being true to its form.

Initially released as a Multi Video System (MVS) coin-operated arcade machine, the NeoGeo is still one of the greatest video game consoles, despite being one you may have never heard of. The in-home iteration, which was aptly named the Advanced Entertainment System (AES), was slated to only be a rental console, but was scrapped by developer SNK Corporation due to high prices. Only later was this reversed, so that AES consoles could be released as a more luxury gaming product.

For this very reason, it finds itself here among other similarly talented products. With titles like Fatal Fury, Samurai Showdown, and Metal Slug, the AES has a place within the market and high demand proved this, but no one wanted to pay extremely high prices in America for both a console and its software components. It inevitably grew into a cult collector's item, one that was once the most powerful video game console in the 1990s that boosted the industry for more luxurious forms of technology.

One of the more recently released gaming systems, the Nintendo Switch, is an almost newly-wed icon of interchangeable in-home and on-the-go play. It's perfect for families and children who are always on the move. Despite the fact that this concept has been tried before, Switch simply pulled it off in the most brazen and innovative way.

Though it's not technically a console, due to its literal handheld portability, the Nintendo Switch is still presented as among the greatest video game consoles by fusing these two concepts. The Nintendo brand has targeted this form of tech for years; expressed by the likes of Game Boys and GameCubes. Nintendo then revolutionized the market by designing a new outlook on gaming worlds. The Switch is so much of a success story, because it's literally changing the way we see consoles and their connectivity to the tangible world around us.

Is this what the future holds for gaming consoles? Yes, in short console developers are now finding and designing their own consoles for industry insights and to broaden the scope of market climates with tech innovations. This one actually goes far deeper than video games, as platforms are now becoming more idealized as "entertainment systems."

While Sony's PlayStation 5 is definitely in the works, the actual release will probably take well over 2 years, and even then who's to say there will be any differences? By that, I basically mean to say: how far can gaming go? As seen by all-new VR capabilities, "plugging in" to a virtual world or community packed with a variety of different modes and settings to choose from are becoming more viable as we churn closer into the future. With these subtle advancements, we can identify one of the greatest video game consoles of all time: the PlayStation VR.

Nintendo must always steal the thunder, as I'm sure a plenitude of readers can agree by holding up their own Nintendo 64 memories as I, myself, will do. What's not to love from one of the greatest video game consoles and among the most talented platform developers in the industry?

It was named after the technology, of course, since it uses a 64-bit central processing unit and, interestingly enough, no sooner became the last of the cartridge-based storage platform systems. Time magazine named it Machine of the year when it was released in 1996. With 32 million sold worldwide to the tune of $199 each, Nintendo definitely did it right, especially when serving fans with Super Mario 64 and Plotwings 64 in its worldwide launch. The Nintendo 64 surpassed its time in many more ways than just gaming.

George Herman
George Herman
Read next: 'God Of War'
George Herman

Call me a nerd, that’s what I am: Star Wars fanatic, Grand Theft Auto champion, comic book connoisseur, and a long-time lyricist. So, call me a nerd, but that’s not all I am!

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