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Games Entertainment

What's the Best Game Console of All Time? 479

Posted by Zonk
from the duh-obviously-the-fairchild dept.
The C|Net Crave blog has up an article exploring the history of console gaming, and wonders aloud about the pecking order of the various systems. "Gaming is so subjective that there is no single "greatest" system ever. It might sound like a cop-out, but it really depends on what standards you're using and what generation you grew up in. I loved the SNES, and would personally call it the greatest system of all time. However, the NES and PlayStation could both easily be called the best, based on the standards they set and the advances they presented to gaming." The Guardian follows up this piece, noting that the article's rose-colored recollections of the SNES days may not be entirely accurate. Subjective or not, it's a good question: which consoles have a valid place in history and which ones should be forgotten?
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What's the Best Game Console of All Time?

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:26PM (#22224270) Journal

    Gaming is so subjective that there is no single "greatest" system ever.
    Well put. And yet we attempt a discussion.

    What disappoints me massively here is that there is no establishment of values. Have you ever done a trade study? Why weren't the performance parameters isolated and discussed between consoles? Instead, all I saw was opinionated statements often tied to nostalgia with little or no scientific basis.

    It's not even discussed about what the delivery method is (cartridge or disc) or even whether doing something well in 8-bit is more desired than something bad in 32-bit. Hardware maintenance, sound capabilities, exclusive franchise titles, I could probably come up with 10 or so factors in deciding how to rank my consoles. Then I would define the scales and think of a novel way to weight them (probably by year and technological limitations).

    Last but not least, I would need someone with enough time to play through all of them. Most importantly, this subject(s) would need to be non-interested meaning they have no previous gaming experience. And yet, I don't even see an attempt for this article to do the above while trying to forget that Donky Kong Country entertained them for months in their past.

    Why will pong always be better than NES Contra for my dad? Because it was his generation's game. Why is NES Contra always better for me than Souped Up Console Gears of War? Because that was my generation's game. Why will Gears of War always beat Super Lucid Brain Implants Choco Serial Murder Hospital Mystery for my ... well, you see this trend now.

    If you want me to be impressed with a comprehensive study, I expect a cold hard naive matrix and not some subjective highly tailored prose laden essay written by an avid gamer.
  • Obviously the 360 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:34PM (#22224404)
    The XBOX 360 is clearly superior to any previous gaming system. Not only can you play games you can download games, download movies, connect to a Media Center PC and watch TV, play all your music, Instant message, etc. It does almost everything a central media machine should do...minus having a built-in TV tuner.
  • by Draconix (653959) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:36PM (#22224430)
    I'd have to say it's pretty much a tie between the NES and the PSX. Why? Because both essentially saved console gaming in their times. The NES pulled gaming out of a hell of utter lack of game production standards, and it introduced one of the greatest controller innovations ever: the D-Pad. The PSX was moderately priced and used CD-ROM media, which let its games be inexpensive and contain more content than cartridge-based games. This combined what would grow to be possibly the largest library of games ever, with many truly wonderful games (Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, etc.) that brought console gaming into the mainstream. And after the N64 introduced analog sticks on controllers, Sony trumped it with the best-designed controller ever, the Dual Shock. Ever since then, with the exception of the Wii, controllers have primarily tended to be some variation of the Dual Shock, and that's a good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:37PM (#22224448)
    To begin in three, two, one...
  • Playstation Not It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <.akaimbatman. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:37PM (#22224458) Homepage Journal
    The Playstation was definitely not the greatest console of all time. Its philosophy was, "Let's throw a bunch of crud against the wall and see what sticks." As a standardized platform for home entertainment it was highly successful. (In part, due to the low cost of its CD media.) However, if you want to actually look at a system that captured the hearts and minds of the market, the NES is probably IT.

    The NES drug the console market out of a complete collapse into a thriving and expansive market. The quality was kept reasonably high through careful controls on the number of games that could be produced by each licensee. (To prevent the "game dumping" problem that occurred in the Atari generation.) It set the stage for the modern video game market, brought the arcade home in ways that even the Colecovision couldn't, introduced the idea of story-driven action games rather than arcade console games, reorganized the market around a control scheme that lives on even today (i.e. the venerable gamepad), and is fondly remembered by nearly every generation of gamer.

    There simply has never been a console that has had the impact on the market that the original NES had. In its time it was without equal. I love the SNES as well, but the title for the "greatest" always has been and always will be on the NES.
  • Playstation? Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by el_munkie (145510) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:45PM (#22224584)
    That piece of junk's only innovation was the introduction of ridiculous load times and boring cutscenes to gaming, and we've been cursed with them even since.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:51PM (#22224674)
    At any given time, individual consoles have had particular examples that were superior to the wealth of options on the PC, but over time the PC has established itself as king.

    The graphics options are superior to the speciality boxes. The keyboard/mouse reigns in fps, and the rumble controllers are now common on the PC. The noob wii controller I would say now owns the PC, but time will tell.

    And online play is still far ahead on the PC, though that may change.
  • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:52PM (#22224688) Homepage Journal
    If the whole premise of this is the best "game machine" of all time, I have to argue that the Commodore 64 was the best game console of all time.

    Yes, yes, I know. It's not a dedicated gaming system like a true "console" is, but you will be hard-pressed to find people who used it for more than a gaming system. Even when the NES came out, the C64 was the king of the gaming machines with a ton of top-notch games out for it. When C64 users got together, very few cared about GEOS or MultiCALC. It was all about the games, from Mail Order Monsters to Space Taxi to the original Castle Wolfenstein to the Ultima series to The Last Ninja. Gaming was what made the C64 as popular as it was.

    So, you can debate about the best "console" of all time, but as far as I'm concerned the best gaming platform was the C64.
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@nospAM.stango.org> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:53PM (#22224694) Homepage Journal
    ...brought the arcade home in ways that even the Colecovision couldn't...

    If I had points, I'd mod you up for this nod to the Colecovision. Definitely the best home conversions of arcade games available until the NES came along.

    ~Philly
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChibiOne (716763) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:55PM (#22224722)
    What exactly is Super Mario Brothers the first of?

    The first in the "Super" Mario Brothers franchise? Others before were not "Super", or were "Donkey Kong something", no?

  • by riseoftheindividual (1214958) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:02PM (#22224822) Homepage
    Nah easy answer here. Atari 2600 wins hands down.

    based on this from the summary:
    "However, the NES and PlayStation could both easily be called the best, based on the standards they set and the advances they presented to gaming."

    I would say that argument could be reasonably made within the context of advancing gaming. Obviously NES and Playstation were more advanced in and of themselves, but did they really advance console gaming as much as the 2600 did in its day by comparison? NES maybe, but definetly not playstation. Play station was largely a console offered as an upgrade to a pre-existing marketplace. Atari 2600 was a console that pioneered that marketplace. The same could be said about the NES later, but even then it still started its journey down the path the 2600 first blazed before it.

    I'm not saying I would vote the 2600 as the best, so far in my opinion I vote the N64(loved that console). It's just really hard to top the 2600s feat of not just being a successful console, but being a successful console when there was no real established market for it before hand.
  • by Liquidrage (640463) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:03PM (#22224836)
    It's sorta like debating which movie studio makes the best movies. Does total count? High signal to noise ratio? Do we adjust for overall popularity? Our feelings as they've changed with time?

    I had a TV with a pong-like game built into it in the 70's. Then a 2600. Odyssey. Intellivison. Coleco (really an Adam). Sega Master System. TurboGrafx 16. SNES. PS. N64. PS2. Xbox. Gamecube. 360. Wii.

    I bet that's more hands on then most people who comment on such things. But even still it's worthless to me. The 2600 came when I was so young that I just longed to do things grown ups could. It was the first to make major headway into homes. The SMS was those 7th-8th grade type years. The SMS probably wins in signal to noise. Alex Kidd, Phantasy Star, Miracle Warriors, Zillion, Shinobi, After Burner, Califnornia games, MK, Ninja Gaiden, Space Harrier. And I'm sure I'm missing a bunch. But compared to the low number of total games for the system, that's a huge amount of A list games.

    Then agian, The TurboGrafx 16 and Bonks and Slaughterhouse. 2 great games for a system that only had like 10 games total.
    The NES to me was the clear winner as far as the system that brought home gaming back after fading away after the 2600. Probably had the most "great" games of any system. Even more then the followup SNES had IMO.

    I don't know. I like being nostalgic here. But the arguement as to which was the best really can't be won.
  • Re:Coolest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BunnyClaws (753889) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:06PM (#22224896) Homepage

    All platforms had good and bad games, it's useless to compare them. BUT -- in terms of technical coolness and uniqueness, I have to give it to my good ol' Vectrex [wikipedia.org]. Clearly vector graphics don't work for every type of game, but for the games it did work with, it was awesome.

    I was going to say NES is the best console of all time. Mainly because I remember the dry period of console gaming that occurred between the Atari 2600 and NES.

    Then you mentioned Vectrex! Vectrex was awesome for its time. I still have a working Vectrex in my storage room. I take it out every now and then to play for the sake of nostalgia.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) <.akaimbatman. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:09PM (#22224956) Homepage Journal
    It's not nostalgia. I'm an avid collector of classic consoles and I can tell you from both history and the consoles sitting in my living room that the Playstation's impact was nowhere near that of the NES. The majority of the games for the PSX were, in fact, quite poor. The achievement of the Playstation was that it succeeded where the 3DO and the CD-i failed. It brought a standard multimedia computer platform* to the market in the form of a console, and succeeded in providing a "standard" base for developers to work from.

    From a market perspective, it built heavily on the market that Nintendo and Sega had already built. Had the Playstation been introduced in the wake of the market crash it would have never succeeded. Instead, the market was already excited about the possibility of a multimedia console that catered to all ages. The Playstation was the first to deliver the right mixture of technology to meet demand, ergo it won by default.

    * A multimedia computer platform at the time was considered a computer with a sound card, high resolution graphics, mpeg decoding, and a CD-ROM drive. Bit of a misnomer in modern terms, but it was high-tech stuff back then.
  • by dtolman (688781) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:23PM (#22225196) Homepage
    C'mon - all these console's are flashes in the pan compared to the Intellivision - it lasted in the market for over a decade, had lots of industry firsts (1st person dungeon crawl, RTS, speech in game, etc) plus a ton of fantastic and innovative games. The keypad, while a bit awkward, also meant that more complex games could be played properly on it as well. Mine's lasted over 25 years, and it still plays just great.
  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:38PM (#22225398)

    The majority of the games for the PSX were, in fact, quite poor.
    So were the majority of the games for the NES.
  • Amiga CD32 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BeaverCleaver (673164) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:58PM (#22225674)
    The first 32bit CD console. Truly "multimedia" by the contemporary definition - It played audio CDs, using the controller as a remote. With a plug-in cartridge it could play full-motion mpeg video, a la the CD-i. Since it was basically an Amiga 1200 without a keyboard, it could easily be expanded into a full-fledged home computer, with the addition of a keyboard, mouse, RAM, HDD etc... very similar to what Sony seem to be pushing with the ps3.

    Shame that Commodore went bust soon after the machine was released. Stupid Commodore.
  • by kisrael (134664) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:08PM (#22225836) Homepage
    Devil's Advocate: the Wii brings 2 independently held motion sensing controls with an option for mouse pointer like capability.

    That's it. Virtual Console's been done, everything else has been done.

    I like the Wii, but it only really counts if it continues to be a success (which it probably will).

    Like, the Eye Toy might have been a revolution in the same way, or Dance Mats. Or like you say, the Power Glove, if it had worked. Or the Amiga Joyboard. (heh, isn't that what Wii Fit uses?)

    I do think the move into 3D, and immersive environments with decent physics, is ultimately a bigger deal, but that was a gradual evolution, and if anything was brought about by 2 systems nearly at once.
  • by proxima (165692) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @04:00PM (#22226608)

    The Wii deserves some consideration to be a top game console. [...] I pretty much stopped playing consoles for about 8 years until the Wii came out. I know this is true for a lot of people. During the past winter holidays, my parents, grandparents, and other "older" relatives all loved the Wii too. My 80 year old grandmother won the family bowling tournament, and talked smack about it! My mom got addicted to WarioWare. There's no way those events could happen on any other console.

    I think it's still a little too early to judge the Wii as "best console". The Wii has sold about 20 million unit worldwide, which is quite a sum. However, the NES sold 60 million and the Playstation over 100 million (if you believe Wikipedia and the companies own stats). The best console is very subjective, of course, but trying to come up with an objective measure one might include aspects like:

    1.) Immensely popular in its own time, with a large selection of good games. The NES and Playstation had a number of duds, but the selection of truly great games for each was remarkable. The Wii is no where near this point, not yet.

    2.) Had a huge impact on the video game market at the time; in the NES's case, it brought back the video game console from a rough patch where the future of console gaming was uncertain. The Playstation really helped move 3D gaming from the realm of the PC to popular console games.

    3.) Had a huge impact on video game consoles which came after. This could take the form of the style of game, the technologies used, etc. The NES brought out games like RPGs and games with a bit of a storyline. The Playstation sealed the game cartridge's fate by proving how superior CD storage could benefit games through pre-rendered video and good sound.

    The Wii might have a dramatic effect on the way we control games. I own a Wii, and I think the controller is pretty great for a lot of things. Still, the Wii gets played largely with groups, and the selection of games is still somewhat limited. I only own Nintendo-branded games at this point, since it seems to be taking some time for the other game companies to devote time and money into making games well-built for the Wii.

    Wii Sports and a few other games (though I find the new Mario Party game a bit grating) make excellent party games for people of hugely varied age. That's cool for getting a new audience to play video games, but it's not clear that it will be a huge market.

    We'll know whether the Wii has had a big impact on gaming in large part by whether the next generation of Playstation and xbox feature a similarly-new controller.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @04:50PM (#22227350)
    I'd call it the first Mario game, at least where "Mario game" means the Mario platformers. I've played Mario Bros, and it's so different from Super Mario Bros that you can't seriously call them the same series. Completely different.
  • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dutch Gun (899105) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:00PM (#22227492)
    I don't think it's possible to separate the games from the consoles. After all, the games are the reason we purchase, play, and enjoy the consoles in the first place. Note the phrasing of "best" is a particularly ambiguous term. Here's how I'd define the "best" system:

    * It should have a reasonable percentage of games that would make it onto any "100 all time best game list". Like I mentioned, games are the reason we buy the hardware.
    * It should be reasonably popular (although not necessarily the most). Why? In order to significantly impact the video gaming world, the console should have been enjoyed by a reasonably number of gamers.
    * It should have definable qualities which distinguish it from other consoles. As much as I like my 360, it's really not innovative in any way - more of a refinement of existing trends and technologies. Likewise, the PS3 is mostly about bigger and better hardware.
    * It should have a cultural impact beyond the gaming world.

    If I had to vote now, I think I'd cast my ballot for the NES. It re-invigorated a stagnate market. It launched (or re-ignited) a number of gaming properties that are still going strong to this day. And, the Nintendo became synonymous with home video gaming.

    The Dreamcast was an awesome system, but I just don't think it had enough of an impact on the market in general to be considered the best console ever.
  • by hiryuu (125210) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:05PM (#22227574)
    1) Dreamcast was legitimately ahead of its time - you can compare Tony Hawk/Dead or Alive on Dreamcast vs Playstation and see a world of difference.
     
    2) The games were ahead of its time - many of the XBOX-generation games were largely ports of Dreamcast original games, including Metropolis Street Racer, among others.


    These two points tend to indicate, to me, that you've misunderstood or misremembered the timelines involved. The Dreamcast wasn't a member of the same generation of the original Sony PSX - the Saturn was Sega's entry in that generation, while the Dreamcast was a member of the XBox/PS2/GameCube generation. In both cases, Sega got the console out into the marketplace well before anyone else (detrimentally prematurely, in the case of the Saturn). Go check out some of the old Saturn TV commercials from way back, and you'll see them mention the Playstation nearly-directly.

    Incidentally, a lot of people will hold up the "easy-to-pirate" angle as the single major contributor to the Dreamcast's demise, but most of the more insightful and interesting post-mortems I've read had attributed it to a combination of the long-running hype of the as-yet-unreleased PS2 ("why buy a Sega when the PS2 will be so much better when it comes out?") and a very fumbled marketing effort on Sega's part.
  • by ContractualObligatio (850987) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:49PM (#22228140)
    "other than introduce a new style of gameplay it's not really that groundbreaking." Wow. Tough standard you set there. What's more important to a game than gameplay?
  • Devil's Advocate: the Wii brings 2 independently held motion sensing controls with an option for mouse pointer like capability.

    That's it. Virtual Console's been done, everything else has been done.


    This is wrong. It has two independent controls that track 3d-position, not merely motion. There is not another game system that includes this functionality. I'm not sure that there's another piece of off-the-shelf hardware that includes this functionality.

    The Wii is an amazing console, and the moment there's a game that makes use of that 3-d info in a meaningful way is the moment I start trying to buy one. It's the first console that really makes an attempt at letting people use control mechanisms that they already know rather than requiring them to learn ones specifically for it.

    IMHO, this is the biggest leap forward that we've had in home electronics since the introduction of CDs. I can't wait to see what it's going to be like when it actually works the way that it's supposed to.
  • by enderjsv (1128541) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @06:57PM (#22228994)
    Nope. Worst designed controller goes to the Atari Jaguar [wikipedia.org]

    Yikes!
  • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @10:37PM (#22230706)
    Nostalgia for the N64 makes me physically ill.
  • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @04:20PM (#22238878)
    omg nobody cares

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