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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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  • Hmmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orange Crush (934731) * on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:26PM (#22224256)

    I grew up with the NES. My parents refused to buy me a SNES when they came out, but I'm not at all bitter (bastards! *cries*). Aside from playing SNES games at friend's houses, I lost interest fairly quickly. I'd occasionally play a brief game at a friend's house on their playstation and i don't think I ever even touched a PS2 beyond using it to play DVDs back when it was the cheapest DVD player on the market. So I basically skipped the past two console generations alltogether.

    The NES was the "greatest" system for me, simply because that was the one I interacted with the most, however I can definitely agree with this guy's argument that Sony's embrace of third party developers with the PlayStations made the game industry what it is today.

    One minor nitpick, from the article:

    Once you've read David Sheff's Game Over, it's almost impossible to play a Super Mario game without imagining the young Miyamoto gamboling through the woodland close to his boyhood home, discovering hidden caves and lakes.

    I've always heard that was his inspiration for Zelda, not Mario.

  • Nintendo Wii (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KillerBob (217953) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:36PM (#22224432)
    People prolly won't like me saying this. Seems the obvious choice to me, though... Plays Wii and Gamecube games out of the box, and the virtual console plays games from the NES, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis, Neo Geo, etc.... It doesn't play games for XBox or Playstation, but the library it brings to the table is much bigger, and covers a much wider array of playstyles. There's simply more variety with the Wii.

    The Wiimote is also the only *fun* controller that I've run across in years. Actually changes the gameplay significantly. Some people hate it, some people love it. I love it.

    So that'd be my vote. *shrugs*
  • Coolest (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .101retsaMytilaeR.> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:40PM (#22224502) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Nintendo DS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _xeno_ (155264) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:44PM (#22224572) Homepage Journal

    I was originally going to say it would be the GameBoy Advance SP, but then I remembered that the DS can play GameBoy Advance games too.

    It's a nicely-sized portable, which I've found means that I can actually play the game instead of requiring a TV. Many of the great SNES games were re-released for the GBA (like The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, basically all the Final Fantasy games before VII, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Donkey Kong Country 2).

    Unfortunately Nintendo took the time to screw with some of them (Link shouldn't be yelling "Ha!" all the time in Link to the Past!), and not all of them translated quite as well as I might like (the music in Final Fantasy VI Advance was screwed up in some places, but on the plus side the bugs were fixed).

    Add in original DS games and other original GBA games, and you've got a very nice portable handheld console, which in my mind at least makes it the Best Game Console of All Time, So Far.

    Of course, that's probably because I'm getting older and have less free time to play games. It's easier to sneak some game time when you can just drop the console in your pocket or man-purs-- I mean, laptop bag. It's a laptop bag.

  • Sega Master System (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LazyPhoenix (773952) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:45PM (#22224590)
    I was the odd-ball without an NES, but oh the love I had for my Sega Master System -- Phantasy Star, Ys, Miracle Warriors, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Zillion, Walter Payton Football, Quartet, Space Harrier -- oh the hours of my mis-spent youth
  • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flitty (981864) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:47PM (#22224620)
    You are correct, The article is wrong. Zelda, not mario, was inspired by Miyamoto's exploration.

    I do have to say that my old SNES got the most playtime out of a single game for me. I think i've played S.Metroid 6 or 7 times through? Same with Link to the Past. It seemed to be the perfect form for 2d sidescrollers and the kind of games that Nintendo Made. Enough power to allow for Saves and bigger environments, and gameplay that matched; difficult, but not frustrating (the majority of NES games were hard because of controls, not because the games were designed that way, i'm looking at you TMNT). I'll never be able to play the 64 because I couldn't afford one at the time and going back to play it now is almost impossible because the 3d geometry is analogous to the NES:SNES upgrade. However, (this might just be the old man in me) I have no problem going back and playing any SNES game that I missed. I feel the same will hold true for the 360 and ps3, and even the xbox and ps2 (later gen games). The graphics are not intrusive into the enjoyment of the game, even if graphics do get better.
  • by Generic Guy (678542) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:48PM (#22224632)

    Even though it isn't really covered in the article, I'd have to pick the original Xbox as the greatest system. Wait! Before you mod me into oblivion let me explain: I claim that a lot of interest in a particular console seems to be how well you can modify it for other purposes. In other words, versatility can be of great importance.

    Xbox (original): Once you easily softmod the machine, and possible install a larger internal hardrive, the Xbox is a self-sufficient machine with excellent graphics capabilities and emulation ability. Even by today's console standards, on any 'regular' standard-definition TV, the Xbox games are surprising good looking and perform well. Yeah, a lot of Xbox titles are cross-platform. But even so, usually the Xbox edition of any title was as good or superior to the others. Plus, with UnleashX or other dashboard replacement, you have customizable menus from which to launch programs or games stored on the hard drive. It's also reliable as hell, almost impossible to kill.

    Emulation. The Xbox can run those precious SNES games listed in the article. It can also run NES, Genesis, Atari, and even some PSone games. There's even a working Daphne emulator for those old laserdisc titles such as Space Ace and Dragon's Lair. You can also run a number of select N64 titles, although not a complete list.

    Multi-Media. Xbox has the famous XBMC, XBoxMediaCenter from which you can play movies, music, photos and the like from local or network storage. XBMC can also be used as a game launcher instead of other dashboards if you prefer. The only caveat is that newer H264 and other Hi-Def high-bandwidth material is a bit too much for the 700MHx intel CPU on the aging beast.

    Computing. That's right, the Xbox is a 700MHz intel PC in a console case. You can use it to run Linux as a basic computing platform if you like. This is Slashdot, is it not? Nothing can be taken seriously here until it runs linux. :)

    Don't get me wrong... I loved the SNES as well in its day. You could even use pliers to break away the little plastic tabs in the cartridge slot to play those Ranma 1/2 import games. But any other utility was pretty much non-existant. Ans let's face it, there were a ton of crappy platformer clones (maybe not as many as the infamous NES).

    P.S.What I find most amusing is how much I *hated* the big and heavy XBox when it first came out, and conversely how much I love it today.

  • Nintendo 64 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:51PM (#22224668)
    My vote has to go to the Nintendo 64. Watching Super Mario 64, and later Zelda Ocarina of Time, run around in 3 dimensions was just such a quantum leap from Pong and Tank (yes I go back to the very beginning) that there is no way to say anyone else ever brought such a leap to gaming.
  • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by beckerist (985855) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:00PM (#22224794) Homepage
    I am a social, casual gamer. I submit the N64 as the greatest console of all time. No such thing as calling online play "multiplayer." I remember the days of me, 3 of my best friends, a bottle of JD, a few packages of Penguin mints and a 2-night bender where all we did for 60 hours straight was eat, drink, stay awake (thank you caffeine!) and throw the controllers at each other in fits of rage.

    Goldeneye, Mario Tennis, Smash Brothers, Mario Party 1-3 and Mario Kart...we didn't need anything else.
  • Re:Nintendo 64 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sciros (986030) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:18PM (#22225128) Journal
    For me it would be N64, followed by SNES, followed by NES, but all 3 being close.

    IMO the two *best-made games ever* are Ocarina and SM64. They're the games that I judge all others against in all sorts of respects.

    The N64 was to me the silver age of gaming. You had the best Zelda/Mario games ever, IMO the best Mario Kart, a revolution in console FPS games with Goldeneye, the first Smash Bros, etc. 3D gaming at its most memorable and finest. Many games on the N64 are yet to be outdone in their respective genres.

    The SNES was the golden age. Link to the Past, Super Mario World, DKC and DKC2 setting new standards in side-scrolling platformers, Killer Instinct revolutionizing fighting games, Super Mario Kart popularizing a new genre, Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan), Super Metroid, the Super Star Wars games, the list goes on and on. The SNES had so many good games to play every year it's scary.

    NES did so much for console gaming it's hard to put it in scope. With Super Mario Bros. it took things to a whole new level right away. Add the Zelda games, Gradius shootemups, co-op Ninja Turtles games, Metroid, the Castlevanias, the Ninja Gaidens, and you are talking about a system with the predecessors to the majority of franchises anyone cares about.
  • Sega Dreamcast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:23PM (#22225186) Journal
    I'm probably the real odd-man out here, but I think of all the different systems I've owned, the Sega Dreamcast was my favorite. I've owned several different consoles & handhelds. We currently have a PS, PS2 & XBox in my home, and none of them get the same use for gaming as my Dreamcast did. We use the PS2 mainly as a DVD player, the PS isn't even plugged in, and the XBox sits idle. My favorite controller of all time though is the Dual Shock 2.
  • Re:Nintendo DS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:31PM (#22225320) Homepage Journal
    Not to mention the DS has a great combo of innovative inputs while still having all the old-school inputs.(ie d-pad and plenty of well placed buttons). I think the DS, more than the Wii, has really opened up gaming to a much wider audience. When I'm at home, my mom uses my DS more than I do. She loves puzzles and can't get enough of the brain age games. My cousins cannot be pried away from theirs. Plus, the ability to go almost anywhere(save an airplane) and be able to play multi-player games is really great(the psp can do this too, but....)

    I own both a DS and Wii, and I hardly touch the Wii, and am on my DS all the time. I can great 2-d RPG games, puzzles, fighting, and action games that are really easy to play in short intervals. DS is the best games console hands down.

    That being said, my love for tactical games is tempting me to get a PSP, which has FF Tactics, Jean D'Arc, and Lord of the Rings tactics among others. All we have on the DS is Radiant Arc, which I cannot stand.
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311.yahoo@com> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:51PM (#22225550) Homepage
    The greatest video games system of all time is the Wii - it has revolutionized the way people interact with the console.

    The only difference between all the other game systems is graphics and buttons. Difference between an Atari 2600 and NES/Genesis? More graphics and buttons. NES and SNES/Dreamcast/Playstation? Graphics and buttons. SNES/Playstation/Dreamcast and N64/PS2/XBox? Graphics and buttons. N64/PS2/XBox and PS3/XBox360? Graphics and buttons.

    But the Wii is fundamentally different. It's the realization of what the power glove was meant to be. There hasn't been that kind of revolution in gaming since Pong. Maybe the advent of games where you could save your game (with code or battery) from one session to the next. But other than that, it's all graphics and buttons.
  • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aplusjimages (939458) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:55PM (#22225616) Journal
    Shouldn't the greatest console of all times be separate from the games? Shouldn't it be a console that offered the gamer innovation as well as fun? If you took away Halo from Xbox would it still be a great console or Mario from any Nintendo generation? Everyone is naming games and what the console offered the gamer.

    I would vote for the dreamcast. I never owned one, but it was a hell of a system. If I'm not mistaken it was the first with internet access. Also it had the controllers that would allow these little devices to be added to them that served several functions. One function allowed sports games to show different plays without showing your pick on the TV, others allowed the user to detach it and play it as a mini game.
  • by raitchison (734047) <robert@aitchison.org> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @04:08PM (#22225832) Homepage Journal
    We have a Wii and love it, we play it often, along with our Xbox 360 and PS2, The Wii is definitely "revolutionary" (pun intended) but other than introduce a new style of gameplay it's not really that groundbreaking.

    The Wii without a doubt is the progenitor to what is to come, the Xbox 720 and the PS4 and the successor to the Wii (which will beat both of the aforementioned future consoles to market) will all take the successes of the Wii and add to it and improve upon it.

    Without a doubt it's a pathfinder for the future but it is in much the same way that the original Xbox with a built in HDD and Ethernet paved the way for Xbox Live and eventually the explosive growth of online gaming.
  • by tmalone (534172) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @04:16PM (#22225966)
    I recently played Phantasy Star 1 in emulation and I was amazed at how good it was, and how good it looked. It stands the test of time much better than any NES RPG I've ever played. Pity Sega didn't keep it up with RPGs. The past few systems they've made have had one or two really good RPGs, a few crap titles, and not much else. When I finished Skies of Arcade for the Dreamcast I looked around for another good RPG, but all I found was Grandia 2 which is fun but is also the most linear game I've ever played. They don't even disguise it. You literally travel from one place to the next, forced along by the game, never to return to previous locations.

    Sega has for me alwasy been a company that had some really great ideas but either bad luck or bad management. The Genesis was pretty popular, but beyond that they've really been a bit player for most of their existence, except in the arcades.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @04:34PM (#22226242)

    Sony trumped it with the worst-designed controller ever, the Dual Shock.
    There, fixed it for you.

    OK, not really, because there's no way that the Dual-Shock is the worst controller ever, but only because there have been some superbly stupid controller designs. But it's the worst main-stream controller design of any console at its time.

    Try this. Pick up a PS2/PS3 controller and leave your hands in their neutral position. Check where your thumbs are. They should be BETWEEN the D-pad/buttons and the analog sticks. This means that, in order to hit ANY button on the controller, you have to move your thumb to some uncomfortable position.

    Next check out the D-pad design. I'm aware it's to get out of having to pay Nintendo royalties, but really, Sony should have just sucked it up and paid Nintendo the money for the damned design. I think they've fixed this on later versions by making the center dip in slightly, but the original version was hard to use and made it far too easy to accidentally tip the D-pad in the wrong direction. Not to mention that it could easily pinch your thumb - something no other controller has ever threatened.

    Then check out the shoulder buttons. Two of them rest on the middle fingers. Try waggling your middle fingers back and forth. Hurts, doesn't it? Brilliant design, that.

    The only two buttons that are easy to press on the Dual-Shock controller are the L1 and R1 buttons. But that's hardly innovative since they were swiped from the SNES controller. (Seriously - the PSX controller is basically Sony redesigning the SNES controller just enough to escape patent and trade secret issues. This is why the Wii's Classic Controller can map directly to the Dual-Shock, but without the hand cramping issues. They moved the shoulder button split to the tip of the finger instead of making you cramp your wrist.)

    Seriously, compare the Wii's Classic Controller with the Dual-Shock. The Wii classic controller is missing rumble, granted, but otherwise is identical. And much easier on the hands.
  • Chrono Trigger (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @04:35PM (#22226248) Homepage Journal
    Chrono Trigger, hands down the best console RPG of all time, with only FF7 and Earthbound coming anywhere close. I've spent more hours playing and replaying Chrono Trigger than any other video game, including the modern FPSes that I tend to prefer these days. Chrono Trigger's blend of humor, flirtatious characters, intense drama, fantastic graphics for a 16-bit system, but most of all: the most compelling, appropriate music ever in a game. I can listen to the music from the game and feel like I'm playing it.
  • by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @08:29PM (#22229238) Journal
    agree. N64, greatest console ever.
    1) The controller was genius and is still utterly unsurpassed. The only real challenger is the Wii controller, and that's a whole different kettle of fish. A quick overview of the other challengers:
    The playstation controller - it's barely changed from the PS1 to the PS3, it was crap then and it's crap now. The two analogue sticks are too much for one person to control, the buttons are badly placed and the square-cross-circle-triangle keypad is madness! There's no underlying logic to the way that they're laid out - if you get an instruction that says 'press triangle' and you haven't memorised the controller you have to take your fingers off and look at the controller. That is NOT newbie-friendly.
    The xBox controller - no, just no, buttons are badly placed. The controller is too chunky to hold and they've made Sony's mistake of putting two analogue sticks on it.
    The N64 controller was ergonomic, allowed you to hold it so only the controls that you needed were accessible, had a good variety of buttons and all well placed (the z-button was great and so intuitive). My only gripe was that the rumble pack was an external extra and needed batteries.

    2) It was the last of the cartridge consoles. Cartridges were good. They were fast, they were rugged (you could throw them across the room in a fit of rage - I've only ever seen them broken once and that was after the circuit board had been deliberately snapped with pliers) and they allowed game makers to put the kibosh on most unwanted copying by the simple fact that no blank media existed. Everything has gone down the pan since consoles switched to discs.

    3) The games were just that good - MarioKart64, FZero-X, Goldeneye, Smash Brothers and, to a lesser extent, The World is Not Enough. 4 or 5 games guaranteed endless replayability.

    4) 4 players - didn't happen often, but was magic when it did.
  • Re:Nintendo DS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by metroid composite (710698) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @09:40PM (#22229882) Homepage Journal
    I actually agree, though for different reasons. I own probably twice as many DS games as I own for any other systems (barring perhaps PC) and I've been buying systems and games for 20 years. DS just has an excellent mix of completely wacky innovation type games, and traditional old-school style gameplay (including the rebirth of some genres I like, such as text adventures), and games I can show to my grandmother at social gatherings and catch her interest. For that matter, DS is also well on its way to being the best-selling system of all time--you could argue it's the people's choice.
  • by Neuticle (255200) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @01:39AM (#22231328) Homepage
    If you take off your rose coloured glasses, you'd realize that the Dual-Shock is a kludge, a very bad kludge in which analog sticks were slapped on to the original Playstation controller and rushed out the door with little or no design consideration.

    Sony shit a brick when they found out about the N64 controller design, and they had to respond with something ASAP. After they saw how well it was integrated with the N64, they feared the lack of analog would hobble the PS. They rushed out the dual-shock in very little time, it was on the shelves around a year after the 64 was released. By the design, you can infer that they were still not fully committed to analog, since the analog sticks are literally tacked on to the bottom

    If you still don't want to see the light, just look at how every other console manufacturer has done it. Sega Saturn & Dreamcast, Gamecube, Xbox & 360. Everyone else swapped the D-pad and left analog BECAUSE IT WORKS BETTER!
  • Re:Utter disbelief (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GastonTheTruck (1048316) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @05:57AM (#22232430)
    Game Boy. Dead right. It's the only console I've consistantly bought over the years. Counting back, we had an example of every major new variant - not bought to intentionally keep up, just because we wanted one. I've still got a b&w gameboy original, we lost our first gameboy colour to thieves, we have a Gameboy advance and also a DS. In that time, only an original playstation, then a playstation2 interrupted things. I was all set on a ps3 waiting for the price to drop but they lost me when backwards compatibility disappeared (we have lots of ps1 and ps2 games here, but not so many places to plug consoles in). Yup. Gameboy, in all it's variants, just too easy in cars, on planes, for little kids etc.

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