Many consoles have media streaming apps such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and more. These let you watch your favorite shows or listen to music directly on your console; some consoles can even connect to your cable source, thus centralizing your home’s entertainment center. Consoles also have parental controls, which give concerned parents more control than ever over the kinds of games, apps and videos their kids can access.
The Nintendo Switch has 50 third-party publishers in partnership for developing its future games. Hits like Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey have given it a strong lineup. The Switch makes for a great system for parties with its mobile snap-off joy-con controllers – once out of its docking station, it acts like a tablet with its own dedicated screen that can be shared with others through split-screen multiplayer games.
"I actually liked the Atari 5200, primarily because of the games I had for it, such as Pengo, Mountain King, The Dreadnaught Factor, and one of my favorite games of all-time, Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns. Now, was the machine an over-sized mess with controllers that broke way too easy? Yes. But if consoles are defined by their games, then on a personal level, the 5200 remains near and dear for not only these titles, but for being a part of my discovery of videogames in the early eighties."
After the sluggish sales in Japan, Sega pursued a different strategy in other areas. The system launched in North America with 18 titles, including the much-anticipated Sonic Adventure. A big part of marketing their system to North America was taking advantage of the turn of the century and North America's tendency to end a products price tag with the number 9. They came up with the slogan "9/9/99 for $199", and the system initially sold briskly. Despite Japan having a year head start on North America, by the end of 1999 the Dreamcast had sold 2 million units in North America versus only 1 million in Japan, and at the end of the year Sega controlled 31% of the American video game market. The Dreamcast went on to launch in Europe on October 14, 1999 and in Australia on November 30, 1999.
Sony decided that its PS2 console was going to be an entertainment system, but not just for video games. DVDs were huge in the early 2000s, and PlayStation 2 brought to the foray a multimedia system that doubled as a DVD player. The data format allowed for bigger games, too, making humungous series that looked like cinematic masterpieces, including Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus and Grand Theft Auto III.
Marketing speak aside, the system was, indeed, a capable piece of hardware when compared to the generation it was intended to compete with: it definitely surpassed the Genesis and Super NES in 2D and 3D capabilities. The controller revisited gaming ideals of a previous gaming generation with its keypad and game specific overlays, something familiar to those that grew up on the Intellivision, Atari 5200 or Colecovision. It also offered the potential for CD gaming with a future add-on that seamlessly docked right on top of the main system.
In 1983, the video game business suffered a much more severe crash. A flood of low-quality video games by smaller companies (especially for the 2600), industry leader Atari hyping games such as E.T and a 2600 version of Pac-Man that were poorly received, and a growing number of home computer users caused consumers and retailers to lose faith in video game consoles. Most video game companies filed for bankruptcy, or moved into other industries, abandoning their game consoles. A group of employees from Mattel Electronics formed the INTV Corporation and bought the rights for the Intellivision. INTV alone continued to manufacture the Intellivision in small quantities and release new Intellivision games until 1991. All other North American game consoles were discontinued by 1984. Revenues generated by the video game industry fell by 97% during the crash.
The Atari 7800 was a sleek and capable videogame console released in 1986. While it had a solid offering of its own games, the 7800 featured a prime system feature: full, built-in compatibility with the Atari 2600. While consoles of the past could play Atari 2600 games through the use of an optional adapter, the 7800 accepted these cartridges right in the main slot and played them without any extra add-ons.
During its lifetime, Game Boy would face and beat multiple contenders in the mobile gaming market like Sega’s Game Gear and the Atari Lynx. Its launch included hit titles like Super Mario Land, Baseball and Tetris. Players could even buy a cable link to play multiplayer games. Along the way, the chubby grey console got a smaller model called the Game Boy Pocket and a colored iteration called the Game Boy Color. If you’ve ever wondered why games are on smartphones, just look to the Game Boy.
"I lived in Japan when the SNES (Super Famicom) came out. Whenever I got together to play multiplayer games with my buddy, D.J., we'd completely overdo it. Remember how looking at your opponent's screen was a crucial tactic in playing Mario Kart? After what must've been a 20-hour Battle Mode marathon, I noticed that D.J.'s Yoshi kept on driving straight into a track barrier. The bastard had fallen asleep in the middle of the game, with his finger on the accelerator! Armed with a red shell, I positioned myself at the far end of the stage, lined up the shot, woke up D.J. and pointed his head at the screen to make him witness the glorious takedown. Yep, it's all about the little things in life."
Another option is local multiplayer. You can play using two TVs in a single location or using the split-screen feature on a single TV. Many modern games don’t support local multiplayer on a single TV, as it consumes too much processing power to render a game twice over on one screen. However, Nintendo continues to create games and consoles that can abide by this option, making its consoles great for local gaming.
It's also worth mentioning that like the PlayStation 2 and DVDs before it, the PlayStation 3 put Blu-ray players into millions of homes world-wide and helped it overtake HD-DVD as the HD format war winner. Coupled with downloadable videos via the PlayStation Network, the PlayStation 3 also serves as much more than a gaming device, which is certainly a plus.
Eighth-generation Nintendo consoles (Nintendo 3DS and Wii U) took advantage of the services provided by the Nintendo Network, including purchase and download of full titles, Virtual Console games, downloadable games (including most DSiWare/WiiWare titles), DLC, non-gaming apps, game demos, and other material. Nintendo Network also allowed online-gaming support to be provided either for free or for a premium cost. Nintendo also offered its own social network in the form of Miiverse, which was shut down in 2017.
Nintendo is the obvious choice for family-friendly gaming. It’s known for the kid-safe titles in its library, like the Mario, Donkey Kong and Pokémon franchises as well as other arcade classics that typically don’t have unsavory content. The Nintendo Switch also has a ton of exclusive and indie titles available that kids should enjoy, although it is slightly pricier than the DS consoles. The Switch supports both solo and multiplayer gaming on its small screen, and you can choose to play it on your TV or handheld on the go. With their small designs and simple interfaces, the Nintendo consoles are great options for younger kids.
Marking the largest jump in the technology of the gaming world since the move from arcades to home consoles, the Nintendo 64 was launched to critical acclaim thanks to the sheer innovation of introducing home gamers to the experience of 3-dimensional environments. Alongside the original PlayStation, this console helped usher in the modern era of video gaming as we know it, and it did so in excellent fashion. It also had the benefit of improving upon concepts introduced by its predecessor, the SNES – namely the Mario Kart and Starfox franchises. It’s also worth noting that, at the time of its release, Time Magazine named the N64 Machine of the Year.
It starts with a black screen. A woman’s voice. She speaks Japanese, and your eyes are wired to the subtitles. You have waited many months – if not years – for this game. Finally, you are sitting here. With sweaty hands and light in your eyes. The rest of the world disappeared around you, when you inserted the game disk into your console. Now it is only you, your controller and a long game. The graphics come up on the screen, the familiar melody starts to play, and your head explodes in a wild euphoria. FINALLY!
Even as Sony successfully marketed the slick and cool PlayStation 2 as a high-tech home media device, Nintendo tried to sell GCN as a simple games player for the whole family -- in hindsight, probably a mistake. GameCube looked like a lunchbox and, save for the fantastic Nintendo-published exclusives like Metroid Prime and Super Mario Sunshine -- it didn't really sport any distinguishing features over its competitors. The machine sold almost exclusively to Nintendo fans and younger gamers, which is why it was also largely shunned by third-parties, whose software usually performed better on other platforms. Nintendo ultimately sold about 22 million GameCube systems worldwide -- roughly 118 million units less than PlayStation 2.
Virtual life games have come from strategy genre, but the competition element here is replaced with care for the characters, construction of scenarios and home as a central topic. In The Sims you can, for example, design a family and a house for them, and let different dramas play themselves out. The central game activity is in controlling the characters’ actions, which develops their life in a certain direction.
The first handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges was the Microvision designed by Smith Engineering, and distributed and sold by Milton-Bradley in 1979. Crippled by a small, fragile LCD display and a very narrow selection of games, it was discontinued two years later. The Epoch Game Pocket Computer was released in Japan in 1984. The Game Pocket Computer featured an LCD screen with 75 X 64 resolution and could produce graphics at about the same level as early Atari 2600 games. The system sold very poorly, and as a result, only five games were made for it. Nintendo's Game & Watch series of dedicated game systems proved more successful. It helped to establish handheld gaming as popular and lasted until 1991. Many Game & Watch games were later re-released on Nintendo's subsequent handheld systems.