We all remember our first videogame console -- the moment we brought it home, the first time we powered it on, and the instant we first played a game that radiated our screen with beautiful graphic goodness. If you're anything like us, your first console was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and what began as a one-system household quickly evolved into a gamer's Mecca with consoles littering your living room. In the spirit of our healthy gaming obsession, IGN has forged a list of the Top 25 Videogame Consoles of All Time, where we have selected and ranked the most influential systems in the history of gaming to be revealed five consoles at a time for five straight days. While it may seem like a simple task on paper, sifting through 37+ years of console history for the best and brightest, while getting IGN's editorial staff to agree on one comprehensive list was an undertaking for the ages.
^ Jump up to: a b "Sega Corporation Annual Report 2001" (PDF). Sega Corporation. August 1, 2001. p. 14. Retrieved November 2, 2015. A total of 3.39 million hardware units and 23.87 million software units were sold worldwide during fiscal 2001, for respective totals of 8.20 million units and 51.63 million units since Dreamcast was first brought to market.
And then there's Nintendo, which tends to run almost purely on exclusives. Mario and Link are pure gold, and Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are two of the best games in their respective series (Breath of the Wild was also released on the Wii U). Add Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and the clever Nintendo Labo sets and you have a lot of Nintendo-only games. The trade-off is fewer current AAA games like Call of Duty (though Bethesda has ported Doom, Skyrim, and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus to the system).
Compatibility - If you’ve previously owned a gaming console, you should consider buying a new console that’s compatible with the library of games you’ve likely collected. For example, your PS4 won’t play games from older Sony consoles, but you can still access hundreds of older PlayStation titles using the PS Now streaming service. Xbox One, on the other hand, has much better backwards compatibility, not to mention a digital redemption scheme that lets you download newer versions of your existing games for free.
As the first high-definition game console ever introduced, the Xbox 360 represents a milestone in videogame hardware history. The Xbox 360 represents a first-time shift in standalone platforms to crisp, clean, high-definition graphics with advanced shading and physics effects. While these features were long-since a staple of PC gaming, they had never before been seen in the console market. Additionally, the Xbox 360 was also the first console to hit the market with an integrated wireless controller system. Although wireless controller solutions were present in previous game systems, wireless connectivity could only be achieved through external dongle attachments.
Several consoles such as the Master System and the TurboGrafx-16 have used different types of smart cards as an external medium. These cards function similar to simple cartridges. Information is stored on a chip that is housed in plastic. Cards are more compact and simpler than cartridges, though. This makes them cheaper to produce and smaller, but limits what can be done with them. Cards cannot hold extra components, and common cartridge techniques like bank switching (a technique used to create very large games) were impossible to miniaturize into a card in the late 1980s. Compact Discs reduced much of the need for cards. Optical Discs can hold more information than cards, and are cheaper to produce. The Nintendo GameCube and the PlayStation 2 use memory cards for storage, but the PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Switch are currently the only modern systems to use cards for game distribution. Nintendo has long used cartridges with their Game Boy line of hand held consoles because of their durability, small size, stability (not shaking and vibrating the handheld when it is in use), and low battery consumption. Nintendo switched to cards starting with the DS, because advances in memory technology made putting extra memory on the cartridge unnecessary. The PlayStation Vita uses Sony's own proprietary flash-memory Vita cards as one method of game distribution.
The first true battle of the consoles began in 1991 with the US release of the Super Nintendo. Boasting 16-bit graphics and a superior soundcard than its competition (the audio system was entirely standalone), Nintendo pushed its art style and name branding against SEGA's "SEGA does what Nintendon't" campaign, but in the end it was what Nintendo did – or had, rather – that put the SNES higher on our chart. Despite "hardcore-minded" competition, Nintendo pushed a pedigree of original content, starting with the debut Super Mario World and carried on through titles like Super Metroid, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, F-Zero, Mario Kart, and the dawn of the FX chip which brought the debut of Star Fox. Developer Rare continued to push the console in its later years with the help of Nintendo, introducing larger cart sizes with Donkey Kong Country, and a flood of third party support pushed the Super Nintendo to legendary status with games like Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Gradius III, Contra III, Mega Man X, Secret of Mana, and many, many more. When it comes to a pure concentration of AAA titles, few consoles – if any – can stand up to the Super NES.
Video games have changed the way we tell stories – and with more and more possibilities to change a certain story in a game with an interactive narrative, where you as a player are faced with crucial decisions, more complex stories can be told. Games for Playstation, Xbox and PC give us the possibility to take risks that feel real without having the real world knock on the door with real world consequences. Part of what is so alluring about a first-person shooter game is that you as a player can shoot a heat-seeking missile at a building and see the results – without ending up in prison.
There are different types of gamepads suitable for video games: pistols, fishing rods, tennis rackets, golf clubs, boxing gloves, dance mats, joysticks and even musical instruments for games like Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, or Rock Band. Some steering wheels have a gearshift, pedals and force feedback to feel the acceleration, loss of speed, jolts, crashes, etc.
NEC brought the first fourth-generation console to market with their PC Engine (or TurboGrafx16) when Hudson Soft approached them with an advanced graphics chip. Hudson had previously approached Nintendo, only to be rebuffed by a company still raking in the profits of the NES. The TurboGrafx used the unusual HuCard format to store games. The small size of these proprietary cards allowed NEC to re-release the console as a handheld game console. The PC Engine enjoyed brisk sales in Japan, but its North American counterpart, the TurboGrafx, lagged behind the competition. The console never saw an official release in Europe, but clones and North American imports were available in some markets starting in 1990. NEC advertised their console as "16-bit" to highlight its advances over the NES. This started the trend of all subsequent fourth generations consoles being advertised as 16 bit. Many people still refer to this generation as the 16-bit generation and often refer to the third generation as "8-bit".
In 1990, Nintendo finally brought their Super Famicom to market and brought it to the United States as the Super NES (SNES) a year later. Its release marginalized the TurboGrafx and the Neo Geo, but came late enough for Sega to sell several million consoles in North America and gain a strong foothold. The same year the SNES was released Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog, which spiked Genesis sales, similar to Space Invaders on the Atari. Also, by 1992 the first fully licensed NFL Football game was released: NFL Sports Talk Football '93, which was available only on the Genesis. This impact on Genesis sales and the overall interest of realistic sports games would start the trend of licensed sports games being viewed as necessary for the success of a console in the US. While Nintendo enjoyed dominance in Japan and Sega in Europe, the competition between the two was particularly fierce and close in North America. Ultimately, the SNES outsold the Genesis, but only after Sega discontinued the Genesis to focus on the next generation of consoles.
The second contribution, Xbox Live, proved a testbed for the version that's become so beloved on Xbox 360. Though the SEGA Dreamcast had broadband gameplay, Xbox's Live service was the first that managed to capture a high level of quality among a large number of games. It gave us the first iteration of a Friends List and even had a few Xbox Live Arcade titles. The service kicked off with MechAssault and continues on through Halo 2, a game which is still played online by hundreds of thousands of gamers. With Live, the Xbox showed us the future of console gaming.
Everything started with a collaboration with Nintendo. The first game console was introduced in 1994. An innovative platform that brought CD-ROM as a data storage into the market. Marketing was targeted at 15-30-year-old men – and not the children audience that consoles were traditionally oriented towards. This strategy showed to be a huge success and was therefore maintained in connection with the launch of Playstation 2 that came out in 2000. The bestseller sold over 140 million copies. The third one in the series came out in 2007, the forth in 2013.
Upon its first reveal, the Nintendo Switch marketed itself as a mobile gaming system that not only could be played at home on your television, but also carried around and playable wherever you go. Nintendo’s innovative console makes playing on the go easy and comes with a disassembling controller with split screen options, so you can play with friends.
"The Dreamcast launch was a huge deal for me. In fact, the day before the launch, this really amazing girl came into my work and asked me out. And we were on a date that was going so well, but I kept looking at my watch thinking, "I have to get ready for the DC launch." Yeah, I chose the Dreamcast over hooking up with a hot girl and I'd do it again."
The Atari 7800 was originally designed to succeed the Atari 5200 in 1984, but the system's launch was shelved when Atari was sold to new owners who wanted to focus on the computer market instead. The console was, instead, officially launched two years later in response to Nintendo and SEGA entering the US home console market with the Nintendo Entertainment System and Master System respectively. Many of the console's planned features, such as a high score saving cartridge, were never released.
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Sega's Master System was intended to compete with the NES, but never gained any significant market share in the US or Japan and was barely profitable. It fared notably better in PAL territories. In Europe and South America, the Master System competed with the NES and saw new game releases even after Sega's next-generation Mega Drive was released. In Brazil where strict importation laws and rampant piracy kept out competitors, the Master System outsold the NES by a massive margin and remained popular into the 1990s. Jack Tramiel, after buying Atari, downsizing its staff, and settling its legal disputes, attempted to bring Atari back into the home console market. Atari released a smaller, sleeker, cheaper version of their popular Atari 2600. They also released the Atari 7800, a console technologically comparable with the NES and backward compatible with the 2600. Finally, Atari repackaged its 8-bit XE home computer as the XEGS game console. The new consoles helped Atari claw its way out of debt, but failed to gain much market share from Nintendo. Atari's lack of funds meant that its consoles saw fewer releases, lower production values (both the manuals and the game labels were frequently black and white), and limited distribution. Additionally, two popular 8-bit computers, the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC, were repackaged as the Commodore 64 Games System and Amstrad GX4000 respectively, for entry into the console market.