Fairchild released the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES) in 1976. While there had been previous game consoles that used cartridges, either the cartridges had no information and served the same function as flipping switches (the Odyssey) or the console itself was empty (Coleco Telstar) and the cartridge contained all of the game components. The VES, however, contained a programmable microprocessor so its cartridges only needed a single ROM chip to store microprocessor instructions. RCA and Atari soon released their own cartridge-based consoles, the RCA Studio II and the Atari 2600 (originally branded as the Atari Video Computer System), respectively.
Nintendo Switch: Not as powerful as the other two but offers lots of its own innovative child-friendly features, including a built-in screen for playing on the bus, making it the best choice for younger families (and also time-pressed parents whose home gaming time is minimal). Plus, this is the only place you’ll be able to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – some of the greatest games of the decade.
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.
What follows here it T3's top picks of the best game consoles available to buy today. We've selected a series of systems at a variety of price points and intended usage scenarios, too, meaning that no matter your budget, and no matter if you want a powerful portable or multimedia home console, we're sure you'll find something that suits your gaming needs.
We’ve tested gaming consoles rigorously for over four years. Our most recent evaluations took over 80 hours. Our writer and product tester is a lifetime avid gamer who thoroughly researched and tested each of the consoles, pushing each to their limit to test their quality, features, performance and ease of use. We considered each console’s interface, gaming and video playback, exclusives, price features and overall ease of use, all while examining how effective each console would be for users of all gaming experience levels and budgets.
Nowadays, Nintendo has a reputation for creating strange-looking and -functioning consoles. Even those that were somewhat a commercial failure (we’re looking at you, Wii U) were innovative in their own right. While the Nintendo 64 certainly marked a jump in technological performance, the GameCube was the first of the brand’s consoles to have an appearance as out-there as its performance. That was bolstered by the unique use of mini-optical discs in place of cartridges, an incredibly odd yet effective controller design, and a carry handle mounted to the back of the device for simple portability. Still, in spite of its esoteric format, it featured some of the best games to come out at the time.
There’s an argument to be made that, without the Nintendo Entertainment System, video games may never have become the massively popular medium they are today. And nobody, even the brand themselves, could have guessed that this system would be such a game-changer (no pun intended). Suddenly, home consoles were just as capable as their full-sized arcade counterparts – perhaps even more so. And the long list of superb Nintendo exclusive games only made the proposition of purchasing this gaming device even stronger. Find a 30-something gamer and we’d put down money that the NES played at least a small part in getting them into video games. All that and more is why the Nintendo Entertainment System is the greatest gaming console ever created.
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".
The PlayStation is not just another console, it’s the classic gaming console. While Xbox has emerged as a major contender for the top spot, it’s hard to beat the Playstation’s appeal. The PS 4 does not disappoint, unlike the bulky PS 3 did when it was first released. Right out of the box, the PS 4 is capable of 4k Ultra HD gaming! It comes with high dynamic range graphics. If you want to upgrade the graphics of older games, use the “boost” mode on the PS 4. Now you can play games with the PlayStation VR headset for a truly immersive experience.
But to say that you need to buy a controller is of course, a very wide approach, which you will quickly learn if you look around on the website. Maybe you think that you can just go to whatever website and point at a random PS4 controller and say that this one is exactly the one you need. But it will rarely be that easy, because you will often see that there are many options, so it can be hard to choose. One of those options is a Sony Dualshock 4. And when you are that far in, you also need the right colour, and here you can, for example, choose the fresh Steel black colour. It is black, but it also has a nice grey overlay, and will definitely stand out next to the original PS4 controller that you got with the console.
The PS4 may still have a stronger gaming library than the Xbox One, but the Pro’s improvements are only noticeable in games that have been specifically enhanced for it. The Xbox One X has proven far better at using its extra horsepower to improve the visuals of all games on the platform, enhanced or not. Microsoft is also doubling down on investing in first-party studios, such as Rare, which recently released Sea of Thieves, and the company recently acquired big-name studios like Ninja Theory and Playground Games, as well.
Gaming consoles span several major brands, including Nintendo, Playstation, and Xbox. They also span several generations, with the PS4 console being the latest Playstation and the Xbox One X console being the latest from Microsoft. If you’re looking to play at home, traditional gaming consoles offer stunning HD graphic capabilities thanks to Blu-Ray technology, and the Wii gives you the chance to get active too. If you want to be able to take interactive gaming with you on the move, handheld models also offer up 3D graphics, touchscreen control, WiFi and 3G connectivity, movie and video playback as well as incredible gameplay.