While Sony and Microsoft were battling it out over social networks, graphical and processing capabilities, and a pair of failed motion-camera peripherals, Nintendo was quietly working on what would go down as their most innovative console to date. The Wii was released to wildly successful sales, so much so that they hadn’t actually produced enough consoles to meet demand. And while the controller scheme was foreign to gamers as a whole, it worked well and turned the Wii into something of a party console – which people turned to for entertainment when they had company over. In fact, the game that shipped with the console (Wii Sports) would end up being one of its all-time most popular games. And for good reason: it was a hell of a lot of fun.
With over 725 games in its library, the SNES was one of the best consoles that came into the market with third-party support. Due to its previous promising history and savvy business deals, Nintendo got an early public relations advantage with third-party developer Capcom, giving them the first console port of Street Fighter II. Nintendo went above and beyond with the SNES by developing the Super FX chip, allowing 3D capabilities with titles like Starfox and Doom without adding on any unnecessary hardware. For anyone wanting to relive the definitive early 90s gaming experience, the SNES wins hands down. 
The first fifth-generation consoles were the Amiga CD32, 3DO and the Atari Jaguar. Although all three consoles were more powerful than the fourth generation systems, none of them would become serious threats to Sega or Nintendo. The 3DO initially generated a great deal of hype in part because of a licensing scheme where 3DO licensed the manufacturing of its console out to third parties, similar to VCR or DVD players. However, unlike its competitors who could sell their consoles at a loss, all 3DO manufacturers had to sell for profit. The Jaguar had three processors and no C libraries to help developers cope with it. Atari was ineffective at courting third parties and many of their first party games were poorly received. Many of the Jaguar's games used mainly the slowest (but most familiar) of the console's processors, resulting in titles that could easily have been released on the SNES or Genesis.
Will Greenwald has been covering consumer technology for a decade, and has served on the editorial staffs of CNET.com, Sound & Vision, and Maximum PC. His work and analysis has been seen in GamePro, Tested.com, Geek.com, and several other publications. He currently covers consumer electronics in the PC Labs as the in-house home entertainment expert... See Full Bio
Nintendo lags behind its competitors in raw power, but makes up for it in form factor. The Switch is a small tablet rather than a bigger, blocky console, and you can play it on the go with its built-in 720p screen. The compromise comes in a resolution that tops out at 1080p when connected to a TV, and generally poorer performance in terms of frame rate and effects than the PS4 and Xbox One.
Colecovision's claim to fame was its incredible accuracy in bringing current-generation arcade hits home. Coleco aggressively went after the rights to produce home versions of games that were enjoying success in game rooms, and the powerful hardware inside the Colecovision made it possible for programmers to produce close-to-perfect adaptations. Or, at least, far better adaptations than either the aging Atari 2600 or Intellivision systems could provide. Coleco even produced peripherals such as steering wheels and trackballs to even more closely convert the arcade experience for the home.
^ Pereira, Joseph (November 16, 1992). "Technology (A Special Report): At Our Leisure --- (Not So) Great Expectations: Hand-held Video Games Will Get Better, But Big Improvements May Take a While". The Wall Street Journal. p. R10. ISSN 0099-9660. Meanwhile, Nintendo, the first on the market with its black-and-white Game Boy, has sold approximately 7.5 million portable systems, analysts estimate. Sega has sold about 1.6 million units of its color Game Gear system, while Atari Inc. has sold about one million units of its $99 Lynx color portable system.

Many video games are available for multiple platforms, like Minecraft for example. However, some games are made exclusively for a specific console. So if you’re dying to play Halo or Forza, you'll need an Xbox. Heard great things about Uncharted or The Last of Us? Sony’s PlayStation is the only place they are available. Likewise, any title in Nintendo’s Mario or Zelda franchises can only be played on its devices.


At one point in the 1980s the video game industry was dying from over saturation until Nintendo took a chance with its first console: the Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo set its sights on making sure that third-party developers were licensed and abided by strict rules like releasing two games a year to prevent “shovelware” and prohibiting those games on other consoles. It worked.
Its strengths as a gaming console are its downfall when it comes to reliving the system in today's generation: most of, if not all, of the biggest hits on the Colecovision were games that Coleco didn't own. The company held very few gaming intellectual properties, instead putting all its money behind licensing other publishers' products. Telegames produced an official Colecovision compilation featuring emulated games for the Windows platform, but it lacked many of the titles that made the platform a popular system to own in the early ‘80s.
The Nintendo Wii U uses a gamepad controller with a screen in it, so if parents want to use the living room TV, kids can still play on their Wii U through its dedicated gaming screen without interference. It includes some of the most fun local multiplayer games, too, such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D world – both capable of up to four players. The Wii U is also compatible with Wii remote controllers, so you don’t have to buy even more hardware to get in on the game with your friends and family.
Will Greenwald has been covering consumer technology for a decade, and has served on the editorial staffs of CNET.com, Sound & Vision, and Maximum PC. His work and analysis has been seen in GamePro, Tested.com, Geek.com, and several other publications. He currently covers consumer electronics in the PC Labs as the in-house home entertainment expert... See Full Bio
Sony's flagship, the PS4 Pro is a powerhouse system in its own right, allowing gamers to play their games in dynamic 4K (resolutions can upscale up to 4K with some tech wizardry) and with HDR enabled, too. The latest revision of the console is also quieter than ever (CUH-7200), which fixed one of the more minor issues some reviewers found with the launch model.
Another console designed to be technologically superior to the Atari 2600, the ColecoVision was intended to be a more powerful second generation home console with the ability to have its basic hardware expanded through later releases. Like the Intellivision, this gaming console featured a rotary and number pad controller, but saw a stronger initial release thanks largely to the fact that the system came bundled with Nintendo’s Donkey Kong – one of the most popular games of its time. This short-lived console was killed off prematurely, however, as the parent brand pulled out of the video game industry in 1985 – causing the ColecoVision to be discontinued the same year.
^ Bauscher, Dave. "allgame ( Sega Game Gear > Overview )". Allgame. Retrieved September 21, 2008. While this feature is not included on the Game Boy it does provide a disadvantage -- the Game Gear requires 6 AA batteries that only last up to six hours. The Nintendo Game Boy only requires 4 AA batteries and is capable of providing up to 35 hours of play.
"I wasn't even a zygote when the Odyssey first came out, but played around with one years later found at a garage sale. However, I can only imagine what my face must have looked like when I recently found one in mint condition in the original box with all screen overlays still packed with parchment paper between them -- and for only $38. It took me a while to get the Ody hooked up to an older, fickle television. But when it finally did come up on-screen, I could only imagine what kind of revolution this must have looked like in 1972."
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's PlayStation 2 was released in Japan on March 4, 2000, in North America on October 26, 2000, in Europe on November 24, 2000, and in Australia on November 30, 2000. It was the follow-up to its highly successful PlayStation and was also the first home game console to be able to play DVDs. As was done with the original PlayStation in 2000, Sony redesigned the console in 2004 into a smaller version. As of November 21, 2011 over 140 million PlayStation 2 units have been sold.[45][46] This makes it the best selling home console of all time to date.
"By the time the Atari 7800 launched, it looked like old news to me. I was hooked on my Commodore 64 and the NES was exploding. However, all that changed when the 7800 became the only place to play one of my all-time favorite arcade games: Food Fight. Then I suddenly coveted the console. It became my "Food Fight machine" that also happened to play pretty good ports of Joust, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, and Xevious."
Simply put, the Nintendo Switch is the best console for younger gamers and the second system of the day for mature gamers. If you can afford to have two consoles in your life you absolutely owe it to yourself to experience its magic, but if you can't then you really need to weigh up what you prize more - graphical fidelity and breadth of gaming ecosystem, or incredible gaming portability.
"While I still rail against Sony for some of the mistakes that it has made with its most powerful system to date, like removing backwards compatibility and stubbornly refusing to drop the price of the system, I still have fond memories of playing Metal Gear Solid 4 on the system multiple times over around the world, staying up all night long playing Warhawk with a core of dedicated players as the game launched and playing some incredible games of baseball with The Show over the past few years. Sure, it's hit some stumbling blocks, but the PS3 is one of those systems that has yet to showcase its true potential, and it'll be awesome to see what developers can squeeze out of the console in the years to come. "
The Nintendo 3DS is a portable game console produced by Nintendo. It is the successor to the Nintendo DS. The autostereoscopic device is able to project stereoscopic 3D effects without the use of 3D glasses or any additional accessories.[70] The Nintendo 3DS features backward compatibility with Nintendo DS series software, including Nintendo DSi software.[70] After announcing the device in March 2010, Nintendo officially unveiled it at E3 2010,[70][71] with the company inviting attendees to use demonstration units.[72] The console succeeded the Nintendo DS series of handheld systems,[70] which primarily competed with PlayStation Portable.[73] The 3DS competed with Sony's handheld, the PlayStation Vita.[74]
"I begged Santa to get us an Atari for Christmas 1980, and my parents decided to give me my wish...but they planned it as the final present I opened by stuffing it as far behind the tree as possible. Unfortunately, I grabbed a present I probably shouldn't have, "Bowling" for the 2600...pretty much destroying any Christmastime strategy my folks planned out. I still feel guilty about that." 

The Atari 5200 was designed and marketed as Atari's answer to the Intellivision, but soon after its release in 1982, it became a more direct competitor to the Colecovision instead, which released that same year. The 5200 had some notable feature variations over its competitors, however, such as its analog joystick, four controller ports, and start, pause, and reset buttons. Based off of the Atari 400/800 home computer systems, the Atari 5200 came with a 1.79 MHz processor, 16KB of RAM, and was capable of producing an image with a maximum resolution of 320x192 pixels. While that may not sound like a lot now with consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 boasting high-end processors and video output of 1920x1080 resolution, but at the time it blew away the Intellivision's sub-1MHz processor.
Inevitably, the Atari 5200 was crushed beneath the technological weight of the ColecoVision, which boasted a jaw-dropping 3.58MHz processor, but when it went the way of the dinosaur, the Atari 5200 left behind the its legacy of four controller ports console design and, of course, the analog joystick. Sure, the Atari 5200 analog stick may have been terrible, but every great idea has to start somewhere, and in the case of the analog controller, it was here.
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".
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