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With the Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4; console gaming has entered a new level of visual fidelity and online play. Games on the Xbox One console and the PS4 console are bigger, more immersive and more graphically stunning than ever before. Now, with the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, you can enjoy even better graphics and processing power. Nintendo’s current console, the Switch, may not pack the same graphical punch, but has been enormously successful thanks to a stellar line up of games and the fact it can be used as a home console and a handheld.
Each new generation of console hardware made use of the rapid development of processing technology. Newer machines could output a greater range of colors, more sprites, and introduced graphical technologies such as scaling, and vector graphics. One way console makers marketed these advances to consumers was through the measurement of "bits". The TurboGrafx-16, Genesis, and Super NES were among the first consoles to advertise the fact that they contained 16-bit processors. This fourth generation of console hardware was often referred to as the 16-bit era and the previous generation as the 8-bit. The bit-value of a console referred to the word length of a console's processor (although the value was sometimes misused, for example, the TurboGrafx 16 had only an 8-bit CPU, and the Genesis/Mega Drive had the 16/32-bit Motorola 68000, but both had a 16-bit dedicated graphics processor). As the graphical performance of console hardware is dependent on many factors, using bits was a crude way to gauge a console's overall ability. For example, the NES, Commodore 64, Apple II, and Atari 2600 all used a very similar 8-bit CPU. The difference in their processing power is due to other causes. For example, the Commodore 64 contains 64 kilobytes of RAM and the Atari 2600 has much less at 128 bytes of RAM. The jump from 8-bit machines to 16-bit machines to 32-bit machines made a noticeable difference in performance, so consoles from certain generations are frequently referred to as 8-bit or 16-bit consoles. However, the "bits" in a console are no longer a major factor in their performance. The Nintendo 64, for example, has been outpaced by several 32-bit machines. Aside from some "128 Bit" advertising slogans at the beginning of the sixth generation, marketing with bits largely stopped after the fifth generation.
Still, from Resident Evil 4 to F-Zero GX, Super Smash Bros. Melee to Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and from Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader to Pikmin 1 and 2, GCN was home to a stellar lineup of fantastic games -- titles that could not be found on any other system. And ultimately, it's the software and not the design of the system or its installed base that really counts, which is why GCN easily earns a spot on our list.
"A technology geek to the end, I had greatly anticipated the arrival of high-definition consoles, so when Nintendo chose to stay conservative with Wii's graphics, I wasn't sure what to think of the system. I remember finally getting it, though. Not with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption -- I played it early on and the controls still needed work -- but with Wii Sports bowling. So simple. So effortless. So much flippin' fun! Nintendo had talked blue and red oceans, ranted on about expanded audiences, and it was all gibberish. But rolling that virtual bowling ball with a realistic flick of the wrist felt so incredibly natural that I didn't want to put the Wii remote down. That was when I finally understood what the company really hoped to achieve with the console."
The Xbox One X contains six trillion floating point operations per second with 326GB/s and 12GB GDDR5 RAM, giving it the most graphical horsepower in rendering native 4K HD graphics at 60 frames per second. This makes games like Call Of Duty: WWII have a heightened sense of realism, detailing everything from flowing hair, rays of the sun and clothing fiber. All Xbox One games are compatible and run better on the Xbox One X in Full HD display as well. Microsoft even plans on bringing Original Xbox and Xbox 360 backward compatibility to the system too.
^ Herman, Leonard (1997). Phoenix: the fall & rise of videogames (2nd ed.). Union, NJ: Rolenta Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-9643848-2-5. Retrieved 16 February 2012. Like Pong, Telstar could only play video tennis but it retailed at an inexpensive $50 that made it attractive to most families that were on a budget. Coleco managed to sell over a million units that year.
There's no "I" in team and the days of being limited to solo gaming are long gone. Online play lets you join forces and complete missions co-operatively, or go head-to-head with real people from around the world instantaneously. A premier online gaming experience backed by dedicated servers offers fast, smooth connections, but often comes with a small monthly or yearly fee. If you want to play with your friends make sure you know which consoles they're using, that way you're not left on the sideline.
Despite its comparably short lifespan, the SEGA Dreamcast was the first system in the sixth generation of video game consoles, which included the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox. The Dreamcast first hit stores in 1998, over two years before the PS2 and three years before the GameCube and Xbox. Although the Dreamcast had sizable chronological leeway over its contemporaries, it was inevitably stifled by stiff competition and the advent of DVD technology. But before it met its untimely demise in 2001, the Dreamcast certainly left its mark on the console industry.
The Switch has proven to be a boon for third-party publishers and indie developers, too. The ability to play nearly any game in either home console or handheld mode breathes new life into older and smaller titles that were previously limited to TV-based systems. This has resulted in a surge of ports and remakes of classic games from the last few console generations like Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2, Dark Souls, Katamari Damacy, Okami, and Onimusha: Warlords. If that isn't enough, the system has received an explosion of excellent indie games including Dead Cells, Hollow Knight, Night in the Woods, Stardew Valley, and Undertale. It's a fantastic selection for a system that's been around for less than two years (even if we're still waiting for a Switch port of Super Mario Maker).
"I'll never forget the time my launch Xbox 360 red ringed. It was a rainy day in March. I wore my green cardigan and she wore a FEAR faceplate. It was love. True love. But then she died on me. Maybe I pushed her power button one too many times. I couldn't help myself – I liked playing games in HD and with Microsoft's amazing online service. She just couldn't handle the strain. Sure, she was easy to replace. And so was the next one that died. But I'll never forget my first. Especially not after I had a picture of her red rings tattooed on my chest. Rest in peace, little 360. Rest in peace."
Forster 2011, p. 92: "The test release of the Atari 7800 went by practically unnoticed [...] And so the Atari 7800 collected dust for two years, until the international success of the Nintendo Entertainment System quickly changed the minds of Atari's new management. [...] Atari shipped the now slightly outdated 7800 across the world. [...] Only a few thousand 7800 consoles were shipped in the US during the first marketing attempt."
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.
During this time home computers gained greater prominence as a way of playing video games. The gaming console industry nonetheless continued to thrive alongside home computers, due to the advantages of much lower prices, easier portability, circuitry specifically dedicated towards gaming, the ability to be played on a television set (which PCs of the time could not do in most cases), and intensive first party software support from manufacturers who were essentially banking their entire future on their consoles.
Nintendo's GameCube was released in Japan on September 15, 2001, in North America on November 18, 2001, in Europe on May 3, 2002, and in Australia on May 17, 2002. It was Nintendo's fourth home video game console and the first console by the company to use optical media instead of cartridges. The GameCube did not play standard 12 cm DVDs, instead it employed smaller 8 cm optical discs. With the release of the GameCube Game Boy Player, all Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance cartridges could be played on the platform. The GameCube was discontinued in 2007 with the release of Wii.
Sony led the charge on the mid-generation console update with the PS4 Pro but, by taking its time, Microsoft gave us the better hardware in the Xbox One X. It offers the same 4K Blu-ray and HDR video playback as the One S, while also bringing that visual enhancement to games. Microsoft wasn’t exaggerating when they told us that the Xbox One X is the most powerful home gaming console ever sold. It won’t be getting VR, however — which may disappoint those hoping it could be an inexpensive entry point to high-quality VR experiences.
T3 has reviewed all the best video game consoles going, from Microsoft's 4K powerhouse the Xbox One X, through to Sony's rival PS4 Pro, and onto Nintendo's hot hybrid, the Nintendo Switch, and we've tucked hundreds of hours under our belt playing their best games, too. As such, our tech experts are perfectly positioned to help you find your perfect gaming console.
The hardware specs are stellar, as expected from Sony. The controller is great too. We got the DualShock 4 controllers that have been improved from the previous design. It’s actually hailed as one of the top gamepads ever designed. You can use the DualShock 4 controller as a PC controller too if needed. The PS 4 has an exclusive title library that will not disappoint a devout gamer. The lineup includes a number of legacy titles and even some indie games. Major titles like “The Last of Us” are PlayStation exclusive. With the great library of games, impressive controller, and super duper graphics, this is one of the best gaming consoles to own.
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".