Nintendo's little, purple cube-shaped videogame console is sometimes criticized because it looked almost toy-ish and lacked some technical features present in competing systems -- like, for example, a digital output. But the truth is, GCN was, despite its cute exterior, a very powerful games player which housed an impressive number of outstanding, unforgettable games. GameCube not only marked Nintendo's departure from cartridge-based home systems, a significant development for a company used to following its own path, but the platform's cutting-edge internal guts -- namely the IBM-developed "Gekko" CPU and ATI-created "Flipper" GPU -- have enjoyed one of the longest shelf lives in the history of the industry; it is, after all, this same technology, slightly enhanced, that powers Wii.
In adventure games the puzzle is in focus. In this genre the player is presented with a mystery which has to be solved by investigating the environment and talking with characters in the game. There are many types of these games, but most often they involve a detective team that tries to uncover hidden connections in the world of the game. In adventure games the central activity is to collect and combine objects and information to get access to more of the background story.
Even if you look at it from just a numbers standpoint, it’s clear that the PlayStation 4 is the reigning champion of the current generation of video game consoles, beating out the Xbox One in sales by a rate of about 3-to-1. It gets a boost, too, due to the fact that the PS4 boasts better base performance figures, has some of the best exclusives available right now, and has an extremely active social community on the PSN. We’re also very fond of the fact that Sony has embraced the future of gaming in the form of PSVR – though we’d like to see more titles for the peripheral gear. If this is a sign of things to come, we might be watching the beginning of the end for Microsoft as a console developer.
For a good 10-something years, Nintendo was the undisputed champion of the home video game console market, thanks to their brilliant marketing, exclusives strategy, and overall tech. But the closest they ever came to being dethroned in that time was at the hands of Sega and their Genesis console. Granted the SNES still outsold the Genesis by around 20 million units, but that was a big deal for the much smaller game developer. The Genesis also introduced the world to one of the mainstays of gaming that’s still around today, Sonic the Hedgehog. This gaming machine would go on to become Sega’s greatest achievement from a hardware perspective and still sparks debate today over whether it or the SNES was a better console.
Though it is admittedly strange-looking and we can’t begin to fathom what the designers were thinking when creating the controller, the Magnavox Odyssey still ranks amongst the best systems of all time for one simple reason: it was the absolute first commercial home gaming console. In fact, though Pong is technically a separate IP, the Odyssey featured the first ping-pong style video game. Truth be told, the short list of games for the system, numbered 28 in total, were more like novelties than the fully-fledged experiences of later consoles. Whatever the case, this Magnavox-built gaming machine was revolutionary, and that makes it special.
The PlayStation 4 goes a step further, however, with a dedicated Share button right on the DualShock 4 controller. At any point you can tap it to save the last 15 minutes of gameplay, grab a screenshot of what you're playing, or start streaming live to PSN or Twitch. The longer capture length and more convenient setup makes the PS4 the better system for recording or streaming your games.
A very large majority of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One libraries are available on both platforms. Though both platforms have popular exclusive franchises, the PlayStation 4 (Pro or standard) sees more exclusive games each year. The PS4 also has access to a small number of less well-known indie games and niche titles, such as Japanese role-playing games, that the Xbox One does not.
N64 fans will cry foul and suggest that GoldenEye made first-person shooters possible on a console, but it was Halo that modernized the genre. Almost every FPS that came after Halo utilized its control scheme and a modified version of its health system. But where Halo truly succeeded was in providing console gamers with the first-of-its-kind 16-player LAN battles. Halo was the first shooter that made PC gamers jealous and it signaled the beginning of a power shift in the genre.
Perhaps more than anything else, the Saturn was a gem for importers and hardcore gamers. The hardware's architecture made it inferior to the PlayStation for three dimensional games (like the popular Tomb Raider) but many proud Saturn owners knew that it was the only console to enjoy the best versions of many 2D fighters, just ask any real Street Fighter fan.
Nowadays, it’s the industry standard that new consoles have internet connectivity and basic online multiplayer abilities for other users of that same console. However, at least for the time being, you cannot play with a friend who owns a different console than you. Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online multiplayer network, only works with other recent Xbox consoles; the PlayStation Network – Sony’s equivalent – is similarly restricted as is Nintendo Switch Online. Even playing with people who are on older systems isn’t really a possibility at this point.
The third major handheld of the fourth generation was the Game Gear. It featured graphics capabilities roughly comparable to the Master System (better colours, but lower resolution), a ready made games library by using the "Master-Gear" adapter to play cartridges from the older console, and the opportunity to be converted into a portable TV using a cheap tuner adaptor, but it also suffered some of the same shortcomings as the Lynx. While it sold more than twenty times as many units as the Lynx, its bulky design - slightly larger than even the original Game Boy; relatively poor battery life - only a little better than the Lynx; and later arrival in the marketplace - competing for sales amongst the remaining buyers who didn't already have a Game Boy - hampered its overall popularity despite being more closely competitive to the Nintendo in terms of price and breadth of software library. Sega eventually retired the Game Gear in 1997, a year before Nintendo released the first examples of the Game Boy Color, to focus on the Nomad and non-portable console products. Other handheld consoles released during the fourth generation included the TurboExpress, a handheld version of the TurboGrafx-16 released by NEC in 1990, and the Game Boy Pocket, an improved model of the Game Boy released about two years before the debut of the Game Boy Color. While the TurboExpress was another early pioneer of color handheld gaming technology and had the added benefit of using the same game cartridges or 'HuCards' as the TurboGrafx16, it had even worse battery life than the Lynx and Game Gear - about three hours on six contemporary AA batteries - selling only 1.5 million units.
One of the Master System's quirkiest (and coolest) features, though, was the 3D Glasses peripheral. The thick, wraparound shades may have looked a little clunky from the outside, but the effect was positively stunning. Sadly, like the Master System itself, the peripheral was under-supported with just over a half-dozen games, including Maze Hunter 3D and Space Harrier 3D.
Sony's PlayStation 3 was released in Japan on November 11, 2006, in North America on November 17, 2006, and in Europe and Australia on March 23, 2007. All PlayStation 3's come with a hard drive and are able to play Blu-ray Disc games and Blu-ray Disc movies out of the box. The PlayStation 3 was the first video game console to support HDMI output out of the box, using full 1080p resolution. Up to seven controllers can connect to the console using Bluetooth. There are 6 discontinued versions of the PS3: a 20 GB HDD version (discontinued in North America and Japan, and was never released in PAL territories), a 40 GB HDD version (discontinued), a 60 GB HDD version (discontinued in North America, Japan and PAL territories), 80 GB HDD version (only in some NTSC territories and PAL territories), a "slim" 120GB HDD version (discontinued), and a "slim" 250 GB version (discontinued). The two current shipping versions of the PlayStation 3 are: a "slim" 160 GB HDD version and a "slim" 320 GB HDD version. The hard drive can be replaced with any standard 2.5" Serial ATA drive and the system has support for removable media storage, such as Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, USB, SD, MiniSD, and CompactFlash (CF) digital media, but only the PlayStation versions up to 80 GB support this. The slim PlayStation 3 consoles (120 GB and up) had removable storage discontinued. All models are backward compatible with the original PlayStation's software library, and the launch models, since discontinued, are also backward compatible with PlayStation 2 games. As a cost-cutting measure, later models removed the Emotion Engine, making them incompatible with PlayStation 2 discs. In 2010, Sony released PlayStation Move, allowing for motion-controlled games. With recent software updates, the PlayStation 3 can play 3D Blu-ray movies and 3D games.
The Xbox One and PS4 also offer access to old games, but in different ways. The Xbox One will let you put your old Xbox 360 games into the drive and play them (although only a selection of games are compatible). You can also play dozens of classic Xbox titles by buying a Game Pass subscription. The PS4 does not play old PS3 discs, but it offers a subscription service, called PlayStation Now, which lets you stream and play a huge selection of favourite PlayStation titles from yesteryear.
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.
The SEGA Master System is the videogame console that almost could. Despite its technical superiority to the dominant NES, the machine lacked just one critical thing: Mario. Without this icon and the emergence of Sonic the Hedgehog still five years on the horizon, the Master System ran a far distant second to the NES during the 8-bit generation -- the phoenix-like resurrection of videogames following the Atari 2600-lead industry crash.
Probably the best example of a system that was marred by bad timing, the Dreamcast should, from a technological standpoint, go down as one of Sega’s crowning achievements. Unfortunately, after a largely successful release, the console was eclipsed by news of the upcoming release of the PlayStation 2. Regardless, the Dreamcast was a wonderful gaming machine and afforded many the opportunity to play some of the most immersive and stylized games of their time – including a port of the extremely popular arcade game, Crazy Taxi. Though it was another step in Sega’s inevitable downfall, the Dreamcast was a much better console than for which it was given credit.
The sales showed it as well, with the first true console war ending in an important Nintendo victory on both the hardware and software front. The Super NES's library was the start, or continuation in some cases, of franchises that are still alive and well today both on a first party and third party front – proof of its legacy. The Super NES controller laid groundwork for the now-mainstream four-button face of both the PlayStation and Xbox controllers, and the experimental first steps into 3D gaming (both real and faked via the FX chip and Mode 7 technology respectively) laid the groundwork for the industry’s future.
The Dreamcast was Sega's last video game console and was the first of the generation's consoles to be discontinued. Sega implemented a special type of optical media called the GD-ROM. These discs were created in order to prevent software piracy, which had been more easily done with consoles of the previous generation; however, this format was soon cracked as well. It also sported a 33.6Kb or 56k modem which could be used to access the Internet or play some games that took advantage of this feature, such as Phantasy Star Online, making it the first console with built-in Internet connectivity. An add-on for an Ethernet port allowed one to access broad band Internet though it did not come with the system. The Dreamcast was discontinued in March 2001, and Sega transitioned to software developing/publishing only.
The first video games appeared in the 1960s. They were played on massive computers connected to vector displays, not analog televisions. Ralph H. Baer conceived the idea of a home video game in 1951. In the late 1960s, while working for Sanders Associates, Baer created a series of video game console designs. One of these designs, which gained the nickname of the 1966 "Brown Box", featured changeable game modes and was demonstrated to several TV manufacturers, ultimately leading to an agreement between Sanders Associates and Magnavox. In 1972, Magnavox released the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console which could be connected to a TV set. Ralph Baer's initial design had called for a huge row of switches that would allow players to turn on and off certain components of the console (the Odyssey lacked a CPU) to create slightly different games like tennis, volleyball, hockey, and chase. Magnavox replaced the switch design with separate cartridges for each game. Although Baer had sketched up ideas for cartridges that could include new components for new games, the carts released by Magnavox all served the same function as the switches and allowed players to choose from the Odyssey's built-in games.