The Master System was essentially a conduit for SEGA to get its arcade hits into the home. Even though the Master System did not have the horsepower to completely replicate the experience of SEGA's enviable stable of arcade smashes like OutRun and Space Harrier, there was no other place to play these games outside of an arcade. But SEGA also released plenty of great, original games for the console over its lifespan, including Alex Kidd in Miracle World and one of the greatest role-playing games of all-time, Phantasy Star. However, thanks to Nintendo's iron-grip agreements, few third-party publishers ever supported the machine and software came out at a very frustrating pace. Months could go by between major releases and that made a dud on the Master System feel even more painful.
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.
SEGA was hoping to get the jump on Sony before it released the PlayStation that holiday season. While the Saturn ended up losing the popularity contest to both Sony and Nintendo it was host to a library of classic titles that epitomize the early days of SEGA's innovation in software. NiGHTS into Dreams, the Virtua Fighter and Panzer Dragon series are all examples of exclusive titles that made the console a fan favorite.
"The N64 was a bit of a dud, but I was still stoked about GameCube's release when I was a senior in high school in 2001 (especially with that big, ugly black and green box coming out in the same week). The console went underappreciated for its entire lifecycle, but I never understood why. By the time I was a young college student, I dumped hundreds of hours into the likes of Eternal Darkness, Wind Waker, Viewtiful Joe and, of course, Resident Evil 4. Thankfully, my grades didn't suffer as a result."
For handheld game consoles, the seventh generation began with the release of the Nintendo DS on November 21, 2004. This handheld was based on a design fundamentally different from the Game Boy and other handheld video game systems. The Nintendo DS offered new modes of input over previous generations such as a touch screen, the ability to connect wirelessly using IEEE 802.11b, as well as a microphone to speak to in-game NPCs. On December 12, 2004, Sony released its first handheld, PlayStation Portable (PSP). The PlayStation Portable was marketed at launch to an above 25-year-old or "core gamer" market, while the Nintendo DS proved to be popular with both core gamers and new customers. Nokia revived its N-Gage platform in the form of a service for selected S60 devices. This new service launched on April 3, 2008. Other less-popular handheld systems released during this generation include the Gizmondo (launched on March 19, 2005 and discontinued in February 2006) and the GP2X (launched on November 10, 2005 and discontinued in August 2008). The GP2X Wiz, Pandora, and Gizmondo 2 were scheduled for release in 2009. Another aspect of the seventh generation was the beginning of direct competition between dedicated handheld gaming devices, and increasingly powerful PDA/cell phone devices such as the iPhone and iPod Touch, and the latter being aggressively marketed for gaming purposes. Simple games such as Tetris and Solitaire had existed for PDA devices since their introduction, but by 2009 PDAs and phones had grown sufficiently powerful to where complex graphical games could be implemented, with the advantage of distribution over wireless broadband.
It's also worth mentioning that like the PlayStation 2 and DVDs before it, the PlayStation 3 put Blu-ray players into millions of homes world-wide and helped it overtake HD-DVD as the HD format war winner. Coupled with downloadable videos via the PlayStation Network, the PlayStation 3 also serves as much more than a gaming device, which is certainly a plus.
With the original look and feel of the 16-bit home console (only smaller) the Super NES Classic acts as a sort of timepiece for when gaming was reaching its peaks. Some of the best two-player games of its era are included and ready to play, such as Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II Turbo. Defining games such as Megaman X, Earthbound, Kirby Super Star and Super Mario RPG return, too. Any gamer wanting to relive their youth or introduce new gamers to a simpler time when the Internet was first starting should get the Super NES classic. Included are two wired Super NES Classic controllers for multiplayer action.
"When no amount of solder could salvage my aging 2600, in 1986 I needed a replacement. My mom suggested the 7800 since it played the older games as well as new ones. I bought one with my paper route money and was happy with my purchase...until a week later when Nintendo started airing the "Now You're Playing With Power" commercials and showing Super Mario Bros., an arcade game I was currently playing at a 7-eleven game room. "
"The N64 and its flagship game Mario 64 hold a special place in my heart as they are what initially led me to (what would become) IGN. I got the system and game my freshmen year of college and my buddies and I would hole up in my dorm room, methodically trying to collect every star. We found out you could find game help on this fantastic new resource called The Internet, and an AltaVista search for "Mario 64" returned N64.com, which is where IGN got its start. "
But beyond its hardware innovations, the Xbox 360 marked a huge software push in terms of creating an all encompassing media and gaming platform. The Xbox 360 launched with a completely revised Xbox Live online networking system, which enabled new and unprecedented ways of accessing video, audio, and game content, as well as connecting with friends. Xbox Live has since grown to be one of the most successful console-based online gaming networks ever created, with over 17 million members as of January, 2009. Through its extensive online-integration, which allows for practically boundless optimization, feature additions, and improvements, the Xbox 360 has drastically extended the lasting appeal and life expectancy of the average console.
In 1983, Nintendo released the Family Computer (or Famicom) in Japan. The Famicom supported high-resolution sprites, larger color palettes, and tiled backgrounds. This allowed Famicom games to be longer and have more detailed graphics. Nintendo began attempts to bring their Famicom to the U.S. after the video game market had crashed. In the U.S., video games were seen as a fad that had already passed. To distinguish its product from older game consoles, Nintendo released their Famicom as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which used a front-loading cartridge port similar to a VCR, included a plastic "robot" (R.O.B.), and was initially advertised as a toy. The NES was the highest selling console in the history of North America and revitalized the video game market. Mario of Super Mario Bros. became a global icon starting with his NES games. Nintendo took a somewhat unusual stance with third-party developers for its console. Nintendo contractually restricted third-party developers to three NES titles per year and forbade them from developing for other video game consoles. The practice ensured Nintendo's market dominance and prevented the flood of trash titles that had helped kill the Atari, but was ruled illegal late in the console's lifecycle.