All major gaming consoles give you an impressive mix of cross-platform and exclusive games, from Gears of War to Fifa 16. If you’re keen on multiplayer action, the Xbox offers you Xbox Live, allowing you to hook up online with the worldwide Xbox player community. Across all of our major gaming consoles, jaw-dropping graphics combine with substantial system memory so you can download and store games, videos, music and more for a complete home entertainment system.
The hardware was undeniably more advanced than the Atari 2600, with the ability to display higher resolution graphics and a more versatile color palette. The gamepads also showed how more advanced the system was over the "simple" Atari: these controllers featured a unique disc input system that predates the Nintendo thumb pad innovation, and offered a versatile telephone-like keypad as well as four action buttons, two on each side. Games made for the Intellivision featured specific overlays with artwork that slipped right on top of these 12 buttons to make it easy to understand which button does what.
It starts with a black screen. A woman’s voice. She speaks Japanese, and your eyes are wired to the subtitles. You have waited many months – if not years – for this game. Finally, you are sitting here. With sweaty hands and light in your eyes. The rest of the world disappeared around you, when you inserted the game disk into your console. Now it is only you, your controller and a long game. The graphics come up on the screen, the familiar melody starts to play, and your head explodes in a wild euphoria. FINALLY!
The PlayStation 4 Pro version antes up the frame rates for its PS4 games – many to 60 fps – bringing 4K high definition gaming and video streaming, as well as twice the GPU power of a standard PS4. The PlayStation 4’s huge library includes 1,648 games, all of which can be played in HD with its Pro version. The system is also good for its multimedia functionality, playing Blu-ray discs, as well as streaming TV, music and more with dedicated apps and downloadable games on its PlayStation Store. Due to its popularity, there’s always someone willing to play online with you, so you’ll never miss out on the fun.
Though they have been relegated to a game developer role, Sega used to be one of the most prolific console producers in video game history. Their biggest problem was that they tended to tackle technologies that were a bit before their time and, therefore, not consumer- or developer-friendly. The Sega Saturn was one such console. It enjoyed moderate success and boasted an impressive technological package, but the lack of support and unreasonable complexity led to a lack of original titles, resulting in a game library comprised largely of arcade ports. Still, the system was an excellent attempt at being on the cutting edge of gaming, even if it wasn’t strictly a win for Sega.
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 Nintendo 3DS XL features a C stick for better in-game controls, NFC connectivity, and compatibility with amiibo figures. A Nintendo-rich library of 3DS titles is at your fingertips, headed by a host of Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Legend of Zelda games. Overall, this is a great option for users who like a high-quality portable gaming experience at a reasonable price point.
The Nintendo 64 and the GameCube were capable, sustainable consoles with excellent support and fantastic games, but the increased competition from Microsoft and Sony made it difficult for Nintendo to see the same victory it did in the previous years. After two attempts to repeat the success it had with the NES and Super NES, Nintendo decided to shake things up and offer gaming experiences that stray from the expected.
There is also another kind who see games as a form of escape. An escape from boredom, maybe – but also a way to distract your mind, so that you temporarily forget the everyday struggles. Gaming is a form of de-stress, and that, among other things, is why it is so popular. It is just nice to get in a fictional character’s shoes and take on an adventure.
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.
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.
Even as Sony successfully marketed the slick and cool PlayStation 2 as a high-tech home media device, Nintendo tried to sell GCN as a simple games player for the whole family -- in hindsight, probably a mistake. GameCube looked like a lunchbox and, save for the fantastic Nintendo-published exclusives like Metroid Prime and Super Mario Sunshine -- it didn't really sport any distinguishing features over its competitors. The machine sold almost exclusively to Nintendo fans and younger gamers, which is why it was also largely shunned by third-parties, whose software usually performed better on other platforms. Nintendo ultimately sold about 22 million GameCube systems worldwide -- roughly 118 million units less than PlayStation 2.
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
The PC remains the best platform for gaming, whether it be for esports, graphics fidelity, and even massive multiplayer experiences. There are hundreds of thousands of titles available and digital distribution services like Steam and GOG make it easier than ever to build a game collection without leaving the house. We'll run you through how to set up and configure your PC, get started with said digital stores and get the most out of Windows 10 for all things games.