Welcome to The Pulse, your lifeline on media and pop culture. Hope you all had a (re)productive Valentine’s Day and had some fun with last week’s top 10, I know I did. With the week of romance behind us it is time once again to turn our eyes towards the geekier side of things (yes, geekier than video game tail), this week we are taking a break from our usual look at the soft and instead we are talking hardware. That’s right ladies and gents, it is the top 10 Game Consoles of all Time here on The Pulse!
You know I like to open these things up with the usual “this is my opinion and if you don’t like it please feel free to comment and share yours in the space provided below, I’d love to hear it.” sooooo..that. With that said, let’s get to it.
Sorta Honorable Mention: Ok, normally I don’t do these but I didn’t realize until I had already finished the list that I didn’t include the N64 and so I wanted to go back and give a quick shoutout to the system, mostly for games like Majora’s Mask, Ocarina of Time, Mario 64, the Pokemon Stadium games, Pokemon Snap, Goldeneye, Mario Kart 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and the original Super Smash Bros. This really was a great system and if I could squeeze it in here I would, this is a big nostalgia pick for me though.
10. Super Nintendo Entertainment System
I, like probably half of gamers growing up in the 90’s, did not actually grow up with a Super Nintendo, or SNES or whatever it was you called it in your circle of friends. Now, that’s not to say that I was unfamiliar with it or hadn’t played it, we just didn’t own one and so I had to settle for playing it at a friend’s or relative’s house should the need arise. It wasn’t until almost adulthood that I actually picked the console up for myself from an antique store of all places and slowly built a pretty decent collection that I have since downsized or otherwise had to get rid of both for space and “I could use a couple bucks right now” reasons. So know that my appreciation for the SNES is not one born out of nostalgia, but a true appreciation for the wonderful and varied library of titles it amassed in its prime. From the phenomenal Super Mario World and A Link to the Past to Super Metroid, F-Zero, Super Mario Kart, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, a plethora of jRPGs that I am not personally a big fan of but I know I’d be remiss to not at least mention. The SNES really was an industry defining system and to this day one can easily go back and have an absolute blast with it.
9. Sega Genesis
Speaking of blast, how about that blast processing? Ooooh, segue! Segue? Sega! (that’s right, double segue for you guys, only here on The Pulse!). So, if the SNES wasn’t the console of my childhood one would safely assume that the Genesis filled that role and one would be right in doing so. I still remember sitting down in front of this thing with my sister to play stuff like Columns (super underrated puzzle game that), Ms. Pac-Man, Sonic 2 (we never owned the first Sonic), Tiny Toon Adventures, Garfield Caught in the Act, the Power Rangers fighting game, a bunch of great licensed titles like Aladdin, Lion King, Toy Story. I remember going and renting games, I remember getting picked up from kindergarten one day and stopping at Blockbuster and buying the Jurassic Park game for it. This entry probably is mostly nostalgia driven, but the Genesis really did have a great library that I haven’t really experienced much of first hand beyond the stuff I played and loved as a kid. I actually think it’s sort of an interesting dichotomy between my experience with this and with the SNES. As a kid I played a very certain selection of games on the Genesis and loved them, but they really were the kinds of games that you’d expect a kid to have on their system. Whereas with the SNES I never got around to the system until I was basically an adult and already had more refined tastes as both a gamer and a critic and so I experienced much more of the big hits and the niche titles and the sort of stuff that people look back on as masterpieces because I “know better”. I dunno, just musing. (*Editor’s Note: He forgot to mention ‘ClayFighter’, which he’d regularly beat me mercilessly at as a child. Good times >.> )
8. Sony Playstation
My first real experience with 3D gaming, boy was this something. I think I MAY have played an N64 at some point before getting my Playstation or maybe something on PC, but generally speaking this was my first foray into the future of gaming. This was my big Christmas present one year, was probably, what..1997? That feels about right. I got my Playstation and a bunch of used games from the local Funcoland (presumably). I had stuff like Star Wars Masters of Teras Kasi (I so butched that spelling), Jurassic Park, Rugrats, probably one or two others I can’t think of off the top of my head. I also remember the demo discs for this thing, man do I have fond memories just of those. From the music that played on the menus where you’d scroll through the games to trying out stuff like the Final Fantasy VII demo, the Spyro the Dragon demo, Medievil, etc. I honestly don’t know if I have more nostalgia for the Playstation or the Genesis, I think I became a more serious gamer with the Playstation but it is hard to top the sort of nostalgia you get from sitting down and gaming with your sibling so probably still give the nod to the Genesis on this one, I really did mostly play the Playstation solo. Stuff like the Spyro trilogy, Twisted Metal, some pretty decent licensed titles (and some less than decent ones that I still enjoyed as a kid), Legend of Dragoon (one of the most underrated jRPGs of all time that seriously needs a remake and a prequel dammit!), Diablo (what an awesome port that was), Monster Rancher 2, Digimon World, like..I loved this thing and it really was where I started defining myself as a gamer.
7. Sony Playstation 2
What is the PS2 if not “PS1 but better”? With full backwards compatibility it already did everything the original Playstation did, add in a DVD drive (which was a huge deal at the time) and a pretty impressive leap forward in terms of game size and quality and there’s a good reason many cite Sony’s sophomore system as the greatest of all time. While I was never quite as into the PS2 as others, especially as I also had a Gamecube and Xbox to play on this gen, I still put some good hours into games like God of War 1 and 2, Kingdom Hearts, Twisted Metal Black, Shadow of the Colossus, couple others here and there. The PS2 was at my dad’s house while my other consoles were at my mom’s, which I spent the majority of my time as a kid what with school and so it did tend to get a bit neglected in terms of its library, but I have a lot of respect for this system and, like I said, Shadow of the Colossus debuted on this baby so mad props.
6. Nintendo Wii
If it weren’t for the Wii U and the Virtual Boy this thing really would be the black sheep of Nintendo’s console roster wouldn’t it? This was around the time that Nintendo, really struggling to compete with Microsoft and Sony when it came to core audiences, decided to take a different approach and get mom and grandma up off the couch and put a controller in their hands. And ya know what? It worked. The Wii was an insane hit with everyone, not just gamers. I distinctly remember and look back fondly on nights when we’d spend Sundays at my grandma’s playing Wii Sports bowling and have everyone getting into it and playing, including my mom and my grandparents. I eventually got a Wii of my own and was able to play more hardcore titles like Twilight Princess, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, MadWorld, No More Heroes 1 and 2, and the like. There was a lot of shovelware put out for this thing, for sure, and it did get a bit on the gimmicky side and it wasn’t always for the better and one can argue that it taught Nintendo that focusing on gimmicks and catering towards a broader audience is the right route for them (something that they are still struggling to move away from), but when it worked it was a good time. While I wouldn’t say Brawl is my favorite Smash Bros. game, those days in high school playing Smash with the games are among my favorite memories in gaming.
5. Nintendo Gamecube
The last real “core” Nintendo console for several generations, the Gamecube really did knock it out of the park. Luigi’s Mansion may not have been a traditional Mario title to launch the system with, but even to this day it has some very impressive visuals as well as particle effects and cloth physics and is a great game to boot. Many, wrongly, consider Melee to be the pinnacle of the Smash Bros. franchise. I debate with myself over whether or not Super Mario Sunshine is my favorite 3D Mario title. Wind Waker was a different direction for the Zelda series from a visual standpoint, but what a charming adventure that turned out to be all the same. Metroid finally entered the 3D world with two stellar adventures in the Prime series. Eternal Darkness is one of the best horror games of all time and dear lord do I want a remake or a sequel, bad. You have super underrated stuff like Geist, which man I wish it was the game we were originally shown but I still dug what we got and it had awesome multiplayer. Double Dash is one of the most fun Mario Kart games by far. Animal Crossing, a great start (yeah yeah, I know the N64 version that was Japan only) to an awesome series (can’t wait for New Horizons next month). Timesplitters 2! The GCN is an underrated little lunchbox.
4. Microsoft Xbox
It’s kinda funny looking at this list and seeing Microsoft on it, especially so high. I make no efforts to hide my less than positive opinion of Microsoft and the impact that they have had on the industry. The 360 ushered in an era of paid online being the norm, DLC becoming a bigger and bigger presence on the industry, the rise of the “dudebro” gamer and a shift towards “casualcore” like COD being a dominant force, etc. The Xbox One, the less said about the better. I was a major Xbox fanboy back in the day though. We had actually preordered the original Xbox, which I think is the first time I ever had preordered a console before. My mom took us to the mall to place the preorder, we picked a few games to go with it and everything, extra controller, etc. Then we picked it up on release day and…it sat unwrapped and under the stairs until Christmas. That Christmas eve went by so slow, I have such vivid memories of the day. Then finally, at midnight Christmas morning, she let us open it up and one of the games for it. Set it up and played some Oddworld: Munch’s Oddyssey for a bit, then had to go to bed until Christmas morning proper. It is easily one of my fondest Christmas memories, everything from making the preorder to the long wait and all the buildup to finally opening it. The system itself was an absolute beast and it came out right in the prime of my gaming youth. Oddworld, Halo, Project Gotham Racing, Crimson Skies, the remake of Conker, Halo 2, Splinter Cell (another awesome Christmas present, always memorable when you get exactly what you asked for), GTA, Morrowind, KOTOR 1 and 2, custom soundtrack integration, a built in dvd player, modding the thing to rip games to the hard drive, etc. I loved the Xbox and it is a damn shame what became of the brand.
3. Sony Playstation 3
Or as I call it, the reverse Xbox. So I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of the PS2, but I did like it. Moving into the PS3 though and I was just not at all a fan of Sony and the disastrous premier of the console did nothing to win me over. However, between price drops and promising software, plus consumer friendly approaches like free online play, I did soften to the PS3 and it too ended up a beloved Christmas present. There were so many top quality games across every genre. The fantastic Uncharted trilogy, Demon’s Souls along with the first two Dark Souls games, God of War III, the remasters of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, inFamous, all the great third party multi-plat titles this gen was known for on the best possible hardware (that isn’t a PC anyways) with free online and a built in bluray player. This really was the start of the future of gaming.
2. Sony Playstation 4
Sony absolutely nailed it with the PS4. While it, much like all but the first models of the PS3, lacked true backwards compatibility, it has grown an incredibly impressive library and I still jump onto this thing all the damn time to game or for multimedia functions such as Netflix, Disney +, Hulu, watch one of my movies on bluray or DVD, Youtube, Twitch, etc. Sony did unfortunately succumb to the paid online norm that Microsoft poisoned the industry with, but they at least know that in this day and age where multi-plats are a dime a dozen you need some high quality exclusives to standout and boy does the PS4 deliver. From Bloodborne to The Last Guardian, a full blown remake of Shadow of the Colossus, Uncharted 4, Tearaway, Until Dawn, Days Gone, God of War, Horizon, the PS4 continues to push out top notch content that can only be experienced on Playstation. Plus all of the awesome third party and multiplatform games that, much like last gen, have defined this generation. Gaming has never been better than it is right now.
1. Nintendo Switch
And Nintendo’s Switch makes the perfect partner to pair up with your PS4 or gaming capable PC. This is Nintendo finally returning to form with a console that caters to everyone while finally putting some focus back on the hardcore right from the very beginning with (the massively overrated, but still damn good) Breath of the Wild to unprecedented releases (for Nintendo) such as Doom (2016), Skyrim, Dark Souls: Remastered, The Witcher 3 and more. It saw the return of exploration-based 3D Mario with the phenomenal Super Mario Odyssey,the first full generation of Pokemon on a home console with last year’s Sword and Shield, new first party titles such as the seriously underrated ARMS, ports of the dead in the water Wii U’s best games such as Pokken Tournament, Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad, Bayonetta 2 and soon The Wonderful 101. Amazing third party titles like Octopath Traveler, Daemon X Machina, Astral Chain and more. Let us also not forget the game that brought everyone home once again, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The platform’s also been an indie game juggernaut with many huge success stories for smaller dev teams and a slew of titles debuting first or exclusively on the platform. The best thing about all of this? You can play all of these games (and so many more) from the comfort of your couch on your tv or from the majesty of the porcelain throne. The fact that you can take and play all of these games anywhere you want, whenever you want is such a huge boon. I cannot understate how big a deal that is, especially as I get older and have to try and squeeze in gaming in whatever little spurts I can, even if it means just getting a half hour at lunch at work to play. I can take the system out of the dock in the living room and pop it into my girlfriend’s Switch’s dock in our bedroom when I want to lay down and relax. I cannot fathom a more perfect system. It has a stellar library that gets better all the time, the online (while sadly no longer free, thanks Microsoft) is the cheapest of the three, it’s portable (seriously, I can play Dark Souls on the crapper) and at the very least it has YouTube and Hulu and supposedly Disney + is coming. Just gimme Netflix and a proper web browser, plus the ability to make and sort folders on the home screen and we are good.
That’s gonna do it for this week folks. Hope you enjoyed me gushing a bit about games and systems I have owned and loved over the near three decades I have spent on this planet. My placements rustle any jimmies? Think there’s a console that really should be on the list that wasn’t? As always I love to hear from you guys so do feel free to leave comments below, let’s see your lists.
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If you want to catch up on some of our previous top 10 lists here on The Pulse you can check them out below:
Love you guys, I will see you all next week with a brand new top 10 here on The Pulse.