GameCentral readers name their favourite ever video game consoles, from the SNES to the PlayStation 2.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who wanted to know which console (or home computer) is your favourite, and why. Do you still use the console in question and what game made best use of the format and how?
To our surprise hardly anyone mentioned the Mega Drive or Xbox 360. With instead most votes split between the SNES, N64, and GameCube; the PlayStation 1 and 2; and the Dreamcast. In other words, it was the sixth generation of consoles which most people regarded as the best.
Ahead of its time
Easiest Hot Topic ever. The SNES was and remains the greatest games console ever and anyone who says otherwise can meet me on the playground after school to sort it out! OK, so I may have heavy doses of nostalgia but the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, released in 1992 (Europe), tops my list of the most perfectly crafted video games machines.
The curved simplicity of its form (let’s ignore the grotesque Famicom) was straight from the Audi design school and belied the, for the time, cutting edge technology inside. 16-bit, high quality 8-channel audio, and a mind blowing 32,768 colours allowed for rich game worlds full of detail and colour. And then on top was Mode 7, a mythical, world-altering ability to spin and rotate levels with ease and best utilised, in my memory, in F-Zero and one particular level of Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts.
Which brings me to the games. The SNES ushered in a true golden age of creativity and innovation. There were more cast iron classics than arguably any other console but my personal favourites had to include Super Castlevania IV, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Metroid, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past. Just reminiscing over them makes me feel nostalgic. For anyone who has missed any of these games their timeless quality keeps them as playable today as they’ve ever been. Try saying that about PS1 games!
The SNES provided genuinely memorable gaming moments throughout my childhood, moments which have grown in appreciation as I have aged and gaming evolved. I’m excited for the future and innovations such as VR, but I can’t imagine looking at another console with quite the nostalgia evoked by the once mighty SNES.
ProEvoSan78 (PSN ID)
I think my favourite console must be the PlayStation 2 as it was the console on which I first decided that gaming was my hobby. It wasn’t the first console I had owned, as I had a Game Boy Colour and PS one beforehand and had played some kids PC games but I was a bit too young at the time to really understand what was going on. That changed with the PlayStation 2.
I remember opening it on Christmas morning and I must have been something resembling the Nintendo 64 kid. The graphics astounded me at the time and the things possible on it were a real step up from the PS one. Plus, it was great for playing DVDs. I hope Sony make a PlayStation 4 theme based on the PlayStation 2 like they did for the PS one anniversary, but with all the PlayStation 2 noises. So basically, my fond feelings are all nostalgia but who cares?
Truk_Kurt (PSN ID)/Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: Severed (PS Vita)
I normally have a fairly extensive collection of consoles hooked up to my TV: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Mega Drive, SNES, GameCube – but due to moving house soon, I’ve packed everything away apart from the PlayStation 4, as it’s the one most used. Consequently, that’s got me looking forward to getting them all out again once I’ve moved.
And the one I’m most looking forward to playing? After years of primarily playing the old 16-bit games, I’m surprised to find myself pining for the Xbox 360! The games I kept for it (amongst others) and look forward to playing again, are the Halo and Gears Of War series, as well as Dead Space 1 and 2. I think this is largely due to the lack of similar games in the current gen rather than feelings of nostalgia. So I guess it’s slightly damning of the PlayStation 4 that nothing much has been released in the last two to three years that would make me forget the Xbox 360 like I did the original Xbox.
I suppose I could have gone Xbone in order to get the Halo and Gears Of War sequels, but that Xbone launch fiasco was enough to seal that coffin for me!
My kids also liked to dip into some Bomberman, ‘Splosion Man, and some of the other Arcade games too when the Xbox 360 was out, so it’s not just me in my family either!
AbominableSloth (PSN ID)
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My favourite games console? No question about it: the GameCube. I’d even go so far as to say that the whole sixth generation of consoles (roughly the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube era) is my absolute favourite and that gaming has never been better before or since, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was a day one purchase for me, and I still remember picking it up from my local Woolworths (remember those?). Just the look of the thing was enough to catch the eye; tiny, colourful and unlike any other games console up to that point. I’m not sure the carry handle ever had practical use, but it definitely gave it a unique look. Same with the game discs; they always looked so fragile to me, like they’d break if I held on just that little bit too hard.
As for the controller… Well, I don’t think any controller has ever managed to recapture just how ‘right’ it felt in my hands (the Xbox 360 controller came closest). You know how sometimes you feel a certain something was made just for you? Well, I had that feeling with the GameCube’s controller. It slotted comfortable in my hands, the buttons were in easy reach, and the shoulder ‘plungers’ curved really nicely with my fingers. It was a joy to hold and use.
This is all before I even get started on what was an incredible line-up of games to me. The GameCube plays host to Metroid Prime, which I rank as my absolute favourite game of all-time, and also to a number of other games which I enjoyed immensely. Games such as Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, the Resident Evil remake, killer7, Viewtiful Joe, Zelda: The Wind Waker (which is certainly in my personal top three Zelda games) and Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time kept me awestruck for many happy hours (yeah, I realise some of them are multiformat, but I still associate them with my GameCube library).
Sadly, my GameCube is now packed away, though I did recently manage to get a second-hand copy of F-Zero GX for a reasonable price. Perhaps I should dig it out again…
When I thought about it, this wasn’t a hard question to answer at all really.
Going by lifetime sales though I’m going for one of the least popular home consoles ever produced, certainly the least popular in recent generations: the Wii U.
I love it for the one reason many seem to hate it, although I don’t believe the haters have actually spent any real time with it. I love it because of the GamePad.
Whether it’s playing Splatoon or Star Fox Zero on the dual screen set-up, or playing Call Of Duty with a mate, Lego Dimensions with my daughters or many other games where we each have our own full screen to use, it’s a brilliant piece of tech.
People underestimate just how advanced it is. I have a decent Samsung TV, I’ve enabled game mode, turned off all of the post processing I could and even ventured into the service menu on it to disable other bits that add latency too, yet the GamePad with its uncompressed video feed has a lower latency. There is a visible difference! If I hold a mirrored screen up and press fire or jump, the GamePad is clearly ahead. Keep that in mind when your VR headsets arrive with cables attached!
It’s enough to improve my average kills to deaths ratio in Call Of Duty from 1.5 to 2.25 (ish) when going from the TV to the GamePad.
Getting games for it in shops is problematic, but I don’t care because they are almost all right there on the eShop, the exception being Activision titles.
It only has 32GB of storage, but I don’t care as I have a 2TB portable hard drive plugged into it.
It doesn’t have as many games as other consoles, but again I don’t care about that either, as it has more games I like than I have time to play.
Between my family and I we have clocked 126 hours this month alone across 13 titles and over 4,800 hours across 91 titles since I got it back in November 2012.
With any other home console where I need the TV to play, I would have managed maybe two hours a week over the same period with probably 30 games by the end of its tenure. That or having to choose to spend time isolated from my family, which was never going to happen.
It may just be a Wii U but it’s been everything I could have asked for in a console.
My favourite console is the only retro console that I still have permanently setup: the Dreamcast.
After upgrading from the PlayStation, the upgrade to the Dreamcast was phenomenal. I can still remember watching the opening cut scene for SoulCalibur (to this day, the best 3D beat ‘em-up) and marvelling at how good it looked. Games seemed so much bigger and richer than the previous generation.
The main reason I like it so much is simply because the games were so good. Pick almost any genre and the best examples of it can be found on Sega’s little white machine. Games like SoulCalibur, Street Fighter III, Ikaruga, or Skies Or Arcadia all hold up well to this day, and I will honestly never get bored of playing Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, or Space Channel 5.
The Dreamcast was also the last time I can remember ‘arcade perfect’ being something to aspire to, and the last era of out and out ‘fun’ games before the move to gritty realism seemed to take over. How much of that is true and how much is my own distorted memories I’m not certain though.
The Dreamcast is also the source of one of my saddest gaming memories: working at Woolworths as a student and seeing a huge display of units, one year after its release, reduced to £35 because we could not sell them. Even at that absolute bargain price we could not shift those machines. I bought a backup unit with my 20% staff discount and have never even needed to open it because my main unit still works perfectly.
I wonder how different its lifecycle, and by extension, modern gaming, would have been if only a few minor changes had been made? A better built-in modem, DVD support, and games that weren’t child’s play to pirate and I could have very different recollections of this little wondrous machine.
Eiichihoba (PSN ID)
I’ve pretty much always had a games console or system since the time of the Spectrum, and for me the PlayStation consoles have been my favourite. And out of them I have to say the PlayStation 3 pips it for my favourite, even though I had such a good time with PlayStation 2. I’ve been a lover of Japanese games since the PS1 and that heavily influenced me growing up, as I started to learn Japanese in my late teens (partly to do with wanting to play Japanese games as they were released over there and I was sick of horrible localisation times).
I was a bit of a late adopter on the PlayStation 3, as I was still content with my PlayStation 2 and real life was a bit more chaotic at the time. But when I finally got one I was really happy due to it being region free, as I could now import games much easier and finally put what was once a juvenile dream to play Japanese games into reality. And because Japanese games fell somewhat from grace it was an ideal time for me to put what I learnt into practice.
Some of the games have really helped improve my Japanese too like Sen No Kiseki (which I never thought would actually be released in the West but is now Trails Of Cold Steel over here). For anyone who has played the game series know there is a massive overarching story and there was a lot of daunting terminology in the game. I ended up having to research about 10-20% of the kanji in the game but I had a lot of fun playing it and learning more. I was also able to buy a lot of what I consider good games that were never released here like Shining Resonance and Tales Of Vesperia (extended edition).
I also started importing American games since I could get them cheaper. DLC was also becoming more prominent and DLC costs on American versions of games were more often than not 20 to 40% cheaper depending on exchange rates and I felt US customers always got treated better than EU customers. Even more so now, looking at the current EU PS blog and PlayStation store updates and sales.
Even though I have a gaming PC and a PlayStation 4 now, I will still often go back to my PlayStation 3 to play some of my favourite games on there. When I have mates round games like Everybody’s Golf are a must for us (at least until the PlayStation 4 version is out). I have two PlayStation 3s as I thought my old original model one was dying on me so I got a Slim version. But to my surprise, and I am still unsure why, my old PlayStation 3 revived itself and now I have it placed in the living room so I can alternate where I want to play.
I do like the PlayStation 4 but it has never really given me the same sense of attachment as the PlayStation 3 did. I’ve never really been into AAA games, with Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Witcher 3 being one of the few I am interested in that are currently out. Graphics don’t matter to me much as long as the game is presentable (I have to admit playing PS one classics on a 40-inch TV is a bit of a struggle for me) and apart from graphics the leap from PlayStation 3 to 4 just doesn’t seem as large as the one from PlayStation 2 to 3 for me.
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