Monday, June 23, 2008

The Middle Children Of History present The 10 Greatest Gaming Consoles Of All Times (According To Us)

My Revenge Of The 80's posts all focus on different aspects of growing up in the 80's so how do I address the cumulative memories of being a 70's baby who grew up during the 80's and 90's and is old enough to remember it all? I came up with the tagline "Middle Children Of History" which I jacked from "Fight Club", a cult movie that was originally a novel by the legendary Chuck Palahniuk.

I present to you readers of Poisonous Paragraphs, The 10 Greatest Gaming Consoles Of All Times (According To Us). The X Box, X Box 360, Wii and PS3 need some more time before they're included in this discussion in our opinions (we're not Microsoft fans anyways) so they won't be included in this list. Here we go:

10. SNK Neo Geo (1990)

The Neo Geo was the BAPE of video game systems. Every neighborhood dope boy could prove that he got that paper by shelling out between $600-$700 just for the base system packages and $199 per cartridge. The payoff was you got to play aracde games in your own home...not translations of arcade games, either! The actual goddamn game!

"Fatal Fury: King Of Fighters", "Magician Lord", "World Heroes", "Art Of Fighting", "Baseball Stars Professional", "NAM 1975", "8 Man", "Sengoku" and "Metal Slug" were among the most popular games for this console. It had a CD player add-on in 1993 but it was single speed so the load times were hella long on the CD-ROM titles. SNK kept releasing games for the NEO GEO until 2004 even though they had filed for bankruptcy way back in 2000. The Wii releases games for the NEO GEO on it's Virtual Console.

9. Sega Dreamcast (DC) (1999)

I got to hand it to Sega, this gaming system was the shit! It had some great games like "Soul Calibur", "Sonic Adventure", "NFL 2K", "NBA 2K", "Power Stone", "Jet Grind Radio", "Phantasy Star Online" and "Shenmue" plus it was the first gaming console to provide internet access, online play and had a gaming network built in. It sold extremely well initially and bulit up quite a rabid, loyal fanbase.

After Sony released the PlayStation 2, support for the Dreamcast all but jumped ship for Sony due to Sega's past track record with failed consoles. Several Japanese game manufacturers held grudges with Sega for abruptly abandoning the Sega Saturn and refused to make games for them. Sega panicked and responded with drastic price cuts and giveaways as fans rushed out to get their hands on the PS2.

By January 2001, the bigwigs at Sega threw in the towel and announced that they were discontinuing the Dreamcast which just 17 months prior had set the world record for console sales in a 24 hour span. Damn shame. Way to fuck up a good thing, clownshoes!

8. TurboDuo (1992)

To quote Edward Grimley, this console was "as doomed as doomed could be, yunno". It had damn near no third party support, no name recognition in North America and it's price point was too goddamn high. What it did have, however, was a gang of good games on both HuCard and on CD from it's failed incarnation as the TurboGrafx 16 from 1989 to 1992.

Not only could you play the library of old games and CD's but Hudson Soft finally committed to releasing some of the popular PC Engine titles from Japan in North America like "Gate Of Thunder", "Dragon Slayer: The Legend Of Heroes", "Vasteel", "Exile", "Forgotten Worlds", "Riot Zone" and "Prince Of Persia". This system survived on the niche market for years until the PlayStation and Sega Saturn came along in 1995. The TurboDuo's games live on with the Wii's Virtual Console.

7. ColecoVision (1982)
The ColecoVision was the last successful gaming console before the grand event known as the Video Game Crash Of 1983 happened. The ColecoVision was the must have gaming system, it could even play all of the old Atari 2600 cartridges so it was the official gaming jumpoff of that era. You could play games like "Donkey Kong", "Donkey Kong Jr.", "Mr. Do" and "Zaxxon" until the wee hours in the comfort of your own home.

By 1984, the gaming industry was in dire straits and it was a wrap for the ColecoVision when it was discontinued after selling upwards of 6 million units. The next year, the gaming industry would be saved by Nintendo...but that is another story.

6. Super Nintendo (SNES) (1991)
The SNES was powered by games like "Super Mario World", "F-Zero", "Pilotwings", "Donkey Kong Country", "StarFox", "Final Fantasy II", and "Final Fight". The games that Nintendo brought to the console are ultimately what sold it in millions of households because the SNES was a stripped down, basic next generation gaming system in comparison to the machines that led the 32 bit revolution to come.

Nintendo stuck to it's guns and survived by selling copies of sequels of their super popular franchises. All I ever did with my SNES was play "Live 96", "Killer Instinct" and few other games. My friends all rated it hella high but I had this joint below the Sega Saturn (which topped out at #16).

5. Sega Genesis (GEN) (1989)
For those of you that weren't old enough to remember, gaming system loyalty was a fierce business. People repped their gaming system of choice like a set but minus the gang signs and colors. Nintendo fans and Genesis heads used to have arguments all the time about which system was the best. All of it was funny to me because my gaming system of choice was a TurboGrafx 16 so I just stood by and watched folks spit out specs for each system and yell about Megs and RAM. Who gives a fuck? I thought to myself. What kind of games does it have? The Genesis had games, son!

"Phantasy Star II", "Sonic The Hedgehog", "Altered Beast", "Mortal Kombat", "Shining Force", "Streets Of Rage 2", "Eternal Champions", "Lakers Versus Celtics And The NBA Playoffs", "Joe Montana Football" and "NBA Jam" were all very popular. Sega was adept at getting third party support and bringing their arcade hits to the Genesis. The Genesis was popular but in 1991, Sega Of Japan and Sega Of America began developing add ons and more hardware (Sega CD, 32X, etc.) that all failed miserably and ultimately eroded most third party companies belief in Sega's future systems and endeavors. Way to go, asshats!

4. PlayStation 2 (PS2) (2000)
The PlayStation 2 took quite a while to really get going due to stock shortages but once that initial bump in the road cleared, the PlayStation 2 has since become the best selling gaming console of all times selling in excess of 130 million estimated units. Games like "Jax & Daxter", "Twisted Metal: Black", "Final Fantasy X", "Grand Theft Auto", "Grand Turismo 3", "Tekken Tag Tournament" and "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty" drew in gamers of all walks of life. If you include the fact that the PlayStation 2 was also backwards compatible and it also served as a DVD/CD player it was a no brainer purchase.

The PlayStation 2 still moves units to this day in it's new slimmed down version and used PlayStation/PlayStation 2 games don't sell for much. Somewhere someone is playing "The Bouncer", "Zone Of The Enders" and "Onimusha" on their PS2 with hella cash in their bank account.

3. Atari 2600 (1977)
How do you know you're old as hell? When you pick the Atari 2600 as the greatest gaming console of all times! The Atari 2600 was the first home video game system to really be a hit after a gang of companies tried to beat them to the punch. Intellivsion, Magnavox, M Network and several other companies tried and failed but with games like "Defender","Space Invaders", "Pac Man", "Dig Dug", "Asteroids", "Breakout", "Centipede", "Frogger". "Galaxian", "Omega Race", "Missile Command", "Joust", "Pitfall", "Q-bert" and "Yar's Revenge" it was hard to deny the Atari 2600 a place in your home.

The Atari 2600 reigned supreme until 1982 when Atari switched to the Atari 5200 and ColecoVision came on the scene and took the title. After the Video Game Crash happened in 1983 Atari became a shell of it's former self. It did make a come back years later after another gaming console revitalized the ailing video game industry.

2. PlayStation (PSX) (1995)
The PlayStation was the first gaming console to sell an excess of 100 million units worldwide, that is a tremendous feat in itself. The PlayStation had ultra popular titles like "Resident Evil", "Final Fantasy VII", "Tekken 2", "Silent Hill", "Grand Turismo", "Chrono Cross", "Crash Bandicoot", "Tomb Raider", "Twisted Metal", "Parasite Eve", "Syphon Filter", "Wild Arms" and "Metal Gear Solid" and it just took of immediately after it was launched.

Sony was a buzzsaw that couldn't be stopped. It took the idea of being a CD based console that was first introduced by the TurboGrafx 16/TurboDuo and improved on it dramatically. Several other gaming systems were destroyed in it's wake and the PS One ruled the marketplace until Sony introduced the PS2 which went on to shatter all of the previous sales records that the PS One set.

1. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) (1985)
The NES singlehandedly saved the entire video game industry and then proceeded to write the book on how to brand your system, create a niche in the marketplace and survive with the changing times and technology. Even to this day, the Nintendo Entertainment System remains the most influential game system ever created. The proof lies here for anyone who disputes our claim. Got it? I'm gone.

Rest In Eternal Peace, George Carlin.



Trey said...

If the NES wasn't tops I was going to get ferocious.

There was a tennis game for Dreamcast that was FIRE. And NFL Gameday '98 for PS2 was the hottness in high school. I'm getting teary-eyed just reminiscing.

raafi said...

Either yours is the greatest blog of all time, this is simply an astoundingly good post, or this is all just a tremendous waste of time. In any case, while nodding my head to many of your assessments, I must submit, humbly, my tale of woe in the console wars (which also doubles as the most overlooked console of all time): The Sega Master System.

The Master System was the contemporary of the NES, and ten bucks more expensive when the two launched. Sega knew that they had better graphics (but less games) and hedged that the ten bucks extra wouldn't be the deal-breaker it turned out to be. After that Christmas, the kids in my school came back with the NES by a 3 to 1 ratio -- a costly 10 dollar miscalculation -- and the rest, as they say, was history. Action Fighter, a game for the Master System, remains my favorite video game of all time. The games Black Belt, The Ninja, and later Shinobi established Sega's great pedigree with martial-arts games that Nintendo could not (or did not care to) compete with. My freshman year in college I once commiserated with two other former Master System owners -- it was like being the last of a dying breed . We still seethed at the NES' success even though the console world had moved on to the 16-bit generation. Along with the VHS/Beta battle, the NES/Sega battle stands as one of the great lessons of consumerism of my youth.

Dart Adams said...

@ goathair:

Virtual Tennis sold like crack rocks for the Sega Dreamcast. I had a friend that worked at EBX back in the days and they used to fly off of the shelves. My boy Kai (he's in the picture) owned one and later my brother copped one when they raised the white flag. I can't believe a system that great with games that good started out such a success and ended up discontinuing in less than 18 months.

@ raafi:

The Sega Master System got BODIED by the NES and while it did have some cool games like Zillion, Black Belt, Shinobi, Double Dragon, etc no one owned one.

There was one kid in our entire neighborhood named Chris that had a Sega Master System and even though there were several Chris' is the South End (Boston) he was identified as "Sega Chris" for years when we mentioned him.

As a TurboGrafx 16 owner, I could relate.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant post, Dart. I couldn't agree more, even though I haven't played half of these consoles.

I haven't thought about "Altered Beast" in probably over a decade. That was my shit.

@slushygutter said...

Good stuff Dart, although I came up with the Intellivsion by Mattel. Back in early 80s, it was the ish! Unfortunatley, it was priced too high and they slowly scaled back, until they pulled it entirely. Some outfit in Cali made games for the old units thru 90-91. Best game: Night Stalker.

c0dec said...

your last couple of sentences just reminded me about the BBC documentary "Tetris - From Russia With Love". Don't tell me you haven't seen it -

BTW, you gotta get the handhelds in there.

Dart Adams said...

@ codec:

Yes, I have seen it and there will be a handheld post in the future as well as a post about the most frustrating games ever that I haven't yet ironed out the details about how I'm going to do it yet.


vincentlopez said...

Ahhhh...memories of my Colecovision. I begged my mom to get that for me when I was 10 or 11for Xmas. My friends and I played it every single day (Zaxxon, Dinkey Kong, etc.). And then the worst possible thing happened. It died exactly on the 91st day, which was the day after the warranty expired. Of course, my mom wouldn't get me a replacement but that system was worth it. We went back to playing Atari 2600 until the Atari 5200 came out.


DocZeus said...

Great post. My only gripe would be that you did not include the N64 on that list.

C'mon, tell me you didn't pee your pants a lil when you first saw Mario rendered in 3D for Mario 64. That game still is heat rocks, almost 15 years later. It never gets old.

Dart Adams said...

@ doc zeus:

I hated the N64 more than the Jheri Curl. I was a certified Nintendo hater during the SNES/N64/Gamecube era (PlayStation/PS2 owner) and as I type this my niece and nephew are behind me playing Wii Play on my Wii.