20 of the Most Popular Video Game Consoles

Jason Loomis
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NES

The Nintendo Entertainment System was Nintendo’s first venture into the console market and was released in 1986. It became very popular and sold more than 62 million units worldwide. In 1989, Nintendo released its second version of the NES (Famicom) in Japan. In Europe, it was referred to as the NES. In North America, it was referred to as the NES Classic. The NES was discontinued in the early 1990s and was soon followed by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

PS2

(PLAYSTATION 2)

The Playstation 2, full name PS2 (shortened from either PlayStation 2 or PlayStation Two), was released on March 4, 2000. It was the follow up to Playstation and became the best-selling console of all time, selling an astonishing 150 million units.

Although the Playstation 2 may not be Sony’s current console, it is still being manufactured and sold today, more than a decade after its original release. Its success, both as a console and a business, allowed for the Playstation brand to remain a major player in the video game market, and led to the creation of the PlayStation 3 and the subsequent Playstation 4.

Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS is an extremely capable handheld, and is Nintendo's handheld console. The DS stands for "Dual Screen" and has a 5-inch TFT touch-screen and a 3.5-inch touchscreen. The sound system is built in but the DS also has Gameboy Advance connectivity options. It was released in 2004 and was initially very expensive but is now a relatively inexpensive way for a whole family to enjoy games. Even though it has a touch screen, you can also play many games using the traditional D-pad.

SNES

The Super Nintendo was released in Japan and North America in 1990 while Europe had to wait until November of 1992. The Super Nintendo, also known as the SNES, had more advanced graphics and technological capabilities compared to earlier game systems like the NES. It also introduced new game genres including fighting games like Street Fighter and role-playing video games like the Final Fantasy series. It has a library of 1521 games.

The SNES was discontinued in 2003.

PlayStation

(1995-Present)

The original PlayStation was Sony’s first foray into the gaming industry. It was released October 31, 1995 in Japan and September 9, 1995 in North America, and by the end of its first year it owned 70% of the market.

The PlayStation 2 was released in 2000 and remains the best selling game console to date, with over 150 million units sold worldwide. The main appeal of the PlayStation 2 was the inclusion of DVD technology, allowing it to play DVDs and CDRs.

The PlayStation 3 was released in 2006 and competitors with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 as the best-selling console of its generation. Although it lacks a built-in DVD player, the PlayStation 3 can play PlayStation, PlayStation Store, and DVD movies. Next generation games are played on the Blu ray format, while older games are played on CDs.

The fourth iteration in the PlayStation line is the PlayStation 4. PlayStation 4 uses Blu-ray discs to play games, and the PlayStation Vita uses cartridges, but Sony has announced plans to release a new, slimmer version of the PlayStation Vita later this year with an internal memory card.

Wii

Wii Mini, also known as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Classic Edition, is a downsized version of the original Wii with a 30 game library. This is a real nostalgia machine for gamers of the 80s. The system can be used with the Wii Controller or NES Classic Controller.

The Wii is the successor to the GameCube. Wii means "We" in Japanese. It that sense, it’s a perfect name for a console that truly brings people together. It sold over 111 million units worldwide. To date, it is still Nintendo’s best selling console.

This little console changed everything, again. Not only with motion controls, but with the Wii Shop Channel, allowing users to download and purchase games and applications online. It was a huge step forward for console gaming.

In 2012, the Wii U was released – the successor to the original Wii. Wii U means "Two" in Japanese. Though it lived up to nearly every expectation set for it, the Wii U’s sales never matched up to the Wii, nor were they able to compete with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The console was sold less than 14 million units.

Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 is a home video game console developed by Microsoft. As Microsoft's successor to the original Xbox, it is the second console in the Xbox family. It competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles.

The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game information announced later that month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The console sold out completely upon its launch in November 2005, and released in China on June 17, 2007, and Japan on September 1, 2014. As of November 10, 2013, the Xbox 360 has sold 84 million units worldwide. There are currently 13 Xbox 360 SKUs, which range from the 4GB Xbox 360 Slim to the 4GB Xbox 360 Elite, which like the Xbox 360 Pro is packaged without a hard drive.

PlayStation 3

This is a 64-bit home video game console that was created by Sony in 2006 and it is currently still available and in use. It has some truly great titles and processing capabilities.

The brainchild of Ken Kutaragi, former Sony Computer Entertainment Chief Executive Officer, the PlayStation 3 has greatly influenced the console gaming market and has even changed the way that multi-player gaming is done. The console can be equipped with what is known as "Play Station 3 Eye", which is a motion sensing camera.

Sega Genesis

The Sega Genesis console was introduced in 1988 in North America. It was based on the 8-bit MOS Technology 6560 processor similar to the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The console was upgraded in 1991 leaving the MOS Technology 6560 processor behind and replacing it with the more capable Ricoh 3A3 which allowed for faster processing.

This is the same processor used in SNES, NES, and Atari 7800. Sega Genesis also had the capability to play Sega Master System games with the Sega Power Base Converter. This allowed previous users of Sega Master System to play their old games on the new Sega Genesis.

Similar to NES, most Sega Genesis games were in cartridge form, but there were two models of Sega Genesis that were able to use optical discs, CD Power Base Converter and the Sega CD.

The Sega CD came out in the same year as the Sega Genesis 3 in 1994 and was able to play audio CDs along with its ability to play games. To play games, one would need to buy a separate cartridge that would be used to load games onto the system.

In addition to this add-on, Sega Genesis was also the first gaming system to be able to use a second system as a controller. Nintendo Famicom was not released until 1986.

Nintendo 64

(Nintendo console, 1996)

The Nintendo 64 console was a true 64-bit gaming console that was released in the 90’s. It is famous for being one of the first gaming consoles to use cartridges; Nintendo went with the cartridges because of its proven durability. A Nintendo 64 cartridge does not need to be inserted into a disc drive or a tray, and the cartridges contain zero moving parts, unlike CD’s, which scratch with use. It has three primary launch buttons: a purple "start" button, a silver "select" button, and a gray "z" trigger. The screen was initially set on the left, but it could be changed with a switch that was located under the controller between the controller ports. The controller had two control sticks, a d pad and four trigger buttons. The controller even had a vibration feature, which simulated the sensation of firing a gun, vehicle, etc.

The N64 was the most powerful console of its time, and it was well known for its 3D graphics. Nintendo 64 games look amazing when they are being played, and though they did not receive a whole lot of positive press at the time of their release, many collectors love the games that are from this era because of the nostalgic memories that come with the console. Though the N64 had one of the most advanced game engines of its time; it was known for being a big step backwards when it came to the controller.

Atari 2600

Atari 2600 is a popular game console that is created by Atari Inc. The game console was successful and it was commercially available from 1977 to 1992 in America. The name 2600 was used because it was believed that the same console would remain popular for over a decade. In reality, the console saw the light of the day for only 7 years. The Atari 2600 was designed to play games only on cartridge media.

The Atari 2600 came with two joystick controllers. The controllers resembled a typical computer keyboard with a number of buttons. The company also released several more controllers later on. It included audio/video cables, a joy stick, the console itself, RF connector cable, and the controller.

On September 11, 1982, the video game, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was released by Atari Inc. Only 40 cartridges were produced by the company during the game's first week of production.

The game was a flop as the games were leaked and the sales from the holiday time period tanked. Later, most of the back stock of Atari 2600 games were buried in the Alamogordo desert in New Mexico. In 2013, the footage of the burial was found and the production of the game was resumed.

Xbox

Released on November 22, 2013, the Xbox One is Microsoft’s third entry into the console market. While the Xbox 360 was technically superior to the Playstation in terms of graphics, it was Sony’s PS3 that outperformed Microsoft’s 360 in terms of sales. Microsoft used this knowledge to help provide for the Xbox One a greater sales number and better graphics than the Playstation 4.

Interestingly enough, there is a large price discrepancy between first generation Xbox One consoles and the newly released Xbox One S version. While the Xbox One S provides better graphics, the original Xbox One is still a very solid choice for players who are looking to save money.

The gaming experience relies heavily on speed and there is no better way to play faster than on the Xbox One. Players who are looking to get the most out of their gaming experience will find the Xbox One ideal.

GameCube

The much-anticipated GameCube was released in 2001 by Nintendo. It is one of the few Nintendo consoles that didn’t include a light gun game. Instead, the Game Boy player was built into it, making it easy to play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games.

It included four controller ports so multiple players could enjoy games together.

PS4

When it comes to choosing a console to buy, most gamers will look at one system above all else. The price, hardware, and exclusive games are what most people base their decisions on. In addition to that, online gaming platforms and ease of use also play a big role.

Some will argue that the standard controller provided by the producer is a big deal. The feelings that some have are more than a bit irrational and arrogant isn’t it? But there are also some out there that will also tell you that the entire gaming experience is down to the controller.

When it comes to gaming consoles, each console has its own pros and cons. It does not necessarily mean that one is better than the other. Each has its own unique set of features. The aim here is to cover every one of them.

The aim is to make this the most comprehensive guide you will find, and one that can be used by anyone. Whether you are a gamer yourself or you are looking to buy a console as a gift for your children, this guide is essential reading.

Here then, are the 20 of the most popular video game consoles, plus why some people prefer playing on consoles instead of a personal computer.

TurboGrafx-16

Released in 1988, the TurboGrafx-16 was one of the most powerful game consoles available at the time. It was created by Hudson Soft, the same company that made the PC Engine. The TurboGrafx-16 also went by the nickname "PC Engine Jr." The TurboGrafx-16’s popularity declined when NEC released the Super Nintendo Super Famicom and Sega released the Mega Drive in Japan. But it was very popular in the American markets.

It was released in both a CD-ROM and a non-CD-ROM version.

There was a small number of games developed for the CD-ROM version and they were on higher-quality CD-ROMs.

It came with both Composite and RCA A/V cables. It made use of the HuCard format and had a TurboChip slot for accessory cards.

The TurboGrafx-16 had an expandable RAM cart that could be added to the console. They even made a 4MB RAM card that was sold separately.

Dreamcast

Google's purchase of Motorola's mobile phone business in 2011 gave them a lot of patents. One such patent was for the controller for the Dreamcast. It features an analog stick with the standard 4 buttons below. If you look closely, you'll notice that the analog stick is actually slanted downward toward the player. That was the first foray into the future of control systems.

Xbox One

This is the first game console produced by Microsoft. It comes with a 500 Gigabyte hard disk drive. It was launched worldwide in November 2013.

It’s pricey, but it cannot be denied that the graphics are amazing.

In fact, the graphics are so good that it’s even hard to tell that the graphics are computer generated in some cases.

It’s an excellent choice for the serious gamer as well as for the casual player.

While it may be pricier than other game consoles, it’s a worthwhile investment. The Xbox One is designed to play both games as well as entertainment programs like Netflix, Hulu, and Skype.

Sega Saturn

Released in 1994, Sega’s Sega Saturn was the company’s first venture into the 32 bit gaming. Although the Sega Saturn was a terrific console with great features, it did get some hard time to compete in the market. The most praised feature of the Sega Saturn was that it is a 32 bit machine, which meant HD graphics. It features 1 meg of RAM and had the capability to produce high quality graphics. With the 5 button controller design, it was the predecessor of the 6 button Sony Playstation controller.

The Saturn had the capability to play all the CD games and also CD-ROMs. There was no other gaming console that had this quality at that time. The Sega Saturn also had the ability to connect to the Sega Netlink and the Sega Swirl. Both of these were online gaming features that were not so common back then.

You can currently buy a brand new Sega Saturn on SEGA’s website.

Neo Geo

Released in 1990, the handheld TurboGrafx was a clone of Nintendo’s Nintendo Entertainment System. The games only took one battery, so recharging was extremely quick and easy. It was the first gaming console to have an LCD screen, but the graphics were smaller than the competition. The small size of the screen made some games difficult to play if you did not use a magnifying lens. And their limited library of games meant that a TurboGrafx player would be stuck with challenging, sometimes unsolvable games. On the plus side, the TurboGrafx was the backpacker’s ideal gaming console. It was portable and had a decent battery life.

3DO

The 3DO was released in October 1993 and was one of the first CD-ROM based game systems. Its graphics were superior to anything available on other game platforms, with developers using 3D polygons that were not available on any other system of the day. Additionally, it was not a proprietary system, meaning anyone was able to develop games for it.

Also, the 3DO supported NTSC, PAL and SECAM television standards all in one console. Many of the games were released on the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and the PC, although they tended to look slightly better on the 3DO.

The 3DO was not advanced enough for numerous developers to create the next generation of games. After a promising start, the console lost momentum.