episodic list articles by Corey B. Buckner

The 5 Best: Video Game Consoles

by Corey B. Buckner

If you wanted to start a fight in grade school, all you had to do was say that your console of choice was better than the other major console available at the time. While the majority of people agreed that the Nintendo Entertainment System was the undisputed winner of the 8-bit era, every era after that was as hotly contested as any other conflict over the last 30 years. While there have been MANY great and wonderful consoles released in the 70s, 80s and 90s; only 5 can make the list of The 5 Best. Remember, this is my list and there will be other versions of this list shared by other people from around the world right here on colexions.com. Because this list is limited to the 70s, 80s & 90s; there will be no no Wii, XBOX 360 or PlayStation ... although, the latter two wouldn't make MY list anyway. Additionally, this list will be comprised of both home and handheld consoles. Here is my list.

5. SEGA Master System

It is no doubt that in the 8-bit era the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) had all the games. Nintendo also had a killer marketing campaign that bumrushed the minds of American youth in the 1980s. Despite all of that, I can honestly say that it was the SEGA Master System, and not the SEGA Genesis that actuality "did what Nintendon't".

Compared to the NES and the Atari 7800, the Master System had vastly superior color and graphics. Games like Hang-On and Space Harrier were beautiful masterpieces of the era, the likes of which neither of the other consoles had comparable offerings. While the 7800 was still sending you from one end of the screen to the other and then reloading, and Nintendo was introducing us to scrolling levels; the Master System bringing us into the first person view. Sports games like Rocky and Great Football were far better technical achievements than what the competition had to offer.

The SEGA Master System clearly lost the 8-bit war, but they lost it with superior hardware and better looking software. That is why The Master System is my fifth Best Console of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

4. Nintendo 64

I play video games to play "games", not simulate war or have the most realistic and life-like experiences. If I want real life I'll go for a walk, or pay a bill or something. When I play a video game I like to have as much fantasy and escapism as possible. This is what the Nintendo 64 (N64) offered me. This console was filled with great games like Donkey Kong 64, Mischief Makers and of course, Mario 64 that were as fun and fantasy-filled as possible. The fun adventures never stopped dropping for the N64.m, and if itnwas realism you wanted, look no further than Goldeneye 007, Turok and WCW/NWO Revenge.

While the PlayStation was filling store shelves with Hoards of shovelware and SEGA was busy running itself out of business with multiple 32-bit consoles, Nintendo was unleashing a barrage of A1 quality games. While the PlayStation was forcing us to sit through loading screens just to watch a 4-minute video montage only to sit through another loading screen before we can play the level, the N64 was seamlessly transferring us from screen-to-screen allowing the fun to never end.

3. SEGA Dreamcast

9-9-99 should live on in infamy as the DAY SEGA finally vanquished the mighty Nintendo. Unfortunately, what actually happened is that we watched one of the best video game consoles ever made get steamrolled by rumors of upcoming console releases. The Dreamcast was a modern marvel and a technical dream for its time period. The list of innovations first found in the Dreamcast are well-documented and many of them were adopted by the industry as a whole in subsequent console generations.

In addition to innovations like their VMU cards and a built-in modem, the Dreamcast had GAMES! Jet Set Radio, Crazy Taxi, Rez and Virtual-On were OUTSTANDING games that are still extremely fun to play today. In its extremely short lifespan of just over 500 days, the Dreamcast released several of SEGA's most beloved games. Those extremely fun games and the forward-thinking innovation are why I consider the Dreamcast the third best gaming console of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

2. Super Nintendo Entertainment System

I know most of you expected this to be number one on list because it is well-documented that I consider the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) to be the most perfect home console ever made. It was the most complete console right out of the box at launch with the best game ever made (Super Mario World) packed-in. With Mode 7 at launch and the FX Chip at the end of its life cycle and a whole host of other innovations and killer apps that used them in between; words cannot properly express how innovative and amazing the SNES was. Neither can words express what my SNES meant to me in the late 90s.

Is it even worth it to try and list the most memorable games from the console? Actraiser, Donkey Kong Country, Mario Kart, Killer Instinct, Street Fighter, Mario Paint, and the list continues like that. With very little shovelware for the amount of games released, the SNES likely has the highest quality lineup of games ever compared to other consoles. Games and innovation lands the SNES at number two on my list.

1. Nintendo Gameboy

People tend to forget what the gaming situation was for kids in the 1980s. The overwhelming majority of kids' gaming consoles were attached to shared televisions. Whether it was a family TV in the family room, or a TV you shared in the bedroom with a sibling, our gaming habit was constantly being put on hold because someone else needed the TV. For everything that the Gameboy did for making gaming available on the go, one aspect of what the Gameboy did for us often goes overlooked. The Gameboy made non-stop, uninterrupted gaming a reality for the first time for many of the kids who owned one, myself included.

Yes it's true the there are innumerable great and fun games for the Gameboy. Yes it's true that the Gameboy created the mobile gaming market. But what the Gameboy did for people like you and I was allow us to indulge in our gaming passions without having to consider whether a sibling or parent needed to use the television. It allowed us to hide away in bedrooms, backyards and basements and become separated and fully immersed in the games we played.

Not only did the Gameboy change how and where we played our games, it also completely changed our relationship with gaming as a whole. For that reason, I believe it is a worthy recipient of the number one spot on my list of the Top 5 Best Gaming Consoles of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

more 5 Best lists | next list