April 09, 2015

The Elite Four: All-time Favorite Consoles

My old pals The Cartridge Bros. recently revamped their 'Not So Deep Thoughts' series into a weekly occurrence, and last week's video about the bros' top three all-time favorite systems was particularly interesting for me because I've never actually thought about it before… I just kind of love different things about every system. But I'd be lying if I said certain consoles hadn't gained more brownie points than others over the years, so this week's blog is my response the Cartridge Bros., ATSG style. Here are my Top 5 All-time Favorite Consoles.

5. Nintendo Wii
I know, right? What the hell is this doin' here? There is a very simple answer, actually: family. Much like P1 explained his love for the WiiU, the original Wii was the family bonder for me. For most of our lives, my brother and I have been the sole gamers of the family, with the rest subscribing to the idea that video games rot your brain and are all the same and boring. When the Wii was first introduced to North America, it was virtually impossible to get. It sold out everywhere moments after it hit the shelves, and a call to your favorite electronics retailer would usually begin with "thank you for calling Best Buy, we do not have the Nintendo Wii in stock…" So you can probably imagine my surprise when, while shopping with my mum, we heard an announcement that the store had just received a shipment, and interested parties should head to the department… What made the whole experience even more weird is when my mum told me she was going to buy one for my dad for christmas. You couldn't pay my old man to play Playstation, but he's into this?! Turns out the ol' sod can get behind the idea of motion capture, and uses his Wii to this day to work out. It's frequently broken out on holidays or any other time I'm forced to spend time with my family, and actually makes the chore a little more tolerable. We'll play the sports games and bowling, I've gotten everyone to play Wario Ware more than once, and even got my pop to play Mario Kart a few months back. There was a time I'd have guaranteed you that would never happen. For these reasons the Wii is a particularly special and important console, not only for the work it's done on my hostile family but it obviously opened a lot of doors in the industry, too. Prior to the Wii's success, motion control video games were almost always a complete failure. The system is also home to a lot of unique, must have gems for the RPG enthusiast like Pandora's Tower, The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles. The WiiU is a steady improvement on its ancestor, but the Wii started it all.

4. Sony Playstation 2
Honestly the reason my PS2 was my most used console was because it played DVDs. That was such a
perk at a time when I really couldn't afford much else. Sometimes I still use it for movie watching, and the latest "slim" edition of the console makes for a much better traveling companion than pretty much any other non-handheld system. But that never stopped me. Between 2000 and 2006 I was the go-to gal for traveling parties. I hauled that fat, fragile fucker everywhere with me and literally* conquered an island because I'd hook it up at my friend's lake house and attract everyone for miles around for Dance Dance Revolution competitions. And DDR doesn't even scratch the surface of this console's amazing library, which I still haven't even begun to complete. The PS2 added so much to gamer's expectations; the leaps in quality and capabilities were really impressive for the time. We were all pretty shocked when introduced to the PS1's 3D graphics, but absolutely blown away by the PS2's updates and voice acting and menus and so on. This console has both industrial and sentimental value to me and as I said, I haven't even considered unplugging the damn thing yet. It's one of my most important artifacts (I have 3 or 4, now, actually).

3. Sony Playstation (PSOne, PSX)
So how could the PS1 be better than the PS2? It's true that the PS2 is the better system, but there's a feeling that was experienced by gamers in 1995 that is impossible to describe, and I'd argue it hasn't been felt since. This system changed everything. The PS feels like it was "my console" in a way, which might seem odd considering how low it is on this list, but the ground that was broken by Sony in 1995 (NA) really included the gamers of the time and had an irreparable impact on me. The PS set the stage for modern gaming in many ways, and for me is the first "modern" system. The dualshock controller, 3D graphics, music upgrades, multiple disc games… disc games in general. Man, I'm having a hard time finding the words to convey the countless hours of genuine happiness this console provided me. And again, the library! The PS not only has a magnificent original library (Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Crash Bandicoot), but was also the first system I noticed really embracing ports. This was integral because some of the games being (re)released (Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy V) were very difficult if not impossible to get in North America at the time (and in some cases, still). I got to experience so many games that were being held back from me as well as amazing new titles that really changed the world of gaming. These games are still incredible and there are so many of them.

2. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super Famicom)

I mean, c'mon. Do I really have to justify this?

1. Sega Genesis (Mega Drive)
I know there aren't many people out there that truly believe the Genesis (or any Sega console, really) is the best, but I know that you're all just crazy, so it's okay. All jokes aside, this console is my baby. Almost literally. I've told this story a few times before but I'll tell it again:
I've already mentioned my gaming brother, but I haven't specified that he is much older than me. When gaming consoles became a household thing, they usually fell under his jurisdiction, because I was too young to buy or rent games, and too "irresponsible" to care for them (hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! me?! more irresponsible than him?! ahahahahahahahah!). This is especially ironic when one considers my brother thought nothing of selling our Nintendos for $12 so he could go out with his friends. Consequently, my consoles and my games frequently disappeared and rarely reappeared. Then, my parents did us a rare thing: they bought us a gift. A Sega Genesis. However, the Genesis was not his present. It was not my present. It was "for the family"…

…in a family where only two people play video games, this was clearly code for "it's Lo's fucking Genesis and you can't sell it for $12." I guarded that thing with my life. There were incidents. Incidents that included biting, scratching, screaming, destruction of one's property, uncouth stories told to one's girlfriends… I would not let anyone take that thing away from me. It was my baby.

I still have it, and most of the games I've collected for it. Controllers are another story though… I am the grim reaper of controllers and the Genny's massive paddle was no exception. I can't tell you how happy I was to get the smaller controller later on. But it's not just the sentimental value that makes the Genny my favorite child console, this system boasts some really great titles, too. Golden Axe is among my favorite games ever, and the system brought games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter out of the arcade for me, which was special. It was really difficult to get to arcades in my youth, so having these at home to practice was awesome. To this day, I spend considerable time with my Genny, and introduce it to everyone and their kids, too, since there are so many child-friendly games for it. I think the system still looks great, and the Genny is renowned for its "twangy" sound, which grew on me ages ago. Of course, it also provided us a better report with the world famous mascot, Dankey Kang.

Honorable Mention:
Nintendo Game Boy - it seems unfair to me that there are no handhelds on this list. The GB was my hip side companion for a great many years, and my newer models still get play since there are so many incredible games for it.
Atari 2600 - gets points for being the first console I can remember really clocking serious time on.
Arcades - because before Atari, this was all I had. It made me the monster I am today and I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.

Obviously this is all based on my personal experience, and as I said before, I love all my systems. I've simply spent more time with some than others, or had unique experiences which make some consoles a little more memorable for me.
Let me know which are your top systems and what makes them special to you, and don't forget to pop over to Youtube and subscribe to the bros. They are the sweetest guys, great friends and some of the best content creators on the web.

*Okay, not literally. But I was really popular! The "from miles around" statement was not exaggerated. People would have to sail in to take part in our parties and they did so without complaint.

1 comment:

  1. Great list, Lo! You and Bros. have inspired me to put together my own little Top 5 personal consoles. I'll try to get it out today.