What is the best console generation to date and why?
1st Gen — Magnavox Odyssey, Atari/Sears Tele-Games Pong, Binatone, Coleco, Nintendo Color TV Game
2nd Gen — Fairchild Channel F, Atari 2600, Magnavox Odyssey2, Intellivision, Atari 5200, Vectrex, Emerson Arcadia 2001, ColecoVision, Bally Astrocade, Nintendo Game & Watch
3rd Gen — SG-1000, NES, Sega Master System, Atari 7800
4th Gen — TurboGrafx-16, Sega Genesis, SNES, CDi, Neo Geo, Commodore CDTV, Game Boy, Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear, Turbo Express
5th Gen — 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Sega Nomad, Virtual Boy, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light, Game Boy Color, Neo Geo Pocket, Neo Geo Color, WonderSwan, WonderSwan Color
6th Gen — Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, GameBoy Advance, N-Gage, Tapwave Zodiac
7th Gen — Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, PSP, EVO Smart Console, HyperScan
8th Gen — Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Ouya, Steam Machine, Amazon Fire TV
Courtney Osborn, Founder & Editor in Chief:
This is a tough question to answer for a few reasons. Am I picking what I think is the “best” generation or my “favorite” generation? Do I let nostalgia decide for me? If I choose something more recent will I get called out for it because “I’m not a real gamer!” or some other stupid retro fanboy insult?
I could easily say the 5th generation was my favorite because it is what I started with (PlayStation). Or I could say the 3rd and 4th gen is because while I had the PlayStation, my sister owned an NES, Sega, SNES, and Gameboy and I loved playing on all of those. However, at the end of the day I have to mark all of those off because as much as I did enjoy them growing up, I hardly remember any of it as I was too young while I played them. I could then say it was the 6th gen because that was when I finally started to own my own consoles (Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, GameBoy Advance). Thought I still can’t say that it was my favorite because I honestly didn’t play many games on them because I couldn’t afford to buy my own games. I can only remember a handful of games on each. What I am trying to say is that if I am choosing a favorite generation of consoles, I have to say it is the 7th gen. I have owned a Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, and a PSP and I have played more than 300 games combined on those 5 consoles, with the majority being on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Out of those 300 games I have found magnificent gems that I never thought would be good games (several great JRPGs). I also played several games that could easily stand out as a game of a generation in the Uncharted series, Assassin’s Creed series, or The Last of Us. It is hard to for me to knowingly pick against last generation as being my favorite when I have so many great memories.
In terms of just “best” generation, it is hard to say. Each generation of consoles has changed the industry significantly one way or another. So for one of us to just say “This gen was the best because blah, blah, blah!” is a little silly. There is an argument to be made for each one of them. But I will go ahead and stick with what I said was my favorite and choose to say it was also the best. Reasons why? I can hardly imagine another generation sold more consoles than the 7th generation did combined. If there is another that beat it, it was probably (maybe) the 6th generation because of the PlayStation 2. Another reason would be the change in graphics from the beginning of the console life cycle to the end. I am not sure many other generations had such a change. Sure, other consoles graphics changed, but as much as they did on the 360 and PS3? You’ll have to show me proof to believe it. I think of games like Resistance: Fall of Man at the beginning of the life cycle and then look at games like Uncharted 3, The Last of Us, Halo 4, etc. The upgrade is unreal. the 7th generation also pushed us forward in online gaming. Yes, the Xbox and PlayStation 2 had online gaming. That’s not the point. It wasn’t until huge games like Halo and Call of Duty started coming out regularly that online console gaming blew up. So there are just a few reasons why I think that the 7th generation could be the “best.”
Lou Contaldi, Senior Editor:
If I have to pick one, I’m going with the 4th Generation. Sure, the systems like SNES had some crazy technological limits restricting games, but it was amazing what people were able to do beyond those limits. Also, unlike many titles in the 5th or 6th Generation, 4th Generations still look great to this day. The difference becomes something like poetry — Super Nintendo games were able to make strides with the restrictions placed on it.
If not that, I’m going 7th Generation. There is just way too many fantastic titles.
Chad Waller, Editor:
I’ve been gaming in some capacity for a long time, starting with a Sega Genesis and going strong yet with an Xbox 360. However, between those years of Sonic 2 and Halo 4, resides the one machine outside of generational gaps: the PC. It’s the system for all time, taking the best of every generation and preserving that. If I want to load up a Sega Genesis game, I can do that. If I want to play something that came out when the PS2 was in its infancy, I can do that. If I want to play Watch Dogs with better graphics than what current consoles spit out, I can do that too. So there’s my answer, even if it’s a boring, “haha PC gaming is better” one.
Shawn Richards, Editor:
In my opinion, it was the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube/Dreamcast that was the best. Not only did it bring the best games, but online support was being used for the first time, allowing for the whole digital age that was perfected this generation. Not to mention some of the best series were created, like Ratchet and Clank, Jak, Sly Cooper, HALO for crying out loud. It was a great generation without a doubt.
However, I want ti give a shoutout to PC gamers, where the term next gen means absolutely nothing.
Steven Shearer, Editor:
This is an easy one for me! It is easily the 7th generation. Even though I did play on a 6th generation console, PS2, I was too young to really understand the story of the games and never really appreciated the games. Although, there was some great moments in that generation, even for me.
However, I was much older when I started to play on the 7th generation consoles and thus was able to understand the story of the games which is a big reason why I play games. Also, online really came alive in this generation and the memories of playing with friends in this generation will always be something which I will cherish.
Ryan Latuso, Editor:
3rd generation because of the NES. The industry wasn’t doing well at the time. As a matter of fact it had already crashed and was considered by many to be completely done with. Video Games were a fad that wasn’t coming back in the United States but the NES changed that. The NES was a cultural phenomenon and we owe everything we have now to that.
Dustin LaRoe, Editor:
This is easy to answer. 8th Gen. Improves on all of the past gen’s features and takes out the focus on silly motion controls.
Take the Wii U for instance. Out of the box it plays every game from the Wii U and Wii libraries. It also plays the best NES/SNES first party games on the Virtual Console. The Wii U put Earthbound into the hands of players across the world who missed out on it the first time around.
Developers will continue to produce more high quality content for this generation. The future is bright.
Benjamin Luthi, Editor:
For me, it’s all about the games. With that in mind, I have to choose 5th Gen. Just between the N64, Playstation, and Game Boy Color, we have some of the best games ever created. Super Mario 64, Final Fantasy VII, Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, Metal Gear Solid, Pokemon Gold/Silver, Gran Turismo, Goldeneye 007… the list goes on and on. The 5th gaming generation was also when 3D-rendered graphics really began to take off. It was an amazing generation of gaming that I will always remember fondly.
Myles Farrington, Editor:
I don’t even know. I am very unbiased when it comes to gaming. If there are games I want to play (and can afford) I will purchase what I need to do so. I don’t really have generational favoritism. However, I suppose if you held my feet to the fire I would cheat and say the SNES’ generation. That’s where it all began for me, so if not for that generation I likely never would have gotten into gaming at all.
Aaron Dobbe, Editor:
It’s gotta be the 7th generation for me. The amount of time I spent with my Nintendo DS alone is ridiculous, with unique experiences such as Trauma Center, Professor Layton, Phoenix Wright, and Rhythm Heaven, along with great continuations of previous franchises such as Planet Puzzle League, Advance Wars, and (though I’m not a big fan) Pokemon. I was happy owning just a Wii for most of the gen, then got an Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3 as Gen 8 began. I’m still working through the backlog for those two consoles, and am consistently impressed by the breadth and depth of gameplay experiences on offer. I look forward to seeing if Gen 8 ends up beating this past gen; it’s certainly putting forth a good effort so far!
Audrey Lips, Editor:
This one is a very easy answer for me: 6th gen. My PlayStation 2 was my best friend throughout middle school; it got me through some pretty rough times (and awkward puberty) with Kingdom Hearts, Crash Bandicoot: Warped, and various other Crash and Spyro games. Seriously, I would miss meals playing that thing for so long.
Additionally, the Gamecube was another life-changer for me. I remember playing Super Smash Bros. Melee against my first boyfriend and, of course, kicking his ass in it. SSB Melee is STILL a game I play today (though I now play it on the Wii with Gamecube controllers). I would also spend hours, even days, building my village, rearranging my house, and generally getting really pissed off at Tom Nook and Mr. Resetti in Animal Crossing.
Finally, the Gameboy Advanced sealed the deal for the 6th generation for me. I can’t possibly even imagine how much time I spent trying to grind and level up my Pokemon Sapphire team. Pokemon (older and newer generations) and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories made me glued to that GBA to the point where my parents even gave up chastising me for playing it at the dinner table. The 6th console generation was by far my most nostalgic and enjoyable generation.
Landon Luthi, Editor:
Asking me what generation of gaming consoles is my favorite is just like asking me “What is your favorite Bill Murray movie?” It’s Ghostbusters. It’s the greatest movie of all time as far as I am concerned. But Bill has a TON of great movies, and it is very hard to decide which one I deemed to be the best. The only reason Ghostbusters won was because it was my favorite movie as a kid. As a kid, video gaming was an addiction that could only be comparable to whatever drugs Charlie Sheen takes. As I got older, my nostalgia took hold of the seasons and likened them with the video games that were released at the time.
During the summers, I tend to play a lot of 3rd Gen NES games. When I was young, our summers consisted of finding where our parents hid the Nintendo controllers. (They were usually in my dad’s briefcase, and I spent 2 days cracking the code.) 4th Gen SNES games also got my attention during summer.
Winters for me are full of 5th and 6th generation memories. The Sony PlayStation and N64 kept me very occupied during the long winters of Wyoming. The Nintendo GameCube attributed to a ridiculous amount of play time during my college years.
My winner and favorite generation to this day is the 7th Generation. As I said before, this was a very difficult decision to make. My conclusion comes to the amount of time and hardware that were well used on my Nintendo DS. The amount of time spent on my 360 and Wii are maybe about 25% of what I spent on the Nintendo DS. I have always been a sucker for handhelds. I only went through one Game Boy and am still on my first Nintendo 3DS (XL). As for the Nintendo DS, I have 3 in my home. The game library for the DS was my favorite out of all systems, as it had one of the greatest collection of puzzle games for my wife, and RPGs for me. And have you played Contra 4 yet? Greatest side-scroller I have played in the last decade. How about Advance Wars:DS? I racked up over 600 hours on that game. Don’t even get me started on Pokemon or Final Fantasy. The list goes on…
154 million in sales for the Nintendo DS back me up on my answer.
Harry Loizides, Editor:
5th Gen- With the emergence of a Game Boy that featured color to the burgeoning of a new system generation with Playstation, to the iconic Nintendo 64, my childhood and fond memories come from this generation. With this, so many iconic games showed themselves into the primetime: Pokemon, Super Smash Bros., Banjo-Kazooie, Paper Mario, Golden Eye 007, Dr. Mario, Resident Evil 2, and more that I can’t think of.
Patrick Garrity, Editor:
6th Gen for me. The reason I pick this generation is I feel there more risks taken here. Ps2 & Xbox for example had some great games & we’ve never seen a sequel or anything from them ever again. Also to this was before online too off, you for the most part purchased a game & got a complete game no DLC. Was also the birth of online MP such as Halo 2 & other great titles. Nintendo also had some 3rd party support going on this era. Would we of ever seen Resident Evil 4 if not for this? Lot of great milestones here.
Andrew Lee, Editor:
When it comes to the question of what is the greatest console generation, it’s going to quite hard. Software not hardware defines consoles and everybody has their own all time favourites. For me personally, the greatest console generation would be the 6th Generation of consoles. Not only was it the generation that produced the PS2, the best selling console of all time, but it was also established the status quo of today’s consoles. In short, the 6th console generation established Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo as the dominant forces of video game consoles for the past 3 console generations but it also brought about a period where new consoles by other companies could barely make a dent in the market.
Shaun Fales, Editor:
For me it has to be the 7th Generation. So many great games including my favorite, Borderlands 2. I love all the Generations for what they are but for me the quantity of great game from the 7th generation is unmatched and outways my feelings of nostalgia. Hopefully the 8th generation can match or maybe even surpass it for me in the future.
Jesse Webster, Editor:
That’s a hard question due to the fact that there have been many great games that has spread over multiple consoles in different generations, but if I have to pick one, I would pick the sixth generation. Many of my most favorite games of all time came from that generation. Resident Evil 4, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, Burnout 3: Takedown, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and many more.
Jake Dekker, Editor:
This is a tough question, but I would have to pick the 5th generation. This is probably mostly due to nostalgia, but there were so many great games at this time, specifically from Nintendo. One of my all-time favorite games, Super Smash Bros. came out. And I don’t even need to get started on Mario Kart, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Mario 64. It doesn’t stop there though. There were a ton of PS1 classics like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and Metal Gear Solid. And to wrap everything up Pokemon Gold and Silver came to GameBoy Color which were fantastic little RPGs.
Darius Purse, Editor:
I’m going with the 4th generation. Partly due to my own personal childhood memories and also the fact I believe that is when the console wars really kicked off. I had a SNES during the generation and I can remember many arguments over which is better, the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo. That era helped to really launch the topic which dominates much of the discussion today between gamers. Not to mention classic titles from Super Mario World and Super Metroid to Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage. Plus it was the start of Nintendo’s dominance of the handheld market which continues today.
What do YOU think is the best generation of consoles?