Video games have come on leaps and bounds (usually over things like mushrooms) since the early days of Pong, with plenty of unforgettable moments along the way – polygonal Lara Croft in the shower, anyone?
None of which would have been possible if it wasn’t for the consoles that power them. So here we’ve paid tribute to the most game-changing game-boxes with a rundown of the all-time greats. Player 1, press start.
Video games aren’t always family-friendly (Grand Theft Auto with grandma is never going to be anyone’s Sunday activity of choice). Smashed TVs aside, the Wii was an alternative breath of fresh air, and one of Nintendo’s best-selling consoles – shifting 101 million units worldwide.
The motion-sensor console had something for everyone: mum could do Zumba, sister could learn Rihanna’s dance moves and grandpa could accidentally clock a young child in the face whenever he fancied a round of tennis.
The godfather of the gaming world. For kids of a certain age, owning the original PlayStation was akin to being part of a religious cult.
The console, first released in 1995, remains one of the most revered machines ever built. Sure, the ‘cutting-edge’ 3D graphics and loading times are headache-inducing and mind-numbingly slow by today’s standards – but at the time, they were revolutionary and marked Sony out as the don of console makers.
Sheer volume is what made the PlayStation 2 great. Not only did developers continually produce games exclusive to the console, securing its must-own status, but Sony had also sold over 155 million units worldwide by the end of its first decade.
As testament to its above-and-beyond power, the PS2 aged far better than most competitors. In fact, production only ceased in 2013 – a staggering 13 years after its release.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
Long before Sonic, Spyro and Lara, there was only one 8-bit icon. Despite being around for nine years before its release in 1990, Mario came to life when popping through pipes on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System – better known as the SNES.
The Japanese firm’s OG console was a trailblazer for its time, adding complex narratives to the basic platformer model that redefined the role-playing genre.
If the PlayStation was the Buzz Lightyear of the toy box, consider the Nintendo Gamecube more Mr Potato Head.
While competitors tore up the screen with 100 hour-plus epics, the Gamecube’s roster kept things casual – perfect for gamers that preferred a quick blast over a full evening saving the world. Better yet, four controller ports let the full squad plug-in.
Sega Mega Drive
Sega’s own brand of Japanese gaming may have floundered with the Dreamcast – but there’s always a soft spot reserved for the Mega Drive.
The 16-bit console bore a wacky stable of games (often with even wackier soundtracks) that targeted the adult gaming market. Works like Mortal Kombat and Streets Of Rage packed some seriously mature themes, proving that gaming could be all grown up, too.
Game Boy Colour
Unlike its predecessor, the Game Boy Colour wasn’t the size of a chopping board. And in addition to slimming down, the handheld console had the capacity to display up to 56 different technicolour tones. Though such upgrades seem small in the age of super HD, they had big implications.
Old-school classics like Tetris continued to build on their success, yet the new tweaks meant game-changing series of the Pokémon variety could be enjoyed in full(ish) colour and linked up to other consoles for a heated head-to-head.
While mobile phones were logging on to the internet (albeit through WAP, whatever that was) by the late nineties, gaming was a little slower to the game.
The follow-up to the original Xbox in 2005, known as the 360, was the first to properly make use of Microsoft’s unbeatable knowledge of PCs, incorporating full internet connectivity, a streaming and hosting service and an achievement award system – all of which became standard features for future competitors.