To All the Consoles I've Loved Before...
I will admit it—I'm a console floozy. I fall in love with them, then they get old, and I dump them. It's disgusting. I've bought every console since the PS1. And almost every handheld! And now that the next gen is officially here, I've fallen head over heals for the PS4! But last gen, I loved the Xbox 360! Why can't I be faithful? Because it takes some very specific things to make me fall for a console, which I'll reveal at the end of the article. But first, let's take a look at my many previous love affairs!
My baby! How I loved the PS1! It was the beginning of 3D games. The cut scenes were cinematic! The graphics mind boggling! You could play CDs in it! But the thing I remember the most about the PS1 was games started to grow up. Games like Resident Evil and Tomb Raider showed people that video games weren't just wacky kid stuff, they could be so much more.
Favorite games: Street Fighter Alpha 3, Tekken 2, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Wipeout, Destruction Derby, Darkstalkers 3, Legend of Dragoon, Grandia, Klonoa, Motortoon Grand Prix, Parappa the Rapper, Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, Abe's Exodus, Bushido Blade, Jade Cacoon, Incredible Crisis, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Tobal 2, Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Cross, Driver
PS1 started the 3D revolution on consoles, but N64 blew the roof off with Mario 64—a game that changed everyone's perception of what 3D games could be. Bursting with color and personality, this game garnered the "Best Game Ever Made" by more than one press outlet. I remember playing it and getting motion sickness because my brain just wasn't used to 3D on that level. Eventually I got over it, but the effect this game had on the industry was tremendous. And when Ocarina of Time followed, I was head over heels in love with my N64. Oh, and I loved the controller! It had an analog stick and a rumble pack, which soon became industry standards.
Favorite games: Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Banjo Kazooie, Rogue Squadron, Beetle Adventure Racing, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Pokemon Snap, Golden Eye, Donkey Kong 64, Star Fox 64, Pilot Wings 64, Excite Bike 64, Super Smash Bros., Turok, Mario Golf, Harvest Moon, Wave Race 64, Sin and Punishment
While I loved my N64, the greatest love of my life is the Dreamcast! I was a fan of the failed Sega Saturn, so I was really hoping the Dreamcast would succeed. In terms of the early games, they looked way better than the first PS2 games, mainly because it was easier to program on. The Dreamcast had a nearly identical make up to a Naomi board, which was used in Sega's arcade machines. So the games, especially the first party ones, looked way better right out of the gate. And Sega was killing it with their early releases. Sonic Adventure took 3D gaming to new and seemingly impossible speeds. And Shenmue brought a level of realism unthought of until that point.
But it also had its flaws. The controller was insane—the size of a small spaceship. They also had an unforgivable D-Pad, making fighting games all but impossible. It was too far ahead of it's time, people weren't ready for online console gaming quite yet. And unfortunately, the games were ridiculously easy to pirate. But the thing that really did it in...it wasn't a DVD player. I camped out over night to get a PS2, and when I asked people why they were getting one, most said because it was a DVD player. Makes sense. You get a cheap DVD player, and a video game system together. At the time DVD players were really expensive, so it was a no brainer. Anyway, I'll always remember the Dreamcast fondly, and it still remains my favorite console of all time. So many great games!
Favorite games: Sonic Adventure, Shenmue, Sega Bass Fishing, Soul Calibur, D2, Phantasy Star Online, Crazy Taxi, Evolution: The World of the Sacred Device, Typing of the Dead, Super Magnetic Neo, Powerstone, Bangai-O, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Chu Chu Rocket, Grandia 2, Jet Set Radio, Ikaruga, Rez, Rayman 2: The Great Escape, Tech Romancer, Toy Commander, Shadow Man, Hydro Thunder, Space Channel 5
Microsoft jumped into the console business in a way only they could—with zillions of dollars! The system itself seemed as big as a suitcase and had giant-sized controllers. They were literally too big, and Microsoft eventually released smaller ones that were more managable. But they had Halo. Halo brought console FPS games to the masses. It was light years ahead of anything else available. It was, and still is, a masterpiece. A console mover. And boy, oh boy, did it move a lot of consoles. Microsoft was hungry for success. They put everything they had behind this system and courted gamers with unusual cunning. They were a major competitor in a very short time and continue to be. Except in Japan. Where they've given up. For obvious reasons. Anyway, I sure did love my big old giant green Xbox.
Favorite games: Halo, Munch's Oddyessy, Amped, Beyond Good and Evil, Airforce Delta Storm, Panzer Dragoon Orta, The Warriors, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, MechAssault, Max Payne, Fatal Frame: Crimson Butterfly, Soul Calibur 2
I was so smitten for the last Xbox, I was doing my happy dance when the 360 came out. For one, it was A LOT cheaper than the PS3 ($600 bucks at launch!). I liked it from day one. The games, the grapics, menus, the design of the console, the controllers, everything about this console was cool. I was definitely in love. And then it broke. To their credit, Microsoft was great about fixing it. I sent it in, and they fixed it, and sent it back. For free! And I was as happy as a clam, and then the next one broke. And I sent it in, and they fixed it again. For free! And then...just joking. It only broke two times. But still, sheesh, that's not exactly a great track record. But Microsoft was cool about fixing it for free, and the system had so many absolutely amazing games (both download and boxed games), I was able to forgive it. In a way, that's a real testament to the Xbox 360.
Favorite games: Deadspace, Dragon Age: Origins, Street Fighter IV, Asura's Wrath, Culdcept Saga, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Naruto: Rise of the Ninja, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, Halo 4, Gears of War 2, Trials HD, Eternal Sonta, Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, Bulletstorm, Bastion, Far Cry 3, Grand Theft Auto V, Children of Eden, Shadow of the Damned, Stranglehold (guilty pleasure), Tales of Vesperia, Sleeping Dogs, Spelunky
Sadly, by the end of the Xbox 360's run, I began to sour on it. The interface became so clunky and filled with ads, it was offensive. I'm already paying 60 bucks a year for an Xbox Gold account, and I have to watch commercials everytime I boot up my machine? Plus, it had other ads that were snuck in, disguised as apps or what-have-you. So when the PS4 came out, I wanted to give it a shot. It's 100 bucks cheaper than the Xbox One, and since I have zero interest in the Kinect, jumping on the Sony ship seemed like the thing to do. And so far, I love my PS4! I like the design, the new controller feels solid, the interface is clean and simple, and it's just an all-around nice machine. Plus, you don't need batteries for your conrollers, you can charge them by plugging them into the console. Sony seems hungry to be number one again, and in my eyes and many other gamers, they're making the right moves. Hopefully, they'll keep on doing it.
Favorite games: Uhh...Resogun?
So what exactly makes one "love a console" over others?
If you notice, the PS2 is not on my list of consoles I've loved. I had a PS2. And I played the dickens out of it. But I never "loved it." I still don't have any emotional attachement towards it. I liked it fine, but that was it. For me, to love a console, it takes a combination of things.
The console must have some key games that make a deep impression on me. Stuff that is either way ahead of where other games are or I have strong emotional resonance with.
2. Company attitude
This may sound silly, but it's actually really important to me as a consumer. I want to feel that the company thinks about me, the gamer, first. That's what has soured me on Microsoft as of late, it doesn't feel like they're interested in the gamers anymore. And when the PS3 launched, I felt the same way about Sony. They wanted to win the format war, and games were a distant second. When a company is focused on making fun games for the people who play them, and respecting the player, wonderful things can and have happened. Not all the of the consoles I mentioned were "winners," but most are remembered fondly by those who had them.
The look of the machine, the interface, the controllers, the noise it makes when it starts up, all those little details. When these things are done well, it can have an affect on the gamer. It shows the company was thinking about the experience of playing the machine.
It's the combination of those three things that makes me fall in love. And I'm sure when the MINDBOX 8,000 comes out, or whatever, I'll probably jump ship again...but only if it takes me out on a nice date and makes the right moves.
What consoles have you loved? And why?
by Urian Brown