games / Columns

The Top 8 Retro Consoles

May 18, 2021 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Playstation 2

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about retro consoles, specifically anything older than PS4/PST and Xbox One/Xbox Series Letter. This is just my own ranking of these consoles, I don’t have a ton of history with really old consoles, about the oldest thing I’ve touched was a NES, so no Atari stuff. Also, no handheld stuff, since then it’d be about 6 Nintendo consoles, the Game Gear and the Turbo Express. So, let’s begin:

#8: Original Xbox

I’ll always have a small bit of fondness for the original Xbox. It was too big, the controller was odd, and most games didn’t utilize the power of the system well, but it was still fun. The fact I have at least four of these things in my apartment should tell you that I’m a fan of it. I actually still remember when I got it with my dad, I got the system and one launch game, it being the best launch game for the system. That’s right, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X! In the three-way war of that cycle, PS2, GC and Xbox, Xbox was the secondary victor but I still enjoyed using the system.

#7: Nintendo 64

There has been a lot more backlash against the N64 as the years go on. It does have a weird controller, some games are certainly ugly, and there’s only about 30 or so “worthwhile” games for it. But, so what? I actually think the controller makes sense and is comfortable, much more than the GameCube controller at any rate. And compared to some other Nintendo consoles: the GameCube, Wii, Wii U, the N64 had a lot more playable stuff on it than those systems. It wasn’t the right system for the time, with CD media quickly becoming the norm, but it was still a very worthwhile system.

#6: Sega Genesis

Honestly, I don’t have a ton of actual love for the old Sega Genesis. As a kid, I had the whole Genesis lineup (Sega CD and 32X), but those games weren’t great. The Genesis has some amazing games: Sonic, Kid Chameleon, Gunstar Heroes, Aladdin, Comix Zone, etc. But I never got the chance to play games like Phantasy Star, ToeJam & Earl, or M.U.S.H.A. So, my actual Genesis history is fairly limited. Now, I primarily know it for the old games I used to play and how shoot’em up keep getting made for it, since my buddy Frank keeps buying them.

#5: Dreamcast

I basically define the Dreamcast as “an arcade in a box”. There were a lot of great arcade ports for the system: Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Crazy Taxi, Daytona USA, House of the Dead 2, Cannon Spike and so on. Lest I forget the best arcade port ever, Soulcalibur, which is dramatically better on the Dreamcast than the arcade version. Even aside from the arcade games, the Dreamcast was the first, real (from the box) system to have online play, to have DLC, to have a web browser. It also just had a lot of fun, colorful games like Jet Grind Radio or ChuChu Rocket. But if anyone tries to defend Sonic Adventure, you are fired.

#4: PlayStation 2

The PS2 started a lot of the tent pole franchises that still remain to this day. 3D Grand Theft Auto, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet & Clank, Katamari Damacy and God of War, just to name a few. It also brought DVD’s to the masses by having a fairly cheap and decent DVD player. Like with the Xbox, I think I have at least three PS2’s in my place somewhere, sadly though I don’t have any development hardware for it. The PS2 just did everything, generally, better than the PS1 but it also started some of the slowdown in game development that has been a trend ever since.

#3: Xbox 360

While the PS2 started a lot of franchises that still exist today, the Xbox 360 is where a lot of the philosophy of the present day gaming world started from. The Dreamcast and even original Xbox had a lot of innovative ideas but the 360 is where they coalesced into becoming the norm. DLC, Micro-transctions, Achievements, an integrated online system and more were key to driving the Xbox 360 ahead. While the 360 might not have had the best new exclusives, it did continue franchises from the Xbox that made them way more popular. Halo, Forza, Fable, all exploded in popularity on the 360. The 360 did have one notable exclusive game, Gears of War, which was a fairly big deal back then. Of that console generation: PS3, 360 and Wii, the Xbox 360 is still the console I have hooked up and play occasionally.

#2: PlayStation 1

The original PlayStation tends to be overlooked nowadays, but if you want a good example, check out SquareSoft’s (not Square Enix, that was later) output. Vagrant Story, Parasite Eve 1 & 2, Einhander, Ehrgeiz, Threads of Fate, Legend of Mana, not to mention three different and distinct Final Fantasy games, a task that hasn’t been replicated since (FF 13 never counts). Current Square Enix can barely put out two games a year, but back then, they were pumping quality games out 4 or 5 times in a given year. Even if you want to discount Square’s games, Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal, Suikoden, Legacy of Kain, Castlevania: SOTN, Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo, Tony Hawk, etc. The original PS1 is where I really got into gaming, at least when it came to overall activities.

#1: Super Nintendo

I actually got a SNES as a kid but didn’t have a ton of games for it back then. I had Mario World, Mario RPG, Super Star Wars (yeesh), and maybe one or two others. It wasn’t until years, possibly even decades, that I understand how great it is. Here’s a good example: I remember playing Super Metroid a lot at my local K-Mart’s game kiosk thing and not getting it at all. I was probably like 8 or 9 at the time and I remember just being annoyed by the game. I look back at that now and realize how dumb I was, because aside from not really knowing where to go next, Super Metroid was/is a brilliant game. The SNES has so many amazing games, Mario, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Zelda, Mega Man X, Contra 3, Donkey Kong Country, etc. I remember an old Funcoland employee explaining it once: The Genesis is good for sports games, the SNES is good for everything else. It’s as true today as it was back then, except for Aladdin.

For comments, list which of your retro consoles are your favorites and why.

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Top 8 Franchises I’ve Never Played

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison