Arguing for the Best Console in Existence would be quite a difficult task, and it’s one that I will not undertake. However, it is even a complicated matter to express which is my favourite. So, a little cheating is necessary to express my adoration for what certain consoles did for gaming. Rather than one, three will be named.
Super Nintendo (SNES)
This may show my age, but this was one of the first consoles that my parents bought for me as a child. Released in 1990, it was one of the biggest global successes for the 16-bit era. Even into the 32-bit era, it remained one of the most popular consoles. But that’s tooting its horn on statistics. What made it so impacting to the world of gamers?
Though role-playing games were more common and popular on computers, consoles were mostly still incapable of accurately providing a detailed story to players; this remained largely true until the SNES came into the picture. With games like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, and a variety of other stories, gamers were left in amazement. These titles are still very much enjoyed today, allowing the SNES to continue being one of the most popular consoles.
Except that isn’t all for it. Known as Famicon in Japan and Southeast Asia, there were games that were only accessible there. Gamers with cult classic knowledge will know the names Shin Megami Tensei and the original Star Ocean, while others will also remember the numerical discrepancy in the Final Fantasy series. Due to growing interest for these, we are seeing remakes for these titles on handheld devices or the creation of ROMs, further increasing access to them.
Following the popularity of the Super Nintendo was Sony’s most well-known console. Enhancing the graphics and — because it could all fit on a disc instead of being restricted by the space of the cartridges — the length and content of games, we were further developing all genres into incredible entertainment and leaving the 16-bit era behind while recreating the 32-bit experience.
Again, we continued seeing games from the Empire of Square (which later merged with Enix, both in name and management), such as more installments in the Final Fantasy series, Vagrant Hearts, Chrono Cross, Parasite Eve, Xenogears , and so many other fascinating worlds. They pushed the limits of story-telling and presentation with the newly enhanced graphics and enhanced music and sound.
Perhaps without surprise, the successor to the PlayStation also deserves a mention. Moving to DVD technology, games were now capable of increased length (assuming the developers took the time to design something longer than Shadow of Destiny, which is still an interesting game), graphics with beautiful detail (see cult classic-esque titles Okami, Ico, and Shadow of the Colossus for the most brilliant example of graphic presentation), and the ability to use aurally amazing soundtracks (Xenosaga and Final Fantasy games feature some of the top composers).
In all honesty, this is where I would have stopped in console evolution. While I do love more recent games Tales of Vesperia and Bayonetta are quite enjoyable), these consoles were the most enjoyable. Games were fun, they had content, and it wasn’t just about what we could see; it was about what we could do, where we could go, and what we heard. It was about entertainment and temporarily leaving your world behind to explore something new or think about what-ifs (Xenogears and Xenosaga were both heavily saturated in philosophical and theological questions).