It's an exciting time to be a gamer. E3 is around the corner, with Nintendo’s Wii U sure to be one of the major talking points. And rumours that Sony or Microsoft will also be showcasing new hardware crop up just as quickly as they can be strenuously denied by their PR departments. All this adds up to a period of excitement and speculation for the gamer, along with a touch of melancholy at the closing of yet another hardware generation.
The ending of a generation struck me as the perfect excuse for this year’s Screen Play poll. Previous polls had looked at favourite game franchises and the best game of the past five years. I thought this time it would be good to look beyond the games to the hardware behind it all.
The call was put out for submissions to answer one of the great gaming questions, namely, what is the greatest gaming system of all time. Response was strong, with top five lists flowing into SPECTRE (Screen Play Electoral Commission Tallying Rated Elements) Towers.
Now the lists have been checked, tallied, votes tabulated, and the results are in! So without further ado, I present the top 20 gaming systems of all time. Let the countdown begin....
The greatest gaming systems of all time
20. Atari 2600
19. Nintendo Gameboy
18. Sony PlayStation Portable
17. Sega Megadrive
16. Nintendo DS
15. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
14. Nintendo Wii
13. Microsoft Xbox
12. Sega Dreamcast
11. Nintendo Gamecube
And now the Top 10...
10. Sega Master System
Sega released several systems over the years, up until their final hurrah with the Dreamcast. However, as far as Screen Play readers are concerned, the pinnacle of Sega hardware development was the mighty Sega Master System. In most international markets it was soundly trounced by Nintendo’s NES system, but Australia was one of the few global markets in which Sega truly competed. Sega has the last laugh here, with the Master System soundly defeating the NES in the poll.
Notable games: Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Wonder Boy, Out Run
“…for getting me hooked on gaming!”
“The poor man's Megadrive, but it was awesome!!”
9. Sony PlayStation
Sony’s first foray into video game hardware, the PlayStation was conceived after a potential partnership with Nintendo to create a CD drive for the SNES fell through. Rather than abandoning their research work, Sony decided to push ahead and release their own stand alone console. Notable as much for its marketing as for its games, the PlayStation was one of the first game consoles to actively cultivate an adult audience for its products.
Notable games: Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy VII, Tomb Raider
“…made the first real steps into making console gaming “mainstream” and not just a kids’ activity.”
“… made me a believer in home consoles.”
8. Commodore Amiga
In the late 80s and early 90s, one name towered above all others in home computing - Amiga. Conceived as a successor to its popular Commodore 64 system, the Amiga proved instantly popular with gamers due to its advanced graphical and sound capabilities. The most successful model released was the evergreen Amiga 500, with the final Amiga desktop coming in 1992. Sadly the Commodore and Amiga names faded after this, and Commodore filed for bankruptcy in 1994.
Notable games: Defender of the Crown, Shadow of the Beast, Populous
“Kept me busy all through high school”
7. Commodore 64
Commodore found great success prior to the Amiga days with the Commodore 64. Released in 1982, the 64 could display a massive 16 colours and featured a sound chip that chiptune enthusiasts revere to this day. Eventually 17 million units were shifted, making the Commodore 64 the best selling personal computer of all time. However, whilst being Screen Play’s favourite Commodore machine, it wasn’t their favourite machine with ‘64’ in its title…
Notable games: Elite, Zork, Maniac Mansion
“…started it all.”
“…bought colourful “computer” games to the masses, and introduced kids to gaming piracy.”
6. Xbox 360
Microsoft’s current flagship system does well enough to land in sixth spot on the table. It is telling that the 360 was the highest ranked system to not get a single first placed vote, and also the system with the most second placed votes. It seems a lot of people liked their 360’s, but not quite enough to list it in the top spot. The main innovations the 360 brought to the table were around its seamless integration of online play, and the contentious introduction of achievement points.
Notable Games: Halo 3, Gears of War, Forza Motorsport 4
“…Xbox 360 just integrates things really well.”
“…makes social gaming super easy. “
5. Nintendo 64
One of the first systems to truly make 3D gaming shine, and with one of the strongest line-ups of games on any home console, the N64 is a fan favourite with many gamers. Not quite so with Screenies however, with the 64 only good enough for 5th spot. With its support of up to four player local multiplayer, the N64 was arguably the high point for same couch gaming marathons, with many a GoldenEye tournament lasting deep into the night.
Notable games: Super Mario 64, GoldenEye 007, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
“…purely for GoldenEye.”
“Best controller ever.”
“That machine took up five years of my life and I don’t regret a thing.”
“…also winner for worst controller.”
4. Sony PlayStation 2
With games still available 12 years after its launch in 2000, the PS2 clearly has longevity on its side. Following on from the promise of its predecessor, Sony’s sophomore hardware effort excelled on every front, and is partially credited with the popularisation of the DVD format. Providing plenty of grunt for a competitive price, the PS2 was the clear winner of its generation, although controversially is not Screen Play’s favourite Sony product…
Notable games: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Metal Gear Solid 2, Final Fantasy X
“I still get games for it, even though it is in storage”
3. Sony PlayStation 3
Sony proves to be amongst the major winners in our poll, with all three PlayStation systems making the top 10. However, in a surprising result, it is the PS3 that takes the lollies over the PS2. In an extremely close vote, the two competing systems ended up tied on votes, and also tied for first place votes. The PS3 edged its older counterpart on the merit of having a single extra second place vote. The PS3 is also the highest ranked system of the current generation.
Notable games: Uncharted 2, Metal Gear Solid 4, LittleBigPlanet
“…for creating games that I could only imagine as a kid!”
“A wonderful piece of hardware wrapped in typical stilted infrastructure design. “
“If I could play Mario Kart on this, world peace would break out.”
2. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
Positions 2 through 4 of the list were extremely close, with all three systems changing positions seemingly with every set of votes. In the end it was Nintendo’s SNES that emerged victorious in the end. The depth and quality of the catalogue is highly regarded to this day, and vintage systems still command top dollar on auction websites. The SNES is Screen Play’s favourite home video game console, but in the end it couldn’t hold a candle to our overall winner.
Notable games: Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
“…down the street was a video rental store. The SNES games shelf was filled with dozens of rare and
varied games - it was paradise.”
“… Street Fighter 2 at home FTW.”
Thus we arrive at our all time champion, the PC. In the end it wasn’t even close. 27.5 per cent of people placed it first on their lists, and 60 per cent of people included it somewhere in their top 5. It received 50 per cent more total votes than the SNES, and 68 per cent more total points. It was a complete walkover! In some ways this result is totally not surprising, with the age of the format and the sheer volume and variety of titles available making the PC the true gamer’s paradise.
Notable games: ZOMG ALL OF THE GAMES, Stunts
“I'm a closet PC guy, the sheer breadth and depth on offer has always enticed me - I first played Doom in 1995 and thought it couldn't get any better. Minecraft proved that wrong.”
“I've done some great gaming on PC albeit all old now. Still love Myst (1) to this day, The Longest Journey, Syberia (1), the Baldur's Gate stuff, the old (old!) Commanche stuff and the old flight sims I can't even remember the names of.”
“My modern day love/money pit”
“…all modern games owe everything to the PC, and for some if not most genres of game, remains the superior platform”
“OMG Stunts was the shiznit!”
So, that’s it for another year, SPECTRE will be back in 2013 to answer another of the big questions in gaming. My sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to send in their votes, it was my absolute pleasure to read all your replies.
- Andrew "luverly_5pam" Marshall
Screen Play readers can submit articles or ideas for consideration in Your Turn and Your Review using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. The best blog post published on Screen Play between May 1, 2012 and May 31, 2012, as judged by Jason Hill, will win a PlayStation 3 console from Sony Computer Entertainment. The PS3 has a 160GB hard drive and is worth $349. The next prize winner will be announced on May 31. Only Australian residents are eligible and the judge's decision is final.
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