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Top 5 – Nintendo Consoles

Written by MilkyMalky on Wednesday, 15 July 20098 Comments

Well as many of you know, Nintendo has had 5 different console outings in its quarter of a century in the gaming world (well 5 main ones anyway). So what I thought I would do was give you my personal opinion on how they stack up against each other over the years.  So here’s my own personal ranking of them for you all.

So from worst to best, here we go:

 

Number 5 – GameCube

It’s always difficult to state the worst console (given there are only 5 to choose from), and so it is with regret that I give this award to the GameCube, but we have to start somewhere. The GameCube wasn’t a bad machine by any means, its just that when you stand it up to the other Ninty consoles, and indeed the competition from other consoles at the time, it falls behind. It had its plus points for sure, games like Metroid Prime 1&2, Super Mario Sunshine, Soul Calibur 2 (starring Link no less!) and the bringing of the Resident Evil series firmly to Nintendo owners, culminating in the superb Resident Evil 4. The main reasons for such quality third party games, was an apparent openness within Nintendo to encourage 3rd party development, and even with its own franchises, allowing for more support and also the inclusion of much more multi-format titles to also appear on the GC. It was not without its limitation though. The GC’s use of miniDVD optical discs, was a step up from the cartridges of previous consoles, but the lack of full DVD used by the competition but an instant comparable drawback in terms of DVD and CD playback when compared to the Xbox and PS2. The reception of the system was poor, and below both its main rivals, and was dubbed by many a failure given Ninty’s normal position as top-dog (or thereabouts) in the console race.

 

Number 4 – NES

Where it all began then for home console gaming and Nintendo. The Nintendo Entertainment System released here in the UK in 1986. To me the NES is important because not only did it introduce Nintendo to the console market, but it showed the world that it was not on a fleeting whim that Nintendo entered it. This company was packed with innovative ideas in terms of controls and games. The NES controller itself bought with it the (now essential) D-Pad as a direct replacement to the arcade-style joysticks used in earlier machines. Its additional two A and B buttons was a simple control scheme but worked perfectly for the games on the machine. Speaking of games its worth remembering that this machine brought us many gaming franchises we know and love today, Mario (his first own game), Zelda, Metroid and Megaman. The Mario title “Super Mario Bros” is synonymous with machine and is the game everyone associates with it. It is not by coincidence that this game is listed near the peak of many “Top games of all time” lists and with good reason. The NES gave people an easy entrance to the world of gaming, and set a benchmark that would be improved upon in the future. Which leads me nicely onto…

 

Number 3 – SNES

Positions 2 & 3 were tight, it was very close, but for me the Super Nintendo Entertainment System – the successor to the SNES – is just pipped into 3rd place. The SNES was so important because it was such a comprehensive and successful leap from its predecessor. The danger with new players in the market – as Nintendo were- was that they would be a one hit wonder with their consoles, but the SNES blew all fears of this out of the water when it emerged on the scene in 1990. It came bundled with the now-famous Super Mario World, a game that even now is enjoyed as an example to the platform genre, and has sold over 20 million units (not counting the fact it is now on Virtual Console on Wii). For me what made this1 console great (aside from the fact it was my first Nintendo console – I used to go round my friends house and play his NES) is that its controller was so simple yet so brilliant. A look at its controller and it will seem instantly recognisable as its not a million miles away from the regular control pads we use today in the current generation on PS3, 360 or even the Wii Classic controller, and the reason for that is that it is so well made. It is perfect for gaming. The d-pad on the left, the diamond of four buttons on the right, and (perhaps more importantly) the two shoulder buttons. The SNES controller gave us shoulder buttons, and in an instant made games not about just what you were doing with your thumb but also your index finger as well. It allowed for more variety in control schemes than ever before and meant that racing games played as equally as well as beat-em-ups which played equally as well as platformers and so on. It gave Nintendo and other developers so many options. Options which resulted in great games such as F-Zero, Starfox (Starwing over here), Street Fighter II and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. All very different genres, all controlled and executed beautifully. This console was a real success for Nintendo.

 

Number 2 – Wii

Well the clued-up amongst you will have now already guessed what has occupied the top spot, but lets remain with Nintendo’s current machine for a little longer. Considering the constant criticism that the Wii has faced from many in the gaming community, I’m sure a few of you may be surprised to see it place so highly in this list. But the fact that no-one can ignore is when the Wii landed (on the 8th December 2006 over here), gaming CHANGED. Fact. And not just the fact that now I’m pointing a remote at the screen rather than holding a pad. Whilst that’s very innovative, what has had the greatest impact is the wide range of people who are now part of the gaming community because of the Wii. The fact that I go to work and the women around me are all talking about Wii Fit, or Animal Crossing amazes me, and the fact that now everyone seems prepared to take the plunge and have a go at gaming would have been inconceivable during the previous generation. Girlfriends, mums, dads, sisters, aunties, uncles are now all taking part in activity that was solely for you, your brother and your mates just 3 short years ago. And that’s all down to Nintendo and the Wii. And the control scheme I brushed over before (which I’m sure people on here are all very familiar with) has played an enormous part because it is that that makes the games so accessible and intuitive rather than relying on over-complicated button combinations and strategies to do well in a game. Whilst others bemoan the fact that the larger Wii fan-base means less games specifically for the veteran gamers of past consoles, I would actually argue that the larger fan-base gives you more scope to enjoy games at their best – which is with a few friends round the same TV having a riot. Sure online is great, but nothing beats being in the same room as the people you’re playing against as it increases the fun and the competition. And what the Wii has done is mean that there are now more people in your living room that are going to want to “play” rather than just “watch”. Making gaming part of the mainstream and adding a certain acceptability to it by the masses is what affords the Wii its silver medal position. Let’s just hope there are more surprises to come before the end of it’s life!

 

Number 1 – N64

Well here we are, top of the podium stands Nintendo’s 3rd venture into the console market, and argued by many (including me) to be when Nintendo got it the most right when it comes to the overall experience of gamers. The N64 was Nintendo’s first foray into the world of 3D gaming, and right from it’s launch in 1997 and the sublime Super Mario 64, it has never looked back. They took the experience and expectations that comes with a Nintendo platformer. And put in three dimensions as though it was always meant to be. They took what had always been a strictly 2D genre and had made it a 3D requirement. Absolutely outstanding. And its not just with Mario that they achieved this. The Zelda franchise also received two 3D games on the N64, the first being arguably the greatest game of all time – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time managing to build on the superfluous Link to the Past on the SNES, and crate a stunning 3D world and engrossing adventure within it. But I think it would be unfair at this stage to not point out another key driving factor into the success of the N64 for me. And this did not come from Nintendo themselves, but from second-party developers Rare. Rare, after successfully engineering the pseudo 3D adventure Donkey Kong Country in the latter days of the SNES, Rare were produced a game that would define them in the N64 era – the other game to launch with the console aside from Super Mario 64 – Goldeneye 007. Its standard and popularity launched Rare to worldwide acclaim, but they didn’t stop there producing such delights as Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Perfect Dark, Blast Corps, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and (my favourite of the lot) Donkey Kong 64 made them a force as strong as Nintendo for the N64 (some argued even stronger). These two developers working side by side meant that there was always a constant stream of quality games to enjoy, and some of my best experiences come from this console as a result. The controller was also revolutionary. Whilst its three-pronged design never really took off – despite its advantages - the analogue control stick has been adopted by numerous future generations of controllers as standard. The rumble pak accessory also added a vibration effect at certain points in games to emphasise them. Such technology is again now standard in most controllers, but started on the N64. For me the N64 was all about the games and the experience to be had from them. Taking established franchises and making them work in 3D beautifully as well as having a 2nd party developer creating epic new franchises alongside you meant it really was a golden era for Nintendo. And that golden era earns it the gold medal from me.

 

So there you have it, feel free to comment and disagree – I’m sure you can come up with a better top 5 than mine. But that’s my experience and preferences from Nintendo down the years. Here’s to the next 5! :)

8 Comments »

  • M_the_C said:

    Yay N64!

    Nice list, I personally would have gone the other way with places 2 and 3, but I can understand the reason for it being so close. Maybe it’s just my rose-tinted glasses.

    The Gamecube wasn’t a successful console (sadly), but after playing some of them on the Wii, there were quite a few very important games.

    The only one I’ve never played is the NES, but ultimately it seems if you’ve played the SNES you’ve seen all the important stuff.

  • Lepruk86 said:

    I’d make it different.

    5: Nes
    4: Gamecube
    3: Wii
    2: N64
    1: Snes

    Reason being that although the Nes was the first; all of the best Nes games pretty much were remade for the Snes with better engines to run them.

    I would also only place the Wii at 3 currently because there just isn’t enough games out atm to justify it being 2nd.

    N64 and Snes were hard to choose between and tbh they sorta both deserve 1st and 2nd together. I rate the Snes just ever so slightly higher from a retro stand point.

  • SammyPegs said:

    I deffinately agree with your top 5 Lepruk88, The snes days was really the golden years for Nintendo having most the market share and third party developers in their court! Some absolutely fantastic games were seen on the snes such as Zelda:lttp, Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country!!!

  • MilkyMalky (author) said:

    Thanks for the feedback guys.

    I have to say though I would challenge your argument for the NES being bottom. For me that was the GC by a mile. Your argument that the NES is bottom because the SNES improved on the games, could be applied to your argument to between the SNES and N64, in that the N64 with a better engine greatly improved the games you mention as classics on the SNES - LttP became OoT, Super Mario World became Super Mario 64 and DKC became DK64. All better games on the N64 and better engines to boot. So you could say if you put NES at 5, with the same logic the N64 should be at 1. ;)

    But its a great discussion. And I think its good that we have differences of opinions, makes for better discussions.

    Thanks again! :)

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