Microsoft Xbox (2002)
Its controller may have been the size of a small child but this didn’t stop Microsoft’s first console from setting up a solid foundation for its market-leading online experience which went hand-in-hand with the insanely popular Halo series.
Sega Mega Drive (1990)
The Mega Drive was the first portal into the world of Sonic for many and the console still holds a special place in the hearts of blue hedgehog loving gamers everywhere. The iconic controllers could also handle quite a frustration-induced beating – losing your gold rings was never fun.
Nintendo 64 (1997)
The N64’s controllers looked like an ergonomic nightmare but after a few hours of Super Mario 64 and a few hundred barrel rolls in Star Fox 64, Ninty’s classic controller soon became an extension of your arm – just like Link’s Master Sword in the Ocarina of time.
Sony PlayStation Portable (2005)
Such was the power of the PSP when it first hit our clammy hands that we thought it was handed down by the gods of gaming as a reward for being faithful nerds. Music, movies, games and browsing – truly the wonder-device of its time (minus the proprietary UMD format, of course).
Game Boy Advance (2001)
Preceded by the Game Boy colour, the Advance took a radical design turn with a landscape orientation and came in a plethora of pastel-coloured cases. The device’s ability to connect to the Game Cube to act as a supplementary screen/controller was truly ahead of its time
Nintendo 3DS (2011)
Ninty’s latest handheld boasts a fancy autostereoscopic screen which enables gamers to play titles with a customisable glasses-free 3D effect. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has been re-mastered in 3D specifically for the 3DS – the only reason you need to get your mitts on one.
Sony PlayStation 2 (2000)
The PS2 still holds the title as the best selling console of all time. With an absolutely colossal catalogue of games and AAA hits such as Grand Theft Auto 3 and Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, not to mention its DVD playback capability, this console has more than earned its place at the top of the pile.
Atari Jaguar (1994)
Although the Jaguar had more power than it’s Mega Drive and SNES rivals, it was a commercial flop having sold less than 500,000 units. Nonetheless, it still has a dedicated group of fans that produce homebrew games for it, although our favourite title still has to be Doom.
Xbox 360 (2005)
Having launched before both Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft’s second expedition into the console arena enjoyed a successful reign, albeit one plagued with red rings of death. Exclusives like Gears of War 2 and Halo: Reach have ensured that the 360 has held it’s own against its rival the PS3.
Atari Lynx (1989)
The first handheld console with a colour LCD screen, Atari's Lynx catered for both lefties and righties as it could be flipped upside down to use the D-pad with either thumb. It also featured a ComLynx system letting up to 18 players hook up, though all 17 of your mates probably had Game Boys.
Neo Geo (1990)
A lightly modified version of the Neo Geo Multi Video System found inside arcade machines, the Neo Geo was for a time the holy grail of consoles with the best graphics of its day. Virtually impossible to get hold of in the UK, and with games that cost about a quarter of the price of the already very expensive console, it disappeared within two years.
Sony PlayStation (1995)
Sony's first PlayStation rose from the ashes of a broken alliance with Nintendo. It ushered in the era of disc-based gaming and was the launching platform for some of the biggest names in gaming: Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, Tony Hawk and more. Compared to Nintendo's ever-changing controller design, the PlayStation controller has remained virtually unchanged since the first DualShock controller was introduced in 1998.
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Atari 7800 (1987)
The followup to the 5200, one of the Atari 7800's killer features was its ability to play old Atari 2600 cartridges. Released a couple of years late due to a change of ownership, its best titles were already looking a bit old by the time it hit the shops. This, coupled with weak sound capabilities, meant that it was quickly outclassed when the NES landed on the scene.
Nintendo Entertainment System (1986)
Home to the most famous plumber in history, the NES largely owes its success to the ground-breaking games pumped out by Nintendo. Even today, we could still while away whole days playing Super Mario Bros., and if you haven't played Duck Hunt, you haven't lived.
Nintendo Gamecube (2002)
Nintendo's fourth console was also its first to use optical discs, though strangely it opted for miniDVD, meaning it wouldn't play DVDs or CDs. Then again, it was the only console to have a handle. Super Monkey Ball made its first appearance here and as far as we know it's the only console to have ever had a bongos controller (for Donkey Konga).
Sega Dreamcast (1999)
The first console to include a modem and support for internet gaming, the Dreamcast was way ahead of its time but woefully short lived. Sega's last console was ultimately killed off by the advent of DVD and fierce competition from the PS2 and Xbox a couple of years later.
Magnavox Odyssey (1973)
The very first video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey didn't have colour or sound and had to rely on players sticking various overlays onto their TVs to make sense of the onscreen action. It also supported the first light gun, which was notoriously easily distracted by nearby light bulbs.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1992)
Forget Blur vs Oasis. The console war between Nintendo’s SNES and Sega’s Mega Drive raged in the early ‘90s. Faced with a new threat from Sonic the Hedgehog, the Italian plumber had his work cut out, but Nintendo’s Napoleon fought on and eventually dominated.
Sega Master System (1987)
Hard to believe it now but Sega’s Master System schooled its nemesis – Nintendo’s NES – on paper. Until the Mega Drive (and Sonic) arrived Sega played second fiddle, but what a joyous fiddle it was, bedecked with crazy accessories like 3D glasses and the Light Phaser.
Atari 2600 (1977)
The station wagon of consoles introduced us to the interchangeable cartridge, a system that would stand us in good stead for over a decade. But it was Atari’s plundering of titles from the local arcade that made the 2600 great, and brought gaming home. Forever.
Nintendo Wii (2006)
While Microsoft and Sony busied themselves with graphical intensity and gutsy hardware, Nintendo introduced an unassuming white box that came with a minimalist remote control with a twist – motion control. You plugged it in, fired up Wii Sports, and ignored “proper” gaming for a few months.
Panasonic 3DO (1993)
It could support eight controllers, had oodles of expansion options and could give its peers – the PSOne and Sega Saturn – a fair fight. So what stopped Panasonic's 3DO changing the world as much as it could’ve? That age old combo of console disappointments: lack of third-party games and a prohibitive price tag.
Nintendo Game Boy (1990)
One word can explain the success of Nintendo’s monochrome portable phenomenon: Tetris. The handheld console shifted nearly 120 million units globally despite the availability of the Atari Lynx, which had colour, a backlit screen and could network with other Lynx. Smart, but it didn’t have Tetris like the Game Boy.
Nintendo DS (2005)
Although its split screen harked back to Nintendo’s single-title Game & Watch handhelds from the ‘80s, the DS’s touchscreen was a gaming reinvention. Such was its popularity, it spawned an evolving franchise that includes the DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL and – most recently – 3DS.
Sony PlayStation 3 (2006)
Following up the PS2’s success was a job akin to having the Rolling Stones as your support band. Sony threw everything it had into its HD offering – the PS3 had a 3.2GHz eight-core CPU, swappable HDD and Blu-ray player. Such was its power, users are still asked to hand over their processing power to medical research when they take a break from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.