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Home / Features / Old games consoles aren’t redundant – I think they’re a fantastic must-buy

Old games consoles aren’t redundant – I think they’re a fantastic must-buy

The best time to buy a great game system is right now, whether it’s a Switch, a PS5 or a forgotten gem from gaming history

A bunch of old or new but old consoles that are all pretty great

I bought a Sega Dreamcast in 2002. Friends thought I was bonkers. I thought my timing was impeccable. My friends were aghast I’d spent money on a console Sega had canned a year prior. I was thrilled with my box of goodies, which included the console itself, a selection of superb games, and a pile of accessories. What I ended up with wasn’t cutting edge, but so what? I had Crazy TaxiJet Set RadioRez, and the terrifying zombie/sports mash-up that was Virtua Tennis. And it all fed into my belief that old consoles and games systems aren’t redundant – they’re a boon.

This was nothing new – I’d thought this way for years. I remember as a young child how my parents burned through games systems at speed. I was never sure why – they rarely played games themselves. But I fondly recall our Atari 400 in front of the living room telly, which was abruptly replaced by a VIC-20. (For younger readers, this is a bit like swapping an iPhone 15 for an iPhone SE and convincing yourself this is a good thing.) Eventually, they settled on a Commodore 64. I kept that games system for years.

Game on (and on and on)

Given where C64 gaming began, this happening in 1991 is nuts. And shows old games systems can be a good thing.

Clearly, owning an 8-bit micro deep into the 1990s was evidence I didn’t care about the bleeding edge. Instead, I was just into the games. And with systems that are long-lived, something happens: developers properly figure out how to get the most out of them. 

The C64’s early years were filled with basic games with eye-searing visuals, barely a step on from the VIC. But things quickly improved. Towards the end, the best coders fashioned titles like the stellar Metroidish Turrican 2, with its screens-high enemies. But also, when you’re almost a decade into a machine’s life, it has quite the back catalogue. So I always had access to more games than I could ever hope to finish.

Variations on this pattern pop up throughout my post-Dreamcast decades too. An Xbox sat under the telly for years beyond its prime, in part because OutRun 2 is fantastic, but also because there were so many other great things to play. Nintendo handhelds arrived long after they were shiny and new, by which point there was a dizzying range of games to buy, many of which pushed the limits of what the systems were capable of.

Perfect timing

Yes, it’s a Wii remake. Sure, the Switch’s hair is greying. But I don’t care if the games are this fun.

Which brings me to the present. On Stuff of late, our features editor has been mulling over whether now’s a terrible time to buy a PS5 and if a delay for the Switch 2 is bad news for gamers. I get it. You might feel miffed about splashing out on a shiny new PS5 when Sony says it’s in the “latter stages of its life cycle”. And you might be wary about buying a Switch when a successor is due.

But both systems have proved themselves. You’re not slapping down cash in the hope your gaming pride and joy will give you actual pride and joy, rather than be the next Atari Jaguar. So even these relatively new old games systems aren’t redundant either.

And unsurprisingly, I did another Dreamcast. Last year, this household finally got a Switch. Again, friends thought this bonkers and I thought the timing impeccable. My daughter and I are having a blast with a slew of great games. And if the Switch 2 arrives early next year or next month, I don’t care. In fact, given my history with consoles, our Switch will still be around when its games look as dated as Dreamcast titles do today.

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.

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