Favourite games consoles from the SNES to the PlayStation 2

Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: What’s your favourite games console?
PlayStation 2 – best console ever?

GameCentral readers name their favourite ever video game consoles, from the SNES to the PlayStation 2.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who wanted to know which console (or home computer) is your favourite, and why. Do you still use the console in question and what game made best use of the format and how?

To our surprise hardly anyone mentioned the Mega Drive or Xbox 360. With instead most votes split between the SNES, N64, and GameCube; the PlayStation 1 and 2; and the Dreamcast. In other words, it was the sixth generation of consoles which most people regarded as the best.

Greatest generation

The PlayStation 2 is my favourite console because of the sheer amount of fun I had on it. Timing was the key, in the early 2000s I’d recently bought my own home and console gaming was still relatively new to me.

Being able to do exactly what I wanted when I came home from work led to some serious gaming. I regularly stayed up late with the PlayStation 2 and put in several all-nighters, most notably with Grand Theft Auto III and Metal Gear Solid 2.

On the face of it Sony’s second console wasn’t that special, both the Xbox and the GameCube were technically better machines. But the PlayStation 2’s vast software library was impossible to ignore.

If you owned a PlayStation 2 you never felt you were missing out. Fans of mainstream games were catered for, as well as players of odd and exotic role-players.

I have to admit the initial design of the console wasn’t that great but the slimline version is a thing of beauty. That generation of consoles (is it called the sixth?) is by far the best we’ve had in my opinion.
msv858 (Twitter)

GC: Yes, that’s the sixth generation.

A real looker

Looking back my favourite console is the GameCube. It was my first Nintendo console and I got it in my early teens when I had a lot of free time to play games. It may not have had the definitive editions of Mario or Zelda but it had a lot of great games nonetheless. Metroid Prime and F-Zero GX were highlights, as well as good third party games such as Resident Evil 4 and SoulCalibur II with Link!

The controller was great and at the time playing wirelessly using the Wavebird felt futuristic. The console itself was also charming, in my opinion the little purple cube is the best looking console ever made.

I always felt the console was unfairly overlooked and deserved better.

Jurassic larks

The PlayStation was/is my favourite console. It came out when I was eleven and even though I loved the Atari, Amiga, and Sega consoles I had, this felt like a massive step forward.

The T-Rex demo whetted my appetite for the first games I owned: WipEout, Worms, Destruction Derby, Raiden, and International Track And Field.

Then it nurtured my love for the Japanese role-playing game. Suikoden, Breath Of Fire, Wild Arms, Tactics Ogre, and of course Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, and Tactics.

Even though it’s not my favourite game on the system, Tomb Raider will always have the most jaw dropping moment; of course it’s a T-Rex again.

This console also coincided with my first forays into buying and trading games and also pirating, with it being chipped and games being bought from Daz a few streets over.

My friend still has my PlayStation and we sometimes play it still with many of the games we play still being quite good (lots are terrible though).

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Super Nostalgia

When it came to favourite consoles, I always used to just say the SNES straight off. No question. But I’ve cooled on it a bit lately. Playing Virtual Console versions of games has made me notice the slowdown for PAL versions, the borders feel like more of an issue than they used to. I just used to accept without question that Street Fighter II only took up about one-third of the screen because that’s what console games were like for some reason. Maybe it’s also nostalgia wearing a bit thin.

The Game Boy Advance is a console that I always feel fondly towards. Sort of. More so the games library, which is excellent. But it’s let down by the huge proliferation of counterfeits – it’s almost impossible to feel secure in buying a loose GBA game on eBay now, and even at MCM the other month I noticed loads of fake games in amongst the wares of retro game stands. That makes it a frustrating console to buy for now, limited it to nostalgic purposes.

Of course the biggest problem with the GBA is the actual console itself. Three attempts Nintendo took at it, and none of them hit all the right notes. The first has the best shape, but the reliance on batteries feels archaic and the lack of a backlight is crippling. I liked the SP at the time, but the front-light looks weird now and it’s just too small and awkwardly shaped to use for long periods, with very clacky, thin buttons that feel odd. And the Micro is just too small.

So in all, I’d say my favourite console now is the Wii U. It’s got a solid (if small) catalogue of its own games, plus a huge range of games from previous consoles available, that are the proper versions for once and reasonably priced. The GamePad’s Off-TV functionality is handy, even if it’s generally under-utilised and has terrible battery life. But the Pro Controller is the nicest joypad ever made and lasts so long. I’ve had one about two years now and have had to charge it three times. It’s a shame the Wii U hasn’t had the same success as the Wii, because I think it deserves it more.
Martin Smith

Portable choice

Choosing a favourite console is very difficult. I have had so many but did miss out on the SNES and PlayStation 1, which are very highly regarded.

  • There is the N64 with Goldeneye and Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.
  • The Dreamcast with its selection of arcade greats and also Skies Of Arcadia.
  • The PlayStation 2 with its very diverse games selection, including a lot of great Japanese role-playing games and God Of War.
  • The original Xbox with Halo and Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic.
  • The Wii with the Super Mario Galaxy games.
  • The PlayStation 3 with the Uncharted series, The Last Of Us, and Valkyria Chronicles.
  • And the Xbox 360 with all of that generation’s best third party games, plus Halo 3 and Gears Of War 2.

Yet none of those make the top two.

The runner up spot goes to the PS Vita. I know this is a bit left field but the Vita is actually my favourite games machine based only on the console itself. A portable console with twin sticks, touchscreen/pads and quite a bit of processing power. Sadly, it never got the games line-up it deserved but the Danganronpa series, Virtue’s Last Reward, and Disgaea 4 were certainly highlights. It also let me play PS1 and PSP games I had previously missed.

And the winner is the DS due to the hugely diverse games library and Nintendo’s creativity. The fact the DS was backward compatible with the GBA is also a big boon, as together they offered a number of SNES remakes such as Chrono Trigger and classics like Advance Wars. During its lifetime I never went anywhere without my DS and as it was region unlocked I bought many games whilst travelling.
Currently playing: Hitman Go, Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter, Destiny and Life is Strange.

Magic box

First time writing for the Hot Topic but I couldn’t pass this one up. My favourite console? Easy: PlayStation 2. I’d dabbled with gaming before the PS1 era as a child, but didn’t get involved until much later on. Skip forward to 2002, when I was working and had disposable income so I bought a PlayStation 2.

I was blown away, this little box opened a universe of magic with endless worlds of possibility: Final Fantasy X, Devil May Cry, Onimusha, and Silent Hill 2. I also, through the console, discovered the golden era of PS1 games that I’d previously missed: Vagrant Story, Parasite Eve, Metal Gear Solid, etc. The list goes on and on.

As Spock would say: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. It completely rekindled my love for gaming and will always be my favourite console. Not only that, but through playing Japanese role-playing games I found myself getting into anime and from there Japanese cinema and literature. The PS2 changed my life for the better!

I even have an NTSC version to play games from the US that we never got, and still own about 100 games. I will continue playing PlayStation 2 games until the very end. Keep up the good work!
USS Endocrine (points to anyone who gets the reference!)

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Better than good

Favourite games console ever is pretty tough. The NES, SNES, and PS1 are all very strong contenders. But for me it has to be the Sega Saturn.

Back when I first got it, it was simply ‘good’. It had what are to this day two of my favourite role-playing games ever: Shining Force III Scenario 1 and Panzer Dragoon Saga – as well as some other fun ones such as Mysteria, Story Of Thor 2, and Shining The Holy Ark.

It also boasted an unparalleled assortment of excellent arcade conversions, such as Virtua On and Fighting Vipers from Sega themselves. As well as strong showings from SNK and Capcom in their heydays, including King Of Fighters ’95 and X-Men: Children Of The Atom – one of my all-time favourite fighting games. There were also some great console exclusives from Sega, such as Burning Rangers, Fighters Megamix, and NiGHTS Into Dreams (though notably not a proper Sonic game, which would become a huge sore spot amongst owners).

But it was years later when I started considering it the best. Once I got an Internet connection up and running in the dying days of the Saturn, I found out about its incredible Japanese-only library.

First in CeX back when they sold import games, and later on eBay I slowly picked up brilliant games like Blast Wind, Shining Force III Scenarios 2 and 3, Hyper Duel, and Taromaru. I think the time it took me to get some of these games at reasonable prices may have added to my fondness for the console too, as my now modded Saturn has been kept in use pretty much from the time Sega dropped support right up to this day by not only old favourites but also a steady stream of titles new to me.

The revised Saturn controller (with the smaller L/R buttons) is still one of the most comfortable joypads I’ve ever used, and I game on PC with a USB version of the pad for any game that doesn’t need an analogue joystick. The original UK joypad was horrible and almost put me off buying the console in the first place, and had that been the only controller for the life of the console I probably wouldn’t have chosen the Saturn as my favourite.

So for me the Saturn’s key strengths were the fantastic extended software library and the revised controller (as an aside I also loved the 3D spaceship CD player interface). As for the game that made best use of the format, the big pull for the Saturn/PS1 era was the CD drive, and the game that made best use of this on the Saturn was probably Panzer Dragoon Saga. Coming on four discs every single character in the entire game was fully voiced, which was practically unheard of on consoles at the time.
Lord Darkstorm

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