console:Nintendo Entertainment System
information about the system:it’s the Nintendo Entertainment System that had many of us fall in love with gaming altogether. Unbeknown to most of us we were all a bunch of pirates buying those multi-coloured cartridges for something called the Golden China at retail, as if it was legal. Hell, we knew no better. Most of us were kids. One thing was for sure though – there was never a lack of titles available on the console, but there can only be one winner.
Reason:Most people never played Kirby’s Adventure as it launched towards the end of the generation in 1993. The use of colour was unique to anything before it on the NES, but what was more appealing was how smooth it played. It was also the game that launched with the largest capacity storage, at 6Mbit (Megabit). Nintendo officially licensed the cartridge specifically for this game. What made the game special is that you could literally suck in and transform into any of your on-screen foes and use their abilities against them. Kirby could jump, fly and made short work of any boss. It was truly something special and pushed the 8-Bit system to it’s limits.
Honourable Mentions: Battletoads, Contra
system: SEGA Master System
information about the system:Though the SEGA Master System did launch it ultimately failed, as it did globally (unless you lived in Brazil for some reason). Unfortunately most titles never quite lived up to the quality of Nintendo’s 8-Bit console. The SEGA Master System was however the superior format when it came to pure power, hence it had games developed for it that could never appear on the NES.
game: Phantasy Star
reason:Found exclusively on the SEGA Master System, Phantasy Star was a prime example of the graphical powers of the system. The game maxed out at 4MB, which included image-based cutscenes along with the top-down viewpoint of the 80’s. Wherever dialogue appeared in the game it was accompanied by a close-view pop up that showed off the in-depth detail on the characters. It was however the battles and hidden treasures, which had you navigating 3D-like mazes, that was all the craze back then. In 1987 this was pure sorcery.
Honourable Mentions: Outrun, After Burner
system:Sega Genesis/mega drive
information about the system:When you hear the words SEGA Mega Drive, what’s the first game that comes to mind? It’s very likely Mortal Kombat. It was the console you owned for that specific game. At the time it resembled ‘real life’ and we were all in awe, but it’s not the game that pushed this 16-Bit console to its limits
reason:The fact that Vectorman even made it to the SEGA Mega Drive is quite remarkable. The pre-rendered 3D models and multi-layered backdrops should just simply not have been possible on the system, but in ’95 they somehow managed it. The lighting effects were extraordinary with animation we only expected on the next generation of consoles. Each limb of Vectorman animated independently with flags and the like fluttering in the wind. Considering that there were massive explosions and enormous boss fight it’s quite surprising that everything ran smoothly without a bit of lag.
Honourable Mentions: Gunstar Heroes, Rocket Knight Adventures
System:Super Nintendo entertainment system
information about the system I believe there was a showing towards the end of its life, but by then the SEGA Megadrive and PlayStation had all but secured any chance of it making a show locally. It goes without saying that it’s a well-known fact that this was indeed the best 16-Bit console when it came to pure power.
reason:Nintendo have always been keen on innovation when it comes to their hardware and when it comes to software they’ve shown the competition how it’s done. Star Fox launched in 1993 as a complete three-dimensional on-rail shooter. There were no sprites to be seen anywhere as it was pushing out polygons using an onboard Super FX Chip. By today’s standards the 3D looks primitive but back then everything else was played from left to right or top-down. It might not be the best game we’ve ever played on the SNES, but it’s the game that paved the path for future consoles and exceeded the original strength of the SNES.
Honourable Mentions: Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario RPG
information about the system:The console that nearly could. Unfortunately SEGA was stuck in the 2D era and never quite made the leap to 3D as its competitors did. It’s ultimately the console that spelt the demise for SEGA. It’s when everything started going wrong, but there were still some gems that made an exclusive appearance on the SEGA Saturn.
game: Panzer Dragoon
reason:What we have here is an on-rail shooter atop a blue dragon. It’s become a cult classic that’s very hard to track down, but also the one and only game to truly show what the SEGA Saturn was capable of in the right hands. What’s more surprising is that it was a SEGA Saturn launch game, which in affect means it never improved much since launch. Effects such as real-time reflections in water and a decent frame rate was a huge technical achievement on a console that simply did not have anywhere near as much power as any of its rivals.
Honourable Mentions: SEGA Rally, Burning Rangers
information about the system:The console that started a revolution in gaming. It made gaming acceptable to the masses. No longer would we be stereotyped as ‘nerds’. It was a big deal. The PlayStation made gaming cool around the world. Because of this popularity it hosted a library like nothing before it with gaming becoming serious business. There were so many games that pushed so many boundaries that it’s rather difficult to come up with one, but there was one game that pushed the boundaries in various aspects.
game:metal gear solid
reason:A game that brought with it a new genre (stealth) and had you literally interacting with the hardware of your console, was already pushing the boundaries. Metal Gear Solid was one of the first games to use in-game cinematic, now common practice, to tell a story. The setting, originally developed using blocks of LEGO by he development team, pushed the limits of the PS1. Loading scenes had to be fast between areas as timing was always of the essence. Then there was the massive Metal Gear Rex you had to fight at the end. Before this there was just simply no production value to match it.
Honourable Mentions: Gran Turismo 2, Final Fantasy VIII
information about the system:Tipped as the most powerful console of its generation, it had one major flaw in 1996 – it was still using cartridges as a format to play games. Before long Nintendo exclusives, such as Final Fantasy VII jumped ship to the PlayStation. Saying that, there were no jagged pixels all over the place. It was smooth sailing when it came to close-up graphics, literally. So which game made the most of the last cartridge-based format console?
It’s a well known fact that the N64’s Golden Eye made FPS games a normality on console. The N64 was after all the first console to come packaged with a controller that hosted an analogue stick. Yes, just one stick. Perfect Dark took full advantage of it – more so, if you had two controllers. You could plug one controller into port one and the other into port three and have yourself a dual-analogue setup. You’d also have to upgrade the RAM on your console for it to keep the frame rate up to speed as the graphics sucked the system dry. Like Metal Gear Solid this title also used in-game cutscenes to tell the story. Sadly the prequel bombed out on the Xbox 360.
information about the system:SEGA’s swansong. The hype of the PlayStation 2 brought an end to it before it ever began locally and globally. Launching with a CD format (no DVD) and one analogue stick on the controller did not help matters. It’s then ironic that some of the best games launched on the Dreamcast, which we eventually saw ported to various other formats. In the short time there were some masterpieces with this one being the one to push it to its limits…
reason:Soul Calibur was a sequel to Soul Blade on the PlayStation. At the time this was pure perfection of tight controls, graphics, stage design and overall enjoyment. What makes it ironic is that it was a launch title and looked better than most of the launch titles on the PS2 that followed. After the launch of Soul Calibur there were a few titles that came close but never quite matched the quality of the fighter. Where it impressed the most was in the animation of the models. A visit to practice modes slow mo made it all the more jaw-dropping. Today you can buy this on PSN/Xbox Arcade for next to nothing with some HD treament.
Honourable Mentions: Shenmue 2, Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future
system information:It’s only the best-selling console in the history of the industry. It had a bazillion games launch between 2001 – 2008, which makes this one of the toughest decisions up to this point. Games such as Shadow of the Colossus was a piece of art, Gran Turismo 4 looked life-like for its time, God of War rewrote the name for atmosphere and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater really did push the PS2, but there is really only one game that mattered and pushed those boundaries.
game:grand theft auto san andreas
reason:Scale. It’s the one word that sums up just what makes this such a technical marvel. You could play for days and discover about five percent of what it has to offer. In terms of graphics it was nowhere near as polished as some of the above-mentioned titles, but that quality would simply not have been possible on the PS2. To have such a huge area to explore with so many activities to take part in was just a never-ending adventure at hand. How on earth Rockstar squeezed the game on one DVD is a riddle all by itself.
Honourable Mentions: God of War 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
information about the system:The Nintendo Gamecube never received the respect it deserved. Most wrote it off as a kiddies console made for plumbers in blue overhauls and a green-clothed elf. What very few knew (or still don’t) is that the Gamecube was way more powerful than the PS2. If you were a graphics whore you’d have to buy a Gamecube, which was nearly on par with the Xbox (which never officially launched locally). The Cube had a small library of games, but the average game was so above-average that it’s the toughest category out of all.
game:resident evil 4
reason:In 2005 Resident Evil 4 launch ‘exclusively’ on the Gamecube. Read ‘exclusive’ as ‘a year ahead of other version’. You see, Capcom weren’t ever that great at keeping promises. What they did promise, and that remained to be the truth, was that it was the best-looking Resi 4 game of that generation. If you played Resident Evil 4 back then on the PS2 and not Gamecube you simply played the watered down version. It took the developers over a year to downscale the PS2 version to match with the inferior architecture of Sony’s console. The lighting was dumbed down, several graphical elements such as the leaves on trees vanished. Everything that made Resident Evil 4 so amazing from a visual delight was removed on PS2. It’s the game that had Gamecube owners finally pointing fingers and laughing.
Honourable Mentions: F-Zero GX, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
information about the system:The new kid on the block brought with it a massive reputation and lots of money. If there is one thing we knew about Microsoft it was that they weren’t scared to buy their way to the top. The first console did just that. Each sale brought with it a massive loss. Their reason? The successor would make up for it all. Guess they were partly right. Something else the Xbox had more so than the PS2 or Gamecube was power. It was really a computer on steroids that would pack a punch if you needed it. The Library was not that big, but this is the one that pushed that enormous black box to the edge of its capabilities.
game:grand theft auto san andreas
reason:Yes, you might as well read the PS2 bit again. Oh, and this version ran better with improved graphics.
Honourable Mentions: Halo 2, Ninja Gaiden, Half Life 2
system: Xbox 360
information about the system:Today the Xbox 360 is still strong and we’re yet to see some games launch on the console in 2014. However, we doubt that there’s anything that will match the top game as everything that’s left is multiplatform and will likely get a coat of “we’ve moved on to next gen anyway, so we don’t really care” paint. The Xbox 360 is the longest-running console in a generation, having launched in 2005, which makes this decision rather tough.
game: Halo 4
reason:Watching Bungie hand the successful series over to 343 Industries was a painful event. We all expected the worst. How wrong we were. Halo 4 pushed the Xbox 360 to limits we never imagined. The improvement from Halo 3 to Halo 4 was so great that it looked like outings from separate generations of consoles. They pushed the multiplayer even further with many customisation options and had some of the most visually impressive campaign moments that the Xbox 360 ever witnessed. Not bad for a 9-year old console.
Honourable Mentions: Forza Motorsport 4, Grand Theft Auto V
information about the system:The little console that could. In terms of tech this was on par with The GameCube, Xbox and PS2. It was by far the weakest console in this generation when it came to specs, but there was one game in particular that all but crushed competition when it comes to pushing the limits of the Wii. It perhaps did not have the shiny graphics of Super Mario Galaxy 2, but the scale and artwork was unequalled
reason:In a generation where JRPG’s received the cold shoulder this was the one that stood out from the crowd. The fantasy world was believable and the scale gigantic. How Monolith Soft packed the game on one DVD is beyond us. Everything from the story, right through to the musical score eclipsed everything else on the Wii. The saddest part is that it launched towards the end of the consoles life, hence few people experienced the game that pushed old tech to look all shiny and new. Keep your eye out for the Wii U version.
Honourable Mentions: Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Smash Bros. Brawl
information about the system:After the success of the PS2 the PS3 had a hard time getting out of the gate. The Xbox 360 had launched a year earlier and the Wii all but killed both consoles with the ‘revolutionary’ motion controls (in terms of sales). What the PS3 did have, and at the end made it the SNES of modern times, is raw power under the hood. Once unlocked this horse could not be tamed. Naughty Dog were the first to unlock the power with the release of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. It was also up to them squeeze blood from a stone towards the end.
game:the last of us
reason:The Remastered version of the game will be launched on the PS4 . Why’s that? Look at a few upgrades in the visuals and it’s not THAT far from what you first experienced on the PS3. What Naughty Dog did with the PS3 should not have happened. It’s comes down to them understanding the architecture of the PS3. The PS3 intestines were made up of compute units called SPU’s. Naughty Dog found ways of efficiently dividing the calculations into little bite size chunks, and efficiently feeding them to the SPU’s. On Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune they reached a mere 30% of that power, with The Last of Us being their blue eyed boy. It pushed the PS3 in more than one way. In terms of narrative it is hard to find anything that will see tears running down your cheek in under an hour into the game.
Honourable Mentions: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Grand Theft Auto V