While trying to pick my favorite video game console of all time, I am faced with deciding which aspect to throw out for the sake of fairness. I have some incredibly fond memories of friends coming over to play Atari 2600, but also have plenty more nostalgic moments with the original NES system and the many sleepovers we had just to play certain games. Now that I am all grown up, I can’t ignore the technical superiority or diversity offered by my PlayStation 3.
If you were old enough to hold a controller in the early ’80s, then chances are your family had an Atari 2600. It’s widely considered the first mainstream video game system, though there were some others around at the same time, like the Intellivision or Colecovision. For me, the Atari was more than just a game console because it helped launch my career. I was as much fascinated with the games as I was with how the system worked, and I wanted to learn how to program my own. It’s now almost 2012 and I have been working in the computer industry for nearly 14 years.
It’s funny that I can still remember the family dinner conversation in which my little brother and I convinced our parents that we must have a Nintendo. While my brother was all hung up on the games and the fact that several of his friends had one, I was more interested in the technical aspects of the system. I remember pointing out that the graphics were so good that you could see Mario’s eyes and that the music was just like in the movies. Granted, lots of 80’s movies used really bad synthesized soundtracks at the time, so I wasn’t far off base.
The NES proved to be a mainstay of my youth. It was around for years and the games just kept getting better and better. This has been the trend with most gaming systems in that those launch titles tend to be technically inferior to later releases, even though it’s all done on the same hardware. Even now, a couple of decades later, I can still remember some of the hints and tricks needed to get past certain parts of games. I’ve dabbled with NES emulators on PC just to revisit some old favorites, but I end up thinking more about childhood friends I haven’t spoken to in years.
During the years from the release of the Sega Genesis on up to the early days of the PlayStation 2, I was a computer gamer. I’ve always liked role playing games and the PC beat out consoles in that regard. I especially loved playing the old D&D games like Pool of Radiance. While I did own a Genesis and remember some truly great titles on it, I think at the time I was sort of over the whole side scrolling platform type gameplay which made up a large majority of the titles that were released.
Currently, my PlayStation 3 is like an all-in-one home entertainment center. I play games on it, use it to watch Netflix and Blu-ray movies, and more. In fact, I spend more time watching movies and other things than I do actually playing games on the thing. I never would have thought this was possible back while playing the old Atari or Nintendo. I hardly even play computer games anymore because I’ve found the PS3 to be superior in many ways, especially when it comes to being able to resell games when you are done playing them.
Going back to the topic at hand, I still haven’t answered the question as to which game console is or was best. It would be unfair to compare the Atari 2600 to the PS3 for a variety of reasons, and likewise it’s not fair to compare the NES to a PS2 or Wii. If I had to pick just one, I would say it’s the Atari 2600. The reason for this is because it started the whole thing for me. It was essentially my first computer, and there is no doubt that it opened the doors to what has become my career. I actually still have my old Atari in the closet at my parent’s house, and you know what? It still works!