PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo: The greatest game consoles of all time ranked

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‘Those were the days’ is a very odd series of words to hear from young adults, but iconic video game consoles can have that effect on people.

With the PlayStation 5 console and Xbox Series X taking the industry by storm, it’s time to stop and smell the roses. Or drive down memory lane. Whichever fits better.

That said, here are the top 20 gaming consoles of all time, ranked by GamesRadar+ readers.

#20: Atari 2600

For a number of years, Atari was synonymous with gaming. The 2600 console is the oldest system on this list, but with good reason. Released in 1977, the Atari 2600 captured the hearts and minds of millions, retaining its use for over a decade.

#19: Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 is in the Guinness Book of World Records. Yeah. It was an iconic piece of equipment. The unit was manufactured between August 1982 and April 1994 and sold between 22 and 30 million units. Commodore had the official estimate at 17 million units, making the C64 one of the most popular desktop computers of all time.

#18: ZX Spectrum

Clive Sinclair’s revolutionary 1982 computer sparked a generation of coders into life. Kids brought up on Monty Python and Pink Floyd instantly fell in love with the Spectrum, leading to a gaming revolution in the United Kingdom.

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ENTER GIVEAWAY

#17: Sega Saturn

The Sega Saturn had to compete with the PlayStation 2 when it hit Japanese shelves, but Sega’s 32-bit console enjoyed a distinct advantage; it dropped a week before Sony’s PS. It had a bunch of 2D shooters and fighting games, but its rivalry with Sony was a bit much for Sega to handle.

#16: Amiga 500

Another one of Commodore’s offerings, the Amiga 500 was first launched in 1987. Branded as a home computer, it quickly became a popular gaming system. So much so, that the console is set to get a mini retro remake this year. Retro Games Ltd. are reportedly looking to develop an A500 Mini, having previously dedicated resources to a mini Commodore 64.

#15: Game Boy Advance

The Game Boy Advance turned 20 earlier this year, and boy does it have a stellar legacy. The GBA Advance was the first time that shoulder buttons were introduced on a handheld console and it had an extensive library of titles. Truly iconic.

#14: Game Boy

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An eight-bit handheld console that was more grey than colourful, the original Game Boy led to a boom in the handheld console industry, making it arguably the most important piece of gaming hardware in history.

#13: Sega Genesis

A bit loud and rude as a console, the Sega Genesis made Nintendo look like it was living in the Dark Ages. Remembered fondly by its Sonic the Hedgehog offering, the Sega Genesis went on to sell 35 million units, portraying the gaming industry as a lifestyle.

#12: Nintendo GameCube

Often touted as one of the best gaming consoles of all time, the Nintendo GameCube was rather under-appreciated when it was released in 2001. While Microsoft and Sony were preparing to explore the world of online gaming, Nintendo stuck to its roots. Titles like Resident Evil 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker meant the GameCube’s popularity withstood competition from the Xbox and the PlayStation.

#11: Nintendo Entertainment System

For a while, Nintendo was, like Atari, synonymous with gaming. You didn’t play video games back then. You played Nintendo. Much of this was down to its Entertainment System, a clunky, dated offering, yet one that enamoured gamers everywhere. Super Mario Bros and Contra were just two of the NES’ many offerings. A thorough fan favourite.

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#10: Nintendo DS

We’re deep into Nintendo territory, so it’s apt that the DS takes its place at number 10. Featuring two LCD screens, one of which was a touch screen, the 1996 “Developer’s System/Dual Screen” console was a brand-new way of gaming for millions of gamers around the world.

#9: Nintendo 64

Codenamed Project Reality, the Nintendo 64 was an innovation that was greeted extremely well by gamers. That it came with an analogue stick for precise input and titles that demanded that precision only served to enhance its reputation.

#8: Sega Dreamcast

The word ‘visionary’ is the most appropriate way of describing the Sega Dreamcast. Stuck between inventing new genres of games and revolutionising old ones, Sega’s 1998 offering was a dying breed, but did enjoy a hugely successful run in a short amount of time.

#7: Nintendo Wii

Written off on its 2006 release, the Wii console featured a unique joypad along with games like Wii Play and Wii Fit. Young adults weren’t the only ones clamouring for a console in 2006. With participative gaming, whole families were drawn to the Nintendo Wii, selling more than 100 million units as a result.

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#6: Xbox 360

The 2005 release of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was a watershed moment, considering how it propelled the gaming world into the HD era. The console helped breathe new life into Microsoft’s push into the gaming world, turning the global user base into one large competitive community.

#5: PlayStation

The year was 1994 and the winds of change were swiftly establishing Sony’s PlayStation as a game changer. A powerful yet easy to use infrastructure meant the PlayStation was here to stay. It will forever be remembered as the machine that shook the gaming world to its very core.

#4: PlayStation 4

Launched in competition with the Xbox One, Sony’s PS4 marked a change in the company’s approach to the gaming industry. With a vastly superior controller and improved functions on an innovative system, the PS4 hosted games like God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man, titles that swiftly became instant classics.

#3: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Street Fighter 2 and Donkey Kong defined this console. It wasn’t a revolutionary console by any means, with Nintendo sticking to the basics, but its powerful visuals and solid technology made this a cherished offering.

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#2: PlayStation 2

We were deep in Nintendo territory, but here’s where Sony’s supremacy comes to the fore. The best-selling gaming console of all time at 155 million units, the PS2 made every other industry stand up and take notice. With titles like Grand Theft Auto and Pro Evolution Soccer, the PS2 was iconic to a fault.

#1: Personal Computer

The humble desktop PC. Used by so many, cherished by precious few. Gaming consoles have the ebb and flow of tides, but the personal computer withstood the test of time. The PC has hosted gaming for years on end. There will never be another offering as utilitarian as the PC.

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